Israel Day 5: Baptism, Beit Shean, Jericho, Qumran, & the Dead Sea

Today was a very special day in Israel.  We started the day going to Yardent & celebrating through Baptizing 3 of our group in the Jordan River!  We then departed the Sea of Galilee &  journeyed down the Jordan Valley towards the Dead Sea. Along the way we visited the principle city of the Decapolis, Scythopolis (or Beit Shean) &  experienced an impressive Greco-Roman metropolis.  From there we traveled to the city of Jericho & visited the ancient site of the city destroyed by Joshua & the Israelites. This afternoon we made our way to Qumran, site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.   The remainder of our afternoon was spent experiencing swimming in The Dead Sea (a unique experience that everyone enjoyed). Themes for the day were spiritual disciplines, the Word of God, family worship, & contextualizing the Gospel.  Please continue to pray for everyone for endurance & continued health.

Baptism on the Jordan




Beit Shean (Decapolis)



1. Controlled the Beth Shean Pass connecting the Jordan Valley and the Jezreel Valley

2. Built on the south side of the Harod River and dates back to the Calcolithic Period

3. In Egyptian records it is mentioned in the Execration Texts, the Campaign of Thutmose III, the Amarna Letters and the Campaign of Seti I

4. Given to the Tribe of Manasseh—Joshua 17:11; 1 Chronicles 7:29

5. Not taken by Joshua and retained by the Canaanites—Joshua 17:12–16; Judges 1:27–28

6. Taken by the Philistines—1 Samuel 31:7

7. Saul’s body was fastened on the walls of Beth-Shean—1 Samuel 31:8–12; 2 Samuel 21:12

8. The city became Israelite only under David

9. Part of the Fifth Solomonic District—1 Kings 4:12

10. Destroyed by the Assyrians under Tiglath Pileser II in 732 b.c.

11. Resettled by Greeks and renamed Nysa-Scythopolis based on the legend that Dionysus, the god of wine, buried his nurse, Nysa, here; it became the largest city of the Decapolis

12. In 143 b.c., Jonathan Maccabee tried to halt the Syrians and agreed to negotiations, only to he tricked and captured

13. In 104 b.c., it was taken by the sons of John Hyrcanus and the inhabitants were given the choice to convert to Judaism or leave. The majority chose to leave and the city became Jewish again and returned to the name of Beth Shean

14. In 63 b.c., with Pompey and the Romans, it was rebuilt and it became a gentile city and the capitol of the ten cities of the Decapolis; it was again renamed Scythopolis; the only city of the Decapolis west of the Jordan

15. In the First Jewish Revolt in a.d. 66, Vespasian made the city the winter camp for the 5th and 10th Legions

 Lesson: Contextualization: Living The Gospel Out In Our Culture

The gospel is the key. If you don’t have a deep grasp on the gospel of grace, you will either over-contextualize because you want so desperately to be liked and popular, or you will under-contextualize because you are self-righteous and proud and so sure you are right about everything. The gospel makes you humble enough to listen and adapt to non-believers, but confident and happy enough that you don’t need their approval. – Tim Keller

I. Gospel-Driven People Embrace The Mission of The Church.

Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV) 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

“When you study the New Testament, you will see that the church is given this same vocation. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). In God’s plan of redemption, the church is called to be and to do what Israel failed to be and to do. The purpose of the church is to work together to reach out to the world around us. We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light so that we can proclaim God’s excellencies to a watching world.”-Francis Chan

 II. Gospel-Driven People Don’t Confuse Being In The World with Being Of The World.

John 17:11 (ESV)

III. Gospel-Driven People Don’t Complain About What We Can’t Do Or Don’t Have.

IV. Gospel-Driven People See The World As Broken And Are Passionate About Sharing The Gospel To Restore It. 

Jericho Ruins


Lesson: The Crossing of The Jordan-Leading You Family To Ask Questions

Purpose Statement For Gospel Driven Parenting: “I exist to equip my children to build their beliefs through the WORD of God, to articulate and understand the meaning of the Gospel, to master the ability to think logically (characterized by clear, sound reasoning), to communicate their conclusions persuasively, to the end they are prepared to serve His Kingdom and advance the Gospel across the street and around the world.

Exodus 13:14 (ESV)

14 And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.

Deuteronomy 6:20 (ESV)

20 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’

Joshua 4:6 (ESV)

6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’

Joshua 4:20 (ESV)

20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal.

I. Gospel-Driven Parents Lead Their Children To Ask Questions.

II. Gospel-Driven Parents Lead Their Children To Right Places.

III. Gospel-Driven Parents Lead Their Children To Right Worship.

IV. Gospel-Driven Parents Lead Their Children To Right Perspective

V.  Gospel-Driven Parents Lead Their Children To Right Salvation.


Cave-where-scrolls-were-found Bathin-Pull-at-Quran



1. Possibly referred to as the City of Salt—Joshua 15:62

2. Archaeology has shown that there was Jewish settlement here as early as the eighth century b.c. and may have been among Uzziah’s towers in the wilderness—2 Chronicles 26:10

3. In New Testament times, it was the site of the Essene Community

a. First arrived in the second century b.c.

b. In 31 b.c., it was destroyed by an earthquake and abandoned

c. It was rebuilt during the reign of Archaelaus (4 b.c.—a.d. 6)

4. The Essene Community was destroyed by the Romans in a.d. 68

5. Last known residents were a Roman garrison stationed here during the Bar Cochba Revolt (a.d. 135)

6. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found here in 1947

Lesson: The Word of God Our Satisfaction And Delight

I. Gospel-Driven People Realize Why They Study God’s Word.

  • To Know Jesus.  John 5:38–40 (ESV)
  • To Prepare ourselves for disciple-making, ministry, and service. 2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV)

Profitable means that there is a great gain on an investment. It teaches – helps us understand and brings clarity to life. It reproves – shows us how we have sinned. It corrects – points us to the truth when we are in error. It trains – shows us how to obey. God’s Word is fully sufficient to prepare us for everything the Bible commands us to do. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to transform us into Christ-likeness. It is fully sufficient for life and truth transference.

  • To Transform ourselves. Psalm 19:7–11 (ESV), Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
  • To Understand God’s character and attributes.

II. Gospel-Driven People Understand What It Mean’s To Study God’s Word.

Ezra 7:10 (ESV)

Acts 17:11 (ESV)

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

III. Gospel-Driven People Practice The Discipline of Direction In Studying God’s Word.

The Principle of Direction: direction not intentions leads to destination

The direction of delight. (2a)

“but his delight is in the law of the Lord, ” (Psalm 1:2a, ESV)

“In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. ” (Psalm 119:14, ESV)

“I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. ” (Psalm 119:16, ESV)

“Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. ” (Psalm 119:24, ESV)

“Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. ” (Psalm 119:35, ESV)

“for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. ” (Psalm 119:47, ESV)

We are all in one of 3 places when we consider delighting in God’s Word.

1. We have been regenerated (born again) and we love the Word of God.

2. We are carnal and we have replaced our love for the Word of God.

3. We are natural and we have no desire for the Word of God.


About George Ross

I am a pastor, church planter, husband, and father of four.
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