Synagogue in Chorazin
Beautiful day today in the Galilee, the temperature was around 90! Our themes for today were, “Obedience”, “Discipleship”, and “Spiritual-Warfare”. Our first stop was the ancient city of Chorazin, where we took in a miqveh pool and a Synagogue as we began building a picture of of Jesus’ world in the first century. From Luke 10, we can assume Jesus spent some time here preaching and teaching, apparently the people of Chorazin had hard and unrepentant hearts.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”” (Luke 10:13–16, ESV)
It was during much of our riding today in the upper Galilee that we spent time discussing and thinking about what it must have been like to be a first century disciple of Jesus. It is amazing how geography and weather can impact your understanding of first century discipleship with Jesus.
Ancient Ruins of Chorazin
From Chorazin we went to Dan in the Northern part of the Galilee. This has many significant references, one of which is that this area is the staring point of the Jordan River. Dan is where the Northern Tribe of Israel under the wicked King Jeroboam would set up high places of worship. I Kings records,
“Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. And he went out from there and built Penuel. And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David. If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Then this thing became a sin, for the people went as far as Dan to be before one.” (1 Kings 12:25–30, ESV)
We also see God’s subsequent judement for Israel’s disobedience and idol worship in II Kings,
“In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city.” (2 Kings 17:6–9, ESV)
Upper Dan River (Starting Point of the Jordan)
Teaching Out of I and II Kings at the Archeological site of Israel’s High Places of Worship
Teaching Out of Judges 2 Concerning The Danger of Assimilation Into Culture
We left Dan and traveled to Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus famously asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Matthew records this story in chapter 16,
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.” (Matthew 16:13–20, ESV)
This passage has been a point of false teaching for centuries claiming Jesus commisioned an authorative line starting with Peter, that would represent Christ as mediator, until his return. Understanding the context and what is actually going on here, makes one recognize quickly what is truly happening. Caesarea Phlippi is a town full of Greek and Roman worship and culture, there is a massive Temple dedicated to the God Pan. The town was know to have a place of worship that was the door or entrance to the underworld or hades. This context alone gives greater understanding to the “Gates of Hell” reference.
Peter’s confession, as well as that of all Christendom, forms the essential core of our faith. “No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ,” wrote Paul to believers at Corinth (1 Cor. 3:11). Peter’s words pointed unmistakably to Christ as the Author of salvation, the Founder of our faith, and the Lord of His church. Any other confession will not do. Our own confession of faith must be Christ-centered: “Jesus is Lord”. The Church is to be founded on Peter’s confession of Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God, no supremacy is given to Peter. I am reminded of the Sola, “Sola Christus”…which means Christ alone! Jesus alone is the centerpiece of faith and head of the Church. The ancient city Caesarea Philippi helps us understand the text and truth behind Matthew 16.
Teaching On Matthew 16 at Caesarea Phiippi
We finished our day on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee and read the story of Jesus casting out the Demon from the man in the tombs. Luke records,
“Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.” (Luke 8:26–39, ESV)
This is one of my favorite locations in Israel, because the georgraphy just makes the story come alive! You can see clearly how Jesus could have sailed across the sea and how the pigs could have run right off the cliff! We spent some time here talking about the Natural Realm vs. The Spirit Realm and the fact that Jesus is Lord over Demons and Kingdom of Darkness. It is wonderful to think of how Jesus set that man free from Demons, and His power still has the power to set people free today. We looked at the reality that many of us are continually blackmailed by the father of lies, and very often we believe those lies and don’t live as adopted and accepted children of Christ. We close out our time reflecting on who we are in Christ and reading over Paul’s challenge to the Ephesians to put on the “Full Armor of God”,
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:10–20, ESV)