After a delicious buffet breakfast at the David Hotel and Spa we said goodbye to the Dead Sea and began our trek back North.
It was a short drive to Masada, where Herod the Great built one of his Palaces in 30 B.C. Around 68 A.D. a group of Jewish zealots conquered it and Masada became their last stronghold before the Romans besieged it. Rather than fall captive to the Romans they committed suicide and left behind what has become a “saga of courage, heroism, and martyrdom.”
Next was Ein Gedi, the place where David hid while fleeing from King Saul. It was there David secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe while he was in a cave relieving himself (1 Sam. 24:1-4).
One of the highlights was visiting Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 by Bedouin shepherds looking for a lost goat. Their accidental find opened the door to other discoveries in at least 11 other caves. These scrolls further confirmed the veracity of the Biblical narratives.
Our drive ended late Sunday afternoon, as we “came up to Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem is an important and prominent place in Bible history. It’s mentioned 821 times in the Bible. 144 times in the New Testament. And 60 times in Acts alone.
King David made Jerusalem the capital (1 Kings 2:11). As a result, it became known as the “city of David.” He built his palace there. Solomon erected the temple in Jerusalem. It was the “holy city.”
The gospel of Christ was first preached in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Ax. 1:8 2:5). The first converts were baptized for the remission of sins in Jerusalem (Ax. 2:38-43). And on that day the church had its beginning in Jerusalem (Ax. 2:47).
It was a particularly poignant occasion that our group, that numbered about 40, met together for Lord’s Day worship in an “upper room” within 3/4 of a mile where Jesus had the Last Supper with the disciples.” And within a half mile of the site of His crucifixion on Calvary.
Ralph Walker directed our thoughts back to the last week of Jesus’ life as he entered the city to a celebratory welcome.
The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
The King of Israel!” (Jn 12:12-13)
Craig Bean lead us in singing and took our minds further down the road as we reflected on the meaning of the Lord’s supper and Jesus’ vicarious death on the cross.
After having walked in so many places where Jesus and the apostles walked and taught, it was a moving experience to worship in Jerusalem.
We closed with singing, “Footprints of Jesus.”
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
That song will now forever hold a special place in my heart as I sing it with a new meaning and a deeper significance.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman