Tour Journal For Israel Study Tour with Scott Heare September 17-30, 2011

Day 5 – Qumran & En Gedi

Day 5 – Qumran & En Gedi

“Take two bottles – maybe three if you can carry them.”  We heard these words over the loud speaker on the bus when we arrived at 8 AM to Qumran.  We started the slow march up the hill and could see the sun rising over the Jordanian mountains across the Dead Sea.

In just over an hour, we walked through the ancient settlement of the Essenes, saw the 17 micvahs, and learned about how the Torah was duplicated.  There was amazing passion and devotion by these “People of the Light” or Essenes!  It took THREE people to copy the Torah in the Scriptorium.  The Essenes  walked untold miles to bring “living water” to the micvahs and protected the integrity of the Text with their very lifestyle.

We came out of the ruins and assembled along hillside and looked to the cliffs which are dotted with caves in all directions.  As we had already learned, the sheep herders in the area used stones to guide the sheep through the hills.  Apparently, around sixty years ago, a shepherd threw a stone that landed in a cave and what resulted was the sound of shattering pottery.  Upon further investigation, it was found that the cave contained clay pots with ancient copies of the texts made by the Essenes.

After seeing the caves of Qumran, we walked up the ancient aqueducts into the cliffs.  There we found a man-made tunnel through the cliff which is believed to have channeled fresh or “living water” to the Essene community.  Many of us crawled through this narrow tunnel, and once again, the passion of the Essenes for the Text, for their King and for the coming Messiah came into view.  What must it have been like to tunnel through rock with the sole purpose of brining in the precious water which is essential for life in the desert, but also essential for sustaining the devotion to the ritualistic cleansing of the Essenes?

Onward and upward we hiked on the ancient paths that the Hebrew people before us traveled.  Many of us were tired and weary or full of fear for the challenges above or the steep cliffs below.  When we came to the clearing, Scott spoke with extreme conviction the interconnectedness of the devotion of the Essenes with the topography, the passion for the text, John the Baptist and to Jesus.  The faith lesson ended with an invitation to continue ascending to the apex of the cliff.

As we continued, each step signified an experience shared by a Hebrew people we seek to know in ever-increasing measure.  We paused at the peak to pray for many of you reading this and to renew our commitment to completely devote ourselves to the text.

A lunch of pita bread and chicken greeted us at the base of the park.  And, after getting plenty to eat, we boarded the bus for En Gedi.

We arrived a short time later and immediately took to the trail.  We were immersed in the paradox of topography.  After a very hot and dry hike at Qumran, the sound of rushing water flowing from the streams of En Gedi seemed surreal.  We sat next to the cool waters and shared about how God has provided En Gedi’s for us when we have walked through the desert.

We continued upwards, ever closer to the source of this anomaly in the desolate landscape.  We stopped beneath a powerful waterfall, and Scott began to teach.  This was the visible picture of LIVING WATER.  The place where David hid from Saul.  The very tangible picture of Christ as our source of life in a desolate world.  Scott helped us realize that many of us share the life-giving water that we’ve found in the measure with which we are comfortable.  Whereas God is actually much more lavish and extreme.

And, today was the day that we began to partially understood this impossible extreme.  Qumran was home to a sect of Jews with an extreme passion for cleanliness and devotion to the text, but those cisterns and micvahs offered us no water today.  In fact, their devotion and drive for purity compelled them to toil under cruel conditions to engineer a water path leading directly to their settlement.

While at En Gedi we saw, felt, heard and smelled the place of raging, life-giving water that seems impossible.  Surrounded by desert, immersed in the heat and the rocks and the dust is a place that continually gives life.  A place that is a picture of who Christ is, what he gives, how he never quits, how he wants to cool us, give us life, care for us, change us, renew us, teach us, and never relent.  “So,” Scott pushed us, “how far will you go?  Will you stay comfortable or will you totally immerse yourselves…like this!”  And he dove into the pool at the base of the waterfall.  And we all followed suit – clothes (some cell phones) and all!

It was an incredible day.  There are many in our group who are extremely weary and sore, but you couldn’t tell that today.  The evidence only surfaces after the hike when ice-bags are passed around and eyes droop at dinner.

The clear passion of this group is remarkable and the level of transparency is uncanny after only five days.  People from all walks of life are experiencing the Text, this Jesus and this King in powerful ways.  What a blessing and a joyful responsibility to carry back to you!

Audio from Today

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