Leaving the ancient ruins of Caesarea Maritima, we head north up the Mediterranean approximately 40 minutes to Mount Carmel, Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley.
In I Kings 18, Elijah challenges 450 prophets of Baal to a contest at the altar on Mount Carmelto determine whose deity was genuinely in control of the Kingdom of Israel. Elijah’s challenge is summed up when he declares, “Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” God DID answer – with fire!
READ Rev. 14:14-20, 19:11-16, I Kings 18:16-25
After God’s great victory over the baals, Elijah flees from Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, who said “So may the gods do to me and ever more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” I Kings 19:2
Jehu, now king of Israel, travels to Jezreel and has an encounter with Jezebel. Scripture tells us that when Jezebel hears he is there, she paints herself up and calls to him from the window. Jehu has her thrown out the window to the ground where she dies.
Jezebel’s body lies mangled and lifeless as Jehu goes inside for dinner. Almost as an afterthought, he commands her burial. But while he is inside eating, the dogs outside are feasting as well – on Jezebel’s body. Dogs are powerful symbols in the Canaanite religion, especially associated with the goddesses Anat and Astarte, the gods of Baal. There is a deep irony here, the one who was so devoted to these deities is now devoured by them.
It is interesting that Mount Carmel, meaning “God’s Vineyard”, overlooks the Jezreel Valley – the Valley of Armageddon, where the baals and the enemy of God were defeated, but today it is flourishing with grain and oil; and it is here where the great battle over good and evil will be in the final days.
Tel Megiddo is an impressive site in the Lower Galilee region of northern Israel. This “tel” contains 26 layers of civilization, covering 35 centuries and 8,000 years of history.
The ancient cities that dominated this site controlled the Megiddo Pass and controlled the entrance to one of the few passes through the Carmel Mountains. Because of its strategic location, Megiddo saw more than its fair share of conflict, because controlling the trade routes meant survival and power. The city is thought to have seen more battles than any other location in the world.
At its prime, Megiddo was ruled by King Solomon in the 10th century BC. Visitors can see the remains of Solomon’s gate and his stables. The Ivory Palace is another major structure in Megiddo; it was here that Canaanite treasure was found including valuable ivory and jewelry. An Iron Age water system is also evident as well as a 98 foot deep shaft and 229 foot long tunnel from the 9th Century BC when the city was ruled by Ahab. Megiddo appears in Scripture 12 times:
Josh. 12:21, Josh 17:11, Judg. 1:27, 5:19, 1 Kings 4:12, 9:15, II Kings 9:27, 23:29, 23:30, 1 Chr. 7:29, II Chr. 35:22 and Zech. 12:11.
Jezreel Valley, means “God will sow”, and is roughly 145 square miles in size, it is boarded on the north by the mountains of Nazareth, Mt. Tabor on the east, south by Mt. Gilboa and Samaria, and on the west by Mt. Carmel.
The fertile soil makes it the country’s breadbasket as well. Traditional crops that were cultivated in the area are sunflowers, cotton, wheat and barley. Over the hundreds of years of neglect the area became an infested swampland, however, today these same crops remain the chief harvests of the valley.
The Jezreel Valley is also known as “Valley of Megiddo” and “Plains of Megiddo”, just to name a few. The Bible speaks of armies gathering in this valley at the place of Armageddon, Zech. 12:1-9. The word mountain in Hebrew is translated “har”, it is where we get Harmageddon or Armageddon (the mountain of Megiddo). The words, Megiddo and Armageddon, are synonymous with the end of the world as mentioned in the Book of Revelation, which will be the site of the final great battle. Rev. 16:13-16
Jezreel Valley Today
The Jezreel Valley has long been known as the Holy Land’s fertile valley, but never before was it proven that God had also sown oil and gas there. In 1983, during a visit to Israel, the founder of a Christian oil drilling company, Zion, (chairman John Brown) became inspired to find oil and gas in Israel. During the next 17 years he made numerous trips to Israel, and finally in April 2000 he received the award of a small onshore petroleum license from the Israeli government.
The company uses a map of the 12 ancient tribes of Israel and the biblical account, which states, “Of Asher he said, more blessed than sons is Asher; may he be favored by his brothers, and may he dip his foot in oil.” – Deut. 33:24. To the world this was an unlikely, even foolish guide, to help them decide where to drill, but following God’s word Dr. Brown pursued. While Zion’s vision is biblically inspired, the actions taken by the Zion management, as it actively explores for oil and gas in Israel, are based on modern science and good business practice.