Sunday, November 30, 2008

Model of Jerusalem and Herod's Temple

This model recreates Jerusalem in 66 CE, before the destruction of the city and the Temple. It reflects ancient Jerusalem at its peak, just before all was lost. This first picture is taken from the Eastern Wall of the Temple. If the model extended beyond the valley (the Kidron Valley, if I'm remembering correctly), I would have been taking this shot standing on the Mount of Olives. So far, I have written and posted pictures about the Southern steps and the Western Wall. These pictures will give you more of an overview of those sites. Seeing this model after being in these locations really enhanced my whole perspective of Temple Mount and the old city.This next picture is taken from the Southern Wall. On the left is the Western Wall. North of the ramp is the Wailing Wall area (closest to the Holy of Holies) and south of there (between the ramp and the arch at the southwestern corner) is the "Main Street" area where Jesus would have walked, and where we saw evidence of the destruction of the city.These are the Southern steps we sat on (the Royal Colonnade).The City of David, just south of the Temple.
The Pool of Bethesda, just north of the Temple.
Antonio's Fortress, built by Herod the Great. It is located on the Northern Wall of the Temple Mount and it housed the Roman Garrison stationed at Jerusalem. The South Wall of the Fortress would allow the guard to look right over into the Temple Mount area. This is where Paul would have been taken when rescued from the mob by the Roman guard. It is also believed to be where Jesus would have been taken before Pontius Pilate after He was arrested.

The Western Wall

"The sages state that anyone who prays in the Temple in Jerusalem, “it is as if he has prayed before the throne of glory because the gate of heaven is situated there and it is open to hear prayer”.[68] Jewish Law dictates that when Jews pray the Silent Prayer, they should face mizrach, towards Jerusalem, the Temple and ultimately the Holy of Holies,[69] as all of God’s bounty and blessing emanates from that spot.[59] According to the Mishna, of all the four walls of the Temple Mount, the Western Wall was the closest to the Holy of Holies[70] and therefore that to pray by the Wall is particularly beneficial." (An excerpt from Wikipedia.)
The wall is partitioned in order to keep the men's and women's areas separate. I stood on a chair and took a picture of the guys from the women's side of the wall.
Many of the people who come to pray here write their prayers on pieces of paper and place those in the cracks of the wall.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Southern Steps

This was a great spot for a group picture.Below, John is standing on the southern steps of the Temple, where the Jewish people would have entered with their sacrifices. Jesus also would have entered the Temple by these steps. Some of the stones have been replaced, but many are original. In the background is the Mount of Olives.This spot is definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me. Standing in any location where, without question, Jesus walked is an amazing experience. I also now understand the significance of each wall of the Temple (north, south, east and west) and what took place in these locations. In this picture, we are all seated on the steps and Allen is about to preach another abbreviated sermon. I loved these mini sermons and my experience would not have been the same without them. Ronny would give us the history and then Allen would take it from there with the spiritual significance and lessons we should learn in our own lives.The following pictures show the mikvahs used for ceremonial cleansing prior to the offering of the sacrifice. There are many of them in this location because this is the entrance whereby all pilgrims entered the Temple gates with their sacrifices.There were special entrances under the steps, which look like caves, leading to the mikvahs reserved for the high priests.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jerusalem

The remains of Jerusalem's main street, running the length of the Western Wall, along about one kilometer, in the late Second Temple period. The street was paved with flagstones and edged with curbstones. It had two large drainage channels running beneath it, and shops opened onto the street on both sides.
We spent three nights and four days in Jerusalem. There is so much to see. This first site was very special because we walked along a street that Jesus would have also walked. Different parts of the city have been excavated to different eras. So many of the places Jesus would have stood are now underneath parts of the city that were rebuilt in later years on top of ruins. Some of the stones have been replaced, obviously. But others are 2,000 years old. The following picture illustrates the way cites were rebuilt. The only visible part of this ancient entrance gate is the very top. The rest of it is underground. New gates are built, along with new walls, on top of the old ones. But much of the older parts are still there, they are just buried.
Ronny is directing our attention to various focal points on the wall. There is an inscription on one of the stones that doesn't really show up in the pictures very well. It is a paraphrase from scripture, but the exact significance of the quote is not known. One thing I think you should be able to see in these pictures is where the stones start to look different from the ones underneath. That change begins a different era. For example, in the picture below, just under the indentation, the stones are larger, flatter and smoother. That was once the top of the wall. And then a new era started to rebuild.
In this second picture, you can see a third change in the stones where yet another era rebuilt on ruins. The only reason you can see all of these different eras represented in this spot is because they have excavated so far down in this location. And at the bottom, you can also see a lot of large rocks and rubble. These were stones that fell and broke apart in the destruction of AD 70, just as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:2.
In this picture, Allen was talking to us about Jesus' prophecy of the destruction of the temple and how everything came to pass exactly as he said it would. Seeing the physical evidence of prophecy fulfilled as you listen to your pastor preach is quite an experience.This is what the damage was like as a result of those large stones being toppled into the streets.

Thanksgiving Memories

Joshua and Andrew watching Toy Story 2 in Grandma Shari and Poppy John's room.
Lexi, Andrew, Joshua and Nikki...
Chris, Matt and Danny...
Karlie, Rebecca and me...
Joshua and Nikki...
The traditional group picture: Rebecca holding Andrew, John, Me, Danny, Cheryl (very pregnant), Chris, Lexi holding Joshua, Matt holding Nikki, and Karlie.

Danny, Rebecca and the boys decided to hang out here for one more night. A chance to get a little extra sleep this morning couldn't hurt. I woke up this morning with aching feet and hands. On Thanksgiving, I practically stand all day long. And I cut both of my thumbs (nothing serious) during sweet potato prep. So they are sore. You don't realize how much you use your thumbs until they are impaired. Actually, we had quite a funny moment when I inflicted my first cooking injury of the day. A sweet potato fell to the floor with a thud and I think Cheryl thought I had chopped my hand off. Once everybody knew I was fine, it was pretty funny (her reaction). I'm used to hurting myself in the kitchen. I got through yesterday less wounded than some previous holidays. I only cut myself. I didn't burn any fingers or arms this year!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. And now it's time to start thinking about Christmas. I know some people start thinking and planning for Christmas before now, but I have to focus on one upcoming event at a time.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Garden of Gethsemane

The fenced olive tree dates back to the time of Jesus.
These are all olive trees and they are so beautiful.

This is when I realized my camera was not taking color pictures. When we got to our hotel, I was able to figure out the problem and change the setting.

From the Mt. of Olives to the old city...

Although it looks different today than it would have back then, this was the path Jesus would have taken to enter the city the week before his crucifixion. Allen reminded us that one week the people were shouting, "Hosanna!" and one week later they were crying out, "Crucify him!"