Anyone scared of heights? Technically, a person who is afraid of standing on a high cliff with nothing but a few hundred feet dramatically dropping below him suffers from acrophobia. Being “scared of heights” can be very traumatizing. Leading previous trips to Israel, I have seen people struggle with the fear of falling at places like Masada (snake path) and Arbel (the hiking trail up to the top). Another place that has produced a little anxiety has been at the place called the precipice of Nazareth.
Visiting the precipice of Nazareth is always a good alternative to simply going to one of the churches within the city of Nazareth itself. Although some 1st century ruins have been found very close to the Church of Annunciation, going into a church just doesn’t capture the same experience as standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Jezreel Valley and reading the passage from Luke 4.
Here is how Luke 4 records the end of the story that finds Jesus reading from the Isaiah scroll – “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the precipice of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” While the precipice today is a good mile away from the city itself (and doubtful that it preserves the precipice of the passage, it is still a great visual of how the story in Luke 4 ends. Remarkably, Jesus escapes being thrown off the cliff and escapes unharmed through the crowd.
What makes today’s precipice so interesting to visit is that from here one can recall many other stories form the Old Testament: At Mt. Tabor – the story of Deborah & Barak defeating Sisera’s army from the north (Judges 4 & 5); the Hill of Moreh – the story of Gideon defeating the Midianites (Judges 6 & 7); Mt. Carmel – the story of Elijah defeating the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Of course Megiddo lies across the valley to the southeast. This is where God will have the last word (Revelation 16), no matter how you see it unfolding.
Have you ever felt you “stood on the edge” of the precipice? No doubt you have if you ever encountered a difficult situation. To be sure, challenging moments in life can make us feel as if we’re falling off a cliff’s edge. Trials can make us less sure-footed and fearful. Yet as we place our faith in God, He is the one who helps us stand firm in Christ. Paul said this: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.” (I Corinthians 15:58).