Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Negev Desert:The Ramon Crater

Two months ago, on Sunday, April 27th, I drove north from Eilat to Jerusalem thru the Negev Desert. This was the day after going to Petra in Jordan. The Negev Desert is loaded with beautiful scenery. One of the more unique locations is called the Ramon Crater. It is known as the largest crater in the world. As you drive south thru the small town of Mitzpe Ramon, once you turn the corner leaving the city, you enter the crater. It would be similar to driving into the Grand Canyon. Below is the overlook just outside Mitzpe Ramon.

Two days earlier when Stefan, Marcus, and I were headed to Eilat, Israelis were repelling down this cliff. It was a little hazy on Friday, April 25th, but today was very clear and extremely windy. The wind was probably the reason for no repelling on this day.
This is the eastern border region of the Negev. The majority of the Negev desert was given back to Egypt in the 1978 Peace Treaty. The traditional Mt. Sinai, where Moses received the Torah including the Ten Commandments, is currently located in Eqypt. Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Exodus 19:20.
However, even the western portion of the Negev is divinely appointed to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates... Genesis 15:18.

Later, Almighty God makes it clear that His covenant will be through Isaac. Then God said: "No, Sarah your shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his wife descendants after him. Genesis 17:19.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all spent much of their lives in the desert a little north of here in Beersheva. "Sheva" is Hebrew for seven. Then Abimelech asked Abraham, "What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves?" And he said, "You will take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that they may be my witness that I have dug this well." Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because the two of them swore an oath there. Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba. Genesis 21:29-32.
In the middle of the crater is a road for 4-wheel drive vehicles only. There are moonlight desert tours which I would like to do sometime.
For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance. "He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. Deuteronomy 32:9-10.
From the middle of the crater, the city of Mitzpe Ramon is at the top of the mountain where the slope begins. Several twists and turns, but it was a good highway.
In the center of the crater, I pulled off the road for a few photos.

These rocks show the color of the desert. They were formed like a "fence" to make a parking lot big enough for a few buses. On this day, nobody was there but me.
Hosea 2:9 refers to God, in the latter days, bringing Israel to the desert or wilderness. There is plenty of room. "Therefore, behold, I will allure her (Israel), Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her. Hosea 2:9.
Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19.

In the middle of the crater.
Mitzpe Ramon is an attractive little city in the middle of the desert. Perhaps this is what King Solomon was thinking about when he wrote one of the Proverbs. Better to dwell in the wilderness, Than with a contentious and angry woman. Proverbs 21:19.

Flags in Mitzpe Ramon show how windy it was that day. Jeremiah referred to the wind in the wilderness when describing how God was going to scatter His people. "Therefore I will scatter them like stubble That passes away by the wind of the wilderness. Jeremiah 13:24.

The road down into the Ramon Crater from Mitzpe Ramon.
Road sign in Beersheva providing directions.
Driving through the Negev you frequently pass signs like these. The Israeli Air Force uses the Negev for target practice. It is pretty isolated and a good choice for the IAF.

This photo contrasts historical and current Israel. In the foreground is a very large Bedouin village living in the desert. In the background, modern day Beersheva. For the LORD will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody. Isaiah 51:3
At an intersection in Beersheva, the 60th Anniversary Flags of Israel line the streets.

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; Isaiah 35:1.

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