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Digging Deep Israel

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel– Stop #6: Jericho

The next stop on our tour was Jericho. I will always remember this stop as the place where I rode the camel and permanently lost my i-phone while riding; but there are some very faith-building events in history that should make Jericho a favorite stop for any Bible student traveling in Israel. So, today, a short synopsis.

We know Jericho as the first great city of Canaan conquered by the Israelites. You remember it was the home of the harlot Rahab (She likely lived between the thick double-walls of the city) who hid the spies, sent by Israel to search out the land. She had heard great things about Jehovah. She feared Him and, because of this faith and her willingness to help the enemy of her own people of Jericho, was spared in the great destruction that followed the marching around the city for seven days by the people of God. You can read about the covenant the spies made with Rahab in the latter part of Joshua 2 and about the destruction of Jericho in Joshua 6. 

It’s very interesting to read from archaeologists who’ve studied ancient Jericho. In the mid- 1950s, Kathleen Kenyon did extensive work in Jericho and published her findings, largely debunking the Biblical account, premising that the archeological evidence discredits the Biblical account. Published during an era when much of the world was all about discrediting the Word of God and throwing off its authority, her study was widely read and accepted. 

But in 1990, an article in Biblical Archaeology Review (a journal that definitely does not adhere to any literal interpretation of Scripture)  published quite the opposite view. When perusing the findings that are the basis of this article, one is stricken with the amount and weight of the evidence that the invasion and destruction of Jericho happened at the time and in the manner that the first few chapters of Judges relates. I would advise the reading of this article in Christian Courier. It will build your faith and make you glad that you serve Jehovah! It’s here: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/56-saga-of-ancient-jericho-the

In the Jericho area today, there’s a modern city. Just outside this city, now in the political West bank (thus under Muslim rule), over 20 civilizations have been unearthed; so Jericho is a tel in the expansive sense of the word, for sure. It’s a stacked succession of ruins of conquering civilizations. (The fact that we can unearth layers of stacked civilizations should remind us of the temporary nature of our current way of life.) The demise of our “way of life” is certain and, thus, always pending.

As God foresaw the layers of a tel, He made a judgment promise in Judges 6:26:

Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the Lord be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.

“At the cost of his firstborn shall he

lay its foundation,

and at the cost of his youngest son

shall he set up its gates.”

In I Kings 16:34, some 700 years after the prophecy that whoever rebuilt the city would pay for it with the loss of both his oldest and youngest sons, Hiel, the Bethelite did just that, and his sons were the bulk of the purchase price for this real estate tycoon, who failed to do the spiritual research (or failed to believe it) regarding the investment required for this first  renovation of Jericho. 

Ten quick and obvious lessons from Jericho for your September day:

  1. Always, like Rahab, examine the evidence for yourself. Don’t let the culture around you sweep you up in it’s ever-changing philosophies.
  2. Obey the details of Scripture for your eternal escape. Rahab could have deviated from precision in many ways, but she did not. 
  3. Like Rahab, do your best to save your household. 
  4. God can do anything He wants to do, using whatever implementation he chooses. Marching and trumpets for defeat of a large civilization?!! Bring it on!
  5. No matter the taunting of today, the great pending eternal salvation will be worth the ridicule!
  6. Harlots are worth saving. Redeemed people are honored beyond  belief in God’s economy (Matthew 1:5).
  7. The passage of large amounts of time is no object in the keeping of God’s promises. Don’t be lulled, like Hiel, while you wait for judgment.
  8. Be like Rahab, who saved her household for righteousness; not like Hiel who sacrificed his for economic profit. 
  9. Our God’s glory is dependent on His promise-keeping. His promise, through the spies, to Rahab; His promise to the marching Israelites; His promise to the re-builder of Jericho…all of these came down toward a glorious moment of redemption that was in the preparing. 
  10. Like Rahab, befriend the people of God, even if it means threat to your safety or well-being. God has a way of making our righteous, but dangerous paths His opportunity to mightily prevail. 
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–Stop #5: Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls)

It was an extremely hot day when our weary little group looked over at the caves of Qumran. From our vantage point, we could see several of these caves where, preserved inside jars of clay, were discovered in the 1940s, 50s and 60s copies of many ancient texts. Most relevant to us was the fact that portions of every single Old Testament book, with the exception of Esther, were eventually found within these caves. 

