Falling into the Bible 3 -- Mt. Tabor; Above All, Jesus!
- Wednesday, October 09, 2002
In June 2002, author Eva Marie Everson toured the Holy Land as a journalist and photojournalist. For eight weeks Crosswalk.com will feature articles taken from her journal, as a Christian who "fell into the Bible." Use them in your own study time or as a group, focusing on what the Bible says, and then-using the reflections at the end-think about what it means to you personally.
One of the first things one notices when arriving in Israel is that--contrary to the popular opinion of my previously uninformed brain--it is not straight desert, flat and dotted by slow-moving camels and the occasional field of olive trees. This is rich, lush land with rolling hills, breathtaking bodies of shimmering water, snowcapped mountains, and productive patchwork acres of agriculture.
On the first leg of our journey into the "land of the Bible," we left Nazareth and Mary's Well for Mount Tabor (pronounced taa-BORE) as we trekked closer to the Sea of Galilee. Our van wove around the twists and turns in the road like a roller coaster at Six Flags as our guide, Miriam, began to tell her seven "students" the history of this "very large mountain."
Mount Tabor gets its first "claim to fame" in the book of Judges, the second book after the Books of Moses (The Pentateuch); most noted as the one that deals with the on-again, off-again relationship the freed Hebrew slaves -- now warriors -- had with God once they'd reached and settled into The Promised Land.
This is the story of a prophetess named Deborah, a soldier named Barak, a mountain called Tabor, and -- like the story of Joshua and Hazor -- a king named Jabin. This new king was a descendent of the Jabin whose city Hazor was burned to the ground in Joshua 11.
The new city of Hazor where this new King Jabin reigned was rebuilt on the old destroyed site of the original city by the same name. Previous to the story of Deborah and Barak, the Israelites had a period of "on again" relationship with God, but at the beginning of Judges 4, we read that, again, the people of Israel had forgotten the importance of relationship with the Almighty One.
The LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had 900 iron chariots and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for 20 years, they cried to the LORD for help. Deborah, a prophetess...was leading Israel at that time...She sent for Barak...and said to him, "The LORD , the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men...and lead the way to Mount Tabor." (excerpts from Judges 4:1-6 NIV)
Barak wasn't 100 percent up for the task and said to Deborah, ""If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go." (vs. 8) Deborah agrees, but not before admonishing Barak about the consequences of his lack of faith. "Because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman." (vs. 9)
Barak brought his troops together --10,000 men strong -- and, along with Deborah, they climbed to the top of Mount Tabor. When Sisera heard that they had encamped there, he gathered his men together along with nine hundred iron chariots and headed toward the mountain to quell any thoughts of an uprising.
Instead, as soon as Deborah received her orders from God, she said to Barak, "Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands." (vs. 14) On those orders, Barak led ten thousand men down the side of the imposing 1,843-foot mountain, routing Sisera's army. Sisera, in the meantime, jumped off his chariot and ran into the tent of a woman named Jael, who gave him something to drink, put him to bed, and then ever-so-sweetly drove a stake through his head, killing him. (That'll do it.)
From that day on, the strength of the Israelites became stronger and they eventually overtook King Jabin, living once again in right relationship with God.
While the impressive mountain called Tabor, which seems to simply burst out of the plains that surround it, is mentioned a few more times in the Old Testament scriptures (David declares in Psalm 89 that both Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon will sing the praises of God, while Jeremiah talks about its great height in Jeremiah 46.), there is no mention of it in the New Testament.
However, according to tradition, it is to Mount Tabor that Jesus took three of His disciples to witness the event known as The Transfiguration. (Other traditions state that it was Mount Hermon. As in the story of Mary's message from Gabriel, Scripture is not exact as to location, though writings such as those by Josephus indicate that it could not have been Tabor, but in fact, Hermon.)
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