“I’m barely skimming the surface” I thought, as I sat reading. The hills around me were now stripped of their outer coverings of pasture and rocks and it was like a poster you’d see in high school science class. The mountain was cut down the middle, exposing the layers of time and artifacts underneath, one by one. I was thirsty, not for the water clipped onto my bag, but for the water of life that comes through knowledge. I thirsted for the secrets that layered themselves beneath the surface of the mountain ranges I gazed upon.
Mount Precipice, the place where Jesus jumped from the mountain top to flee his pursuers (see Mark 6), centered between where one story began and where it would end. I stood, wind blowing fiercely, out at the vast valleys and mountains around me. To my left, the little town of Nazareth. To my right, Megiddo, the site where the apocalyptic battle of Armageddon will occur (Rev. 16:16).
Napoleon once stated Megiddo was the most perfect battlefield for war. It served as the crossroads of the ancient world, a city that guards the western branch of the Via Maris, an ancient trade route from Egypt to Mesopotamia. Sitting on that mountain took me back in time, to a place where chariots replaced cars.
Mike and I on top of Mt. Precipice.
Photo Cred: Rachel Gallow @ www.rachelvictoriaphotography.com
The wind blew so hard it flung my touristy hat right off my head. I wrestled my notebook, pen, and backpack straps to catch it. My tour-guide booklet fell onto the dry, sandy ground beside me. I quickly covered my head, gathered my things, and settled on a rock overlooking the Jezreel Valley.
I turned to the page about Megiddo in my tour book and silently read, “The ancient Tel of Meggido contains nearly 7,000 years of history, with 26 distinct archaeological layers pointing to the continual destruction and rebuilding of this fortified hill. Solomon was one of the builders. King Ahab constructed a massive water system of shafts and tunnels beneath its walls.” The layers of history that sat beneath me began to peel away, exposing revelations of truth that drew me closer to the God I serve.
The battle where the armies of the world will assemble to oppose the return of Christ will occur just below where I sat. I could see the Prince of Peace valiantly riding in on his white horse, clothed in a robe dipped in the blood of His eternal sacrifice, and out of His mouth a “sharp sword with which to strike down the nations” (Rev. 19:13-15). I could envision Jesus galloping, sword held high, just across the valley beneath me.
The battle of Armageddon will be a contest between the will of man and the Word of God, like nothing this earth has ever seen. It won’t be about alliances, trade routes, gold, oil, or anything else, it will be the war to end all wars.
“I want to be on the winning side of that battle, at any cost” I quickly scribbled in my notebook.
My pastor speaking to our group, overlooking the Jezreel Valley, where Armageddon will occur.
All it took was a simple 180 degree turn of my head to see the place where the battle to end all wars will be and the place where Jesus spent his first years on this planet. I’d never known they were so close in proximity, and now I knew they were placed close together on purpose, to represent a prophecy that was and one still to come. God is strategic and purposeful in everything He does.
I wondered what Jesus must’ve thought when he was being pushed off the edge of the very mountain I was sitting on, by the people he grew up with. My heart couldn’t wrap around that kind of rejection. I imagined that angry mob of people differently now. They were people he bought bread from, went to church with, played with, laughed with, and did life with as a child.
What I noticed, on this particular day at Mt. Precipice, is that Gabriel, the angel of the Lord, came to Mary and told her she was to give birth to the savior just a few meters away from me. Mary answered without hesitation, even as an unwed, virgin teenager from a small community on top of a hill (Luke 1:38).
I shifted my tailbone and clipped my water bottle from my backpack. As I lifted the bottle to my lips, the sun beat down on my face, and the cool water ran down my throat, instantly cooling my dry throat. Sweat trickled down my forehead and dropped on my paper, forcing the ink to splatter out.
“Ahhhh” I gulped, as I screwed the top back on my water jug.
I picked up my pen, smeared the ink-splotch with my sleeve, and wrote one simple statement, “If I want to be on the winning side of the battle, I have to learn to respond to Jesus the way Mary responded to Gabriel.”
The top of Mount Precipice, with Nazareth on the hill in the background.
“Isaiah chapters 7-10 all speak of the destruction of Galilee and refer to Nazareth as the town of the ‘shoot,” Pastor Michael said, standing with bible in hand, and his whisper draped around his neck.
It’s in these chapters Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come from Nazareth about 600 years before the village even existed. Isaiah 11:1 states that a “shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit”. The word “branch” in Hebrew is netzer, the same root word from which the name Nazareth comes.
Matthew 2:23 connects Nazareth with the prophecy in Isaiah 1:11 stating, “And came and resided in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, He shall be called a Nazarene”.
It was 700 years after Isaiah prophesied the birth of the Messiah in Nazareth that Matthew, a tax collector, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, would solve the puzzle and uncover another layer of the intricate messianic prophecy. It was like a layer of one of the mountains around me just pealed off and revealed one of its many secrets. I wanted more.
The bible is full of little nuggets like the one above proving it’s infallible. I realized on Mt. Precipice that we live in a day and age where we have the privilege of seeing prophecies already come to pass and watching more unfold. The Bible is living proof that our God is real, alive, and coming again.
Archaeologists have revealed wine presses, terraced hillsides used as vineyards, irrigation systems used for fields, and they all date back to the time Jesus would’ve been living in Nazareth. Could this be a further indicator that Nazareth may have been the inspiration for many of Jesus’ parables He used during his years of ministry?
I read the parable of the sower, the wheat and the tares, the laborers in the vineyard, and the wicked husbandmen differently after sitting on top of Mt. Precipice. I see the hillscapes draped with the lush vineyards, imagine the workers dressed in white terrycloth, from head to toe, walking between the long rows of grapes. The irrigation systems flowing with water, used to fill the buckets that lay on the backs of donkeys, flashed in my mind as I read the pages of Jesus’s parables.
It also made me read Mark 6 from a different perspective. When Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah in front of the people of Nazareth, He was rejected, and pushed by an angry mob of the people he knew as a child to Mt. Precipice.
This made Jesus more relatable to me. He knows how I feel when I’m rejected by those I love the most. He knows because He experienced it himself.
As we began to gather our things to descend Mt. Precipice, there was one mountain that stood alone, adjacent to the Jezreel Valley and directly across from the town of Nazareth. I walked over to our tour guide and pointed to it.
The road leading up to the peak of Mt. Precipice
“What is that Katherine?” I asked.
“The stand-alone mountain? That’s Mt. Tabor, where Jesus was transfigured in front of Peter, James, and his brother, John” she answered.
“Incredible,” I answered.
Not only could you view the place of the beginning and the end of a story, but off in the near distance you could see the place where Jesus would reveal His true self to three of His disciples. Mount Precipice served as a radial view point of Jesus’s birth, ministry, and where He will end the reign of Satan on Earth.
Mt. Tabor, overlooking the Jezreel Valley, from the lookout point on Mt. Precipice
I left Mt. Precipice thirsty, ready to drink in the knowledge He would give me at our next stop, Peter’s Primacy. I often think about this hilltop when I’m sweeping my floors, cooking in my kitchen, and folding laundry. The revelations I encountered that day infiltrate the mundane portions of my every day, back here on the farm in Virginia. Being there forever changed my view of the Bible and of the Jesus I know.