It all started  in 1948, when a bedouin shepherd boy (a teenager), in an attempt to find a lost goat, tossed a rock down into a cave, to try and determine if there was life in the cave. The sound he heard from the cave was not the bleating of a goat, but rather the shattering of glass. The breakage was heard all around the religious world!

The significance of these manuscripts produced exultance in those who rejoice at all further evidence of the authenticity of the scriptures and it produced scorn in those who claim that the Bible is uninspired. This is because the copies of the Old Testament writings were about 900 years older than any known existing copies prior to 1948. 900 years!

The Isaiah scroll was the most complete Old Testament scroll found in the caves of Qumran. Almost the entire book of Isaiah was found. Amazingly, when compared to the manuscript that was previously known as  the oldest one (written about 900 years later), it was very close to exactly the same text…word for word. Remember, we are talking about documents originally copied by scribes between the years 68 BC and 250 AD!

Our God has said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my Words shall not pass away.” We, as His people believe we have the inerrant, plenarily inspired Word. But even the skeptics were aghast at the number of Dead Sea scrolls that contained Biblical text, the amazing way they were preserved, and the striking evidence they produced that what we are reading today is indeed the same text that was written by the original penmen.

As you can imagine, once the shepherd sold his new-found treasures (the first scrolls found) to an antiquities dealer (for about 28 dollars) and the world slowly caught on to the news about the scrolls, archaeologists wanted to dig  (and they did, finding 800-900 documents and over 50,000 fragments, along with what many believe was a “writing room”). Discoveries led them to believe that the documents were written and preserved by scribes of the Essenes, one of four distinct Jewish groups of the Roman period.  As conflict and war in the middle east interrupted the excavations, Jordanians seized the scrolls during the 6-Day War and kept them for a time. The government of Jordan is still attempting today to lay claim to the scrolls. 

God’s timing is always perfect. I’m thankful that my childhood was the one era of time into which the scrolls were introduced. Why did God allow those scrolls to be hidden for 2000 years? I do not know all about His reasons, but I do know that the leading nations of the world, including the United States and European countries, were, in the 1950s and 60s, launching into an era of unbelief like no era they’d ever known; an era that would lead them to the widespread acceptance of the Darwinian theory of evolution and a swift resultant revolt against time-honored codes of morality. All the while, God was shouting from dry bedouin caves in the Judean desert, “My Word shall never pass away.” His providential timing is perfect! 

Looking at these caves made me all the more excited to visit the Museum of Israel, where I would get to see some of the jars and some of the manuscripts found in them. That post will come soon!

Qumran lesson: Jars of clay were the preservation vessels. There were treasures awaiting discovery in the jars of Qumran. God can use an ancient scribe in exile, a young shepherd boy and a lost goat to reveal His powerful evidence. While I know that we are not the inspired writers  (as in the passage below) who had the treasure in their miraculously empowered minds, He can still use you and me, in a sense, as jars of clay today, to put the preserved Word in the hands of those who desperately need it. 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Cor. 4:7-12)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–Stop #4: Masada

The story of Masada is one of the most fascinating extra-Biblical Jewish/Roman accounts  of all of the history of the Bible lands. Masada means fortress and this old fortress is located on a very steep hill, overlooking the Dead Sea, in the Judean desert. Thankfully, today there’s a cable car that carries groups of tourists from a visitor’s center up to the top of the mesa. But once we arrived on the fortress, it was easy to forget that we were visitors from another century, The events of 74 A.D.preserved for us in the writings of Josephus Flavius, became fully accessible to our imaginations. 

Herod the Great built the fortress (or at least re-made it for his purposes) during the third decade B.C.; in other words, around the time of the death of Jesus. Herod was a lot of things, but, above all, he was taken with himself and wrapped up in His own quest for power, often even to the point of psychotic narcissism. One can easily see this self-aggrandizement when looking at the remains of his two palaces here at Masada. They were large and luxurious. 

We could see three connected terraces, his personal bath and remains of his large personal bedroom in the Northern palace. There was another very large bath, nearby, probably used for the senior Masada officials in the days of Herod. It’s hard to imagine the opulence of the tile Mosaics and the spectacular views if you’ve not witnessed them personally. 

The wall of Herod’s Masada was 1400 meters long and 4 meters wide with rooms built in between the two parallel walls. The water supply in this dry wilderness was secured by large cisterns on the northwestern side of the hill. We were told that one large rain, which generally occurred twice a year, could supply enough water for Masada’s residents for three years.  A snaking path/staircase provided an arduous way for inhabitants to go up and down when supplies were needed.  Very hardy visitors (who have ninety minutes to ascend) can still go up and down that pathway.

