As an indication of how severe Israel's water crisis is becoming, the site along the lower portion of the Jordan River where Jesus was likely baptized by John the Baptist may soon be declared off-limits due to pollution.The situation facing the Jordan River today is a tragedy. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to baptize several people at the baptismal site where people believe Jesus was baptized. It was a great experience for me as a pastor and a tremendous experience for those who went through the waters of baptism. But now the place is polluted and soon will be closed to the public.
The baptismal site welcomes more than 100,000 Christian pilgrims who wish to also be baptized there every year. Though it sits right on the border between Israel and Jordan in a closed military zone, coordination between the Israeli army and Jordanian authorities has kept the site open to tourists.
But the ongoing regional drought has largely dried up the once-mighty Jordan River. The only thing flowing into the lower Jordan today is raw sewage from the nearby Palestinian town of Jericho, which has badly contaminated the baptismal site that lies just a mile or so downstream.
According to a report by The Media Line, Israeli officials are considering erecting signs at the site that read: "Polluted Waters. Entry Forbidden."
Since one of the reasons for this situation is the severe drought affecting the region, maybe people of faith need to pray for rain, for God is the one who “gives rain to the earth, pours water down on the fields” (Job 5:10).
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority says that the waters of the Jordan River are safe for baptism.
More information here.
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Tags: Archaeology, Jesus’ Baptism, Jordan River