Only 10,000 steps today – not bad! After almost 30,000 steps the two days prior, I’ll happily take 10,000. And with those 10,000 steps we certainly saw (and stepped on) some awesome things!
We started the day by descending the Jerusalem mountains (750 meters above sea level) to Qumran (350+ meters below sea level). Visiting the Qumran caves is an amazing experience, as I hope you’ve had today. As Dr. John said this morning, the scrolls that were found in the Qumran caves in 1947 provide Christians with an immense encouragement when it comes to the reliability of the Bible. The accuracy between the many Old (or “First”) Testament scrolls we have today and what we found in Qumran from over 2,000 years ago is incredible.
You’ll remember Dr. John reminding us to thank the Jews for their careful preservation of the Scriptures. If you haven’t already done that, perhaps tomorrow you could. I’ll try to remember as well.
After Qumran we headed to Masada. Although there isn’t direct biblical relation to Masada, it’s still an outstanding archeological site in Israel (you can’t really visit Israel and not go to Masada). Despite the striking heat, this ancient and relatively small site was a beautiful thing to take in. It was first built by Herod and then later used by some Jewish zealots (with an incredibly tragic story).
I’m not sure all that you saw up there (literally “up” there), but if you saw the heated bathhouse, wasn’t it awesome? The engineering that took place to prepare it was so cool to see.
After riding the Swedish-made gondola back down, we hopped on the bus and drove to (literally) the lowest dry area on earth! And where is that? The shores along the Dead Sea. It’s a whopping 413 meters below sea level! To help give some perspective, the surface of the Mediterranean to the surface of the Dead Sea is almost the height of the Empire State Building in New York City.
But that’s not even the best part. Because of the high salt concentration in this body of water, you just, well, you float. No treading water needed. You literally walk in, sit back, and relax. I hope you enjoyed it!
Once we made it back to the hotel, Andrew Marcus led us in some worship through music, and then Phil gave a great talk on Christian joy.
And! Tomorrow’s the last full day, which means this is the second to last blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
Your “biblically aware” Scriptures: for the Southern Steps, read Luke 2:41-52, 21:37-38; for the Temple Mount, read Genesis 16:7-12, 17:20; for the Via Delarosa, read Mark 15:16-20; and for Bethlehem (and the church of the nativity), read Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-12, Luke 2:1-21.