Israel Study Tour with Wellspring Church, Cherokee Hills Baptist Church

Mar 2-13, 2020

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Some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all nations and places where I have banished you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

Another amazing day in the Holy Land for us travelers! We made our way to three different sites today, took more steps than we may have wanted, and discovered things that seemed impossible before now. After an early start of 6:00 wake up and a breakfast buffet of champions at 6:45, we loaded the bus to make our first stop at the ancient fortress of Masada.

Once we unloaded from the bus, we broke into two separate groups, the ones that would take the cable car up the mountain and the others that would make the 30 to 45 minute hike up the Snake trail, a foot trail once used by mules and people long ago. The group of 20 hikers began to make the ascent to the top as the other 30 stayed behind to watch a video, hear some historical facts from Dan, and then to take the cable car up. After the long, hard trek up the mountain (or in some cases the luxurious ride in the cable car), we made it to the top, the fortress of Masada. This was an impeccable site to see! We spent roughly 4 hours at the site and most could agree that much more could probably have been said and seen about the site. As Dan said, " I am going to try to fit what could be a degree from a university about Masada into a few short hours." This fortress had two stories that went along with it, the first of King Herod the Great, and the second of the Jewish revolt against the Romans. Dan did an amazing job giving us all of the information that we needed to know to try and piece together a centuries long puzzle.

Masada was built by King Herod the Great as a "winter retreat", as he called it, but was probably for if war was to come, he would have a place to hide out for a few years. This place was state of the art at the time it was built and Herod spent no expense when building it, from the stunning floors to the brilliant bathhouse and even to the pool hanging from the side of the cliffs, this was a site to behold. Many of years later after Herod died, the Romans placed a heavy foot on the people of Israel and the zealots of the time called for revolt. This ended badly as the Romans attacked hard and it forced a few hundred people to seek refuge in this abandoned fortress of Masada. I wish that I could share the entire story with you but it may be one that you have to look up on your own. It is truly an incredible story!

Masada

The summit of Masada sits 190 feet (59 m) above sea level and about 1,500 feet (470 m) above the level of the Dead Sea. The mountain itself is 1950 feet (610 m) long, 650 feet (200 m) wide, 4,250 feet (1330 m) in circumference, and encompasses 23 acres. The “Snake Path” climbs 900 feet (280 m) in elevation. From the west, the difference in height is 225 feet (70 m).

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After coming down from Masada, we joined at the bottom to eat a delicious lunch prepared by Eli and then headed to the bus for our next stop at the Bedouin village. This was not a real village but one that showed what it looked like and gave us a good history of the people called the Bedouins. Here Dan talked about the Bedouin culture of hospitality. We gathered in the massive tent that they had, were served tea, coffee, and bread and Pastor Steve discussed the hospitality that we should show to others. It says in Hebrews 13:2, "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." We also had the pleasure of riding camels led by the Bedouins, although afterwards most would agree that we shouldn't trade the bus for a group of camels anytime soon.

From here we made our way to the last stop of the day at Arad, a Canaanite village and not far away from that a large fortress type structure made by the Israelites years later. Here we saw homes that the Canaanites would have built, a cistern/well that was dug, and lastly the saddest of the sites that I have seen at least, was the alter of the Canaanites to their god Molek and here more than likely is where they did the infant sacrifices. Once we made the climb up the small hill to the fortress, Dan explained how this was probably more of a temple that was erected by the Israelites of the time that looks very similar to the temple in Jerusalem. The only problem with this is that there is only one temple, or at least should be, and it was in Jerusalem. This means that the Israelites were disobeying God and not following his laws and decrees. This site was found buried on purpose though and it led to the discovery that this was the time that King Josiah was reigning and if you read 2 Kings 23, you will find out why it was buried on purpose. A little homework for those of you back home.

Tel Arad

Like many cities in the Holy Land, Arad was repeatedly settled because of its strategic geographical location. Though situated in an area with little rainfall, Arad was inhabited frequently in ancient times because of its position along the routes coming from the east and southeast.

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After making it to all the sites for the day, we made the ride back to the hotel with time to go swimming in the Dead Sea. It is a sensation that most have never felt before and something that cannot be fully explained of how it feels. Dinner was a very nice buffet prepared by the Daniel Dead Sea Hotel and after filling ourselves with good food and fellowship, Cherokee Hills had their nightly meeting and then we all headed off to get some much needed sleep to be ready for tomorrow's adventures.

Please be in prayer that in all that we say and do and see on this trip can be used to glorify God in heaven as we have the privilege to spend time learning a small part of God's big story.

In Christ Alone,
Keegan Mebert

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