After experiencing the desert flood and checking out the Dead Sea Scrolls, we made our way to the Dead Sea. We were granted a reprieve from the day's drizzle just long enough to go for a float. Though it was still unpleasantly chilly (see below), the water was surprisingly warm. Shout out to Kyle Keeter for manning my camera on the shore for the group pictures!
Beit She'an was one of the most complete sets of ruins that we saw during our time in Israel. Once a center of Egyptian rule, the city served as an important point in the crossroads of early times. Several temples dedicated to Egyptian gods have been uncovered here, as well as a variety of mosaics and an ancient public restroom. Our visit was short but left us all wishing that we had had more time to explore!
As I was thinking about what to write about this rare phenomenon that we saw as we passed through the desert on our way to Masada, I took a look back at Pastor Sam's commentary on the events of our day. He covered our experience so thoroughly, I wanted to share it here with you! You can find his full recount of the event on his blog, here.
"As we traveled along, our guide commented to me of the rarity of rain at the bottom of the Judean Hills southwest of Jerusalem, but warned of the possibility of our road becoming impassable due to rain water running down from Jerusalem and the surrounding mountains - causing the dry wadis to become active - and spilling across our highway making travel dangerous or impossible. Looking about I thought his worry unnecessary. The area was as dry as a bone, save the drops now hitting our windshield, which he'd just said amounted to only a few millimeters per year.
As we moved south, with the Dead Sea on our left and the mountains to our right, a strange sight appeared. At each place where a dry wadi abutted our road, whether with bridge or not, cars were parked with people standing beside them looking down the crevice of the wadi and towards the mountain top. Our driver, Dubi, and guide, Danny pointed toward the people and began talking to each other excitedly in Hebrew. I couldn't wait to hear them speak an explanation in English to me, so I jumped quickly to ask, "what's going on?" "Oh Pastor Sam," Danny replied, "the people are waiting to see an unusual sight." "They have come to watch the water cascade from the mountains and fill the wadis below." "It is a powerful sight, and one of the favorite things for the people of this area to see."
In Isaiah 43:19, God said this: Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
The NIV translates the word "rivers" as "streams." But, either way, the picture from God's Word to His people became ever more real for me as I gazed at this sight. I thought, 'here they are waiting for this steam, this river to flow - not knowing that God has already done an even greater thing than what they are looking for through His Son, our LORD, Jesus Christ.
When God told Israel to look (behold) the streams in the desert, He did so because it was something unusual AND something the dry desert desperately needed - water. He did this to show them His ability to make any wasteland flourish. This was something only He could do - both in the desert AND in their hearts. " -Pastor Sam Dennis
One of the most in-tact archeological sites we visited was Tel Megiddo. This hill, located in northern Israel in the Valley of Jezreel, has been a desirable plot of land over time. The city was always heavily fortified and boasted a powerful defense wall. Obtaining water while maintaining the city's security was a challenge and resulted in the construction of along tunnel system connecting Megiddo to an outside water source that was well hidden (see bottom). This town is also the site referred to as Armageddon in Revelation chapter 16.
"Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, 'Sit here, while I go over there and pray.' And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.' And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.'
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Petr, 'So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, 'My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.'
And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, 'Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of the sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand." Matthew 26
For some further insight into the Garden of Gethsemane, check out the Austin Stone's sermon series from Israel down below: