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Israel Study Tour with The Well Community Church

November 1-12, 2021

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Day 02 - Wilderness of Zin, Beersheba, Dead Sea Swim

Today was a mixture of challenge and refreshment. We began our adventures in the Wilderness of Zin (where the Israelites wandered, where Elijah fled): hiking along a narrow trail into a deep canyon (wadi). Our guide, Ronen, directed us to experience the taste from the bushes of bitter herbs around us - a plant that allows people to survive the desert heat. Steep canyon walls of white limestone, layered sporadically with flat strips of black flint, surrounded us on both sides. Surprisingly, the air in the shade was cool, and the breeze off the stream of water was refreshing. It's the right time of year to enjoy the benefits of these canyons...but there are seasons here where flash floods would make travel in the canyon bed deadly. 


In the stream of the wadi, there were crabs, waterfowl, birds, and dragonflies; tall trees, dense bulrushes, and bushes of all types. Definitely felt like an Oasis. One of the challenges of the day was exiting the canyon straight up the sheer cliffs using ladders and hewn steps. Challenging but worth it. The top of the canyon brought us to a flat, wide, rocky wilderness with no water or life in sight - except what was at the very bottom of the canyon. For nomads, like the Children of Israel, it's easy to see how difficult it would be to choose a route…water? Or flat ground?


At Be'er Sheba (a small city about the size of the Fig campus), we sat under a Tamarisk tree and learned about God's promise to give the land of Canaan to Israel. Abraham responded publicly to this promise by building an altar to the Lord. He also dug a well and planted a Tamarisk tree (not the same one!) in the area to provide water and literally put down roots for the nation who would return over 500 years later. I love that God's promise prompted Abraham's actions of faith and trust. 


When we finished our day in the Negev (wilderness), we returned for a quick dip in the Dead Sea - face masks and all. Ezekiel 47:8 has a promise from God to revive and redeem those dead waters, "These waters of the sea will become fresh…there will be much life and many fish…" What a great promise of redemption and revival. 


Something I was challenged with personally was Psalm 1 - the difference between the wicked and the righteous includes a description of a tree planted by streams of water - whose root is deep and whose leaves do not wither. So, where am I choosing to plant myself? In the high, flat, easy-to-walk areas away from the stream? Or down by the stream where I can be near a consistent source of water…so that even in the "dry" times, I am satisfied and full. 


Also…dinner was delicious. Challenges and refreshment. 


Rachel James

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