A Look into the/Your Future

I saw the future yesterday in Israel.

Our guide, Hilik, drove us to Tel Megiddo. (A ‘tel’ is a man-made mound created by the accumulation of civilizations and millennia of people building one thing on top of the other. These mounds are often where archaeologists have their greatest discoveries—each layer telling the stories of history—since most ancient places have had more than one civilization in that place. (There’s a reason people want to build in these ancient sites {i.e. water source, natural resource, strategic advantage, crossroads, etc}.)

Megiddo has long sat at the crossroads of civilizations coming to dominate the world. Between the “Way of the Sea” and the N-S routes. (Credit for map from Bible Journey)

Now, Megiddo is a 9000+ year old city that has been built up and then destroyed and then rebuilt 26 different times. (Pretty incredible, frankly.) But Megiddo wasn’t knocked down and then set back up again that many times just because they had a bully or two as neighbors. Megiddo is the intersection of a critical crossroads of the East-West road from the handful of ports on the Mediterranean and the North-South road between Egypt and Mesopotamia/Europe. In other words, a lot of armies, empires, and civilizations have marched these two roads in one direction or the other to do damage to the other civilizations and empires they were determined to replace. So, needless to say, Megiddo has a history of being Ground Zero for Emperor’s egos and civilizations’ pride. At least 26 times, in fact.

So, here’s the thing. I believe in the Bible and it does a whole lot more than predict wild pictures of the future. The Scriptures say a lot about everyday life and how it ought to go (and not go). And the Scriptures are never off . . . even if they might seem like something’s off to us right now. (There’s a reason that the Bible is the Megiddo of Thought. While a lot of destruction and depravity may bring life and powers down all around us . . . there’s ol’ Megiddo still standing. Well, that’s the Bible.)

So, the Bible seems to imply that Megiddo is the future site of at least a 27th battle. But this war will be bigger than a fight between two armies . . . but rather all of them. And one extra piece: God’s in on this one, too. In the Bible, it refers to the Hebrew name for the place it will happen: Har-magedon (or, the hill of Megiddo). We English-speakers more popularly refer to the whole thing as the global and apocalyptic conflagration known as Armageddon.

View of the Valley of Jezreel from the 9000-year-old ancient site, Tel Megiddo

Well, from up there on Tel Megiddo, our guide pointed us to the modern roads that actually just put asphalt over the same exact ancient roads that every global army would march for thousands of years before us. At some point, everybody’s got to bring troops and equipment through navigable places to win wars. Well, this is the big one. Literally and futuristically.

So, I was looking down there into the Valley of Jezreel that lies below the tel and tried to imagine a future battle where every world power is bearing down on this place. Demons are pushing the hateful world leaders and the power-hungry kings to crack their whips closer and closer . . . and there will God be: set to meet them all. In all honesty, it’s a grim thing to think about. And, frankly, it’s not a pleasant thing to have to contend with as a theology about God, the future, Humanity, and everything in between. But, dude, you can’t go to Megiddo and only think about the past. Temporary civilizations ruling the region or ruling the world come and go there like frozen waffles in your freezer. They’re there today, gone tomorrow. Megiddo is as much about the future as it as its past.

What do I do with it all, then, you ask? Well, I stared at this vast valley and let a grim future overlay it in my mind’s eye. And, then, I let a peace overlay it. Friends, the apocalypse is way above my pay grade (and yours, too, before you start burning any calories commenting on any disagreements you might have with my reflections). It’s literally one verse in the Bible (Revelation 16:16). Not that I think that the Bible can’t say something powerful and true in one verse, but I think it says a lot about a lot of things in more than one verse, so I leave you with this.

Look around in the place you are right now. No, really. Look up from your phone, your computer, or your tablet. Look around. Don’t just see it. Envision it. Envision the valuable people who come and go there. Be absorbed with the setting there where you are. Get a vision of what terrible thing could happen here tomorrow if everyone eschewed God’s ways and went head-first into only living for themselves. Then, perhaps, consider also looking down/back at the tel below you—your family’s disasters and the generational rubble your life and family have had to be built upon. There might be a lot of secrets and a lot of damage in that basement. (And the basement below that one—because your life is more than one generation deep, my friend.) Well, what if you could learn from that tel . . . learn from that rubble? What if you could change how everything gets rebuilt? Where everything should go?

Now, stop that vision. And look up again. Envision tomorrow with God standing in the middle of the crossroads of that place. In the living room. In the board room. In the lunch room. In the lobby. In the bedroom. Instead of a grim future there, what if you could be the great power in that place that ushered God’s Presence into it. Not as the Destroyer or the Punisher or the Apocalypse-Bringer. But, rather, as the God who Loves each person that will intersect in a place. What if disaster could be averted for your family, your marriage, your company, your school, your team, or your church? Instead of finding war at that Megiddo, what if they found God and you with love and open arms?

Now, envision that kind of conversation. Envision that kind of future. Live that future. Invite God there to be the maker of peace. Those kind of futures shape the future futures.

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