As we toured northern Israel (a lush area with streams of water, green landscapes and rich farmland) on Monday, the contrast between things that truly last and those that don’t continually came to mind.
We began the day with a visit to Caesarea Philippi, or as it’s known in Israel, Banias (a derivation of Paneas, a place dedicated to the Greek god, Pan). Herod’s sons, ruling separate areas of Judea according to their father’s dying wish, continued to curry favor with the powers in Rome. Here, Herod Philip went rather to an extreme in choosing as his home base this city dedicated to Pan, renaming it Caesarea Philippi honoring the Roman Caesar Tiberius. A large temple complex on the heights overlooking the city once looked like this:
I imagine when the Greeks originally built it, they thought it would last forever. However, this is what remains:
Herod Agrippa, later given Caesarea Philippi by Caligula, executed a major project rebuilding the city, including an extravagant palace:
Did Agrippa believe his work would always be there? I imagine so, but today it looks like this:
When Jesus and his disciples came to Philippi, their conversations focussed on more eternal things. It was here that Peter responded to Jesus’ question about who they thought he really was with “You are Messiah, the Son of the Living God!” Here also, a demon-possessed man was liberated from his condition and given right-minded life by Jesus. I am happy to be a child of this living God.