SMBI Study Tour Day 7

Today started out cool and breezy, with dark clouds looming overhead. It lightly drizzled on us a good part of the day. We spent quite a large portion of the day hiking and crawling around in tombs and caves. First stop was Tel Bet Shemesh, where the tribe of Dan would’ve first settled. It borders the Sorek Valley, where the ark returned on a cart pulled by cows from the Philistines.Samson would’ve also lived in this valley. Maybe he was sitting alone in a cave because his fellow Israelites didn’t care for and accept him like they should’ve. Do we care for and affirm people who have a calling that is more unique? We continued on to climb Tel Azekah overlooking the Valley of Elah.Here David killed Goliath with a slingshot. Saul was a Benjamite, meaning he also could sling a stone and not miss at a hair’s breadth. Why did David have the courage to go face Goliath and not Saul? Do we have the courage to use the talents God has entrusted to us to advance His kingdom, even when it looks scary? Here is a Gethsemane, an olive press. When Jesus prayed before his crucifixion, he would’ve prayed near an hour olive press much like this one. He was crushed by the world’s sins, like olives are crushed by the press. How do we respond to crushing experiences that God allows in our lives? Do we allow Him to use it to produce something beautiful, or do we become bitter? God wants to use Gethsemane times to teach us a deeper trust in Him, and to bring a sweet fragrance to our lives.We walked through caves in Adullam; there was one cave we had to crawl through on our hands and knees! Somewhere around here, it was in one of these many caves that David hid from Saul. However, unlike Samson, David had many supporters who stayed loyal to him the entire time. We had a late lunch of delicious schnitzel. The remainder of the afternoon was spent exploring the caves of Maresha. In the last cave, we found another olive press:)We got back to our hotel for a delicious supper from a wide variety of Israeli food. Afterwards, a few of us took the opportunity to do some more shopping/sightseeing close to the Old City. A steady rain made the experience more memorably damp:) It was intriguing to see the city slowly come back to life after Shabbat.The beautiful harp bridge just down the street from our motel. It is so hard to believe that our trip is already over halfway over! We have learned so much and our hearts are already so full; pray that we could still soak in all that God has for us these last few days. Toda (thank-you)!

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