Being in that spot and hearing the story created questions in my mind that will never be answered, but to say that it was stirring, doesn’t adequately describe it. Of course, we know that the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., killing tens of thousands (perhaps even a million) Jews. Shortly before this destruction and well after the death of Herod the Great, some Jewish rebels overtook the Roman garrison at Masada. When the temple was destroyed they were joined by Jewish zealots fleeing Jerusalem. These outnumbered, but resourceful Jews held out against the Romans for three years high up on this hill in the desert. It is said that they actually had enough supplies to have lasted them ten years. But the Tenth Legion of the Roman army, led by Flavius Silva, was at last, by building a circumvolution wall, then erecting a ramp of mud and stone, and finally transporting a battering ram up the ramp, able to breach the mighty walls on the western side of the great Masada. 

Imagine being one of those Jewish women inhabiting one of the former Roman homes while the Roman Legion inched closer each day as they slowly built their ramp up the side of the hill. Imagine savoring the days with your children, knowing that they were likely coming to an abrupt end, and very soon. Perhaps you had fled three years earlier from the home in which you were raised in Jerusalem, during the time when Titus conquered and bathed your home city in the blood of your kinsmen. Now, for three months you watch from the highest point in the desert, as the Romans, with a steely determination to extinguish the last of the rebels, construct the rams which will eventually crash through the walls of the fortress behind which you have spent the last three years.  You know that their plan is to come into Masada to kill every last one of the Jews who have become a close-knit community of about 960 people. As they get closer to the top of the hill, you can see that, as you suspected, most of the work is being done by your own kinsmen; Jews who were taken captive in the destruction. Perhaps you even recognize some of the ramp builders.

When it becomes evident that the western wall will be breached and your life will be taken, you hear the decision that’s been made by the leader of your party of Zealots. His name is Elazar ben Yair and here are his words: 

Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice … We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom.

So you prepare to die. 

According to Josephus, all the lives of all of the inhabitants were taken before the wall was breached. Fires were ignited and the Jews killed one another. Husbands bade their wives and children goodbye and then cut their throats.  Lots were cast to determine ten men to kill the remaining patriarchs of families. Then they chose one man to kill the other nine of those who were charged with the mass killing. Finally, that lone man committed suicide, as he had agreed before the killing began.

When the Romans finally and exultantly entered the mighty fortress to kill and plunder, they found no living people, save two women and five children who had hid in an underground cave. 

This account, recorded by Josephus, has recently been the subject of much scrutiny. Many believe the account was embellished and that not nearly 960 Jews perished at Masada. But, since his account is the only written account of the events of 74 A.D. at Masada, and since he was a successful historian, captured by the Romans and detailing history in the service of Rome (as well as being governor of Galilee), credibility is due his account. There’s much evidence to point to the fires and the suicides of at least some inhabitants prior to the Romans’ entry into the fortress. Of course, the massive ramp, the remains of which still exist, attests to the method of Roman entry. 

Sitting in the lavish synagogue, built there by Herod (not that he was by any means a devout Jew, but, rather, he built the synagogue for political purposes), I mused on so many facets of the tragic events that unfolded as the Jews’ last hold-out against the Romans lay under siege and finally was destroyed, as the enemy breached the wall and found the bodies of the self-slain Jews. I thought about the three skeletons that were found in the bathhouse—those of a man, a woman and a child. I walked through that bathhouse as I heard about the woman’s still beautifully-braided hair and the preserved sandals next to her. I listened as we were told about the bits and pieces of the man’s armor, probably taken from the Romans in an earlier skirmish by the rebel Jews. I pondered the ornately decorated room, in the Western palace, a palace that covered an entire acre…decorated with beautiful mosaics…the room that was likely the Masada throne room of the Herod. This was the same Herod who found it in his heart to kill the baby boys at the time of the birth of the Savior (along with the killings of several members of his own royal household, including his wife.) He vacationed and found refuge (at least physical refuge) here, at Masada. I contemplated the contrast between the lavish lifestyle flaunted by Herod in those two sumptuous palaces and the stench of death that greeted the Roman legion as they forced their way through the breach in the double wall. How much can change and how quickly in the fulfillment of the will of God!

