Armageddon, ‘Merica, Can I Get An Amen?
To the men of my Stretcher Bearers group: this speaks, somewhat, to Jay’s comment at Kevin’s house back on Feb. 8th. Remember? Jay said: With all the news: CNN, NBC, BBC & FOX put out there at us constantly,take some time everyday to step back and “breathe.” These pics are just a of the guys from Stretcher Bearers. Now, on to Megiddo.
It plays upon our deepest fears…..the unknown. Anticipating the forthcoming with no clear idea of what exactly lies ahead.
This is Tel Meggido. The place is beautiful and peaceful, but it has not always been this way. Translated back into its Greek and Hebrew name we recognize Meggido as Armageddon. If you don’t know about this, then let me introduce you to the place I have twice personally visited rather than the fear inducing future event I learned to dread as a child.
Growing up in a church as many of us did, people around me used words and terms like “the rapture,” “the second coming,” and “the end of days.” Ironic, funny or sad some churches have historically scared or coerced followers into obedience with guilt and fear all the while preaching a message of love. This control mechanism allows(ed) hierarchical churches to become power brokers in people’s lives and, for The Roman Catholic Church, for example, to amass some of the greatest earthly fortunes recorded (if you’re offended by this thought, log off now).
Revelation, written by the Apostle John, mentions Armageddon only once (Rev. 16:16) stating the kings of the world would be gathered here in the final conflict against God. The prophesy that Christ will fight earthly governments and bring an end to human suffering in this place recalls images that scare little kids, like I once was, who grew up going to Vacation Bible School, Royal Ambassadors (a Baptist boys’ thing) and Sunday School. Trying to teach children about prophetic, imagery rich poetry adults cannot understand is futile. Yet attempts are made, people get turned off; and, for the most part, discussion of the “final conflict,” end times, and eschatology (big S.A.T. Seminary word for the study of end times) is kept closed mouthed.
Ask around and you’ll hear people mention every excuse imaginable for not being involved in a faith community. So many “reasons” and “rationales”: Our son’s baseball league travels on weekends, we have “so much going on” (seriously people, who doesn’t), people in the church are hypocritical (no joke—every single one of us is ), Sunday is our family time, I don’t like the preacher (I’ve never met one who appeals to all people), the church wasn’t there for us when we needed it (where were you when the church needed you?), etc.
The one thing I have learned is this: Christianity is not for perfect people. I think this is the biggest misconception among people involved in faith communities and people who are not. Christians make mistakes all day every day. We gossip, we spend too much, we eat too much, we work too much, we set double standards, we drink too much, we lust, we fail to seize opportunities to serve, we pass by people who need our help, and we pass judgment way too much. Yet, we remain hopeful that people will look at us and say: “Hey, I really want to be a part of your Christian fellowship.” Hard sell? Maybe. We don’t help ourselves a lot of times. Despite all of this God offers forgiveness and grace.
On January 29th I watched the State of the Union address. Republicans cheered while Democrats sat stoically in position out of obligation. The posture of the entire chamber evidenced the character our American political system has assumed…and it is truly pathetic!
Our founding fathers envisioned a democratic republic. There always has been and always will be contentious debate. The difference between now and a couple of hundred years ago, for that matter—prior to CNN; (thanks Ted Turner) is the drama is broadcast constantly over multiple media venues. The continuous 24 hour news coverage brings drama to American mainstream life. Moment by moment commentary does not in any substantive way reflect the truth of the party system our founding fathers envisioned. The pendulum will swing among administrations and within the terms of administrations. Rather than detailed coverage of each spoken word, it is the end product of the political process that is important. As Americans we have all become prey to news network moguls: CNN if you’re liberal; Fox News if you’re conservative. They ALL seek to entertain us and capitalize on America’s collective need to be constantly fed and entertained.
The media exacerbates the power struggle. But what the heck does any of this have to do with a 10 acre rock fortress remain in the Jezreel Valley?
Historically, Meggido controlled an important juncture along a road, the Via Maris, between major trading powers , Mesopotamia and Egypt, in that cradle of civilization on the Fertile Crescent (bet most of you haven’t thought about those words since 3rd or 4th grade social studies). This positioned Megiddo to be a prime place for battling. If you controlled this fortified city, then you controlled the passage way to one of the major trading routes in the ancient world….and everyone wanted that power. The story here unfolded from 3400 B.C. until it was abandoned around 350 B.C.
Archeology has revealed 25 layers of civilization where approximately 30 cities existed one built atop the previous one. Megiddo saw massive, epic battles resulting in complete destruction. This site’s history is as rich as it is deep. One of the dig sites shows civilizations’ layers lost to history. Estimated to have been established during the Bronze Age, the town has seen building by and control of Persians, Babylonians, Canaanites, King Solomon – (the period of the first Jewish Temple), Assyrians, King Ahab (a real person, Jezebel’s husband – not just a Ray Steven’s song character), Persians, and Egyptians. It is safe to say that life here was anything but safe and peaceful. It is hard now to imagine this site has seen more battles than any other site on our planet.
(This shows a dig section where people fro the University of Pennsylvania has dug to unearth the layers of rebuilt and conquered and rebuilt again Megiddo).
I am not one to question Biblical truth. However, within Methodism founder John Wesley’s Reason-Tradition-Scripture-Experience paradigm approach to faith I believe it is prudent to consider where historical Biblical lessons and current events intersect to navigate our future.
Back to our State of the Union. The internal American power struggle we face is as powerful as the external threats Megiddo’s citizens faced over its multiple B.C. millennia history. The old cliche about a house divided falls is….well, look what happened to Rome.
We are so incredibly worried about charging Hilary, finding Russian collusion, threatening government shutdowns to prove a points to Trump and to the Pelosi-Schumer delegation about immigration, releasing memos, and talking about that dossier that we cannot make progress (or admit any has been made). Our two parties are so busy fighting each other’s credibility that the media will not focus on issues impacting day-to-day life. By the way, who uses the word dossier? It cracks me up to hear tele-journalists throw this sophisticated sounding word around and in the same report cannot get subject-verb agreement and personal pronoun use correct.
Truth: both sides of the aisle need to be careful; politicians live in glass houses; almost all of them. Some more vocally than others – cast stones. Yet, we continue to empower these people with our votes, pay them with our tax dollars and support them generously into retirement.
It is not a pretty picture. One final thought on the political state in America as it relates to my aforementioned thoughts. At the foot of the cross, there is no differentiation between Democrats or Republicans, Dreamers or Natural Born Americans… and, well, you can populate your own list.
And people say they have issues with church?
So, what do you fear? Armageddon, the event described in Revelation as opposed the place shown and described here? Do we fear America’s future? Seriously, beyond our individual personal political persuasions how truly “scared” are you for yourself, your family, your neighbors, your finances, your freedom to express your beliefs and faith?
It’s something to think about; it’s something to pray about; and it’s something ask ourselves as both Christians and Americans: are we ushering in an American Armageddon?
Other notes: Today we also visited Caesarea Maritima built by Herod the Great. It is the place Jesus’ followers were first called Christians and the placed from where Paul was sent to Rome as a prisoner. Here are a few shots.