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Hope for A Dying Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is dying. Water levels of what the Bible also calls The Salt Sea, already rest at the lowest on earth (1378 feet below sea level), and are dropping at a rate of three feet a year.

The problem has developed not only from natural weather cycles, but also from the amount of water that the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan are  pulling from Lake Galilee and the Jordan River. The massive Dead Sea mining industries of both Israel and Jordan are also contributing to the shrinkage by using huge evaporation pools to extract potash (used in fertilizer) and magnesium chloride from the mineral rich waters.

A current online BBC article by Edward Stourton, calls attention to the problem by pointing out that a once thriving seaside restaurant now lies almost a mile from the water’s edge. The rapidly receding shoreline makes it difficult for hotels and restaurants to provide access to tourists who come for the healing properties of Dead Sea mud and water, or just to enjoy the unsinkable pleasure of floating in water that has seven times as much salt as the Mediterranean.

The environmental and commercial impact of the shrinking sea has become so critical that many believe an expensive engineering effort needs to be undertaken to replenish the dying sea with waters channeled in from either the Red or Mediterranean oceans.  Note: yellow sign in next picture warned swimmers in Hebrew and English “Danger of Drowning.”

Whether any of these enormously expensive projects will ever be developed remains to be seen. But such human projects could remind us of a solution predicted by the Bible. According to the prophet Ezekiel, when the Messiah of Israel comes to rule the earth from Jerusalem, one of the results will be a fresh river of water flowing from the throne of God that will heal the Dead Sea and bring it back to life. Its fishery will be as rich as the Mediterranean, and fishermen will spread their nets on its shores to dry  (Ezekiel 47:1-12.)

Students of the Bible disagree about how literally these prophetic details should be taken. That’s not surprising since how prophetic details play out to show the power and wisdom of God is usually understood only after their fulfillment.

What does seem clear is that the Bible regards the Dead Sea as one of many examples of “dead things” that require the life giving Spirit of God. The prophet assumed that the Dead Sea would remain “dead” until God brings it back to life. (Picture is of Jordan River north of Galilee)

In that regard, I’ve never heard anyone suggest that the proposed Med-Dead or Red-Dead projects (to bring water from the Mediterranean or Red Seas) would be able to bring the Sea back to life (only to stop its shrinkage and limit the resulting commercial and economic damage.)

Seems to me that, the Dead Sea may be a God-given geographical contrast to the freshwater lake of Galilee to the north. Their combined story might also amount to a parable of two different kind of lives: one that receives to give (Jordan River to Galilee to Jordan River) or one that only receives (Jordan River to Dead Sea).

But even more importantly, the future picture of what Ezekiel says God will do to the Dead Sea is a picture of the renewal that some of us may need in our lives today. While the Dead Sea passively receives the Spring surges and Summer slow-downs of the Jordan River,  we have the opportunity, now, to call out with all of our heart to the Lord–not primarily for a change of circumstances– but for a renewal of our own inner dead sea…  where the waters of despair need to be replaced by hope…Denial of the truth with admission…Impatience with patience…Bitterness with grace…Hatred with love…

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24 Responses to “Hope for A Dying Dead Sea”

  1. dependent says:

    Mart, I am smiling at your masterfully poetic term “unsinkable pleasure”…that has a nice ring to it (like “joy unspeakable), especially as you end with our need for hope replacing despair.

    I’ve had a new ‘little brother’ through the Big Brothers Big Sisters orgnization for a couple years now. While our ‘match’ was a bit improbable in terms of age and racial differences, I have been repeatedly blessed and amazed by the ‘unsinkable’ hope that this little guy displays. Life hasn’t been kind to him, but to ‘chill’ with him is to be infected with his sense of optimism and appreciation for life and its possibilities.

    Your article made me realize just one practical way that God has used this relationship to provide a ‘Spring surge’, as it were, in my own renewal of hope, and patience, grace and love.

    Also, I am giggling at the pictoral irony of the sign warning sign for drowning danger dutifully standing guard over dusty rocks. Have never been to the Dead Sea, but am wondering who hard one would have to try to actually drown in those bouyant waters?

