David wrote Psalm 63 while in the wilderness of southern Judah; now known as the Negev. In Ps. 63:1, David compared his longing for God to the thirst for water in this dry and thirsty land, which is where our tour of Israel began.
Our tour progressed roughly chronologically through Bible history, beginning with Abraham in Beer Sheba and ending with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.
Each day began with breakfast at 7 AM, loading our luggage on the bus, and leaving the hotel by 8 AM. As we headed to our first tour site, someone would lead a devotional, and then one of our tour guides would use our travel time to teach.
Our first destination was Tel Be’er-Sheva. No, that is not a typo. Yes, the Bible refers to this city where Abraham settled after offering his son Isaac to God as Be’er Sheba. But words have a way of changing over time, and this name is no exception. In the 4,000 years since the days of Abraham, the ‘bee’ sound has changed to a ‘vee’ sound. Its modern name is Be’er Sheva.
On the way to Be’er-Sheva, our Israeli tour guide gave us an introduction to Israel. Israel is about the size of New Jersey. They grow 95% of their own food and export food to others. Israel even has their own oil fields in the Golan Heights and by the Dead Sea.
Our tour guide was particularly proud of her nation’s excellent water management. They use drip irrigation to minimize evaporation, using 85% recycled water. They even use a reservoir of slightly brackish water located 150 meters below the Negev to water salt tolerant plants (like olive trees).
As a result, Israel is one of the only places on earth that is reclaiming desert areas. In 1964, Israel was 84% desert; now it is only 62% desert. Israel sees this as a fulfillment of Isaiah 35:1-2, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing. . . .”
While Israel has a right to be proud of their tremendous agricultural achievements, I believe the true fulfillment of this and other prophecies regarding water in Israel are still future and will be miraculous in nature.
Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house (the Temple); and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: . . .
Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. . . .
Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and everything shall live whither the river cometh. . . .
I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:
That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: