Har Kidod

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    • Day 21

      Morning: Day 10

      May 27, 2015 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

      I am the first one awake this morning here in Arad, Israel. Well, the birds and I. Lots and lots of tweeting, whistling, cawwing, screaming birds are awake too. Which is why I'm the first one awake here in Arad, Israel. I can't post photos of it, but yesterday, we did some hiking in the Judah Hill Country south of Jersualem. Our prof said it was a place where the natural habitat was similar to the way it would have been in ancient times. The thing that caught my attention, both literally and figuratively were the thorns. I would not have wanted to wander these hillsides without a trail. We stopped at a couple of archaelogical sites including the traditional area where David and Goliath battled. We moved on to the city of Ashkelon (an ancient Philistine and Cannanite city). Ashkelon is right on the Mediterranean and hosts the oldest gate in the world: the Cannanite city gate. We were standing beside a structure that dated from 1850 BC. During the time of Jacob, the city of Ashkelon boasted 150,000 ocupants. During the time of Jacob! We finished the day with a much needed dip into the Mediterranean Sea. The day was consistely over 100 degrees, so the cool water was welcome reprieve.

      A I sit outside this morning, I look over the panorama of Arad in the photo below. Yesterday, as we went from site to site, the oppressive heat (105ish) made everything a struggle. We drove about an hour south of Ashkelon for our stay tonight and our professsor said we can expect 10-15 degrees hotter today. Even the coldest water from these taps flows warm. I would not have liked to wander in these climes. But today as we head out, I am reminded of a Fransiscan prayer I had read:

      May God bless you with discomfort
      At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
      So that you may live deep within your heart

      May God bless you with anger
      At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people
      So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

      May God bless you with tears
      The shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
      So that you may reach out your hand and comfort them and
      To turn their pain into joy.

      And may God bless you with enough foolishness
      To believe that you can make a difference in the world
      So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
      To bring justice and kindess to all our children and the poor.

      Amen and amen.
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    • Day 22

      In the heat of the Negev

      May 28, 2015 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

      It will be hard for me to find words that capture the experience from yesterday. Even photographs (when I can upload them) won't speak loudly enough of the majesty and vastness of the wilderess. I have to say that despite the heat and misery, this was one of the most profound days of the trip thus far.

      We're going back to the Old Testament wanderings of God's people before they entered Promised Land. The Negev. As the Israelites left Egypt, the highest things on the horizon were structures built by men. So God brought them to a place to teach them about his power. One would wonder why God would have His Chosen people wander in the Wilderness for so long. Why not zip them right to the Land He would give them?

      Perhaps it was to teach them about his power. The mountains of the Negev and southern Israel were beyond anything man could construct. "Because you have failed to trust me" he tells Moses. This desert and these mountains would insist that changed.

      The experience for the Israelites was all about God's capability in a place where there is no other option but to trust Him. It was a genuine wilderness (with all the connotations that stirs) experience where you are forced to re-establish the baseline. The word "wilderness" is used over 300 times in the Bible and it is almost always in the context of faith-building. This wilderness and this experience set the standard in Scripture for what wilderness would mean to all people.

      We started at En Avdat, an incredible canyon that rivals the jaw-dropping slot canyons of America's southwest. We wandered up the canyon in 110 degree heat, that was much cooler than the hour-long experience on the bus when the air-conditioner failed. Think 110 degrees outside and only one window by the driver that rolled down. Don't rely on the vents to cool your imagination though because hey were shooting out heated air. We got a glimpse of the suffering of the people of Israel. :)

      We moved to the Grand Canyon of Israel, a place called Maktesh Ramon. This wilderness is a place where people visit, but no one remains, where people travel, but no one lives. I wish I could show you what we saw. Again, even photos won't do it justice, but when I get back to Jerusalem, I will try.

      It is a place of silence. It is a place to experience God.

      Tozer writes "The Old Testament is a marvelous rhapsody on the creation. Even Moses soars in his acute consciousness of the presence of God in all creation. Then, go to the Psalms, with David literally dancing with ecstatic delight as he gazes out upon the wonders of God's world.

      "In our generation, how rarely we get into a situation where we can feel the impulses of nature communicated to us. We seldom have time to lift our eyes to God's heaven."

      I praised God this morning that He would bless me with this experience and the opportunity to lift my eyes up.
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    Har Kidod, הר כידוד

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