Just another day in Paradise!
Shalom! Greetings from Jerusalem!
I am saddened by the fact that this is our las night in this beautiful city. I love being in Jerusalem...there's just something special about it. But, I know that we have many more important sites to see...and that our next destination is just as special...the Sea of Galilee!!! Well, on to our excursions today:
We began our day in the City of David. This city is located in the section just below (south) the "Old Jerusalem" walls. We got to see some new excavation that is going on right now that is uncovering what the archeologists are speculating could be David's Palace! Very exciting! We then got to go underground to see Warren's shaft, where some of us got to experience a walk through Hezekiah's Tunnel, and others took a much more dry route in another tunnel. Hezekiah's Tunnel is a miraculous feat of engineering. This tunnel was built to bring water from a fresh spring outside of the city walls, to the pool of Siloam inside. It is almost one thousand feet long. But, the real amazing part, is that it was started from both ends, and they met in the middle. Most of the time while walking through it, we were knee deep in cold spring water. Much of the time, we were walking stooped over - yes, even me! And some of the time, we were scraping both shoulders on rock while walking through it...not for the claustrophobic!!! But, it's fun to say you did it! (even twice) Not sure about the other tunnel tour. I was told by a couple people that went that it was pretty tight, too. But they all enjoyed that trip, and I think that they even got to see what they think is David's tomb!
We then went on to Nebi Samuel - which means "the prophet Samuel". This is thought to be Samuel's resting place. This was a new site for me. There is quite a bit of interesting excavation going on there. There is also a large Mosque built on this site, as the Muslim's revere Prophet Samuel. The Jewish people also built a Synagogue in the same building...I found this interesting that each religion would tolerate the other at the same site.
After lunch, we visited one of my favorite "quiet spots" in Jerusalem...the Garden Tomb. This is an amazing garden that is kept up by a group of trustees from MANY churches. They speak of this church being an "alternative" spot to where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. There is a rock formation nearby that appears to look like a skull, Golgotha. And there is what we would picture in our mind as the tomb. It's a beautiful garden, a picturesque tomb, and the stories from there seem very convincing. Was Jesus crucified and buried there? Was He at the Church of the Holy Sepluchre (that I wrote about yesterday)? I don't think any of us could really tell. But, I have the exact same opinion that I had on my last trip...the location really doesn't matter, because we know the TRUTH...BOTH TOMBS ARE EMPTY!!! PRAISE THE LORD!
One of the most powerful times at the Garden Tomb, though, is when we take Communion. We go to a quiet corner of the Garden, Pastor Stan has a short message, and we sing a song. We were asked, then, to serve one another. This was a powerful moment, and an even more powerful lesson that I will never forget. How humbling it feels when someone serves you...no matter how great or small the deed was. I can only imagine what the disciples felt like when Jesus washed their feet. They were supposed to serve Him, and yet, He turned the tables. Serve someone today. It will bless them...it will bless you...it will make your Father smile.
Our last stop for the day took us back one more time to the Western Wall. We were able to visit the Rabbinic Tunnels. These tunnels run the full length of the Western Wall and come out on the North by the Anonia Fortress on the NW corner of the Temple Mount Wall. This is so amazing because most, if not all, of this tunnel is at the level of the first century street. It also gives you an amazing view of the Herodian stones used to complete the wall. They are MASSIVE! We were told that some of the largest stones weigh up to 550 tons!!! What a sight!
As I type this, the Muslim "Call to Prayer" is ringing through the air. It is a reminder as to where I am...but please LORD, help me never to forget WHO I am. I am a Christian. God loves His people...ALL OF THEM. I am also called to love His people. We are all called to love...and called to go and make disciples of all the world...teaching them to observe all that He has commaned us. Lord, please help me be bold! Help me to shine Your Light!
Be bold with me, will you? This is not a journey that we are taking (or you are following) for just a couple weeks...this Journey that we are on is for Eternity!
May God Bless you all!!!
Love, in Christ,