    [kind of like it’s hard for me to stay submerged in a negative mood when I’m with my “little”]

  2. poohpity says:

    I just love the analogy of the two kind of lives. Those that receive to give and those that just receive. That so fits with the turmoil that is going on since my mom died. I have not been serving but only searching and have found that there is a big hole in my life. I would like all these circumstances to change but everyday the Lord is teaching me new things and refining my character. It is very hard this refining process.

    Gee I want a big brother.

    It seems like with the Lord in ones life that we all are pretty buoyant. When we feel like we are drowning we just keep resurfacing to face another circumstance but in the end we count it is joy. Gee I wish I felt like that at this point.

  3. pegramsdell says:

    Steve, I think it’s wonderful you being a big brother and all. God bless you!

    I had 5 brothers and one of them (Bobby) died 10 years ago. I miss him so much. He and I had a good relationship. We were friends too. I think that makes a difference.

    I’m praying God will send you a big brother Deborah.
    Cause everyone need a big brother. :)

  4. rokdude5 says:

    Pooh, Youre not alone in your lost. I ll be praying for ya.

    I never have a little sister either so I guess youre it. Now I have to figure how to “torment” you like all older brothers have done (and will do) to their younger sis. lol

    I have to admit that for a long time, I was a “taker”. As we all know “takers” can never take enough. When I realized what our sweet Jesus has done for us, I then saw the error of my ways. How can I ever repay Him for what He did for me? I cant other than loving Him and my neighbors.

    Recently, I went to get some gas and some one approached me about washing my windows for change. I gave him a dollar and told him I have a different deal. Please dont wash my window but please wash the windows of an invalid or the elderly for me when one shows up. I hope he kept his promise to me.

  5. dependent says:

    poohpity, I won’t pretend to fully appreciate what you are facing. But I can tell you, after traveling through a few seasons of turmoil and despair in the past few years, that God is ever faithful. The refining process just plain hurts. But I sensed then, and am convinced now, that my Lord was holding on to me much tighter than I was clinging to Him. And the peace and confidence that comes from that process is precious. And life with a few less impurities is sweeter.

    So I hope to encourage you to continue to hang on to those things that you “know in your knower” about the character of God. Continue to pour out your soul to Him, without reservation, about the things you question.

    Know that there are brothers and sisters in the Lord lifting you up to the throne of God. Continue to stand firm, by the grace of God…a willing student of the Teacher. I can testify that the reward is worth it, on the other side of the trial.

    I take encouragement from Romans 5 where I discovered that patiently enduring trying times actually produces hope. I had it backwards, thinking my sense of hopelessness would prevent me from enduring. And I trust that a revitalized hope is but one of the fruits that *will* come to those like you who hold fast to the word you’ve received. Jesus put it this way:

    “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”

    I’m rooting for you!
    Thank you for the honesty and transparency you bring here.

  6. poohpity says:

    Thank you rokdude5. Now that you are my big brother will you take care of a few issues for me and I will also accept the torment.

    1. My little brother has taken over the house my mom left me and I am unable to get him out. He will not even pay the utilities, take care of the lawn or clean the house.
    2. The only thing I have been able to retrieve from the house is the paper work which I am responsible for and have not even been able to get any keepsakes.
    3. My daughter, Aunt and brother have gone through all her belongings without even asking me about anything. I feel totally violated.
    4. Just someone to speak up for me. I have written letters but they all just tell me what they are going to do. I have turned so many cheeks that I have gone from the face to the bottom and am now back up to the top again. lol

    I just wonder where they all were a year ago or even the last five years. I can not wait for all this to be over with. You know my mom had everything written down how she wanted everything to go but these people could care less. I feel so angry and I am called to be a peacemaker. This has been such a struggle and I am so glad I am who I am in Christ because I know He is the ultimate big brother.

