We began our morning by the Dead Sea again. This was our last night here, and we are sad to go. Our first stop for the day was En Gedi, in the Judah wilderness. In the midst of the dry heat there is a lush green pathway hidden through the hills. As we weaved through the palm branches and little pools of water we arrived at a beautiful waterfall. This area is where David hid from Saul when he was fleeing for his life. We could not think of a better place to hide. Rod spoke of the backwards thinking of much of the church. Around the waterfall are small trickles of water. We often long for a pastor to be a large waterfall that we can sit under, rather than each member of the church combining their small drops to create the waterfall for the dry and weary world. In the same fashion, Jesus calls himself living water. Living water is water that comes from rain or streams or waterfalls. It moves and does not sit stagnant like that collected in cisterns. This is reflected in the amount of life that appears near the sources of living water. A cistern is dirty and still, but living water brings life.
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.
We next traveled to Wadi Arugot. It was a gorgeous hike through rocky terrain in the beating sun. There was a small stream flowing through the bottom guiding our path. As we turned a corner, a hidden waterfall appeared again. Life in the middle of barren rock. This time we were allowed to swim in it. We each took turns, husband and wife, siting under the rushing water experiencing mikvah. This is the practice of pouring water over our heads and chests and hands and feet, asking God to forgive the ways in which we have not pursued him with our thoughts, heart, actions, or walk. It was a powerful moment where we had the chance again to renew our vows to our spouse and to Him.
From there, our last stop was Qumran. The history here runs deep into these caverns. This is where the Dead Sea scrolls, written by the Essenes, were found. Before these were discovered, the oldest texts dated back to 1000 AD. These scrolls, however, are from 100 BC, and the vast majority are almost word for word the same. There are copies of each book of the Old Testament, except for Esther. The passion that the Essenes felt for the Word of God spoken to their forefathers brought a fervor into each one of us to know the text. The continuously removed themselves from the everchanging fads of the world to remain true to the way in which God called them to walk. They then brought this walk to the world. This was a powerful way to end the day.
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.
We repent and wash with the living water of God so that we might walk in His way for the world to see His glory. This was our last day in the desert, and it slightly breaks our heart to leave. He has revealed Himself to His people, both past and present, in this place. But we know through His story that to stay in the seclusion of the hills would miss the chance to bring His joy and His life to the rest of the world, so we venture to the city. We can’t wait for what’s next!
Written by Ryan & Kellie H.
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