Ancient Paths - Austin group

March 11-23, 2022

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Day 05 - Negev Desert, Part 3

We started our fifth day with a hike to a beautiful waterfall in the desert at En Gedi. We talked about Mayim Chayim - Living Water - and how our lives should be reflecting the waterfall behind us. Our lives, devotion to the Lord, and love for His people, should be like water in the desert - filled with an outpouring of the fruit of the Spirit as we seek to lift others up.


After a delicious lunch (seriously, the food is so good here!), we headed to Qumran. This was the site where the Essene people gathered, and ultimately where the Dead Sea Scrolls were identified.


This stop felt significant to me for many reasons, and I think it’s because of the parallels I saw in my own life. The Essene people left the synagogues because they had become corrupt. God was nowhere to be found, and greed ran rampant. It was a place of intense power struggles, as Hellenism began to overtake the priests of the day.


They left for the desert - the place where God speaks and nurtures - to escape Hellenism, and to repent. But do you know what they were leaving? Extreme wealth. Elite status. Comfort.  They had it all, and decided that risking it all for the covenant of Yahweh.


I wonder sometimes in my own life what I’m willing to surrender to live a life of suffering and “deserts” in the chaos of life. Instead of letting desert seasons refine us, we often run in the opposite direction. I am not immune.


I’m praying God reveals in me, over the course of the rest of this trip, what in my life needs to go. What can I let go of so that His love can take root in my heart?


Rod said that repentance is a gift. The Essene people understood repentance in this way. In fact, there were several Mikveh washing pools found and excavated at Qumran, leading us to believe that ceremonial cleansing was an important part of daily life.


May we also be a people who understand repentance for what it is: a gift to allow us to accept what we can no longer change, and move forward into a right relationship with the Creator of the Universe who loves us wholeheartedly, and without abandon.


Brittany Jacobson

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