The word, “Petra” is one I’ve been sorta familiar with a long time, but since hearing a lot of your comments lately I’ve been getting a whole new appreciation for it. There’s the obvious things, like the Christian music group we grew up with, and of course its significance as a scene in one of those Indiana Jones movies. But honestly, I just had NO IDEA!

Let me see if I can hit the History Highlights:

There’s evidence of the place being occupied by one bunch or another for thousands of years; even suggested that this was one of the destinations of Jacob’s brother Esau, who if you remember, lost his birthright.  It’s quite possibly associated with those “proud hearts” the prophet Obadiah spoke against. “Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, says the LORD (Obadiah 1:4).

There’s even a lot of support for the idea that Petra will be the place where those who find Christ during the Tribulation will gather to escape the minions of Hell, who will be bent on their total annihilation. It won’t work, by the way, since Christ will return to save the day; and for that reason, it’s said that this is where the Second Coming might begin.

By the 1st century AD, work at Petra was going strong, inhabited by a people known as the Nabataeans, and it wasn’t long before it was a major destination for caravans coming in from the East. As we were walking down the long narrow entrance into Petra, we could still see carvings in the sandstone of camels loaded with goods … almost like billboards welcoming the merchants.

Of course it wasn’t long before Petra’s success got the attention of the Romans, who arrived and announced that they would be taking over the business now. According to them, it was a mutually agreed-upon acquisition, but one can’t help but wonder what the Nabataeans thought about it, given that so many arrowheads, spear points and siege rocks were discovered around the basement of the Temple of Zeus … great place for a “last stand.”

By the early 300s, Petra was a full-on Roman city, complete with amphitheater, markets and baths. Interesting though, that the caravan folks began to simply go around Petra (thus avoiding being taxed)  and took their business elsewhere. The result was that by around 600 AD, the place was deserted and all but forgotten.

Time marches on … for more than a thousand years to be more exact. In 1911, a British explorer by the name of Burkhardt hood-winked some Bedouins into thinking he was a Muslim pilgrim looking for a place to sacrifice. They led him to the secret place of Petra’s ruins, he took notes and got the word out, and the rest is history.

What an amazing place.  Just to think that things this old, so beautiful and perfectly preserved, all made by man searching for God………..well, as I said on Facebook, it rendered me speechless……

Which of course no one could believe!

Now we’re sitting here in Hong Kong where we’ve been having a ball for 4 days. Old friends from both the Japanese church and the International church have been SO GOOD, feeding us til we’re bursting at the seams and plying us with stories from the “good old days” about 20 years ago when we lived and served here.

Tony’s delighted to be presenting his Anagaion discipleship course (right about now in fact, if you’re reading this on Sunday morning Hong Kong time).

Before you wake up again, HOPEFULLY we’ll be air bound for HOME!

It’s been a wonderful trip, but we realize that it’s time to be back to reality.  Can’t wait to see those grand babies either!

God Bless, Marsha

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