Today we went to Petra. Since Petra is located within the country of Jordan, we had to gather our passports and personal information to prepare to leave Israel and enter Jordan. The drive to the Israel/Jordan border was only about 15 minutes but once we got there, it took us about an hour to exit Israel, cross the DMZ, and enter Jordan. We had left Avi and Assher in Israel and had to get a Jordanian guide for the trip to Petra. Our Jordanian guide was Hussein, who was very knowledgeable about his country and the area leading up to Petra. Jordan is about 3 times the size of Israel in land mass but about the same in population. The country of Jordan is about 80% desert so the landscape is a little barren and seemingly hard to scratch out a living. Hussein kept emphasizing the safety of Jordan as compared to some of its neighbors. He pointed out such features as religious tolerance, equality for women and went out of his way to distance Jordan from Isis. He said that Jordan was the first Arab nation to battle Isis and has taken in 4 million refugees which is a huge number considering that their population is only about 7 million.
Once we left the entry office, we began about a 2 hour drive to Petra, which is Jordan's most visited attraction. It is not known exactly when Petra was built but the city began to prosper as the capital of the Nabataean Empire around the 1st century BC. They were on the trade route and grew prosperous selling or trading frankincense, myrrh, and other spices. Petra later came under Roman rule but still thrived until an earthquake took them out around AD 363. That earthquake combined with changes in the trade routes eventually led to the abandonment of Petra. In 1812, a Swiss explorer named Johannes Burckhardt set out to "rediscover" Petra. His work led to the establishment of Petra as a tourism site and some proclaim it as the second wonder of the world behind only the Great Wall of China. Intricate tombs, an amphitheater, churches, the Great Temple, and other carvings are just amazing. There was a 1.6 mile walk (downhill) to get into the site and about that much walking when you got there. Not bad until you have to walk the 1.6 miles back out uphill.
So since this is a prophecy themed tour what does Petra have to do with anything? Some scholars believe that Petra will be the place that the remnant will flee when the Antichrist turns on Israel 3.5 years into the tribulation period. Petra is located in the Land of Edom (southern Jordan) near the ancient city of Basra. In Revelation 12:6, the Bible speaks of "the woman" (Israel) fleeing into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God. There are other passages that speak of this day such as Matthew 24 and Luke 21 among others. No one knows for sure and I cannot be dogmatic about it but having seen this place and the fortress that it is and the location of Petra, I believe it is entirely possible.
We begin our marathon day tomorrow in the morning at 8:30. We will be going to Timnah Park, visit a tabernacle, traveling through various sights in the Wilderness of Sin, and the Valley of Elah. Our day ends with the farewell dinner in Tel Aviv. We will check in at El AL Airlines at 9:00 and depart Israel around 1:00 AM. Assher's Father was released from the hospital today so keep praying for him, Assher, and Avi. Pray for our safe travel. We pray for you. Enjoy your coffee...more to come.
Ahava you all,
Gary W. Hall, Pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.