Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Palestinian Territory  , West Bank,
Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jumped into a journey of biblical proportions.  We literally landed ourselves into the old testament today.  I thought that Ephesus and it's connections with Paul in the New Testament was impressive, but today gave me goosebumps.  Walking along the same pathways as the ancient greats trod upon was an amazing experience. 

Going back to the beginning of the bible, these are the lands where people lived.  Driving through the rocky barren landscape it's easy to imagine the children of Israel roaming around for 40 years and the harshness they endured searching for the promised lands.  Rocky and dry, hilly and hot, with only a few lush valleys to break camp in.  So difficult to carve out a living there is nothing to eat or drink, so the people relied on God's miracles.  We were able to see the place where Moses struck his staff onto a rock to bring forth clean water to drink.  (Numbers 20:11  Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank).

Then rising up to the top of Mt. Nebo which is where Moses saw the Promised Land that he would never enter before he died.  (Deuteronomy 34:1-4 Then Moses went us from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah which is across from Jericho, and the Lord showed him...'This is the land of which I swore to give...I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over).  We too stood here and gazed across the Jordan river into Jericho, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Bethlehem and even the dome of the rock. 

Then plunging down the great hillside into the dead sea planes and the river Jordan flowing along the same path it did when the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land.  (Joshua 1:11 Pass through the camp and command the people saying. 'Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.').  Led by Joshua now that Moses was gone, another dramatic parting of great waters for the people to walk across.  (Joshua 3:13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as in a heap).  Now I too went up to the river, but when my feet touched the surface the water stayed put and I got wet.  Which is probably a good thing, as I don't know what the armed guards in both Jordan and Israel would have done if the water surged up creating a dry path for me to walk to Israel across!

Looking across at Jericho it was easy to remember that this was the first place that the Israelites conquered in their start to take over their new land.  (Joshua 6:20 So the people shouted when the priests blew their trumpets.  And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat.  Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city)  Even today archaeologists can determine that the soil beneath where the walls used to be are incredibly compact and not as that from the usual weight of city walls. 

Even the great prophet Elijah passed through here and at the end of his life ascended to heaven with chariots of fire off of a little hill by the Jordan (Kings 2:14).  Sodom and Gomorrah were to have been in the Dead Sea just doesn't seem to end!

More great historical figures made this their home as well.  This was the barren wilderness where John the Baptist roamed around eating locusts and wild honey while baptizing people in the Jordan.  Today, the Jordan is a muddy and tiny version of what it used to be, and the baptism site was a little tributary off to the side - today it has no water in it at all.  But the most marked place is that of where Jesus was baptized.  All four gospels testify to the event (Matthew 3:14-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, and John 1:29-34).  Not much is left to be seen, but there still remains parts of the 5 churches built in the 5th century to commemorate the event can be found, as well as the steps leading down to where the water used to be. 

Down below sea level where heat hugs the skin and the air is so fresh with enriched ozone, it's amazing to stop and think that this is the place where "The heaven was opened and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and alighted on Him [Jesus] and a voice from heaven said:  'this is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased'" (Matthew 3:16-17)

Oooh!  Just the thought gives me goosebumps!
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