As I heard about the events of 74 A.D. from the state of Israel in this Jewish national park, I naturally felt compassion for the Jews in this last hold-out atop this steep hill. The signs, literature and guides’ messages were all geared to elicit compassion and sympathy for the Jews of the mass suicide.  Anytime there’s death and suffering, of course, it’s grievous. 

But there’s one important aspect about what occurred at Masada that all Christians should remember. God had planned, since the inception of Israel, for the nation to be a vehicle through which Christ could come and through which Christianity could be born. The sweet redemption that we have in Christ, of necessity, called for the fulfillment of Judaism and the end of the law of Moses. The destruction of Jerusalem (and other outposts of organized Jewish nationalism) was the fulfillment of both Old and New Testament prophecies and signaled the end of the Mosaic era, ushering in the age of Christianity. 

Further, what happened at Masada was the punishment of God on a nation that rejected Him, over and over again. Israel was a nation that had enjoyed God’s favor and then committed spiritual adultery on numerous occasions. The ultimate slap in the face of God was the rejection of God in the flesh, the Messiah, by the very people God honored to bear the seed of the Holy Spirit to the world. 

John the Baptist had prophesied of the destruction of the Jewish nation only a few years prior, calling it the “wrath to come” and saying that even then (as he spoke), the “axe was laid at the root of the tree” (Matthew 3:7-10).   Matthew 24: 21 contains the Lord’s warning about the impending destruction of the Jews, saying that the upcoming tribulation would be greater than anything that had ever been or that ever would be. Masada was, though immediately a Roman conquest of a rebellious people, more importantly, the promised judgment of God on a people that had rejected Him over and over, most recently putting to death the very Son of God!

Masada was, as it were, the period at the bottom of the exclamation point regarding the final end of Judaism. There could be no remaining Jewish strongholds; no acceptable religion clinging to the Mosaic law. God absolutely worked through the tragedy of Masada in 74 A.D. to finalize the end of Judaism and administer promised judgment on the Jews. That  finalization at Masada simply had to occur, for our salvation.  God worked through a powerful Roman army, a battering ram that could breach a fortress wall, and the mass suicide that occurred inside the walls to accomplish His purpose. I’m thankful that His overriding purposes always come to fruition. 

Masada’s lesson: The judgment of God on those who fail to submit to His authority is sure. What was prophesied in the first half of Matthew 24 happened to the Jews in vivid and tragic reality in A.D. 66-74. But what was prophesied in the last half of the chapter for those who reject today is just as sure:

…the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24: 50-51).

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–Stop #3: Beersheba

It was still our first full day of traveling in Israel. During the early afternoon we saw the ruins of a civilization that played a role of major importance in Bible History from the time of Abraham to the close of the Old Testament: Beersheba. First named by Abraham in Genesis 21, its name means “well of the oath,” thus named because of the oath made with Abimelech. (Photo below is an Iron age well in Beersheba, but very reminiscent of the wells of Abraham. It doesn’t take long to figure out in this Negev desert why there were contentions over the wells. Water is a valuable commodity, to this day, in this part of the world.)  This was the wilderness where Hagar went to die (Gen.21). Both Isaac and Jacob lived there (Genesis 26 and 28) and it became a part of the inheritance of Simeon when the promised land was allocated to the tribes in Joshua 19.

Located in the center of the Negev desert, Beersheba is mentioned in scripture often as the southernmost point of Israel: “from Dan to Beersheba.” The ruins we saw were primarily those from the period of the divided kingdom; the period archaeologists call the Iron Age. Looking out over those wells they dug, seeing the four room homes they lived in and descending into a cool cistern (pictured below) built during the period of the Biblical divided kingdom had a way of making this Christian woman feel very connected to the people who formed the conduit through which the Savior would enter the world.  

Significantly, I Samuel 8:2 tells us that Samuel’s sons, Joel and Abiah, were judges in Beersheba. Verse three tells us that they failed to walk in the way of Samuel, but rather took bribes and perverted judgment. This was in direct violation of Deuteronomy 16: 18-19. The Israelites clamored for a human king at this time, in a bold-faced rejection of their current king, Jehovah, using the depravity of Joel and Abiah as the catalyst excuse for rejecting God: Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations (vs 5).

So the rejection of God as king and the establishment of a kingdom with a human leader, as God had predicted in the latter half of Deuteronomy 17, began right there in Beersheba with the perversion of the sons of Samuel. As I looked out over the ruins of a once great civilization, I could not help but think about the huge and negative ramifications that always occur when parents fail to instill within their children a deep and abiding respect for authority. 

