Israel Post #5: Last Day in The Desert

God’s people lived in the desert for 40+ years. Today is our third and final day in the desert. While I can’t wait to spend the day not walking around sweating sunscreen and climbing mountains in 100 degree heat, our time in the desert was so powerful.

Today we got to know (yada) two main locations: Ein Gedi and Quamran.

Ein Gedi is an oasis in the middle of the desert near Masada and The Dead Sea.

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It was a little shocking to see so much green and hear the movement of water after spending 10 hours a day for the last two days only hearing, seeing, and feeling hard, dry rocks and dust. Now there was a clear trail of green life that we were hiking along, heading towards the source of this life.

There are two kinds of water in the desert: 1). Dead water (like the kind that sits stagnant in a cistern and 2). “Mayim Chayim” (pronounced MY-M KYE-EEN) = Living Water. It’s hard to find in the desert but it is the difference between life and death. Jesus said He is our living water (John 4 and 7) that we must then be to other who are thirsty in the desert. After hiking in 110 degree heat all day, this water sure felt life giving.
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Then after seeing the Mayim Chayim and hearing Rod teach on it, we hiked to another location and got to submerge our filthy, sweaty, overheated bodies in it!

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The question was asked: Do I thirst for God the way my body thirsted for that water? When I feel like I’m in a desert and can’t make it another step, am I seeking God to be my Mayim Chayim? And once I receive it, am I being living water, Mayim Chayim to the people (family, friends, neighbors, strangers) in my world who are walking through a desert?

Also, the water that we experienced at Ein Gedi flowed through underground channels all the way from the Judea Mountains. The amazing thing is that geologists (of which we had a Jewish Geologist on our hike that day) believe it takes about 2000 years (yes, you read that right) to flow all way from the mountains to the place we were splashing in it. Meaning, it’s possible the water we refreshed ourselves with started its journey from the mountains when Jesus was walking the Earth within a few miles! Mind: blown.

Unfortunately, we eventually had to leave to eat lunch, but it was quite a memorable and refreshing experience. It was difficult to head back into the desert after being in the amazing-feeling water, but our shepherd (Rod) was leading us, so we followed.

 

From there, we headed to Quamran to hike the mountain where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Here’s the mountain we climbed to the top:

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I was excited in general to experience this but had no idea the things I would learn that day. I can’t tell the whole story but I’ll give you a fly-version. About 200 years before Jesus, a group of Jewish people, known as the Essenes, left Jerusalem to live in the desert and reconnect with God. They were frustrated with the Roman influence drawing people away from the ways God called His people to live. So they left comfort for the desert, to draw close to God.

They lived a life of repentance, fellowship, work, and food. They sought God with everything they were and called themselves “sons of light”, “the poor in spirit”, or “people of the way” (which is what followers of Jesus would be called as the early church grew). They also wrote the Dead Sea scrolls.

This was of huge significance in the world of theology and archeology. Up until then, the earliest copy of the Old Testament was dated around 1000 A.D. The Dead Sea Scrolls were dated to have been written in 250 B.C. and they matched up perfectly. This gave incredible validity to God’s Word and the accounts of the Bible.

The question to us is then: What comfort do I choose to leave, in order to find God?

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One of the 12 caves where some of the 900 Dead Sea Scrolls were found

Finally, we ended the day by arriving at our hotel, which is right on the Mediterranean Sea and got to go for a quick swim before dinner. The small jellyfish stings were worth being in the first cold water we’ve had since arriving.

Now we’re out of the desert and on to experience more of God’s Land! See you tomorrow!

D

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Sun set on the Mediterranean
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