Joel C. Rosenberg: Four Days In Jordan: We took our kids & some friends to the Hashemite Kingdom last month.
Though far too few Evangelical Christians know or think much about this remarkable country, Jordan is beautiful, friendly, and safe — and immensely rich in Biblical history.
I’ve been there nine times. In 2014, I had the opportunity to meet with Jordan’s Prime Minister and other senior officials (I wrote four columns about that trip, if you’re interested — Why I Came To Amman, Was Jesus Baptized on the East Bank?, Meeting With The Foreign Minister, and Meeting the PM). Last year, Lynn and I were invited as guests of His Majesty King Abdullah II.
That said, our sons had never been there (beyond passing through on the way somewhere else). So last month, Lynn and I decided to take three of them and meet up with dear American friends who wanted to visit both Jordan and Israel for the first time. What an amazing time!
The eleven of us traveled through the territories of all three ancient nations that comprise the modern kingdom — Ammon, Moab and Edom. We had a wonderful Jordanian tour guide with us who helped us learn the country’s history, culture and geography.
Over the course of four very packed days, we took the kids to:
Bethany Beyond the Jordan (we saw the ancient ruins of the town where the Bible says John the Baptist conducted his ministry alongside the Jordan River and where many believe Jesus Himself was baptized)
Amman (the modern and ancient capital known in the Bible as Rabbat-Ammon and later as Philadelphia, part of the Roman Decapolis)
Jerash (known in the Bible as Gerasa, part of the Roman Decapolis)
Madaba (the site of an extraordinary ancient mosaic map of key Christian holy sites in the Holy Land)
Mount Nebo (where God showed his servant Moses the Promised Land of Israel, and where Moses also died and was buried)
Petra (the ancient Nabatean city made famous in the third sequel of Raiders of the Lost Ark — click here for the last scene)
Wadi Rum (the breath-taking Edomite desert made famous in the Oscar-winning — and must-see motion picture, Lawrence of Arabia); and
Aqaba (the southern Jordanian port city located on the shores of the Red Sea)
Along the way, I taught the group about the many Biblical leaders who lived in and served God in Jordan during ancient times and the many important Biblical events that occurred there.
Moses lived on the East side of the Jordan River, and eventually died and was buried on Mount Nebo. (See Deuteronomy chapter one and chapter 34.)
The entire Israelite nation lived on the East side of the River for a time after escaping from Egypt. (See the book of Deuteronomy.)
Joshua lived on the East side, and from there led the Israelites across the Jordan River to the West side. (See the book of Deuteronomy and Joshua chapter one.)
The prophet Elijah was born and raised in the land of Gilead, which is on the East side of the River, and eventually went back to heaven there in a chariot of fire. (See I Kings 17:1, 2 Kings 10:33, and 2 Kings 2:1-14)
The prophet Elisha received the mantle of prophetic leadership on the East side of the River. (See 2 Kings chapter two.)
John the Baptist based his ministry “in Bethany beyond the Jordan,” that is, on the East side of the River. (See John 1:28.)
The Lord Jesus Christ may have been baptized on the East Bank, since his cousin John baptized Him and John was ministering on the East side of the River. (See John chapter one.)
The Lord Jesus Christ certainly traveled to the East side of the River and ministered to people on and from the East side.
We especially focused in the New Testament on the account of the Lord Jesus healing two demon possessed men in “the country of the Gadarenes,” an ancient Roman city on the East side of the Sea of Galilee, in the northwest section of modern Jordan. (Matthew 8:28-34).
“The modern town of Umm Qais is the site of the ancient Greco-Roman town of Gadara, one of the cities of the Decapolis and, according to the Bible, the place where Jesus cast out the devil from two men into a herd of pigs (Matthew 8: 28-34),” notes the official website of Jordan’s late King Hussein.
We also looked at the accounts in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39. Both focus on Jesus casting a “legion” of demons out of one specific man in “the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee” and then telling that man to “go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”
These two accounts are more detailed versions of the Matthew 8:28-34 account. The region where the events happened is the same – northwest Jordan – as described by Matthew. But Mark and Luke use slightly different language. They refer to the “country of the Gerasenes.” This certainly included the ancient city of Gadara, but was also a broad swath of territory linked to the ancient Roman city of Gerasa, which today is known as the Jordanian city of Jerash, located about 40 miles south of Umm Qais. [See King Hussein’s website.]
The kids absolutely loved our time in Jordan, as did we adults. We loved the people, the sights, the food and the opportunity to pray for the people and the leaders of this extraordinary kingdom. I so hope you and your family will look for an opportunity to visit Jordan soon, as well.
NOTE: In addition to the pictures I’ve posted here, I’ll Tweet out more photos over the next few days.
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