Wilderness Wanderings–Day 4

March 22, 2007

When we met in the hostel lobby at 5AM, there was just a trace of light on the horizon, so we turned on our headlamps and set out to climb the Snake Path up to the top of Masada. As we ascended, more and more color began to peak over the hills of Jordan, and when we reached the top, we watched the sun shoot its rays out over a new IBEX day–possibly the best day yet.

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By this time, it was only 6 AM, and Todd was not coming up to lecture until 8, so we had two hours to explore the fortress of Masada. Let me explain some of the history. Herod built up Masada to its full glory, complete with two palaces, one for business purposes and one for pleasure purposes. Masada is most famous for its role in the First Jewish Revolt, where the Jews made their last stand at this mighty fortress. The Romans laid seige to Masada for three years, building a siege ramp up the western side. However, the Jewish rebels enjoyed plenty of water and food from the vast cisterns and storehouses. Eventually, the Romans broke through the wall, and that night, the Jewish rebels (numbered just under 1000) committed mass-suicide. Personally, I think the William Wallace approach is more admirable.

The remains of the fortress are impressive, and the new morning was beautiful. We scattered all across the ruins, exploring the cisterns, the walls, the ancient bathhouse, and Herod’s sweet-action palace. Just the night before, I had read parts of Psalm 61 and 62 during the singing at chapel, but even now those Psalms were rich with new meaning. When you stand on the edge of Herod’s palace and look down at the world, you feel pretty safe–even if you’re surrounded by 15,000 Roman soldiers. Is our God not an infinitely greater refuge than even this!? That’s awesome.

Here’s a picture of the sun from a window in the walls.

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When Todd arrived, he shed more light on what we had explored, and before long, we went back down the Snake Path. Let me just say that going down seemed so much faster than going up. Here’s a pic from the bottom.

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We moved up the coast of the Dead Sea to the oasis of En Gedi, and we hiked up the Nahal David. I enjoyed this brief stop more than any on the trip thus far. At one point on our hike, we stopped at a pool fed by a cool refreshing waterfall. We frolicked in the water, threw moss at each other, took turns standing under the waterfall, and wondered if David and his men had ever done the same thing as they had sought refuge at this desert oasis.

We hiked a little farther to a bigger pool with a bigger waterfall, and Todd read Psalm 63. This Psalm was written by David in the Wilderness of Judah, which surrounds this oasis. As you sit beside these springs in the midst of a barren land, you understand the desire for water. Watching the waterfalls also helped me understand the idea of having a “river of life flowing out of you.” Water continually gushes out of these rocks to bring refreshment to dry nothingness, and eternal life is the same way. Because of Christ, living water continually springs out of our souls, bringing life to our dead hearts.

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Across the road from the Nahal David lies the deep Dead Sea. But you don’t really get to explore the depths of this sea because you float on it! Honestly, you have to try the Dead Sea for yourself to believe it. I felt like my body was one ginormous intertube; it makes things really awkward to swim when your body all stays on the surface. I’ll blog more about this later because I’ve already been back there. Here’s Jenny showing off her floating skills.

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Finally, we headed off to our last stop of the Negev Field Awesome at Qumran. The Dead Sea scrolls were found at this ancient Essene community. We toured the remains of the community, but the most exciting part of the stop was actually visiting Cave 1, which is unmarked and out in the middle of nowhere. In this cave, some shepherd found the first of a group of scrolls from 2000 years ago that explain the world of the New Testament and demonstrate the consistency of the text of the Old Testament. I think Peter is reading the scroll in this one.

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Honestly, it is hard for me to remember some of my thoughts from the conclusion of the Negev Trip, but I feel like I’ve spelled out many of them in this blog series. In just four days, I learned so much. And it seems like I am saying that all the time over here at IBEX…

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4 Responses to “Wilderness Wanderings–Day 4”

  1. Yo Bro,

    Loving the updates! Great to read and see how awesome your time in Israel is! Keep it coming!

  2. RD said

    So fun because I recogize those places!! I’m so glad u all took me to Masada and the dead see…one major highlight.

  3. Micky said

    About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

    Peace Be With You
    Micky

  4. Boy George said

    Oh wait. Yes, I have. I’m sorry, but I just don’t have it in me right now to type it all out again. Besides, it was just ramblings anyway. You didn’t want to hear me go on and on about this, right?

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