Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 7 – Mount of Olives, Palm Sunday Path, Garden of Gethsemane, City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Pool of Siloam and Model of Jerusalem

We had a full day of touring in our first day in Jerusalem. It began, early in the morning, with a trip to the Mount of Olives. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very cooperative and once again it was cold and rainy, but we were very glad to be there. Truly it is one of my favorite spots. Standing on the Mount of Olives, looking upon the Temple Mount, observing the Eastern Gate which the Arabs have sealed up. They understand that the Scriptures indicate that the Messiah will come into Jerusalem through the East Gate (as if a sealed gate is going to stop Him). The photo on the left is the vantage point from where we were standing. Sorry for the blurred photo, the rain made it somewhat hazy.

I had the opportunity to teach on the Mount of Olives. It is such a glorious place to be, realizing that it is not only the place where Jesus taught but also where he wept over Jerusalem, was betrayed and arrested, ascended into heaven after His death and resurrection and will rise again, in the same manner as He ascended (Acts 1:9-11).

Immediately following our teaching on the Mount of Olives, we walked down the Palm Sunday Path, or what it called the Hosanna Road. This is the path that Jesus would have taken on His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. There were Arabs along the way who were more than eager to sell us umbrellas, 2 for $10.00, which we were more than eager to buy.

Our next stop at the bottom of the road was the Garden of Gethsemane (see photo on left). We had a teaching there and spent some individual time with the Lord. There is no way to know for sure where the garden was, but that it was in the general area. Some of the olive trees in Gethsemane were 2,000 years old. It was amazing to see trees that were that old.

Avi, our bus driver, met us in the bus at the bottom of the hill and we were off to the City of David. Originally, the City of David lay within the walls of Jerusalem. However today, the city is outside of the walls.

There is not much to see as far as a city is concerned other than knowing the location. We did walk through some of the ruins to get to Hezekiah’s tunnel. This is the tunnel that King Hezekiah dug, through solid rock, to get fresh water into the city. Once we climbed down a number of stairs to get to the tunnel, seven of us crawled through the narrow dark tunnel with running water under out feet. At times the water came up to our pockets.

It was the first time I had gone through the tunnel and must say it was quite adventurous. Somehow, I ended up being the lead (I think because I had a miner’s type of head lamp). I was a little apprehensive at first, but it didn’t take long to enjoy the whole journey. I definitely would do it again!

When we came out, it was only a short distance to the Pool of Siloam (see group photo at left) where Jesus healed the man born blind from birth, John 9. I had the opportunity to teach there and it was a very sweet time of fellowship. Thanks be to God, the Sun had come out and we wouldn’t see any more rain for the rest of the day.

After lunch, which was at the only ‘kibbutz’ in Jerusalem, we found a great vantage point of the city of Bethlehem. There is really nothing to see there, apart from knowing that it is the birthplace of Jesus. We opted not to visit for good reason. It is 100% Palestinian occupied. Ronnie and Avi are not allowed to go into the city, at the risk of peril, and can take no responsibility for anything that might happen to us while we were there. Good enough reason for me not to go! Ronnie warned us that the cab drivers would offer to take us there for shopping, etc. Sure enough, PJ and April took a cab to Jerusalem this morning...and the cab driver offered to take them to Bethlehem. PJ told him they would pass.

Our final tour site of the day was the Israel Museum where we got to see a miniature, built to scale, replica of the City of Jerusalem as it was in the days of Christ. Truly this is an incredible teaching tool. We missed this on our first trip to Israel and I so wish we hadn’t. One of the most confusing parts about Israel is making sense of the existing walls as they relate to the walls and arrangement of the city in the days of Jesus. This model really helps to clear things up. Ronnie, our tour guide did an excellent job of explaining things. It was especially nice, because we visited it in the first day of touring Jerusalem. It helped to put things into perspective from the very beginning.

Our last stop, before heading back to the hotel, was the Olive Wood Store. If you like olive wood carvings, this is the place to come. George, the owner, is Aramaic and a Christian and one of the treats of visiting the store is when he recites the Lord’s prayer in Jesus’ native language of Aramaic. It is really beautiful in that language. Ronnie says that George looks like a mixture of Don Ho and Anthony Quinn. I say Anthony Quinn, what do you think?

Tomorrow, we will visit the Western Wall, the Southern Steps and the Holocaust Museum. So, until then...Shalom!

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