Israel Study Tour - Troy Thomas & Marshall Holtvluwer

Mar 18-28, 2019

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Where are you drinking from?

Day 3!! I'd like to begin by including you in the format of a typical day for us. We begin with breakfast which includes many wonderful and unique Mediterranean foods. They have everything from cereal, to fresh fruit, eggs, warm breads right from the oven, a variety of cheeses, and yogurt. We have coffee available every morning along with juice and milk.
We then meet for a devotional teaching and conversation before we climb on the bus and head to our first study location. Ronen, Troy, or Marshall will sometimes teach as we ride between locations but mostly we enjoy conversation as we get to know one another. Occasionally we enjoy a quick turn around to grab something that was forgetten. No names shall be mentioned...because all of us might be the next one to forget something. =)

When we arrive at a particular location we are given instructions on what to bring, usually it is our Bible, guide book, and camera. Sometimes water and our backpacks if we are hiking or spending an extended amount of time in that location.

We eat a light lunch consisting of sandwiches, chips, some cookies, and soda and juice. Our lunch supplies are prepared by our amazing driver Eli.

We usually hit three to five locations per day. Late in the day the conversations get quieter because we are all tired.

When we arrive at our hotel or kibbutz (collective community in Israel) we have dinner. This includes salad, beef, lamb stew, bread, various cheeses, rice, potatoes, cakes and cookies, and a plethora of other things. It's all delicious!!

I will be totally honest and say that I did not expect this much work. Now, to be clear this is good and healthy work but work nonetheless. We are all being stretched and tested: mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. THIS IS NOT A VACATION! All of us on the study tour are giving 100% of what we have to engage with the content our teachers and guide give us. We are paying attention to the details in the environment and the changes in the landscape. And all of us bring something different to the discussions we have with each other.

Some of us are farmers, in law enforcement, pastors, teachers, some are involved in technology, and many other vocations that bring some new insight or perspective on the topic being discussed. We have singles and married people on our trip, parents and grandparents. We have a variety of ages, some are in their sixties and some in their twenties and everything in between. We also have many different denominations present in our group, Catholic, protestant, and many others.

These study tours are for anyone. If you are interested in learning about the background of the Bible and the stories contained there this trip is for you. Make a commitment to pray about taking one of these tours. And no...Marshall and Troy did not pay me to say this. :P

We were at Qumran (where the dead sea scrolls we're discovered) today. We had a conversation about where the water comes from in the desert. We talked about water that is safe, living water. And water that kills, flash floods. It rains many miles away in the mountains and the water runs together and collects in wadis (a ravine or channel for water to travel) and leaves behind puddles at the bottom of the wadi. Foolish people and animals attempt to drink this water. They get stuck in the mud and muck. Then the flash floods happen and they get killed. The water arrives swiftly and violently.


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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Jesus talks about this kind of person in Matt. 7. The stupid man builds his house on the sand. The wise man builds his house on the rock. The difference, according to Jesus, between the stupid man and the wise man has to do with what is done with Jesus' words. "Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on a rock." "But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn't act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand." The point is not the type of material, the point is where the material is found. The sand is in the wadis and the rock is not. We got to actually see what this looks like. And this now connects others scriptures and adds punch to the texts we read where this similar idea is contained. For example, David in Psalm 40 describes this type of threat to his life. "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure." Could it be that David is thinking about being in the wadi? David is a man of the desert, a shepherd. This geographical location isn't the same as being in Minnesota with thousands of lakes. There are natural springs like En Gedi (which we went to today) and there are waters that will kill you, like the ones found in a wadi. David knew this and wrote about it.

Where are you drinking from? Where am I drinking from?

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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This is what we are learning about. This is what we get the privilege of seeing as we read the scriptures. This is what it means to be on a study tour in Israel.

It's hard to believe we are only three days in, we have covered so much land, quite a bit of the Bible, and we still have many days left.

Please continue to pray for us, that we would continue to have eyes to see and ears to hear the truth of God's word and God's world. Pray for our driver Eli and our guide Ronen and for Troy and Marshall our teachers.

Thank you following this blog and for your time, mental energy, and prayers.

To-da ra-ba
Thank you very much

I bless God for you.

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