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It’s been 4 months since our trip to Israel, but our team got together tonight and we made this video that summarizes the once in a lifetime trip.
Technically, we have another day tomorrow, but I am going to retire from posting. I hope that everyone has enjoyed the posts, and I recommend coming to Israel to get more than just a taste of this glory. We are planning on another trip next year. If my wife is reading this, please do not get mad. I am not saying that I will personally go, but our church will put a group together. Maybe Erica can lead the trip!
So, today, we toured the old city of David. Most people know that Jerusalem is the ‘city of David’, however he was the first to make it a Jewish town. Therefore, when David was living there, it was a simple, small village type of town and not the grand city that it later was in Jesus’ time. They have dug up some amazing finds in this area of Jerusalem. We saw the base of King Solomon’s palace. We walked through old Caininite tunnels and discovered the 3000 year old city streets. For almost 30 years, they have been excavating this area and just 2 months ago they opened an ancient Roman road far below the current streets. You can walk up this tunnel on the actual stones that Jesus walked.
At the base of the hill lies the pool of Siloam. It is make famous by Jesus when he spat in the mud and made an eyeball for the blindman. He then told the blindman to go and wash in the pool of Siloam for his complete healing. Jesus said that the man was blind to reveal God’s glory. It was extremely emotional for us because we had Mason in our group (who has been completely blind in one eye and 80% blind in the other since birth) We read the story from the Bible and we had Mason pray over our whole group. Of course, He splashed the water on his face and we all believe with him that God will continue to be his strength and healing.
I have to say that it is amazing to see Mason’s courage and strength through this entire trip. He is the most positive and uplifting person you will ever meet. We have been by his side in extremely difficult surroundings. Occasionally, we have to read signs for him and we will explain the landscape or specific feature of a building. Most of the time, he absorbs the environment by himself through his limited sight, nose, hands, ears, and feet. Wow, we are so thankful that he has accompanied us.
We went to the southern steps of the temple and I was able to preach at the actual spot where Jesus taught his disciples. So cool!
After lunch, we headed to some Old Testament sights in the country. We visited Elah valley where David killed Goliath. We all collected stones and read the story straight from scripture.
Then we traveled to another very important valley where many things happened. Please forgive me, it is late and I don’t remember the name but here are the things that happened there:
- Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still and it did.
- God sent huge boulder size hailstones from heaven to destroy the Philistines. These have been discovered!
- The Philistines sent the ark of the Covenant back to the Israelites through this valley because it was literally giving them tumors.
- Samson was born in this area and defeated Philistines here.
- Basically, it wasn’t a good place to be a Philistine!
Love ya’ll! Can’t wait to be back in Texas with my lovely wife and family. It was so cool today, I got Erica on Facetime and she actually listened to the tour guide and watched the scenery from the bus. Technology is so amazing.
To all the PSM folks, I’ll see you Sunday. I’ll be preaching, so pray for my rest and brain! ha!
We walked where Jesus walked today. Some of the path we walked on is 30-40 feet above the actual stones that Jesus walked on. This is because the city of Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in the last 2000 years. However, in about 3 or 4 places, you could actually walk on and touch the stones where Jesus walked and stumbled with His cross. We could see where the soldiers gambled for his clothes. These locations are now like caves below the surface of the modern city.
We have been fortunate to visit Israel at a low tourist season so that we can actually stop at these popular places, reflect on the story, read scripture, pray, and sing old hymns. It has been a great time of worship.
We traveled the via de la rosa or as the Catholics call it, ‘the stations of the cross’. There are 14 spots they have identified that Jesus walked from his sentencing by Pilate to the burial. Some of the stops are not in scripture. They were added by the church.
The place where most orthodox churches believe the actual cross and tomb were are under a large church called the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. There are tons of candles being lit, prayers, etc. A lot of Catholic style worship going on. We did not really stay long here.
We toured the Muslim temple and shopped in the Muslim part of the Temple mount for a while. It truly felt like a third world country. A very tight, bustling marketplace. Strange sights and smells going on for sure.
In the afternoon, we went to a place called ‘The garden tomb”. This is owned by a protestant group and they have a strong theory that this is the place of the cross and tomb. There is an actual hill that looks like a skull “Golgotha” and a tomb near by that fits the description in the gospels. We read scripture, sang songs, and Pastor Ani Simonson led us in communion.