 Of course, the back story to what happened in I Samuel 8, when the people used the rebellious sons of Samuel as their justification for rejecting God’s system of judges, is found much earlier in the book of 1 Samuel. It’s in chapter two, where the sons of Eli the priest were fornicating with women at the door of the tabernacle, greedily taking the fat of the meat offerings against the commands of God, and, in general showing they “knew not the Lord” (vs. 12). In chapter two we see some weak efforts of rebuke on the part of Eli toward his sons, but in chapter three, the Word plainly says that Eli “restrained them not” (vs 13). 

It’s important to notice that this household, in which sons were not restrained, was the one in which Samuel grew up. What he learned about parenting, he almost certainly had to learn from Eli. So, when it was time for Samuel, himself, to display the backbone of a nurturing father, he failed miserably, and his failure was a significant part of the crystallization of a national rejection of the authority of God. 

So there I was, looking out over Beersheba, thinking about this place where the sons of Samuel were taking the bribes. I could see the ruins of the ensuing kingdom that looked to a human head, rather than the Lord, as king. I thought about the remains of that horned altar found inside storehouse walls (storehouse walls  and altar shown in photos ) in this spot–an altar made of well-dressed stones (an obvious center of idolatry); likely destroyed by Hezekiah or Josiah.I saw the well-defined rooms of houses; houses is which mothers sang lullabies and children played games, and I thought about the ultimate destruction that came upon them all in 701 B.C. at the hand of the Assyrians.

Lesson from Beersheba: Massive national declines and disasters begin in seemingly small ways when parents fail to instill principles of authority in their children.

How parents in America today need the lessons from Beersheba!

  

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–Next Stop: Tel Arad

What can be better than Diggers looking at the digs of archaeologists who’ve uncovered the places we’ve read about in the Word? Our next stop was Tel Arad. “Tel” Is a word you’ll hear a lot if you study the archaeology in Israel. A tel is just a stacked mound of civilization. So one “occupation” of a piece of land built its culture and temples and homes and businesses and then, when it was conquered by another group, the new inhabitants would just take whatever they could use and build its own structures on top of the old civilization. Thus, a mound of land usually consists of several strata in the Bible Lands. The deeper you dig, the older the civilization. On this day, we were wanting to see the portion of Arad that pertained to the Israelites of the divided kingdom. 

Tel Arad is one of those mounds with layers of different civilizations. Arad is still a modern city in Israel, just west of the Dead Sea. The ancient tel is located near the modern city. There are several layers of civilization there, but the part we visited was the Jewish community that existed during the reign of David and  all the way through the divided kingdom of Judah until the capture of Judah by the Babylonians in about 597 BC. We read about God’s people dwelling in Arad in Judges 1:16: And the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people.

Some pretty amazing things were discovered in this place by archaeologists Amiran and Aharoni in the 1960s and 70s. 

Ninety-one ostraca (broken pieces of pottery ) have been found referring to the citadel there as the “House of Yahweh.” They contain commands about the sacrifices and lists of names. One piece, the Eliyashiv Ostraca was put together from pieces all found in the same room and contained his instructions to deliver wine and flour and other ingredients in specific quantities.  It’s pretty amazing that the entire terrain at Tel-Arad is littered with broken pieces of ancient pottery. We just literally picked up the little pieces of ancient civilizations.

A temple area was also found mentioning the “House of Yahweh”. It seems uncertain whether the inscription was referring to Arad or to the temple at Jerusalem. A standing stone (kind of a monument) was also in this place, generally assumed to be some kind of tribute to Yahweh. Of course, Bible students know that, by the time of the divided kingdom, worship was often polluted and that the offering of sacrifices in places other than the temple at Jerusalem was unauthorized worship. 

I looked with sadness over a citadel that had once been a thriving community of God’s people. The biggest spiritual lesson one takes from Tel Arad may be that, when people transgress or kick against the authority of Yahweh, the ruins of their civilizations stand as a reminder that nations cannot prosper when ignoring the sovereignty of the One to whom they sacrifice. It’s the clear lesson of I Samuel 15 (the one my mother drove deeply into my heart many times as she was punishing disobedience): “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams.” I will never forget that childhood lesson. May I always have the wisdom and courage to make it more than a quotation from childhood. May it be the mantra of my walk with Him in a world that equates spirituality with a warm feeling about God.  

