Israel Study Tour - Bridgeway Christian Church

August 31 - September 11, 2015

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Seeing things, literally, in a new light

Ruth's Blog
What an incredible day! We encountered a sandstorm, which affected the visibility and caused me to concentrate more on the places we encountered. We encountered the rigid dress code in order to go up on the temple mount. We went into the rabbinic tunnels, which was a very exciting experience. The most exciting part was seeing the unearthed original stones from the construction Herod did, and walking on the same roadways that Jesus himself walked, the same stones He walked on, on his way up to the temple. Knowing my Lord walked those roads was amazing and very moving.

Rabbinic Tunnels

The tour of the western wall tunnels is one of the most popular tourist sites in Jerusalem. These underground tunnels connect the western wall prayer area to the north-west side of the temple mount, passing along the side of the temple mount and under the present day houses in the Old City. Along its path are remains from the second temple period, as well as structures from later periods.

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The last location we visited today was the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum. It is a large structure that was built with very beautiful architecture. The building was stunning. We weaved through the large building alongside different videos, and pictures. One of the hardest parts was seeing all of this and wondering why didn’t anyone step up to end this violence. The hardest part was the memorial to the 1.5 million children that were lost. My hope for the future, is that the church will never stand idly by while such atrocities occur in this world. Jesus calls us to love him with all our mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I pray that we will achieve this in the future, and never allow another tragedy like that occur.

Richard's Blog
We woke up this morning to find a veil of sand wrapped around Jerusalem’s broad-hilled shoulders. What would normally be an easy view from the Temple Mount to the Mt. of Olives – was completely obscured by a Hamsin, a warm, dust-laden wind that usually comes in from the South East (often called “Ruach Kadim” in the Bible – or “East Wind”). The effect of the Hamsin was twofold: 1) It shrouded our visit to the temple mount and the Western Wall from many of the more modern sites that ring the walls of the Old City. I was reminded of the artwork often associated with the 19th century American explorer, Edward Robinson. In the 5 years I lived in Jerusalem and the 6 that I lived in the Middle East generally…I had only seen 2 sandstorms like this. 2) We were given a “taste of the region”. As I squinted through the burnt sepia toned haze and listened to Pastor Matt speaking about Jesus teaching on the southern steps entrance to the temple…my mind wandered back to the passion of our Lord. I recalled the words of the evangelist, “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli…lama sabachthani?’…that is, ‘My God, My God…why have you left me? (Matthew 27:45-46; cf. Psalm 22)”

Western Wall

The Western Wall is the most holy place accessible to the Jewish people because of Muslim control of the Temple Mount. Known in recent centuries as the “Wailing Wall,” this was built by Herod the Great as the retaining wall of the Temple Mount complex. The plaza was created as an area for prayer when Israel captured the Old City in 1967. At times tens of thousands of people gather here for prayer.

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Whether Jerusalem of that day was covered by such a sandstorm as this (certainly possible, as these are most common in Israel around April)…today’s travels allowed us the opportunity to paint that scene upon the canvas of our minds with much greater ease. People sometimes ask, "Well, you've probably seen it all, haven't you?" - referring to my travels through the Holy Land. Though I have been blessed to visit many locations, I learn hundreds of new things on every return visit! Often, like today, it is not the newness of the site - but even the atmospheric conditions that allow me to see things, literally, in a new light.

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