Israel Study Tour with The Forge, Pine Cove

Mar 12-24, 2016

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Water and the Word

Day 3, y’all, was a BIG day! Although Matt says that about every day, it’s always true. We’re slowly overcoming jet lag, which is good because the hikes are quickly getting bigger, and I daresay the lessons are, too. I’m excited to share them with you!

We began the day beside the Salt Sea then hiked up the stronghold of Ein Gedi, one of the places David took refuge as he fled from Saul. There we walked through 1 Samuel 24 when David cut off the corner of Saul’s robe (tallit or prayer shawl), but then repented of taking things into his own hands and showed respect to Saul as God’s anointed. More hiking led us to the Spring of Ein Gedi, a vital source of fresh water (maim chaim or living water) for the region, just as Jesus is the only source of life for us. Our last visit was to Qumran, where the Essenes lived in a monastic community and showed extreme devotion to the Scriptures. They are responsible for meticulously copying the text and preserving the oldest manuscripts of the Bible that we have, what we now call the Dead Sea Scrolls. After a strenuous hike up the mountain, we were challenged to make a commitment to the Word of God, a commitment that will not be any easier than that climb.

Qumran

10 miles south of Jericho, Qumran was on a “dead-end street” and provided a perfect location for the isolationist sect of the Essenes to live.

The site was excavated by Catholic priest Roland deVaux from 1953-56. More recent excavations of the site have taken place under the direction of Hanan Eshel.

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Ever since the Spring of Ein Gedi, I’ve had the song “I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me” stuck in my head. Thanks Matt Lantz. But really, the contrast between the Salt Sea and the Spring has been soaking into my heart all day. The waters of the Salt Sea are clear blue and inviting, but drinking an 8 oz. glass will kill you; so fun to float in, but burns like no other if it’s in your eyes. This is the best the world has to offer us – things that look so refreshing but are full of death. Yet climb the narrow path to the Spring gushing forth fresh water, to the never-ending Source of Living Water, and find abundant life. Why would we settle for the Salt Sea when we have everything we need in Christ?

Ein Gedi

En Gedi is the largest oasis along the western shore of the Dead Sea. The springs here have allowed nearly continuous inhabitation of the site since the Chalcolithic period. The area was allotted to the tribe of Judah, and was famous in the time of Solomon (Josh 15:62). Today the Israeli kibbutz of En Gedi sits along the southern bank of the Nahal Arugot.

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Before we floated in the Salt Sea, Matt spent 10 minutes giving instructions: Don’t go underwater, don’t splash, don’t drink it. When he invited us into the Spring of Ein Gedi, he simply said, “Come,” and we did: we dove, we splashed, we played, and we danced. What an incredible picture of Christ’s invitation to come and experience joy and freedom in him! And what a privilege we have to extend the same invitation to others, because I really do have a River of Life flowing out of me.

Dead Sea

Known in the Bible as the “Salt Sea” or the “Sea of the Arabah,” this inland body of water is appropriately named because its high mineral content allows nothing to live in its waters. Other post-biblical names for the Dead Sea include the “Sea of Sodom,” the “Sea of Lot,” the “Sea of Asphalt” and the “Stinking Sea.” In the Crusader period, it was sometimes called the “Devil’s Sea.” All of these names reflect something of the nature of this lake.

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Needless to say, today held some powerful lessons and challenges, both physically and spiritually. Please continue praying for our hearts to be teachable as we listen to what the Lord has for us and for rest and physical well-being as we explore the land. Thanks for following along with us!

Shalom
- Ellen Geis

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Today was a HUGE day even though I didn't get to make either of the big hikes! While the rest of the PC staff hiked En Gedi (David hid in one of its caves when he cut the corner of Saul's robe) and Qumran (where the Dead Sea scrolls were found), I stayed behind and got a less intense tour of the significance of both sites. In the picture you see, this is a fountain of living water (aka fresh water that flows on its own power to its destination) found at En Gedi. It is located near the Dead Sea, which has a high enough salt content that absolutely NOTHING can live in it. When David pens a few of the Psalms, he talks about the living water, which was likely these waterfalls and pools that we saw. We spent time talking about how God is the source of living water that produces life and when we are in Jesus, we ourselves become a fountain of living water. The biggest challenge from this moment came with these words: "Do we bring life wherever we go [being the living water] or do we kill everything around us [like the Dead Sea]?" Hello conviction. In a dry and weary world that is turning away from God, we are and should be the oasis because we are planted by THE stream of living water. #forgeisrael #isthisrael

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Praise God for bringing me to the top of a mountain to teach me the importance of dwelling on His Word and letting that transform my heart towards obedience and thanksgiving. #forgeisrael

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Why go for anything else when you can have the Living Water! #4g16 #forgeisrael

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So many big things today but one of my very favorites was tangibly seeing the difference between the Dead Sea (pictured here) and streams of living water. The Dead Sea looks SO beautiful but it is SO full of death. Boats can't go in without being destroyed, no living animal can survive and an 8oz glass will kill any human. Just miles away is the most beautiful stream of living, flowing, ABUNDANT water and it's alive! Bringing Jesus' words to life when he says "Whoever believes in me, as Scriptures has said, streams of living water will flow from within him" Jn 7:38 #ForgeIsrael

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Just when we think Israel can't get any better...It does. #ForgeIsrael #4G16

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You could say that today was full of highs and lows #ISthisRAEL #forgeisrael

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On top of Qumran. Easily the hardest day physically and my feet hurt but the lessons learned are worth way more than temporary pain #forgeisrael #isthisrael

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