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Tuesday, July 5 2011
The English word "desert," meaning "an arid region with little or no vegetation," originated from an Anglo-Saxon word which meant to forsake. Notice that the definition of desert identifies the key factor as arid - very low precipitation. Deserts can occur anywhere on earth, hence the reason that they are classified as either "hot" or "cold" i.e. there are deserts in northern Canada, just as there are deserts in the southern U.S. - while there are also seasonally cold deserts in the U.S. (e.g. in Montana) and seasonally hot deserts in Canada (e.g. the Alberta Badlands, that have cactus, scorpions and rattlesnakes).
The common illusion known as the "mirage" is often thought of as occurring in deserts, however they can occur anywhere that it gets hot, even for a few hours. The English word "mirage" originated from a French word meaning to be reflected, as in a mirror. A mirage, such as an illusion of a pool of water in a desert, or on a summertime highway, is just that - a mirror image. The phenomenon is caused by the refraction (bending) of the rays of the sun on a hot surface; what appears as a pool of water is actually just a reflection of the blue sky.
As is so often the case, a single English word, in this case "desert," is used to translate many different Hebrew words of the actual Holy Scriptures (keep in mind that the Word of God is the Word of God, translations are translations; see also Translation Of Translations). Examples:
"The parched ground shall become a pool and the thirsty land springs of water"
The defining-fact that deserts are dry because they receive little precipitation doesn't mean that water can't be found in a desert. As recorded in Bible History, water was and is available from an oasis, or from underground supplies, as in these examples in the Sinai.
"2:15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian [see Palace Prince To Sinai Shepherd]: and he sat down by a well. 2:16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. 2:17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock." (Exodus 2:15-17 KJV)
Interestingly, the Commandment against idolatry includes not making an idol out of "the water under the earth."
"20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 20:6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:4-6 KJV)
The reality that the Israelites had an abundance of water in the desert is attested by the fact that, beyond the water that they needed for survival, they had plenty of water for washing.
"29:4 And Aaron [see Aaron: The Prophet's Prophet] and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water." (Exodus 29:4 KJV)
The return of Jesus Christ (see Moriah: Separating The Wheat From The Chaff; also Could Christ Return Tonight?) is going to produce a new world (see the Fact Finder question below) in which all of the "dry places," geographically ("the parched ground shall become a pool and the thirsty land springs of water") and spiritually ("the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped") will be abundantly watered.
"35:1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. 35:2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
This Day In History, July 5
1295: Scotland and France made the "Auld Alliance" against England.
1610: Forty colonists, led by John Guy, departed Bristol, England to settle in what is today Newfoundland.
1687: Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica was published by The Royal Society in England.
1770: The Battle of Chesma began between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).
1809: The Battle of Wagram. It was the largest battle of the Napoleonic Wars.
1811: Venezuela declared independence from Spain.
1830: France invaded Algeria.
1865: William Booth founded the "Christian Mission" in London, England. It was later renamed the "Salvation Army."
1932: Antonio de Oliveira Salazar became the leader of Portugal.
1934: Police opened fire on striking longshoremen in San Francisco in what became known as "Bloody Thursday."
1940: In France, Henri Petain's "Vichy" government (that cooperated with the Hitler's invasion forces) severed diplomatic relations with Britain.
1943: During the Second World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), the battle of Kursk began between the armies of Germany and Russia. It was the largest full-scale battle in history, and the world's largest tank battle.
1950: The Knesset (Parliament) of Israel passed the Law of Return. It grants all Jews the right to immigrate to Israel (unfortunately, for many of the people of Judah to this day, the most famous Jew of all, Jesus Christ, is still not welcome to them; see Anti-Zion Is Anti-Christ).
1959: President Sukarno of Indonesia dissolved Parliament and proclaimed dictatorial powers.
1963: The Roman Catholic Church granted permission for Catholics to be cremated.
1994: Yasser Arafat traveled to the West Bank after 27 years in exile, determined to turn the self-rule areas of Gaza and Jericho into a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.
1996: A sheep (named Dolly) became the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.
1998: Japan launched an unmanned spacecraft to Mars, thereby becoming the third nation, along with the U.S. and Russia, to have exploration vehicles in space.
2009: The largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, over 1,500 items, was found near Hammerwich, England.