Jun 26, 2014
One of the ancient world’s most important cities was Megiddo, dating from at least the 5th century B.C. Its location on a hill overlooking the Valley of Jezreel in modern day Israel gave it strategic importance in history. In former days, it controlled the passage between two military and trade routes. One connected Egypt to the lands of modern day Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. The other connected Jerusalem to modern day Lebanon that opened the way by sea, in ancient times, to Italy and Spain.
Throughout history, battles were fought and blood shed for control of Megiddo. In fact, the New Testament speaks of Megiddo as the place of the final battle at the end of the world (Rev 16:16). The name “Armageddon” simply means Har Megiddo or the hill of Megiddo. Today, ancient Megiddo is a peaceful archaeological site.
However, a recent discovery is now disturbing the dust that has settled on this site. Nearby there is a prison. In 2005, Israeli authorities wanted to replace a tent encampment for prisoners with detention cells. Since the area is so important for archaeological finds, the Antiquities Authority required that a salvage dig be carried out before any new building took place. In the course of that dig, two prisoners came across an amazing find. They unearthed the remnants of a 3rd century A.D. church. This church easily ranks as one of the oldest in Christendom.
In the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., there was a large camp of Roman soldiers near Megiddo. In those days, Roman soldiers came in contact with religions from all parts of the world. The Roman army was a fertile field for new converts. Undoubtedly, in this period before Christianity had become a legal religion, the army, located at Megiddo, numbered some newly converted Christian soldiers among its ranks. The recently discovered church was actually part of a larger building complex that included living quarters for Roman officers, ritual baths, and a bakery.