By BRIAN KAYLOR
One of the fascinating parts of traveling around Jordan is seeing the land of biblical kingdoms like Ammon, Moab, and Edom. Significant tribes with important moments in the biblical narratives, their capitals and much of their kingdoms sat on the east side of the Jordan River in the land now known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Before I came, someone who’s visited Jordan multiple times joked that Ruth didn’t really love Naomi much, but just didn’t want to go back to Moab. As we traveled through the rocky land of Moab, I chuckled that the joke might be right. At another point, we stood at a spot where we could see the land of the Edomities stretching out in the distance in each direction. I heard a common line in my head.
“What a God-forsaken place.”
But then I paused. Could that really be so. The Creator God made this land. The Almighty King lifted up Edomites at key times to work out divine plans. And as we looked across the Edomite land, the tallest peak before us was Mount Hor. The priest Aaron died there, and his son, Eleazar, there received the priestly garments and authority. God’s presence surely hovered at this place.
As we drove through the land of the Edomites, we stopped to spend most of a day at Petra. As popularized by Indian Jones, Petra sits as a hidden city in the mountains with most of the buildings carved into the rose red rocks. It’s probably the Old Testament city of Sela (as both Sela and Petra mean “rock”). The massive buildings were created by the Nabataean people (a Nabataean princess later married Herod Antipas, a Roman ruler who played key roles in the executions of Jesus and John the baptizer). The buildings are stunning, but the natural rocks are also amazingly colorful.
Now that I’ve visited Petra, it seems fitting to see Isaiah used the place as an example of how all the people from all the different types of land will someday praise God.
“Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise from the ends of the earth,
…Let the people of Sela sing for joy;
let them shout from the mountaintops.”
This land is not God-forsaken. God dwells in it all, from the mountains of Moab and Petra to the lowly depths of the Jordan Valley.
You can see more photos from day six in Jordan here.