Southern Dead Sea, Ein Avdat, Bedouin Camels and Tent teaching, and Beersheva
Today we explored the Negev (southern desert) of Israel! Heading away from the salt sea with discussions about Sodom, Gomorrah and modern Israeli exports, we trekked towards the spring and canyon (Ein Avdat) at the edge of the wilderness of Zin, where Israel wandered.
We are all familiar with the story of the children of Isreal wandering in the wilderness. Today we spent the day learning what that might have felt like, the varying terms, conditions, and experiences of the desert. It isn’t like the Mojave - full of sand. It is dry, rocky and dusty. There are no trees, few plants and the sun is brutal. There is little to no water and animals are even rarer except for a few Ibex (gazelles), birds and lizards. God promised his people a land of milk and honey, but the Children were not obedient and there were consequences to their actions. As we walked through the arid and very hot wasteland, I thought about the hundreds of thousands of people, from the babies to the old, that lived in these conditions for 40 years. And while they didn’t enter the promised land, still, God cared for them. They were provided with food and water. They had shelter and God kept away the invaders. Even in their disobedience, God did not abandon his Children. And God did keep his promise to the next generation.
The Nahal Zin is 75 miles (120 km) long and drains 600 sq. miles (1550 sq. km). It is the largest wadi that begins in the Negev. The Nahal Zin was created by reverse erosion as the great height difference between the Negev Highlands and the Jordan Rift caused the underlayers to erode during the rainy season, resulting in the collapse of the harder strata of rock above. The landscape is mostly Eocene limestone, consisting of some brown-black layers of low-grade flint. The flint slows down the erosion of the limestone.
I am thankful for this vivid picture of God’s goodness. That even though I may slip into disobedience, God doesn’t abandon me. Like the Children of Israel, I have consequences from bad choices, but God is true to his promise and makes a way for me to come back into fellowship with Him.
We also spent some time at a wandering nomadic camp, riding camels, and learning about the Bedouins and the cultural and ancient practice of hospitality. The Bedouins and others in this region understood the dangers of travel and had very strict rules about how to treat strangers. All were provided with welcome, food and shelter; none were turned away. Our culture has moved away from caring for others, from “loving our neighbor as ourselves”. I think about my own life and the opportunities I have missed to invite people into my home for a simple meal and fellowship. I am reminded that it is relationships that endure. What do I want my epitaph to say, “she was a hard worker”, or “she was a good friend”? What about you?
These places have stirred us and provided images that unlock so many passages. But even greater, they are stretching and prompting us to consider the weight of our lives following not merely the words of the Bible, but the visual practice of its truths!
So much in these first two days! And more to come!
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Septemer 5-17, 2020
Experience Israel & Jordan for 11 days in the context of biblical history and personal faith.
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