• Written by Amanda Saxton •

We are in Israel! It’s still hard to believe we’re here. We began the day with a delicious breakfast and headed out for our first adventure: Masada. Masada means “fortress” and from the bottom looking up, it does not look like much, just another mountain on the edge of the Dead Sea.

When we got to the top of this mountain, our tour guide, Dan, explained some theories about why Herod the Great built this incredible architectural genius as a fortress. He also gave us a great lesson on the background history of what was going on in the time period of the Jewish Zealots, around 70AD. We understood why they decided to make Masada their refuge and attempt to outlast the Romans before ultimately taking their own lives.

It is interesting that when the zealots wanted to find refuge from the Romans, they found a refuge in Masada. Even though they were able to hold them for only a few years, this fortress ultimately failed. All man-made fortresses will fail, but the Lord is our Fortress who is always Faithful.
As I ponder the fortress of Masada, the verse in Psalm 91:2 comes to mind: “I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.’”

Seeing the fortress of Masada gives new understanding to that verse and makes me thankful that I can run to the Lord for refuge.

Our next stop was to a Bedouin village recreation. Even though this was built for tourists, it was a great way to experience a little taste of what it was like to be a nomad in the Judaean wilderness. While there, Nathan shared from Genesis 18 when Abraham welcomes 3 visitors into his tent. While in a Bedouin tent, we could picture Abraham being “at the door of his tent in the heat of the day” (Genesis 18:1) when he welcomed these visitors to come into his tent. To be hospitable in that culture certainly required sacrifice. They could not go to the pantry and get a loaf of bread. They had to make, knead, and cook the dough: no easy task. 

There is a verse in Hebrews that says: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2).

Just like Abraham’s hospitality allowed him to have a Divine encounter, I was challenged to think of ways I can be hospitable with where God has called me. I certainly have a long way to go to come close to the bedouins level of hospitality.

Then, we had a surprise! We went into a tent to watch an instructional video. On what? On how to ride … A CAMEL! Yep, all 30 of us got on camels and rode through the desert. A real camel. In Israel. So Cool! 

Also, did I mention we are in the desert? 

Being in the desert in Israel gives a deeper meaning to understanding the Israelites wandering through the desert for 40 years. And, I really don’t blame them for murmuring. I mean, it certainly is HOT! Haha. But really, being in the desert forces you to have deeper dependence upon God. And we learned today that when Israel was in the desert they became united and then ultimately became a nation. The desert forced them to rely on God to meet their needs and provide just enough for what they needed. Not more, not less. Just enough. I want to live in that state of dependency upon the Lord, trusting Him for every need,  not wanting anything more, or anything less.

These were some highlights for today and I am so expectant for what the Lord is going to do in the next coming days! Shalom from Israel! 🐪🐫😃🇮🇱

Interested in learning about future Israel Study Tours? Our next trip is scheduled for April 2020 and details/registration will be announced early September. Go to to sign up for details/updates and to be notified first when the trip officially opens up.

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