Ashdod is a city in Israel. It rests on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea, about 45 kilometers south of Tel Aviv. It is one of three international ports and a major industrial center. The artificial port is enclosed by breakwaters and is Israel’s largest port, accounting for over 60 percent of its imported goods.
The City of Ashdod has rich historical significance; both Old and New Testament mention the city. The Bible references Ashdod 13 times. Each moment revolves around the Power of God working in the lives of believers. Let’s go back in time a bit and see why Ashdod is so important to the spreading of Christianity.
The City of Ashdod in the Old Testament
The first mention of Ashdod is in the book of Joshua. After the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land, the area was divided up. Ashdod was allocated to the tribe of Judah.
- The Philistines and the Ark of the Covenant – This historical story is found in I Samuel 5 – 7:2. After the Israelites failed to defeat the Philistines at Ashdod, the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant. They took it and placed it into the temple of their god Dagon. When their priests entered the temple the following morning Dagon, a dragon idol, had fallen face first onto the floor before the Ark. This occurred the next morning only with more damage to Dagon. The Philistines became fearful and tried to move it to different places, only to find themselves inflicted with illness. They finally returned the Ark to the Jews along with an offering to relieve their suffering.
- Rebuilding of the Temple – During the time of Nehemiah, when the wall of Jerusalem was being rebuilt, Ashdod was one of the groups that sided with Sanballat in anger over the process.
The City of Ashdod and New Testament History
The one main mention of The city of Ashdod in the New Testament occurs in the book of Acts. Within Luke’s writing, the name for the city is Azotus.
- Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch – Philip was a disciple of Jesus. He was preaching the Gospel in the area of Samaria. God greatly used him in the region. One day an angel of the Lord appeared to Philip and basically told him to go for a walk. He was led to a road that linked Gaza and Jerusalem. Along the way, Philip came across an Ethiopian Eunuch who was traveling back to Ethiopia, having visited Jerusalem to worship.
The Spirit of God continued to lead Philip, telling him to approach the chariot the eunuch was in. The man was reading the book of Isaiah. Philip became intrigued. He asked the man if he knew what he was reading. The eunuch answered, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” Philip joins the man and begins to instruct him on the passage he was reading; it was about Jesus. Then Philip told him about Jesus, his death, the resurrection, and the events of Pentecost.
The eunuch became excited and asked to be baptized. They found a body of water, and Philip baptized the man. Then Philip was taken into heaven by the Spirit of God. He found himself in the town of Azotus, and he continued to preach the Gospel there and on into Caesarea.
Spreading the Gospel
Two stories. One of the power of God and his presence that surrounded the men and women of Israel. The one item they held most dear, The Ark of the Covenant, was taken. But we find that God had the last word. He showed to the Philistines that only God is to be worshiped. Even their god bowed before the Almighty Power of God.
The second involves a curious individual and God’s perfect timing. Can you imagine the impact that Ethiopian made when he returned home? The disciples were to preach from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Through Philips teaching in Samaria, a man was impacted and changed. He took the gift of God he learned to the ends of the earth.
Arise Zion: The Israel Tour
An opportunity is coming to walk the path Philip walked and met the Ethiopian Eunuch and to see the area the Philistines tried to hide the Ark of God. GOD TV has announced its 25th anniversary Israel Tour in March 2020. This exciting 9-day adventure around the Holy Land is jammed pack with guest speakers, experts on Biblical history, and the land Jesus walked upon himself.
The Bible comes to life, and you will fall in love with Jesus like never before. Guides say that the hardest part of the visit is getting folks back on the plane to go home; they fall in love with the land and do not want to leave. You can book your reservation today and get ready for the experience that will change your life forever.
Written by Jeff Bray