Judean Wilderness to Jericho to GezerMay 22, 2015 in Israel
Today we left Jerusalem for the first time and headed out into the wilderness east of the city. This is known as the Judean wilderness. This is the same wilderness in which Jesus chose to set his parable about the good Samaritan. It is the wilderness in which Jesus was to be tempted by Satan. It is stark and barren and wild and honestly, human beings have no good reason to be there.
Except, I think, to learn to rely on God. Wilderness is a great classroom and the lessons learned here can be learned nowhere else. Jesus faced the same question in the wilderness as the Israelites did before entering the Promised Land. The question God asks in the wild is, "Will you trust me, even if the fundamentals for your survival are stripped from you?"
One psalmist prayed, "Let me know how fleeting is my life." Standing on the edge of a cliff above a rugged canyon, watching dark gray shapes soaring in the sky below you reminds you: the wilderness is a death-ready place.
And then we watched as a Bedouin shepherd grazed his flocks on the steep ravine sides far below us. And the twenty-third Psalm jumped off the landscape. Yes. The Lord is my shepherd. And I will not take one God-forsaken step without Him. I need nothing but Him.
We read a poem called The Peace of Wild Things
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
We stopped in Jericho to explore excavations of ancient ruins. Jericho was actually way smaller than I had always thought. Maybe only about 10 acres. The same size as David's Jerusalem. Tiny really, but so important to the people of Israel as they moved into the Promised Land. We then traveled the Jericho-Gezer Road across the plain of Benjamin, watching so many stories of God unfold as we crossed the landscape. We stopped at the traditional tomb of Samuel and ended the day studying more archaeology in Gezer. 12 long hours, packed with information and scenery.
Tomorrow, we head to Mt. of Olives and then back into the West Bank area then south to visit Bethlehem.Read more