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Israel Study Tour with The Church at Rocky Peak

March 12-23, 2023

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Day 03 - Negev - Galilee: Masada, Ein Gedi, Qumran

After yesterday’s refreshing and therapeutic dip in the Dead Sea, today was the day to conquer the land with hiking sticks, trail shoes, and plenty of water. 

Today’s blog is about retracing the steps of a viscerally emotional moment in Jewish history. Masada National Park is one of Israel’s most visited sites. Every Israeli child makes the hike several times in their lives as part of their school experience.  

We arrived at about 8am.  The bold and brave went to the right led by our fearless leader, Pastor Michael, to prepare for our journey to the top of Masada and trace the paths of millions of Israelis before.  

The wise and fortunate went to board the gondola for a scenic breezy ride to the top. 

See the picture of Michael gathering us for prayer before the 1.24 mile 1,300 foot ascent up the “Snake Path.”

We started with a pep in our step and quickly took our first of many many breaks. An hour later we reached the top. We recommended that Michael should have put the boom box in his backpack so we could have music on the hike; haha. 

I don’t think the Zealots sang on their way up the Snake Path, but Rocky Peak sings (see attached video). We arrived at the top and had tremendous teaching from Ronen, our tour guide. 

One of the great things about the teaching is that once you learn the customs of ancient Israel, it changes your paradigm in how you understand the stories of the Bible. 

In AD 73, the Zealots thought they were the last Jews in the world.  As the Romans were completing the siege ramp, the Zealots drew lots and chose ten men to kill every man, woman and child because it was better to die as free men than to be captured by the Romans.  And so they killed everyone and burned the whole place.  The last ten men drew lots for one to kill the nine; and the last man fell on his sword. Two women and four children survived and through the historian Josephus the story has been preserved.  This time at Masada was the last time the Jews had freedom until 1948. 

Today’s anthem, “Masada shall not fall again!" 

Thanks Lynn Yearly for unfurling the flag!

The gondola ride down the mountain: "Surely we can fit more in here!"
Michael instilling confidence in the gondola ride down the hill; haha (see attached video)
After Masada, we took a 12-minute plus 12-minute plus 7-minute ride to En Gedi; the place where David hid from King Saul. 

Michael taught that “radical honesty is the first step to spiritual transformation; Go before the Lord with who you really are.”  He tied the En Gedi experience to one of God’s ways He interacts with us… and that’s through friends.  Friends like Jonathan, King Saul’s son; “And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.”

1 Samuel 23:14-16. Because we are not called to a solitary life.  En Gedi is a reminder that God does his best work in the hardest times and He knows how to refresh His people. 

And as all good Rocky Peak’ers do; they took a dip in the En Gedi waterfall! 

After our picnic lunch, we headed to Qumran which was 12-minutes plus 7-minutes away.  Wow! The significance of this place really hits home! God’s promise to preserve his Word is evidenced and the Nation of Israel finds its papers to prove to the world that this land is their Promised Land.  

More than 900 scrolls were found in 11 caves.  The men that copied the scriptures lived at this location. No one knows what happened to these men, but they hid the scrolls in these caves and thousands of years later they were accidentally found; God has a sense of humor. 

Through Michael’s coughing fit, he continued the Story of God pursuing us.  Pursuing us through Abraham, the Judges, the Kings and the promise of a Savior.   

These first couple days we have been in the Old Testament and in the desert wilderness. 

Why in the wilderness?  God did his work and revealed Himself in the desert. 

Fast forward 400 years later because God is not done.  We find ourselves driving north 2 hours along the Jordan River to our stop over on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Our home for the next five days is in this kibbutz. 

Lastly, while Norm was hiking up the Snake Path and reaching the top of Masada (the Zealots had great cell reception), he received news of the birth of his granddaughter at UCLA Medical Center!  A huge praise of thanks and congratulations!  And please add prayers for Norm’s granddaughter as she was born prematurely and will be in the NICU for a few weeks.  

Signing off and good night! Tomorrow we are in Galilee!

James Kim

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