Holy Land 2013 – Day Five – Sabbath

Today was our fifth day in the Holy Land. And frankly, we didn’t do nearly as much as we did the last few days.  But that’s ok. And I’ll tell you why in a second.

But first, what did we do?

We spent today around the Dead Sea. Part of what I’m doing this trip is doing things that I didn’t do the last time I came in 2007.  All the stuff that I missed or just didn’t want to do, I’m doing this time.  I’ll have to say I’m really enjoying it, but I have reached the point where I am missing my wife and kids something awful.

And, I really missed not worshiping with my people at Asbury today. This is two Sundays in a row I was out of the pulpit. I’m going to have a lot to say next week 🙂

DSCN0496Today, through, we started at Massada.  This was a palace/fortress built by Herod the Great (or builder, because you have probably noticed all that he has built here).  It has one of the most beautiful overlooks of the Dead Sea that you will ever see.

The significance of this site was that during the revolt against Rome around 70 AD, zealot holdouts withstood a Roman siege for 3 years. And as the Roman legion was entering the compound after building a huge ramp, they found that all the people there (except for 3 people) had committed suicide. They has decided they would rather die than be enslaved.

The interesting thing to me is that for the modern state of Israel, this is site is very important.  Air Force pilots even make their pledges here, vowing to fight for Israel and never be slaves again.

DSCN0568

Next, we went to Quram.  This is the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. These scrolls go back to Jesus’ day and contain most of the Old Testament, all of the book of Isaiah, and many other things that help us to understand the time of Jesus better, as well as scripture.

It is a truly awesome thing to be in a place where we were able to gain a fuller understanding of God’s word.

This is a picture of our group, and you can see what looks like a hole behind us. That’s one of the caves where a portion of the scrolls were discovered in 1947.

DSCN0579And we finished up at the Dead Sea.  Last time, Holly went and floated in it. I didn’t. So, as I said I wanted to do things this time. So, here you go.  Me floating in the Dead Sea.  Boom!

But, as I said early, we didn’t do too much today. And that’s ok. Sam Morris, our leader made a point today that this was the third Sabbath that we had been through since we’ve been here.

Friday was the Islamic Sabbath.

Saturday (technically sundown Friday through sundown Saturday) was the Jewish Sabbath.

And today, Sunday, this is the Christian Sabbath.

I have noticed what a big deal the Sabbath is for other faiths.  They shut everything down.  The Jewish people aren’t allowed do anything that even looks like work. It’s so detailed that there is an elevator in the hotel called the Sabbath elevator that on that day stops at every floor going up, and going down, so you won’t have to work and push a button.

Now, that’s a little extreme.  I’m glad that we are people of grace and not of law.

But, it made me think.  Do we rest?  Really, do we rest at all?  Do we ever stop and take time for sabbath? To stop.  Slow.  And listen for God?

Listen to what He is saying.  Listen to what He may want to say.

Stop. Breathe.  Listen.

We were made for this. We were created to do this. We need this. We need Sabbath.

And those of you that know me, know I don’t that well. But, for me, that’s sort of what this trip as has been. I wrote this on Facebook the other night:

the last 2 and half years at Asbury United Methodist Church – Petal, MS have been amazing; 220% increase in worship, almost 200 new members, 80 baptisms, giving increasing by 100%, 15 new small groups and so much more! But I’ll be honest, I was needing chance to unplug and rest a little. Thus far, this trip to the Holy Land has been exactly what the doctor ordered. Have had some time for prayer, rest, and getting refocused. I am already itching to get back and get back to it! As great as the last 2 and half years have been, greater things are yet to come! I can’t wait to see what God does this year!

In many ways, this trip has been that for me.  I can’t tell you how great the last two and a half years have been. But, I needed my Sabbath.  I needed to rest a moment. Reflect.  Slow.  Breathe.  Pray.

This trip has been a Sabbath for me.

And now, through, I’m ready to get back at it!

So, today, have you taken Sabbath. I’m not talking about taking off work. Or not going out to eat.  Or even going to church (though it is Sunday! 🙂 ) Have you taken time to slow yourself?

Breathe.

Pray.

Listen.

Rest in God.

Whether you do it today, tomorrow, or whenever.  You need to do it.  We all do. We were made for it. We need sabbath. Today, no matter where you are, or what you are doing, I pray you find some time of Sabbath.

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