Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 11

Chapter 11 - Saturday, 3/25/89

On our way down to the Masada and the Dead Sea today we stopped in the wilderness of Judea where we could see the Monastery of Saint George. There are currently eight monks who live there in solitude. It is a desolate area, no grass or greenery whatsoever. This could possibly be the desert where Jesus was led and tempted by satan for forty days. The area is so typical of the Valley of the Shadow of Death that the Psalmist wrote about. I sat and meditated, and it seemed I could see Jesus walking alone here, staggering from hunger and thirst...yet He did not give in to “pleasure for a season”, a quick fix offered by satan. He waited for God’s best....and God sent ANGELS to minister to Jesus. Would I rather have satan’s momentary enticements...or angels from God? I believe I’ll wait for God’s best.

As we continued on our way to the Masada we stopped in Jericho, an oasis in the desert with many palm trees, flowering bushes, and citrus trees. This city, which reminded me of Florida, is the new Jericho. The Biblical Jericho that Joshua defeated could not be rebuilt, according to the oath which Joshua had pronounced (Joshua 6:26). It is a Tel (hill) outside the current Jericho. Through the centuries it has been protected from being rebuilt, showing God means what He commands, and He had commanded that the city be destroyed.

The Masada is a fifty acre fortress built on a mountaintop plateau 1,300 feet above the Dead Sea. We took cable cars to reach the top. Most of us elected to walk the snake path back down, a fairly steep, rocky descent that winded back and forth. It took thirty minutes to reach the bottom. The next time I would opt for the cable car back down. My legs were trembling uncontrollably by the time I was half way down, and I found it would be easy to lose my equilibrium. You dare not misstep, or it was a straight flight to the bottom!

It was time for a break, so we stopped at En Gedi, a public beach on the Dead Sea. This is the lowest spot in the world, lying 1,300 feet below sea level. The Dead Sea is one-third salt, and those that went in said it was impossible to try to stand up, it just flipped you over. From there we went to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves. In the 1940’s some shepherds were looking for their sheep in the caves and found seven original scrolls containing the scriptures of Isaiah, Deuteronomy, and Habakkuk.

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