What a way to start the day! Seeing the sunrise while floating on the Dead Sea. I was reminded of the song, “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord).” The lyrics say, “The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing Your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me; let me be singing when the evening comes.”
As our bus pulled away from the hotel, Rick led us in prayer. He thanked the Lord for the opportunity to worship our heavenly Father in the Holy Land.
Our first stop of the day was at Masada. This is the location of King Herod the Great’s fort and palace. It’s accessible by foot or cable car. In case you’re wondering, we selected the cable car option. King Herod is hailed as great because of being a builder, not because he was a nice guy. We watched a rabbi copy the Torah. If he makes a mistake toward the end of his writing, he has to start over from the beginning. He’s not able to use “white out” or an “erase button.” The Jewish people at Masada faced a decision of death or slavery. According to historian Josephus Flavius, 932 Jewish men, women, and children chose death (suicide) over slavery. It’s sobering to contemplate such a decision!
Our worship service for the day was at Ein Gedi. Our text for the service was 1 Samuel 24. David and Saul were in a cave together. Both men had people speaking into their ears. How do you and I listen to God? God’s primary way to speak to us is through His Word. As many of us can testify, He uses people, too. I shared seven principles about how we need people to speak God’s Word into our lives. Eddie led our music and read Psalm 63 (a psalm of David) during our worship gathering. Ein Gedi has an animal called an Ibex. We saw many Ibex mothers and their babies (so cute!).
Following lunch (chicken, veal, French fries, and oranges) we entered the city of Jericho. Jericho is an important city in biblical history. The walls fell in this city (Joshua 6:1-5); Jesus was tempted on the Mount of Temptation near the city (Matthew 4:1-11); and Jesus called Zacchaeus to come down from a sycamore tree in Jericho (Luke 19:1-10). Jericho is a leading city for produce (citrus, bananas, cabbage, tomatoes, etc.). We stopped at a roadside stand, and our bus driver bought us a cluster of bananas…delicious. All we needed was a jar of “nutella.”
On the road between Jericho and Jerusalem, we stopped at the “Jericho Road” and “The Valley of the Shadow of Death.” We talked about the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), and our entire group quoted Psalm 23. God has used that Scripture to comfort many grieving families. The area was breathtaking!
We entered Jerusalem, listening to the song, “Jerusalem.” Our hearts were blessed and tears were flowing. Shafik (our tour guide) took us to a lookout point and gave us a “Genesis Welcome,” consisting of bread and juice. The experience of seeing the Old City of Jerusalem is beyond words.
We made our way to our hotel. It’s located close to the Old City. We’ll spend the next three nights here. We leave extra early in the morning for sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. We’ll have another worship service in the morning on the Southern Steps of the Old City.
We celebrate the Christmas story tomorrow. Thank you again for following our journey.
Longing for the New Jerusalem,
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