Tour Journal For Israel Study Tour with Dr. Tim Keiper June 15-26, 2013

Day 3 – A Refreshing Blessing

Day 3 – A Refreshing Blessing

Today was a big day… a really big day friends (as Marty, one of our guides, would say). We started out early, hiking up the Wadi Arugot in Ein Gedi, which is the place where David fled to in the Judean Wilderness in order to hide from Saul’s pursuit (1 Sam 23:29). It was here, in the coolness of a cave, that David snuck up on a unsuspecting Saul and cut off the corner of his garment to prove to him that he meant him no harm (1 Sam 24). While we didn’t make it up into any caves, we did cool off in the wadi itself. After a lengthy and hot hike, a dip in the living water (mayim chaim) was refreshing. We were reminded of the words Jesus called out, on the last day of the feast of Sukkuot, during the water drawing celebration in the temple, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’” (Jn 7:37-38). What God offers us is not escape from the hardships of life, but rather springs of refreshing, to sustain us through the wilderness journeys we face. Even more, He says springs of living water will flow forth from us to refresh those around us. We are blessed to be a blessing.

Following Ein Gedi, we headed further up along the coast of the Dead Sea and visited the Qumran community. I never realized how meaningful this stop would be to me, but after studying so much about the Dead Sea Scrolls over the years, it was like a dream come true to see the remains of the Essene community, and to hike up into the foothills of the caves (and even crawl through an Essene aqueduct!). There we were reminded of the commitment the Essene community made to following God. They separated themselves from the corruption of the world around them as they saw it, and devoted their time to the study and transcription of scriptures. While we may not hold to their monastic ideal as a viable solution to the problems the world confronts us with, we owe the Essenes an immense debt for providing us with the greatest archaeological discovery of the past century, namely the Dead Sea Scrolls. Their discovery, in 1947, provided us with the oldest known scriptural manuscripts, and even further support for the accuracy of the biblical text we have today. If out of their misguided yet highly passionate devotion to God, this great blessing could flow, how much more if truly lived passionately for God with our own lives? What’s holding us back from passionately and devotedly following after our Messiah?

To finish the day we cooled off by taking a float in the Dead Sea. And by “cooled off” I mean, we got wet. It was hot, and not nearly as refreshing as our earlier dip in the stream of living water (there’s a lesson in there somewhere). For me, seeing the Dead Sea was yet another reminder of how we are called to bear each other’s burdens. These lyrics to a song had been kicking around in my head in the weeks leading up to this trip, and they drove home their message as I floated on my back,

Like the Dead Sea,
You told me I was like the Dead Sea,
You’ll never sink when you are with me,
O Lord,
Like the Dead Sea,
I’m like the Dead Sea,
The Finest words you ever said to me,
Honey can’t you see,
I was born to be,
Be your Dead Sea
(The Lumineers, “Dead Sea”)

It was a big day friends.

—Jonathan Jakobitz

Today's Photos

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