Israel Study Tour with Northway Church

Jun 14-25, 2021

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A day of desert dwelling

WILDERNESS OF ZIN:

We started the day by taking a two-hour drive down to the Negev – a desolate and rocky region that makes up the southern half of Israel. There we arrived at Ein Avdat National Park in the Wilderness of Zin, where we put our feet to the desert and walked the paths of the Israelites as they wandered for 40 years following their exodus from Egypt.  

The Israelites had different names for the different types of desert wilderness, and their wandering took place in what they called the Yeshimon: barren nothingness. With high temperatures and a six-day walk between water sources, this form of desert is completely unforgiving. There’s no harder place on earth to survive, and yet this is where God led his people and kept his people for a time. He took them the long way, the hard way, because they needed to learn what it meant to come to the end of themselves, to be fully dependent on their God for survival so they would know him – experience him – as their one true God.

We walked in silence for a bit. We listened to the sounds of the birds and the faint flowing of a water spring, we sat under the much-appreciated shade of a tree, and for just a few hours in there in the Yeshimon, We got a taste of how such things meant hope of life and thanks to God. 

ABRAHAM’S HOSPITALITY & FAITH:

Following lunch and a group camel ride through the desert, we took a deeper dive into the life of Abraham. We learned of his hospitable nature, and the hospitable nature of the nomadic people he lived amongst. We were challenged to think through the ways we show biblical hospitality in a world of increasing individualism. 

We visited Beersheba, the southern boundary city of the nation of Israel and the land Abraham was called to by God as his promised inheritance. In faith, Abraham left all he knew and came to this Canaanite city. In faith, Abraham (a foreigner) began claiming this new city through intentional means: He built a well, he continuously walked the land, and bought a piece of it to own. In addition to these things, he planted a tree. Planting trees was symbolic of contribution to the ground one claims as theirs. In our tour of the city ruins, we learned the beautiful significance of the type of tree he planted – the Tamarisk tree. A no-doubt strategic tree for the desert given its shade and ability to collect moisture at night and redistribute it in the heat of the day (think modern-day misters), the curious thing about the Tamarisk Tree, though, is it’s also notoriously slow-growing. It grows an inch every year, meaning a full-grown tree would take about 400 years to mature.

Abraham planted a tree that he would never get to benefit from because he believed the words of God in Genesis 12 – that he would be given land, and his future offspring would inherit it, and the Lord would bless it. And 432 years later, as Joshua led the Israelites out of Egypt into the promised land, a fully mature Tamarisk Tree was waiting for them.

 

THE DEAD SEA:

We capped off the day with an evening float in the Dead Sea. Also known as the Salt Sea, the Dead Sea was the eastern boundary for the nation of Israel. Normal oceans have 2% salinity. This body of water has 32-34% salinity making it totally unlivable, and therefore, dead. The density of the water causes people to float, and float we did, but not before smearing on some Dead Sea mud masks. It was a great way to end a day of desert dwelling.

 

 

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