We began our adventure in Old Jerusalem today. We have 2 more full days here. There is so much to see.
We started near King David’s tomb and many people believe that the ‘upper room’ was above this tomb. It is highly unlikely that the actual upper room was in this location (for many reasons). However, we read the story of the Last Supper and Acts 2 “day of Pentecost”. I had a hard time reading through this. Very emotional. That was followed by a great prayer by us all.
Then, we walked down steps (Jerusalem is hilly like San Marcos) to the place where Jesus was taken to Caiphas. We were able to go into the actual ‘dungeon’ where they kept prisoners overnight. Jesus was held in this little room. It was about 15′ x 15′ and about 15′ tall. There was a small hole in the ceiling where they moved people in and out.
After lunch, we went to a MASSIVE replica of the Old City of Jerusalem. It was probably 75′ wide and 3′ tall. We had to go up to another level to see the whole thing. It made the whole city and story unfold before us. For the first time, we could actually get a good perspective where everything happened.
We spent the afternoon at the Jerusalem Holocaust Museum. I had been to the one in Washington DC, however, to walk side by side Jews throughout the exhibits was intense.
Tomorrow, we continue to walk through the Old Jerusalem and follow the stations of the Cross.
For other posts on Israel, click here.
We are starting to get a much clearer picture of the modern conflict of Israel and the Palestinians. We have spent the last 2 days in Palestinian territory and have found out from the locals that the news we get in America is not an accurate portrayal of what is really going on.
Here are the lessons we have learned so far:
- Technically, it is all Israel’s land due to the war. However, after several treaties, they have agreed to allow Palestinians to live and control portions of the country. There are 3 types of areas.
- Type A – totally controlled by Palestinians “PLO”. Gaza (southwest), Golan Heights (far north east), and West Bank (eastern/middle including Jericho and Bethlehem). Of these, Gaza is the most blocked off and no one goes in or out. Hamas is taken control from PLO. Thankfully, there are not very many sites to see there anyway.
- Type B – land still negotiated by both Israel and Palestinians. Tensions have risen from this area.
- Type C – Israel is in total control and Palestine has nothing to say about it.
- Palestinian does not mean Muslim. In fact, Bethlehem is Palestinian and 75% Christian! These are the descendants of the first believers. These Palestinians are the some of the nicest/gentle people we have met. (They know Jesus!)
- Israeli does not mean Jewish. There are a lot of Christians in Nazareth and other parts of the country. There are Muslims in several pockets of Isreal (type C) land. Actually, the Temple Mount is in type C land, but controlled by Muslims. That is the big gold dome you see in all pics of Jerusalem.
- Based on the 2 and 3 above, it puts Christian believers all over the map. I have always associated Jewish as on the side of the Christian and Palestinian on the side of the Muslim. This is not always the case. In fact, Jews are often just as hostile toward Christian believers.
- ‘Israeli’ is the nationality and ‘Jewish’ is the religion. In other words, you can have and Israeli Christian. This would be called and Israeli Arab Christian. As mentioned above, you can also have a Palestinian Arab Christian.
- Palestinians are grateful for tourists. Generally, it is safe to travel in these areas because tourism is their biggest economy. The danger only comes when tension arises from Israeli/Palestinian issues.
Here are the sites we saw today.
- Jesus Baptism Location – a muddy part of the Jordan close to Jericho. Not much to see.
- Mount of Olives/view of Temple Mount – Incredible experience as we crested the hill and saw Jerusalem for the first time. Everyone in the bus was weeping. Seriously. Powerful.
- Garden of Gethsemane – We saw trees that were there with Jesus. Over 2000 years old.
- Herodium (King Herod’s palace and burial place) – A horrible man.
- Bethlehem (Palestinian Territory) – Wonderful time in this area. Sang beautiful Christmas songs in Shepherd’s field and at Christ’s birthplace.
- Where Ruth worked for Boaz (fields) – We saw the terraced farmland where Ruth worked.
- Shepherds field (Christmas Night)
- Jesus’ Birthplace
More Posts about our trip: click here