Saturday, February 21, 2015

Caesarea Philippi- Israel Pilgrimage 2

Large cave- Grotto of Pan- 
The center of pagan worship.
Known as Banias- in the Golan Heights.
 This was Baal Hermon,
 Baal Gad of Old testament times.
Here is where 3rd century BC sacrifices
 were made to flute playing god Pan-
half-man, half-goat.

Numerous temples were built here
 in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
The city was known as Panias 
or in Arabic- Banias.

2.5 miles north of the Sea of Galilee
at the base of Mt Herman
Location of one of the largest springs
 feeding the Jordan River.

Close up of the rock 
at the base of Mt. Herman.

 Sacred Niches - a rocky escarpment
with a series of hewn niches
Statues of the deities were placed here.

Here is the backdrop setting 
to where Jesus brought
 His disciples in Mark 8:27.
With the vivid pagan world around Him, 
He asked-
"Who do people say that I am?"
 The world says- 
John the Baptist or Elijah, or a prophet.
"But, who do YOU say that I am?"

You can almost imagine Peter's gaze 
around the stone niches as he says, 
"You are the Christ."
The popular, pagan culture
 visually blared denial.

Just as our visually blaring
 culture still denies today.

Caesarea Philippi was once a great city.
In 20 BC it was annexed
 to the Kingdom of Herod the Great.
In 3 BC Philip (the Tretarch)
 founded a city here at Paneas.
He named it Caesarea-
 in honor of Caesar Augustus
 and made many improvements to the city.
In later history this area moved from 
Arab caliphate control,
was pillaged by the crusaders in 1148, 
and later ruled by the 
 Ottoman Turks.
Today only ruins hold this place 
in history in a National Park.

And a quietness surrounds
 with the simple question 
we must all still answer today-
"Who do you say that I am?"

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