If we learned that Herod was a brilliant architect yesterday, today we learned that his architectural brilliance pales in comparison to what God has created and built. Take our first stop today for instance. It’s a place called Ein Gedi, an oasis in the desert flowing to the Dead Sea. This place was breathtaking for us but lifesaving for David. As we listened to the scripture and message shared by Gary Finn, we recognized that many times in the Bible when David writes poetry about refuge, he is probably referring to Ein Gedi. After all, it is place that kept him hidden when Saul sought to kill him. As our group hiked up the mountain to enjoy the spring-fed waterfalls, we didn’t miss the fact that God’s beauty provided David with the safety he needed to survive. Teeming with wildlife, this oasis is still life-giving today.
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.
Our next stop was stark in comparison to Ein Gedi. Qumran is a place of solitude and world-changing historical significance. It is here that the Essenes created and hid the Dead Sea scrolls in many of the surrounding caves. Years later, this discovery would bring a timely validation to both the Jewish and the Christian faith. Our guide, Dan, an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, helped us understand just how special this archaeological site is.
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 continued to make our way to holy sites, and our next stop, the Lower Jordan River would prove to be just as powerful for us. Ken Murphy pointed just how holy this Jordan River crossing junction was. He reminded us that God made Himself present at the baptism of His Son. Without a doubt, this was as close to the precise part of river where Jesus ushered in his ministry as we could get.
Our day concluded at the East shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. As some of us swam in the water, I imagined Jesus walking the shoreline, The footprints of Jesus may be long faded in the sand of this sacred place, but as waves beat up against the Galilean shore, one cannot help but hear the lingering, powerful echo of a life lived and a life given by Jesus of Nazareth here on these Holy grounds.
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GTI Signature Tour: Israel & Jordan
Septemer 5-17, 2020
Experience Israel & Jordan for 11 days in the context of biblical history and personal faith.
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