Summer Travel: Add Jordan to Your “Bucket List”
Because the Bible studies I create include historical information about passages explored, I make it a priority to visit the sites I write about. And one place that has changed the way I read the Bible is the “other” Holy Land—Jordan.
Most people want to visit Israel, where our Lord was born, died, and rose. And it is indeed wonderful! But Jordan also has many significant biblical sites. And because fewer shrines have been built atop them, I found it easier in Jordan to imagine scenes as they “really looked” when biblical events happened.
The most exciting to me was Bethany beyond the Jordan, with its rich history. Here the children of Israel crossed into the Promised Land. According to tradition, Elijah was at the same site when he ascended in a whirlwind on a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2). Centuries later John the Baptist preached and baptized (John 1:28) here. And in fact, this place with its rich layers of history is where John baptized Jesus. That event marked the first recorded manifestation of the Trinity (Mark 1:9–12). Jesus later taught here as well (John 10:40).
Nearby stands Mount Nebo. After the Exodus, Moses stood on this promontory and caught his first glimpse of the Promised Land. From its summit pilgrims can see the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, Jericho, and the lights of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
And no trip to Jordan is complete without floating on the Dead Sea (the “Salt Sea”) and visiting Petra, the country’s most-visited site. Its canyons still echo with Obadiah’s voice condemning the Edomites for their arrogance.
Once I stood where Moses viewed the Promised Land, I could better imagine his view. When I spied the landscape Ruth traversed as she journeyed from Moab to Bethlehem, I gained a new appreciation for how far she walked for bread. And once I saw Jesus’s baptismal site and the wilderness where He fasted for forty days, I more fully appreciated that our Lord left heaven’s glory to walk on earth.
Sandra Glahn is the author of the ten titles in the Coffee Cup Bible Study series. The most recent release was Chai with Malachi, which includes a section on Elijah and John the Baptist.