  7. poohpity says:

    Thank you dependent. If you guys only knew how you have touched my heart I am sooo very glad you are my true brothers and sisters. I love you so much!!! :-( :-)

  8. bubbles says:

    Mart, your thoughts for today jogged the memory of a poem that was written by Francis of Assisi. He also wrote the hymn “All Creatures of Our God and King”

    Prayer for Peace
    Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace,
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    Where there is injury, pardon;
    Where there is doubt, faith;
    Where there is despair, hope;
    Where there is darkness, light;
    And where there is sadness, joy.

    O Master, grant that I may not so much to seek
    To be consoled as to console;
    To be understood as to understand;
    To be loved as to love;
    For it is in giving that we receive,
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    And it is in dying that we are
    born to etrnal life.

  9. rokdude5 says:

    I know this is “off topic” but Pooh, my wife has a similar problem with her siblings with their mom’s house and belongings. She was able to retrieve some things that she wanted yet unable to do so with other things.

    If youre unable to come to a joint resolution on the estate, you could accept your lot or get an estate attorney. You may want to check with your clergy and attorney on what would be best. Keep on track by staying on the “higher ground.”

    So true to form, there are “givers” and there are “takers”.

  10. poohpity says:

    I did go to an attorney and was willing to give him my share of the house. It is not about the stuff it is about the principle of the whole thing. I am just crushed by their behavior. I have asked the Lord to show them mercy and have prayed that they are healed. I have remembered that as the Lord forgave us by understanding that some just do not have a clue. I just do not want to be around them anymore and he is my only sibling.

    I am just beat up for now and need some time away from all of them. I am tired of all the drama. Maybe one day I will think differently. I just need some time to heal. Every emotion that is in me is calling out to the Lord for relief and I am assured of His answer. It just seems like the sea is drying up.

    Thank you big brother.

  11. SFDBWV says:

    Hope…”faith the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

    Hope, that conscious thought of overcoming, of accomplshing; the idea of somehow obtaining ones desire.

    Indeed Mart the hope of the Dead Sea is the same hope of all mute creation, and the same for all mankind.

    Our hope rests in the person of Jesus. The Christ, the savior of all of creation. Through Him all things were created, and through Him all things will be restored.

  12. Mart De Haan says:

    poohpity, your emotions and thoughts seem to echo so clearly the sense of betrayal and injustice that King David expressed in his songs. Am guessing that many of us are praying that the hand and presence of the Lord will be–in our Father’s time– as real to you… as it was to David… and as it has been to you so many times already.

  13. Mart De Haan says:

    SFDBWV, Yes!!

  14. SFDBWV says:

    Pooh (Deborah), Go down to the bank where the mortgage to your mothers house is held and talk with them about your problem with family squatters. They may offer a solution.

    Ultimately though you are going to have to decide to either fight back against your brother and your daughter, or let it go and walk away.

    It is a decision you alone need to make. No one should make it for you.


  15. Mart De Haan says:

    Just noticed that Dean Ohlman (wonderofcreation.org) has posted re: Native American Spirituality. Dean has been visiting an indigenous Canadian American community where, over the years, members of his family have, in the name of Christ, earned the trust and love of many. His post can be found here: wonder of creation.

  16. suemay says:

    Who are we to think that the Earth will not change or move just because we are on it.Ice bergs carve mountains and landscapes, volcanoes continue to make land and hurricanes wash away beaches.God created this universe, our planet and us with an order to things,to decay and one day disappear. His order does include people, archeology and the remarkable biblical places He has allowed to exist with us. It is in God’s timing that things come and go as they should. It is human nature to want to cling and clutch those things which are visible and definite signs of His omnipresence.

  17. acanderson says:

    Thanks Mart for this “thinking about it”. We just returned from a trip to Israel recently. My husband’s first trip, but my second in 35 years. To see the Dead Sea change and read Ezek. 47:1-12 was to me another evidence of the earth itself preparing for our Lord’s soon return. Praise His Holy Name!

  18. daisymarygoldr says:

    “Dead flies cause the ointment of the perfumer to putrefy [and] send forth a vile odor; so does a little folly [in him who is valued for wisdom] outweigh wisdom and honor.”

