God And Lebanon
Lebanon holds a very prominent and unchallenged place in the Bible. Chapter after chapter, we find references that reveal the eternal and inseparable bond that exists between God and Lebanon.
The testimony of the Holy Bible, the most distinguished of all mankind's books of faith, is everlastingly present in the human consciousness of people in every corner of the world. And Lebanon, which is mentioned seventy times in the Bible, remains as perpetually present in human consciousness as does the Holy Book itself.
It was in Lebanon that Christ performed "the first of His miraculous signs" and "thus revealed His glory" (John 2:11). It is in this chapter that we follow the footsteps of Christ in Galilee, where He attended a wedding in Cana (in south Lebanon) and, upon the request of His mother, "transformed water into wine."
At first, He refused, saying "My time has not yet come," but then He accepted, realizing that the time had indeed come for Him to reveal himself as God. It was here and on that day that the Church of Christ on earth was established, transforming the wedding celebration of Cana into a celebration of salvation for all mankind.
It was also in south Lebanon, near Sidon, that Christ decided to extend his ministry of salvation beyond the house of Israel to become the Savior of the universe. This happened in his encounter with the Canaanite (Lebanese) woman, who pleaded for His help on behalf of all those with no hope for salvation and to whom He replied, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs" She responded. "Yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table" (Matthew 15: 21-28 ) ,( Mark 7:24-30 ) .
In that moment, God responded to the Canaanite: "Oh woman great is thy faith", and He decided to take the bread destined for the children of Israel and cast it out across the entire world to all nations. It was as though Christ had remembered His Phoenician ancestry -- through Athlia who was the wife of Joram, the son of Joshafat, King of Judea, and the daughter of Isabel who was the daughter of Ethbaal, King of Tyre -and chose to launch His universal mission of salvation from the same land.
The most beautiful transformation, viewed as an event where heaven and earth embraced, occurred on Mount Hermon in Lebanon, known as Jabal El Sheikh. There, Christ was transfigured. His face, glowing as brilliantly as the sun, suddenly appeared to all as the incarnate light of the Lord of Heavens and Earth and Savior of Mankind. On this mountain in Lebanon, from a voice in the clouds, came this glorious confirmation to all those who denied Christ as God: "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him." (John 12:25), (Luke 9:28-43), (Matthew 17:1-8).
When Christ sent His disciples out into the world to spread His Word, it was in Lebanon - in the eparchy of Marjayoun in Caesarea Philippi - that He handed over the Keys of the Church , "the keys of the kingdom of heaven " to Peter (Matthew 16:13 ), (Mark 8:27).
All this has made Lebanon a blessed and sacred land. Christ lived His most, gratifying, pleasant and significant days during His missions of preaching in Lebanon. In contrast, He endured the bitterness of exile as a child, the suffering of persecution and finally the profound pain of crucifixion and death in Palestine.
We invite you to come to Lebanon, to the land sanctified by the presence of Christ, to the country where the early Church was founded and where the enduring sounds of its bells still mingle with the eternal and glorious chants of angels.
The land and people of Lebanon open their arms to your visit and promise you a warm welcome in every way. We invite you to come and greet the third millennium amid its verdant mountains and alongside its glistening sea. Come and follow in the footsteps of Christ. Come and make a spiritual pilgrimage to His many sanctuaries and renew your faith. And when you leave, take with you a handful of Lebanon's sacred earth to cherish as a token of Christ's eternal blessings upon your home.
By: Antonio Andary
Foreign Relations Director