Elijah’s Contest with the Priests of Baal (Mt. Carmel; 1 Kings 18)
In Old Testament times, Elijah preached faithfulness to the Lord God Jehovah. Elijah was rightly named, My God (Eli) is Jehovah (jah). Too many of his fellow Israelites decided to follow the ways of their Canaanite neighbors in worshipping Baal, the Canaanite God of rain and fecundity. God sent a dearth of rain to show that He alone had power to bring life to the land, and not Baal. Near the end of the drought and famine, Elijah invited the people to observe a contest between him and the priests of Baal to demonstrate the power of Jehovah over the emptiness of Baal. After a futile day of the priests imploring Baal to appear to them, Elijah built an altar, poured water all over it, and importuned God to accept of his offering. Fire from heaven consumed the entire sacrifice and all the water. Soon thereafter, God caused the rains appeared and brought life back to the land.
Today from atop Mt. Carmel, pilgrims can remember God’s mighty power to provide for our needs. And from that same high vantage point, one can see for long distances across the Holy Land.
St. Peter in Gallicantu (Jerusalem; Matthew 26)
The night before His crucifixion, Jesus was hauled before the chief priests for an illegal trail against Him. Ever devoted Peter followed and observed the proceedings along with the other servants at the palace of the High Priest. When those in the crowd suspected Peter of being a follower of Jesus three different times, Peter grew increasingly insistent that he knew not Jesus. When the cock crew, Peter remembered with anguish Jesus’s prediction of Peter’s denial only hours earlier while they participated in Jesus’s final Passover meal with His disciples.
Today, a beautiful cathedral graces the hillside where anciently the Jewish High Priest had his official palace residence. Pilgrims can visit the palace dungeons where Jesus was likely imprisoned and walk near the stairs that Jesus likely would have climbed on His way to trial.
Tabgha (Sea of Galilee; John 21)
In sorrow after His crucifixion, Jesus’s disciples returned north to the Galilee and returned to their professions. Early one morning on the Sea of Galilee, Peter was fishing with several of the other disciples. They had toiled all night long without success. Then a man they did not recognize told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. They obeyed. The haul was so massive they could not bring the nets back into the boat. Peter then recognized his Lord and Savior and without waiting to sail back into shore, he threw himself into the water to get to Jesus.
While at meal, that peaceful and revelatory morning on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus asked Peter three different times, “lovest thou me?” In each instance, Peter declared with conviction, “Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.” And then the gentle command from Master to disciple, “Feed my sheep.” Jesus provided an opportunity for Peter to declare his love and loyalty to match the three times that in weakness he had denied knowing Jesus.
Today, pilgrims can sit on that same peaceful shore and contemplate how Jesus feeds our souls as He invites us to feed His sheep.
There are many more significant and meaningful places in Israel to experience the scriptures.
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