    Thanks for this very convicting topic! “dead things” are disgusting. They produce a stench in a Christian that causes self-loath and self-revulsion. It is one thing to consider being fully dead, rotten and stinking without Christ and it is yet another thing to discover the dead deeds of flesh still active within me… that completely overpower to ruin my testimony and mask the aroma of Christ living within me.

    To produce the aroma of the Spirit of Christ’s patience, grace and love in circumstances that gratify my flesh is not that difficult for me. It is only natural to be really sweet and gentle and kind and full of love when I am in a fresh water environment that produces fruits in abundance. Unfortunately, God seeks for the fruit of His Spirit even when it is not expected i.e. even when circumstances are bitter and salty.

    As you said to pray for a change of circumstances is pointless. In fact that is the very purpose why He has placed me in this imperfect world at home, at work, among brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ and even right here in this blog:)! Having set an example in Jesus, it is fair if God expects me to show patience, grace and love in the face of impatience, bitterness and hatred.

    The path is tough… and it does calls for a high and heavy price. At times like this, His Spirit reminds me of the example set by Jesus and draws my attention to the cross. It is a struggle when my mind desperately dishes out every possible excuse like: yes, Jesus was able to pull it off with perfect obedience. He did not retaliate when insults were hurled at Him, He was patient and simply spoke the truth with utmost grace and love…but then He was the perfect man who was also the perfect God….

    However, am so grateful for the Holy Spirit that also reminds me of human examples of men like Stephen who did not deter to speak the truth even in the midst of a Dead Sea full of gnashing teeth, angry words and pelting stones. As he fell asleep, Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up toward heaven and with his face shining was able to say “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”—words that characterize the sweet and fresh waters of love and grace produced not due to human efforts but purely by the river of life—the renewing/reviving power of God’s Holy Spirit!

    And so, this time I find myself seated on your side of the table to agree that the only hope for renewal of my inner Dead Sea requires the life giving Spirit of God. It is possible though to produce the fruit of patience, grace and love with my own human effort of religious works. I can fool the world and even fool my self with my perfect Christian works but I cannot fool Him because God is not mocked. The one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God is quick to remind me:

    “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit…” I really hope that someday, the Dead Sea will die…

  19. pj says:

    I think your comments are extremely interesting. You got me to thinking, that’s for sure. My guess is you are reading Ezekiel literally and presume some such restoration will take place in the Millennial age. If not why bring it up? If so, I wonder why you immediately “spiritualize” the application?

  20. Mart De Haan says:


    Guess I spiritualized the application because, knowing the different ways prophecy is interpreted, I believe the spiritual principle behind prophetic passages needs to be a priority in our thinking.

    Thanks for a good question.

  21. Ted M. Gossard says:

    Fascinating and sad at the same time. I wish we on earth would consider preserving such treasures as higher priority over what we can get out of them until they are no more. Reminds me of how I think we treat the earth. We need to gather from its natural resources, but with this more in mind, and I’m thankful for measures that have been done to do this.

    And so very true. The dead God makes alive in Jesus, and that begins in this life now.

  22. Ted M. Gossard says:

    The dead, God makes alive….

    I need to watch my writing better, and reread it or reread it more carefully. It is early morning. :)

  23. foreverblessed says:

    I would like to comment on the new topic, but I cannot get there, it often happens. So here is my bit:
    Bussiness over stress, many managers overstress. I happened to do volunteer work for a lady who is also a manager in worktime. Just this last week I experienced how manager can handle the workers. They just set a date on when the project must be finished. A total unrealisitic date for all the work that needs to be done.
    I was very suprised, politely told her so. The reply was that she wanted it done two weeks later, which was just as unrealistic.
    My husband did like this, he said: Now you know how it feels to work for managers.

    I do feel for all of you who have to work for people who overstress you!
    Try to hang on to your real Boss, He does never hurry us. He gently leads the sheep, and those that are with young. Some where in Isaiah is ths verse.

  24. poohpity says:

    Hey pj,

    I do not know about others but since I accepted Christ and have been walking with the Lord I see the spiritual application in EVERYTHING.

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