Heather and I had an incredible opportunity to tour the Holy Land, Israel. The trip had a packed schedule and had us visiting multiple sites per day trying to take it all in. We worked through a journal to make notes at each site but still could not get it all! Since we have been back, I have been writing and processing the revelation gained at each site we visited.
We visited the excavated ruins of a city called Tel Dan. It is the northernmost city of Israel in the Old Testament. Seeing the ruins was interesting from an archaeological perspective. However, in archaeology when the past is uncovered, we want to learn from it.
There is a past we can learn from in this city called Tel Dan.
God freed the nation of Israel from the bondage of Egypt and used Moses to lead them to a land he promised. After Israel entered the land, it was divided among the twelve tribes. One of the tribes was called Dan. Dan was the fifth son of Jacob. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel by God.
Joshua 19:40-48 is where we see the allotment of land given to the tribe of Dan. This territory was not as large as the other territories. The territory given to Dan was on the Mediterranean Sea and included modern day Jaffa. This was a fertile land and also had a great fishing opportunity.
For the tribe of Dan to take possession of the land they would have to fight the Amorites. We see in Judges 1:34 that the tribe of Dan did not take possession of the land. We read later in Judges 18 that the tribe of Dan moved north. That is where they established the city and the ruins of what I was able to see.
The problem is that Tel Dan was established in disobedience. God had promised a land to possess, and he promised He would go before them and provide victory. The tribe of Dan lacked the faith to trust God for the victory and tried to establish God’s promise in another location. They didn’t want to fight anymore so they moved to the mountains. The northern most city if Israel.
The problem with disobedience is it meant Dan was constantly fighting. Being the northernmost city, it was the place every invading army marched from the north. They did not want to fight for the promise of God, so they continually fought because of their disobedience.
We also see in Judges 18 that when Dan moved north, they set up idolatrous worship. In 1 Kings 12:28-30 Jeroboam set up golden calves for worship and told the people this is who brought you out of Egypt. One of the calves was in the city of Dan. A city founded in disobedience continued to operate in disobedience.
Eventually the city of Dan was destroyed by an invading army and lays in ruins. Now only archaeologists and tourist come to the city.
As I stood in this place, I could not help but think about the times God has called me to walk in obedience his plan and promise but I let my inadequacies hinder me. In Exodus 4:10-12 God tells us he will equip us when he calls us. We also have to remember that God is a God of Promise, Covenant. In Exodus 34, God renewed the covenant after the people turned and worshiped a golden calf. God said in Exodus 34:11 that he would drive out the people inhabiting the land. The first on that list? Amorites.
Tel Dan is not just another archaeological site in Israel. It uncovers something from the past.
If we uncover something from the past, we need to learn from it. Otherwise, we may be destined to repeat it.
Temple site in Tel Dan when the golden calf and altar would have stood.
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