Four hours is a short drive for me, especially with good friends and amazing views that are so close you can touch them. Following the signs south from Jerusalem, pointing to Eilat, meant the entire trip would be spent traveling on the desert floor. For most of our group it was the first time experiencing the Negev. Robert, my friend and fellow intern, simply put it this way, “the desert is full of nothing, yet so beautiful.” It really is beautiful nothingness. There we began our weekend looking over the amazingly vibrant shades of grey and brown. You wouldn’t attribute such a vivid palate to these colors without first seeing them with your own eyes. Highlights of pale red, orange and purple made the mountains seem more like a masterful painting than actual earth. Always, there is a haze of dust in the distance creating a dim background during the light hours. These acted as amazing contrast to one another: the mountains so close, and those opposite the valley. This was the landscape of Timna, our destination. A dozen or so miles from Eilat, this national park inhabits a wonderful piece of land that was once the bedrock of the Copper Age. Mountains vast and barely more than a hill, strange and amazingly beautiful were all gathered together so we could enjoy their awe-inspiring beauty. When we arrived, we all marveled at the size of the park. We hadn’t even gotten out of the car, and already my expectations were being overshadowed.
Driving up to our campsite, I noticed a brownish tent to our left-hand side. It would have blended into the base of the mountain had there not been a bright-white linen fence surrounding it. I recognized immediately that this one was the model of the tabernacle, which was part of the reason we had come. It wasn’t much bigger than a communal Bedouin tent, which surprised me. In my mind, the tabernacle was much larger, and although I had done the math before, with the measurements explained in the Torah, it still seemed too small. After having a bit of lunch, we headed over to the meijer tent, to wait on the guide. When she finally made her way to the head of our group, she asked if we had Christian background, to which we responded, “Yes!” She began to smile, and led us on a journey through the tabernacle, which so clearly portrayed the shadows and types of Yeshua our Messiah. You could recognize the pureness of her joy in every explanation, down to the last minute detail. This joy became rather contagious and by the time we made it into the holy place, we knew something of eternal significance was being opened before our hearts and minds. From the white linen, tanned rams skins and purple, scarlet and blue tabernacle coverings, to the copper altar, menorah and table of show bread, everything had significance. Even the silver and copper bases of the beams which held up the tent had played a role in displaying the character of our Lord, and our identity in him.
From there we left for the surrounding mountains to scale one after another as high as we could, trying to attain the victory of alighting each pinnacle. Some were steep as cliffs, and others shaped into strange formations, like mushrooms. Every wall we faced we climbed while laughing and gasping, wide-eyed and feet steady, ready for the next challenging path bidding us, “Come up.” The grandeur I felt while standing at the zenith of the mountaintop made me feel so minuscule compared to the immensity of creation, yet with a guided awareness of my tiny role’s significance.
Later that evening Patrick and Rebecca, our leaders, set apart time for us to draw near to God, and listen to His voice. We each went our own way not too far off into the desert, covered by the canopy of brilliant stars above us. At first, my attempt was to alight yet another mountaintop that I might fill myself with the sense of grandeur as I did before. While my will was set on greater things, I felt the Lord speak to me quietly that instead I should turn toward the tabernacle. The base of the mountain did not seem as appealing to me, but I finally relented clambering upward and retraced my steps in descent. When I finally arrived at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, as the Tabernacle was called so long ago, His presence was indeed there to meet me. There I sat down, waiting, reminding myself of how Joshua used to do the same, as Moses went in to commune with the Lord. Now while this “Tabernacle” was a mere picture, the Presence that I’ve felt so many times in my life was not. He spoke, and I listened. I heard Him more clearly than I had in some time. Perhaps, this happened because I met Him in the place of His choosing. That night, as I laid not too far from my friend, we gazed up at the crystal clear sky, and drifted off speaking about the great things our Father had revealed to us.
When we woke up, we made quick preparations to leave for the sea, which was only a dozen, or so miles away. I’ve always been so captivated by the sea, but never had an opportunity to do anything but go swimming. So, when I heard we would be snorkeling among the coral reefs in the Red Sea, I could hardly contain my excitement. We got our gear from a small shack-like beach house, and made a b-line for the water. We set up the shade and laid down our towels as quickly as we could, which was only a few hundred feet from the Egyptian border. Normally, I give the temperature of the water a thought or two before I dive straight in, but this time was different. As fast as I could get my fins and mask on, the shoreline didn’t exist. To say that what I saw was incredible would be an understatement. The reefs were everywhere! There were fish of every shape, size and color of the rainbow, and coral just as diverse. I felt like I was in a Cat in the Hat book, looking at all the wonderful creatures I’d never seen, or dreamed of before. Fat fish, small fish, long fish, blue. Mean fish, nice fish, green fish, too! Such an array of color, shape and character inspired just as much, if not more awe in me as gazing up at the stars the night before. You would never think looking at something so small as a school of clown fish could, in turn, make you feel even smaller.
How beautiful has the Master Artist made His creation, and what an incredible wonderful place to discover more of His artwork. I know there are more aesthetically superior places in the world. More greenery. Higher Mountains. Greater Seas. And last but not least, Cooler Weather. But Why would I want to be anywhere else than exactly where God wants me? And where else could you experience all of these things in one place? How could I say “No” when my Father has invited me to the place closest to His heart? So, here I am, and how the beauty of His majesty has changed me, and this is only the beginning of the third month.
Posted on October 10, 2016
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