If you asked me to name my favourite Bible story it would be a tough decision but one of the ones on my short list would definitely be 2 Chronicles 20 where King Jehoshapat learns that there are armies on their way towards him, and they were encamped at En Gedi. He and all the nation seek God and God speaks:
And the next morning they head out, sending the worshippers in front of the army, because they believed God. When they get to the watchtower Jehoshapat looks out and sees that the different armies had killed each other. God had fought for them.
En Gedi is also the place in 1 Samuel 23 and 24 where David hides from Saul, and then spares Saul's life.
In En Gedi we talked about how Jehoshapat and David knew who God is - they knew His promises and His character. As Jehoshapat starts his prayer to God he reminds God of all He had already done. God has given us so many promises to live and stand on, and we can rejoice in them before we see them fulfilled - we can send the choir out in front of the army because if God has said it, He will do it.
Our disciplemaking takeaway from here was:
All the promises are yes in Christ.
En Gedi is an oasis in the middle of a vast wilderness. It was weird to travel through so much brown and come to the one green spot. It made it so beautiful - it is a place teeming with life, all because it has water. There is even a date palm and a fig tree growing out of the rock alongside the waterfall.
The view of the wilderness - and the Dead Sea.
Our second stop of the day was Masada, a fortress palace built by Herod the Great and where zealot Jews made their last stand against the Romans in 73 AD.
When this fortress fell to the Romans in 73 AD Israel ceased to exist until the 20th century. This happened within a generation of Jesus' death. On this hilltop we talked about how we cannot predict what problems will come our way, or what powers we will see topple in our lifetimes. Our disciplemaking takeaway was:
Don't be surprised when trouble comes - remember Christ has overcome.
Leaving the Dead Sea our sights were set on the final destination of our trip: Jerusalem! It was incredible to enter the city. Some of us wandered around a little after dinner and then some of us headed to the hotel roof to sing worship songs. We repeated this each night in Jerusalem - and it was a definite highlight to sing worship in that place.