Hi Everybody,

I’m not going to say it, but you know what today was, right? You got it! It was an awe…I’m not going to say it. I know you must think, “Mike is making this stuff up. Every day can’t be that good can it?” You just don’t know unless you’ve been here. It is better than “that” good! Today, we left the hotel and went down to Qumran and then on to Masada and last of all, we stopped at the Dead Sea for a swim. Was that wild! Before we got to Qumran we stopped in the desert where we could see Jericho and Jerusalem. Let me tell you, that is some rough territory. In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus tells the story about a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. That’s about an 18-20 mile walk through the desert. Jesus said the man fell into the hands of robbers. If you were here and reading the Scripture from Luke you could see exactly what Jesus was talking about. In Matthew 20:29 Jesus healed two blind men as He and His disciples were leaving Jericho on their way to Jerusalem. Also, if you will remember, Jesus met Zacchaeus, the “wee little man,” in Luke 19 while He was in Jericho. Jericho was a city that Jesus was very familiar with because He passed through there on His way to Jerusalem from the Galilee. Jericho also was very prominent in the Old Testament as Joshua and the children of Israel conquered it in Joshua 6. Enough about Jericho.

Our next stop was the ruins of Qumran. It wasn’t too long ago that I had mentioned the Dead Sea Scrolls in one of my Sunday morning lessons so having the opportunity to actually see where the Scrolls were found make me super excited. The Essenes lived in the desert community kind of as a rebellion against the Temple in Jerusalem because they felt the priesthood had become corrupt. The Essenses were super devout and refused to compromise with the world. When word got to them that the Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed they took all of their scrolls and hid them in the caves up in the mountains. Talk about trying to find a needle in the haystack! There are caves everywhere! The scrolls were hidden about 70-73 A.D. and they were not found until 1947! What did they find? Fragments of every book of the Bible except for Esther, a complete copy of Isaiah, and much more. I’ve included a picture of jars that look like the jars found in Qumran caves for you to be able to see.

Our next stop was Masada. It is located just west of the Dead Sea and it the place where Jewish Zealots resisted the Rloman army for three years until finally the Romans built a huge, and I mean HUGE ramp to the top of the mountain. I’ve included pictures of ruins of the Roman’s base camps (There were 8 around the mountain with 5,000 men in each camp.) When the Romans finally made it to the top of the mountain almost 1,000 Jews had committed suicide so that they wouldn’t have to be slaves to the Romans.

Our last stop of the day was the Dead Sea and it was such a wild place. The salt and mineral content of the water is so great that nothing can live in the Sea. For hundreds and thousands of year everyone thought that it was worthless, that is until the Jews figured out that they could use the sea salts for cosmetic purposes, Last year Israeli companies made $5 billion off products produced from the Dead Sea! The Dead Sea is evaporating at 3 feet per year, but the Israeli and Jordanian governments have gotten together and have figured out a way to drill to the Red Sea and pipe water over the 150 mile stretch of mountains so that they can fill up the Dead Sea once again.

I could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore you to tears. I would encourage you to get your Bible out and turn to the back where the maps are located. Look up the places that we’ve talked about today. You can find Jericho, just 9 miles south of Jerusalem; Masada, which is located in the Ein Gedi where David hid out from Saul for seven years (1 Samuel 23:29), and Qumran, about 9 miles south of Jericho. I’ve been looking at maps since I’ve been here and it is such a help to get things situated in my mind.

Well, I’d better get to bed. We are getting up early in the morning and going to the house of the high priest of Jesus’s day, Caiaphas house. It’s going to be another…never mind. You know what was coming next! I miss you all and pray for you daily.

You can see the pictures as I add them here on the website.

Floatin’ In The Holy Land