The pictures you see are mine, just because I’m making a personal journal. You can find many more if you do your own internet search. The coolest (literal) place of the day (a 98 degree day) was in this cistern at Arad, but there were many very cool places! (I think I want to be an archaeologist when I grow up. Do you think it’s too late?)

You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Arad

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–First Stop: the Dead Sea


The Dead Sea is on the eastern border of the nation of Israel. It was our first stop.  As we traveled south and east from the airport in Tel-Aviv, I was taken by the harshness of a desert region like I’d never seen before. The farther south we went, the less vegetation we saw and the more barren sand and limestone—craggy and desolate mountains—enveloped us. When I had envisioned the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness prior to entering the land of milk and honey, I’d never pictured this harsh and inhospitable wasteland. With the blessings of God promised and attending them already, their murmurings about being thirsty and hungry were inexcusable; however, I could see the great temptation to be fearful about the source of the next drink of water.

Sometimes we are like that, spiritually. We live in a wilderness of sin. God’s already promised us the living water that assures us the victory, the promised land. He’s promised a way of escape for every temptation (I Corinthians 10:13). But we fear. We doubt. We complain. We look at the desert instead of the Deliverer. 

When we finally arrived at the shoreline of the Dead Sea, I realized that we were in a commercial resort area. Built around the Dead Sea were fine hotels with spas and pools and restaurants and people were flocking to “experience” the Dead Sea. 

Situated at the very lowest point of the earth’s surface (1412 feet below sea level) is this body of water with the highest saline concentration of any water on the earth. Bordered by Jordan, the West Bank and Israel, it’s just over 30 percent salt and cannot sustain any complex life forms, plant or animal. It’s truly dead because of its salinity. If you touch the water with any open paper cut or scratch, you will quickly feel the burn of the salinity, but the salt content also promotes cleansing and healing.

Sometimes the salt of the earth, spiritually speaking, is that way. When it touches the wounds of sin, it burns. It’s painful to touch a life that’s been marred by sin with the healing power of Christianity. Healing often means the burn of rejection by former friends, separation from activities that I once enjoyed, and, most certainly the burning pain of guilt realized. But it’s the healing remedy for the sin that cuts us!

The “Dead Sea Experience,” for which the area is famous, is floating in the salty water. SO we did it. Our group of bathing beauties made our way to an isolated area of the Sea and waded in to our knees. Following instructions, we tried to just sit down in the water. But we just bobbed right back up! Then we just laid horizontally on top of the water and, with no effort at all, floated around in the Dead Sea. We laughed at each other, took photos, and generally had the best time making fun of each other as we lost our balances in attempts to stand back up. (You just can’t get your feet back on the bottom! When the men had their turn at the experience, Glenn even sustained a pretty good little cut on the palm of his had as he tried to lift himself back up in the water by placing his hand on the jagged, hardened salt on the bottom of the sea….But he healed quickly in the medicinal waters.)

The sea is receding and projects are ongoing to bring in more water to replenish the shrinking sea. Water is definitely being pumped into the area in large quantities to maintain the resorts that have been built around the Dead Sea. After all, they don’t have a Moses to speak to the rock in that desert, anymore!

The largest lesson from the Dead Sea has been famously recorded in a song we often sang in worship as I was growing up. I cannot improve or expound on the words of this song. They are perfect! May we all strive to be like the rushing Jordan rather than the Dead Sea. May we, those who have been given the gift of the water of life, be channels of spiritual life and blessing to those to whom the living waters can flow through us! May we give Him glory as we share the water of life!

 

 

There is a Sea

by Lula Klingman Zahn

There is a sea which day by day

Receives the rippling rills

And streams that spring from wells of God

Or fall from cedared hills

But what it thus receives it gives

With glad unsparing hand

A stream more wide, with deeper tide

Flows on to lower land

There is a sea which day by day

Receives a fuller tide

But all its store it keeps, nor gives

To shore nor sea beside

It’s Jordan stream, now turned to brine

Lies heavy as molten lead

It’s dreadful name doth e’er proclaim

That sea is waste and dead.

Which shall it be for you and me

Who God’s good gifts obtain?

Shall we accept for self alone

Or take to give again?

For He who once was rich indeed

Laid all His glory down

That by His grace, our ransomed race

Should share His wealth and crown.

Words public domain