Revisiting Israel - Day Seven, Part One
Our last morning in Jerusalem began at 5:30 A.M. The night before I had told the Lord that I would love to see a sunrise over Jerusalem. We were on the 11th floor of a 21 floor hotel so our view of the city was superb. When I opened the curtain at 5:30, the sun was just peaking over the horizon. A glorious sight – and a special answer to prayer. We got on the bus at 7:30 and went to St. Anne’s Church where the acoustics were phenomenal. We sang two songs as a mini congregation – "Alleluia" and "How Great Thou Art." It echoed all around and sounded wonderful. A tiny taste of heaven. The church actually isn’t so great if you’re speaking – it’s rather hard to understand the speaker – but singing is awesome.
We walked from there to the temple mount where we had to go through security to enter the Dome of the Rock property. We could not take Bibles with us as the Muslims are offended by our Scriptures. Apparently, they believe Mohammad ascended to heaven from a spot inside the temple. They expect him to return with Messiah to that spot someday.
There are actually two buildings on the temple mount site. One is the Dome of the Rock and one is a Moslem mosque. We were not allowed inside either one but got plenty of pictures from the outside. Hawkers were selling pictures of inside the Dome, which we bought for a dollar, but I can’t find what we did with them!
It was awesome to stand on the site of the mount, Mt. Moriah, where Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac and where, years later, David saw the angel of the Lord standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite ready to strike Jerusalem with a sword. (See 2 Samuel 24) David purchased the threshing floor from Araunah, and Solomon built the first temple to Yahweh there.
The Dome of the Rock is a beautiful building. The blue and gold shines like jewels in the sunlight, but its presence there seems so out of place. I really don’t understand how it all came about since Moslems used to consider Mecca their ultimate place of pilgrimage. Our guide did explain it to us, but I don’t remember all of the details. If the records in the Old Testament Scriptures were accepted as authentic deeds of purchase, this piece of property would still be in the hands of the Jews. David paid for it and he was their king, therefore it ought to belong to Israel.
But Jews and Muslims have fought about this issue and have a greater interest in it than I do. I believe the Scriptures that teach that Jesus will rule one day from Jerusalem, so what happens with the temple mount right now isn’t as important as what will happen one day in the future.
Last time, I posted an outside view of the gate Jesus will enter when He steps down on the Mount of Olives and walks into Jerusalem again one day. These pictures show the inner view from the temple mount area. You can see the width of it from the side view and the smaller area, which is the part that actually opens.
From there we went to the pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the paralytic who could not get into the moving waters quick enough to be healed. “Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.” (See John 5) The pool holds no water today, but you can see the ruin where the pool once lay. One can imagine Jesus healing the paralytic man. It’s a rather surreal feeling to stand where Christ once stood.
After the pool, we got back on the bus and went to lunch. We ate at a little restaurant that didn’t look like much on the outside but the food was quite good. It was the first time that I know of that we had lamb to eat, which is really rather strange considering our meals were all kosher. They did not serve milk or milk products in the same meal with meat, and the meats they did serve most of the time were chicken and beef along with fish, which doesn’t qualify as meat, I guess, because they served it at breakfast as well, along with milk and cheese. We’re so used to eating cheese with a hamburger or on a salad with chicken. Not here. They take this from Exodus 34:26 among other passages, which says, “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
After lunch we walked the Via Dolorosa, visited the Church of the Holy Sepluchre, and went to our last stop at the empty Garden Tomb. But I’ll save that for my last post on this tour of Israel. It’s been fun to relive the moments here as a part of me is still longs for that place. I’m not sure any Christian can visit that place and leave feeling the same way. I hope God allows me the privilege of writing Biblical fiction for years to come because now when I write, I get to travel there in more ways than one.
Until next time…shalom~