Israel Study Tour with Grace Central Coast

Oct 28 - Nov 9, 2019

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The significance of the land of Israel

What a day! First, watching the sun rise over the Dead Sea, followed by an amazing trip to Masada, site of King Herod’s safe haven situated at the top of an impossibly high and steep mountain. Some of our group chose to hike the entire way to the top, but most of us opted to take the gondola. At the top are the ruins where, in 73 AD, with Herod long gone, Masada was the site of a group of Jewish Zealots’ last stand against the Roman Empire. After a three month siege, the Zealots fell, but their courage remains legendary.

Masada

The summit of Masada sits 190 feet (59 m) above sea level and about 1,500 feet (470 m) above the level of the Dead Sea. The mountain itself is 1950 feet (610 m) long, 650 feet (200 m) wide, 4,250 feet (1330 m) in circumference, and encompasses 23 acres. The “Snake Path” climbs 900 feet (280 m) in elevation. From the west, the difference in height is 225 feet (70 m).

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After Masada, our bus took us to a Bedouin oasis and bcamel ranch, where we experienced Bedouin hospitality and were challenged by Jeremy and Ken to consider our own Christian hospitality. Following lunch the bravest of us climbed aboard camels for a short ride into the desert. What a hoot!

Back at the hotel, we changed into our white hotel bathrobes and, as a group, wandered the short distance down to the Dead Sea (the lowest spot on earth!) where we bobbed like corks in the impossibly buoyant mineral-laden water. Jeremy Peet, generous guy that he his, treated any within reach to a Dead Sea mud facial, whether we wanted it or not. Truly a sight to behold.

All fun aside, we are smitten by the significance of the land of Israel. What a place of contrasts: fertile farmland and stark deserts, tour busses buzzing by a Bedouin camel herder by the side of the highway, the contrast of ancient and modern, and of course, the very obvious religious contrasts. We’re only two days into the trip and Peggy and I have been struck to the core by the fact that Christianity is a faith deeply rooted in place and culture. Already so much scripture has come alive as we see the words of the Bible taking on new meaning. To understand scripture deeply we must understand Israelite and middle eastern cultures deeply. That’s why we came on this trip; to see firsthand the place where the Bible was written, so that we can understand better and be changed.

Wayne and Peggy Brown

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