When you stand atop the ancient mound of Megiddo, with the remnants of 25 civilizations beneath your feet, each hill and valley you see tells a biblical tale. Every army that ever crossed this land clashed in its shadow. No wonder the Book of Revelation set the great battle of the End of Days against this backdrop, and called this place Armageddon.
Megiddo stands at the very hub of history. It was a central stop on the greatest trading route of ancient world, which crossed the land bridge of Canaan to link the far reaches of the Fertile Crescent – Egypt in the south and Mesopotamia in the north. Joshua (Joshua 12:21), King Solomon (I Kings 9:15) and the ill-fated King Josiah (2 Kings 23:30) all beheld its walls, which finally fell to the invading Assyrians.
When you come to Tel Megiddo, now Megiddo National Park and a World Heritage Site, you can’t help but sense the power of the massive gates that held the Egyptian army at bay for months, and the gates above them attributed to King Solomon. You will look down on a round altar where Canaanite sacrifices were carried out, and understand what the Bible means when it talks about “high places” where the Canaanites – and the Israelites – sacrificed to idols (2 Kings 23:19). The remains of the city the Assyrians built here some 2700 years ago are here as well, now scattered across the landscape.
Another Megiddo highlight is the descent down 180 steps into the shaft and tunnel, hewn in an amazing engineering feat to channel spring water into the city in the eighth century BCE, during the reign of King Ahab.
Though no town existed here in Jesus’ day, a surprising illustration of the nativity story has become a popular photo op: stone feeding troughs in stables from the days of the Israelite kings are precisely the type of manger in which the baby Jesus was laid (Luke 2:7).
Right down the road from Megiddo, an amazing discovery was made in November 2005 in excavations prior to the expansion of a prison, of all things: a mosaic floor bearing three inscriptions in Greek. Among them is one honouring a woman named Akeptos, “lover of God, who contributed the table to God, Jesus Christ as a memorial.” Archaeologists say that because the inscription mentions a table (and not an altar, a later custom) the Eucharist at the time must have still been conducted around a table, the way the first Christians did it. That may make this building unique in the Christian world, and we look forward to this site’s renovation, so Christian visitors can once again worship at what might be the oldest church ever found.
But nothing beats standing at the top of Tel Megiddo to take in the inspiring view: Mount Carmel to the west, Mount Gilboa to the east, Samaria to the south and, to the north, just across the valley – Nazareth. What better place to pray over and ponder this incomparable rendezvous with past and future.