Destination Israel: The Panorama of Mt. Carmel (Part 14)

Mt.Carmel towers 1,724 feet above the lush Valleyof Jezreelto its northeast. This mountain hosts a panoramic viewpoint to peruse events of both the prophetic past and the soon coming future. Mt.Carmel, or Har ha Karmell as it is called in Hebrew, means God’s Vineyard. Today the slopes of this mountain are still home to luxuriant vineyards and plush olive groves. Most tour groups will find their way to the top of Mt.Carmeldue to its rich history and breath-taking views of the Israeli landscape. Here at the Carmelite Monastery, a Catholic order founded here by monks in the 12th century, you can imagine what it must have been like in the days of Elijah, the prophet. A cave exists here in the grotto of the monastery that the Carmelites claim is the cave of Elijah.

Mt.Carmel has been a “high place”—a place of worship and sacrifice—since ancient times. The Tel of Meggido is not far from this location, and there one can view a pagan Canaanite altar. Thutmose III of Egypt mentions Mt. Carmel in the 15th century BC as a holy site. We also know from the narratives of 1 Kings 18, that an altar to Jehovah God was located here, but had fallen into ruin during the reign of King Ahab, who ruled over the ten northern tribes of Israel in Samaria.

Elijah's Statue

It was here on this same high place that the prophet Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal to a contest by fire (1 Kings 18:20-40). The winner would be decided by whose sacrifice was consumed by heavenly fire. “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 (1 Kings 18:24a). Elijah allowed the worshippers of Baal to go first and they spent the day working themselves into a frenzy—even to the point of cutting themselves with lances and swords (the purpose was to excite the passions of their god with spilled blood)—but to no avail. No fire fell! Then Elijah repaired and rebuilt the LORD’s altar with twelve stones. He prepared the burnt offering by placing the wood on it and slaying the ox, cutting it up, and arranging the pieces on the wood. A trench was dug around the altar and everything was soaked three times with four pitchers of water. Elijah prayed a short prayer and God answered by fire. The divine flame fell from heaven and consumed stones, wood, ox, water, and even the dust surrounding the altar. The prophets of Baal were rounded up and Elijah executed them at the base of Mt. Carmel at the brook Kishon. Today a statue of Elijah slaying a priest of Baal stands across the courtyard from the Carmelite Monastery.

As you look out from the observation deck on the roof of the monastery,

Valley of Jezreel

you are viewing a battlefield of antiquity and the future site of the greatest battle that will be fought here on planet earth—Har Meggido or the Battle of Armageddon—there in the Jezreel Valley. God created this natural battlefield at the dawn of creation in anticipation of the events that would transpire here. General Patton once remarked that this plain was the greatest battlefield he had ever seen. Here the forces of the antichrist will meet their destruction at the hands of the One who will return on a white horse, whose name is Faithful and True. With one word He will destroy the innumerable armies of the enemy who has gathered to destroyIsrael. He will tread the grapes of God’s wrath in the shadows of Har ha Karmell—the Vineyard of God. That King is Jesus Christ—the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Valley of Jezreel

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself standing on Mt. Carmel somewhere between Elijah’s victory and the soon coming King who will stand victorious at Armageddon and you will understand the panorama of Mt. Carmel.