Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Western Wall

After leaving the Dome of the Rock, Jim led us through narrow streets and around corners until we came to some steps leading to this site.  
    There were thousands of people here worshiping!

Jim told us later that only about 3% of the religious Jewish people come.  Most of the Jewish people are not practicing or are atheists.  At Passover, they go to the lakes to windsurf or to other places to have a fun week.

Just think, he said, of the time Jesus came to Jerusalem with his family when he was 12.  The entire wall around the temple (not just this section that is preserved) would have been packed just like this.  How easy for a 12 year old to get "lost".

As we snaked down the stairs, holding tightly to the person in front of us, I looked behind to see more people on these buildings, saying prayers.  It was quite loud and thrilling!  The crowds reminded me of crowded subways in Japan!

I love taking pictures of people!  People watching is a fun thing for me!  I snapped pictures with one hand and held tightly to the person in front of me with the other.

This is as close as we could get to the wall, but we were told we would try another time when it wasn't so filled with people.  But the experience of being there among the throngs of people was great!!

It took awhile to get through the crowd to the exit and luckily we all made it without getting lost.   Jim instructed us to ask for directions to the Dung Gate if we ever got separated and he would send Geoff to find us.

Back to the entry point where we went through security.  The right entry way was to the Dome of the Rock (only for Muslims and visitors) and the left entry way took you to the Western Wall (only Jews).

As we exited and made our way to the bathrooms (Jim was ever mindful of our needs!), we saw this guy and his friends celebrating in song.

And this one saying his prayers.

Passover is a time to celebrate and worship!  A time to remember when the angel of death passed over the people and delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh.  And how Jesus became the Passover Lamb and gave us our freedom from the Evil One.

"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  John 1:29

"The concept of a Sacrificial Lamb was a familiar one to Jewish people. They knew of Abraham's confidence that God would provide a lamb to offer in place of Isaac (Gen. 22:7-8). Lambs were also sacrificed at Passover and as part of a daily ritual in the temple as a sin offering by individuals (Lev. 5:5-7). God also made it clear that none of the sacrifices were sufficient to take away sin (Isaiah 1:11). They were also aware of Isaiah's prophecy liking Messiah to "a lamb that is led to slaughter" (Isa. 53:7; cf. Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19. Though Israel sought a Messiah who would be a prophet, king, and conqueror, God sent them a lamb."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kidron Valley, Dome of the Rock

The bus took us to Jerusalem and dropped us off on this road by the Kidron Valley.   

This road down from the Mount of Olives would have been the path of the triumphal entry.

This is the Mount of Olives -

The Church of All Nations, left     Church of Mary Magdelene, center     Domino Flevit, right

I will show more pictures of the Church of All Nations when I post about Gesthemene.  

The Church of Mary Magdelene, with the gold domes, is a Russian Orthodox church.  Thirty nuns from all over the world live there.

The little church on the right is shaped like a tear drop, to symbolize when Jesus wept over the city.

Kidron Valley

There is a large cemetery in the Kidron Valley

Tradition says this is Absolom's tomb, but it is doubtful

This burial complex was built in the 1st century BC and belonged to the family of Hezir, possibly the priestly family named in the Torah.  According to Jewish tradition, King Azariah lived in this tomb after he became a leper.

Tradition says this is the grave of St. James - also debatable

The tomb of Pharoah's daughter (married to Solomon)

Lots of trash!

Arab side

  Israeli side

The pinnacle from where Satan tempts Jesus (rebuilt)

We were about to go to the Temple Mount.
We got instructions to stick together tight.
We needed to make sure there were no Bibles or our syllabuses in our backpacks.
A friend, Geoff, came to take those things that were not allowed with him so we could get into this area.
We were going through security.
Cameras taken out for inspection.

Huge crowds headed to the Dome of the Rock

We passed over by the Western Wall.
Here is an overhead view that shows the Western Wall and the little ramp we took over to the gardens and up the steps to the Dome of the Rock.  Gives one a bit of a perspective.

We had to pass through inspection - a little tense! - and by some guards, then we were in the Muslim controlled area where the Dome of the Rock is located.  No Jews allowed.

Moslems say that Abraham was told to sacrifice Ishmael on this spot.
Jews and Christians alike say that it was Issac.

The temple was built in this spot but the Romans tore it down in 70 AD, just as Jesus said it would happen.

These are the gates of the Triumphal Entry

There was some commotion so we were told to gather together.  
Time to leave.
Next post on Israel - the Western Wall.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bethlehem, birthplace of Christ


I would guess most tour groups going to Israel make a stop in Bethlehem to see the place Jesus was born.  The Church of the Nativity was commissioned to be built by Constantine and his mother Helena in 327 AD over the cave which is traditionally believed to be the very spot Jesus was born.

  We first stopped in this room where Jerome translated the Hebrew/Greek Scriptures into the Latin vulgar.

We went down some stairs

 and this is the spot they say is where Mary gave birth to Jesus.

And this is the rest of the cave where they lived.

I think it would have been better had they just left the cave the way it was rather than build some church over it.  It would feel more real to me.  And who really knows that this is the spot.  What matters, is that He did come.  A King born in a cave, not in a castle.  Welcomed by shepherds, not the politically elite. Born to rescue us.

God created us for intimacy with Him.  When we turned our backs on Him, He promised to come after us.  He sent personal messengers; He used beauty and affliction to recapture our hearts.  After all else failed, He conceived the most daring of plans.  Under cover of the night, He stole into the enemy's camp incognito, the Ancient of Days disguised as a newborn.  The Incarnation, as Phil Yancy reminds us, was a daring raid into enemy territory.  The whole world lay under the power of the evil one and we were held in the dungeons of darkness.  God risked it all to rescue us...What He is after is us - our laughter, our tears, our dreams, our fears, our heart of hearts.  Isaiah 29:13 says "their hearts are far from me".  The thought that God wants our heart seems too good to be true. - "The Sacred Romance" by Curtis/Eldredge


4th century mosaic floor rediscovered under this floor in 1934.

Some letters spell Icthus in the center

 We got back in the bus to go back to Jericho.  Al gets to ride in the front.

On the way back...

We stopped at another grocery store to pick up supplies for lunches and snacks.  We always had our evening meals in our hotel, but ate in the bus as we would travel along.

It was always interesting at our hotels to eat with our new friends and share stories with each other.  Where they were from, how they came to Christ, how many children they have, etc.  What a wonderful trip this is!