Israel Study Tour with Wellspring Church, Cherokee Hills Baptist Church

Mar 2-13, 2020

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My job is to seek God and he will unfold his plans

Don't forget to not forget, my job is to seek God and he will unfold his plans for me

Hello again everyone!
Today was another exciting day for us in the Holy Land! Pictures were taken, memories were made, and God was glorified so all in all a very good day. We moved hotels today from the amazing Daniel Dead Sea hotel to ending the day at Ein Gev Holiday Resort, a quaint little place directly on the Sea of Galilee. The rooms are very nice and because we are staying here for three nights, it feels like a little home away from home and we can settle in for a bit.

After eating breakfast and loading into the bus, we made our way to the first stop of the day, Ein Gedi. This amazing oasis in the middle of the desert by the Dead Sea was absolutely breathtaking! As you can see from the pictures, the canyon and waterfalls and plants are abundant here whereas everything else in the region has no vegetation or water. We started off this part of the adventure with Dan telling us about a tree in the region that was used to make up the crown of thorns. It is called the ziziphus spina-Christi and although the name is Latin, you can probably make out the Christ on the end of the word. Now that I have seen the thorns in person, it helps me to see the pain and suffering that Christ went through, all so that I can have eternal life. An amazing testimony to the power of Christ!

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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We then journeyed to a nearby waterfall and there we talked about David. This place, Ein Gedi, is significant to David as this was the place that many of his Psalms were written and where he hid from Saul. We read through Psalms 142, Psalms 115:10, Psalms 105, among others. These passages really came to light after seeing this place in person. You could almost hear David's cries to the Lord and the fear that he had. Once we did this we explored the canyon for a while and took in the beauty of Ein Gedi before heading back to the bus for the next stop.

The next place was Qumran, the place that the Dead Sea scrolls were found. Here we learned about the Essene community and the Bedouin people again. A Bedouin boy by the name of Mohammed was out grazing the flocks one day around the 1940's and decides to bring them down the Qumran valley and find a better pasture. Well, being a shepherd can be boring, especially for a 12 year old boy, and he began throwing stones. Noticing a nearby cave, he decided so see if he could throw a stone into the cave as it sat higher than he was. After several attempts, he succeeds only to hear the breaking of a jar. Interested, he climbs up and discovers the first of possibly 12 caverns containing what is now known as the Dead Sea scrolls. He takes one of them back to camp which happens to be the book of Isaiah. The Bedouins don't know what it is but after the rumor gets out that there may be a discovery, a man named Kaandu hears of it and being a Armenian Christian, decides to hire a guide and make the trip from Jerusalem to Qumran. Upon seeing the scroll, he immediately knows it is the book of Isaiah and it has to be older than 2,000 years old because of the writing style used. You must understand that at the time, the oldest known manuscript was dated to 800 years old. Now that I have your interest in the Dead Sea scrolls, I am going to let you find out the rest of the story.

Qumran

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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After Dan tells us all of this, we get to see from a distance cave 1 and 5 that scrolls were found in. We also were able to visit the Essene community, more than likely the writers of the Dead Sea scrolls. Although they were more of a cult than anything, it is believe that John the Baptist was apart of this group for a while before going to the river Jordan and eventually baptizing Jesus. Many of artifacts such as writing tables and ink jars were found at the site. So, when thinking about the Dead Sea scrolls we must remember that because of the timing of which they were found, Israel was given its independence in 1948 after a long battle with the UN because these texts proved that this land belonged to Israel.

Our next stop was at the Jordan river at the same spot that John the Baptist baptized Jesus. This brought tears to my eyes when I thought about Jesus being baptized right there. Pastor Mike went on to explain that Mt. Nebo is right around the corner from this spot where Moses dies and Joshua leads the people into the Promised Land. It says in Matthew 3:13-17, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Pastor Mike also said something that really stuck with myself and probably many when he explained that John didn't come to find Jesus but Jesus came to find John. In the same way, just as Jesus found John, Jesus also found me.

Once we finished at the Jordan river, we ate lunch prepared again by Eli and then proceeded to make the longer 2 hour ride to the Sea of Galilee where I am now writing to you all. We completed our day with a delicious dinner at the resort, a short worship session led by Alyssa Thompson (thank you Alyssa!), and a time of thanksgiving.

Please be in prayer for us tomorrow as we visit the different sites and continue to learn more about Christ's time here on earth that we might pursue his desires and not our own.

In Christ Alone,
Keegan Mebert

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