Israel Study Tour with Pastor Steve Williams

May 16-26, 2016

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A powerful place and a great reminder

Shabbat Shalom! Today we packed up and left our hotel overlooking the Dead Sea to continue toward our travels towards the Sea of Galilee. But the days journey was so full of such incredible adventures that I fell asleep before getting to write a summary. We traveled first to large oasis called En Gedi which is filled with green vegetation, natural springs and wild animals. We came to a spot where we could see openings to caves on the mountain side and sat while Ronen and Pastor Steve shared the significance of the place were were at. We opened the bible to 1 Samuel 23-24 and learned this the the place David and his men fled to while being hunted by King Saul. In fact one of these caves is where Saul went to where the bible says go to the bathroom and David was hiding and instead of killing him he cut the the corner of his robe. Such a powerful place and a great reminder for people like myself who live impatient lives that it’s God’s timing not mine that matters and David gave us this great lesson.

Ein Gedi

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.

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We continued on our journey to Qumran which was very a powerful. We toured a Essene village where a group of Jewish people went into the wilderness to study and learn about God. They would work all day and then they would study and write the words of God and the attention to detail and accuracy in which they wrote had to be perfect. This was the place that in 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. We also talked about the history of the site and battle for the land between Israel and Jordon. A memorable thing I took from here is Pastor Steve’s challenge that scripture matters. Great dedication and care was taken to capture God’s words and now we have access to them on our bookshelves and coffee tables often unopened and unread.

Qumran

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.

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As if we hadn’t already had a full day, our next stop was the Jordon River. To be honest it wasn’t that impressive (though thousands of years ago it looked very different and Ronen pointed out that just a few years a go there was flash floods and we where we were sitting would have been well underwater. It is very dirty yet we saw people enter from our side as well as from the banks of Jordon. We sat looking at the River listening to the story of Jesus being baptized (by the way he traveled by about a week from Nazareth to be baptized). Somewhere in the general area that we were also is where Joshua crossed over into the promise land, and where Elijah and Elisha walked and separated the waters. To think that we are sitting in this place that holds such incredible significant leaves me and I’m sure the rest of the group without words.

We continued on our journey to the Sea of Galilee where we will spend the next 3 days. After checking in we changed our clothes and walked down to the very rocky shore line to baptize those who wanted to be baptized. As Pastor Steve read the great commission it was almost hard to hear him because the wind was blowing and the waves were crashing (remind you of anything in the bible?). As we waded out there all I can say is nobody in our group will forget it because it was like an ocean baptism but there was no sand it was all rocks and so we were having trouble walking out and standing without being knocked over by the waves….A great memory our group will cherish together.

Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee is fed by the Jordan River, rainfall and springs on the northern side. More properly designated a lake, the Kinneret (the OT and modern name) is 13 miles long and 7 miles wide. At its deepest point the lake is only 150 feet deep. The rabbis said of it, “Although God has created seven seas, yet He has chosen this one as His special delight.”

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We had Shabbat dinner which was very good and it was interesting watching the traditional customs of the Jewish people around us. We have the extra blessing as this weekend our hotel is hosting a group of handicapped children and their families and so personally I’ve been blessed hearing the running and yelling of children up and down the halls (makes me miss home:-)

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Experience Israel & Jordan for 11 days in the context of biblical history and personal faith.

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