Day 03 - Masada, Ein Gedi, Qumran & Jericho
We are starting to get into a routine here in the Holy Land! It seems everyone has adapted to the time change and is excited to start each day, inviting God’s Word to truly come to life.
After a delicious buffet breakfast offering of many Israeli dishes, our day began with a devotional by Brad on the beach of the Dead Sea. One of the topics discussed was the Abrahamic Covenant, and God’s unconditional promise to His people. I believe I speak for the entire group when I say that the morning devotionals have been a powerful way for us to focus on God and the day ahead.
Our first stop was Masada. We learned that Masada means "stronghold", and this stronghold on the mountaintop provided safety, protection, and provision, just as Jesus does for us when we allow Him to be our stronghold. Built by the paranoid and brutal Herod the Great (great in that he was a great builder), the picture was painted of his ruthless character, his loyalty to the Roman Emperor, and his acumen at making money through trade and taxation. After his death and the destruction of Jerusalem, the Zealots ran to Masada, the desert, the home of the Patriarchs. They established a community focused on God, until after the third attempt at defeating them, the Romans were successful, but not before the Zealots burned the money and supplies, ended their own lives, and left the Romans with nothing.
Our second stop of the day was Ein Gedi, the “Goat Spring.” This was a powerful place to visit as it was the location where David while hiding in a cave from Saul, found himself in the same cave as Saul and cut off a corner of his robe instead of killing him (1 Samuel 24). We learned about David’s submitting to the Lord and His timing, learning how to wait on the Lord, and his quickness in repenting. Ein Gedi is truly a picture of living water; living water in the middle of an arid, hot desert. Living water that refreshes, cleanses, and brings life, just as Jesus, our Living Water, brings life (John 7:39). (John 4) The story of the woman at the well, where Jesus offers Himself as the living water our souls long for. Only from Him can we truly be satisfied.
Our third stop was Qumran, which is famous for being the location where in 1947, some Bedouin boys inadvertently found scrolls that would eventually be called the Dead Sea Scrolls. These fragments of Old Testament books, commentaries, and biblical manuscripts including the entire Book of Isaiah (originally penned in 700-500 BC and copies found 1,000 years later) were authenticated and determined to have only four letters that differed from the original manuscript. Thankful for the work of the Essenes in copying scripture accurately, we can delight in the authority and accuracy of the Word of God, and how He preserved these scrolls for us to have so many years later!
A special addition to our day was a visit to Jericho. Possibly the oldest city in the world (10,000 years old), this oasis in the desert is the location of Temptation Mountain, and is significant in many stories in the bible. Sadly, the walls of Jericho no longer exist, and it is a Muslim Palestinian community. We enjoyed some delicious treats there that were generously provided to us by very kind people, including date honey, kunfe, and dates. Some even rode a camel!
The end of the day brought us to Nazareth, where we will celebrate Shabbat. With that, I bid you “Shabbat Shalom!”
Grateful for this amazing time,