The man after God’s own heart
We are finally in Jerusalem! As we are in the final stages of our trip, it was amazing to get to explore the old city. We began today by going into the Lower City, also known as the City of David. It was fascinating to hear about the story of David from small shepherd boy, all the way through his anointment as king. Although David is frequently referred to as “the man after God’s own heart” he had plenty of downfalls himself. Throughout our trip, Brad and our tour guide Ronan have frequently emphasized the idea of eyes as the gateway to sin. We often “hear” God, but “see” the things we desire and covet. Brad emphasized today that the issues of the flesh are not something that happen overnight.
In 2 Samuel 11, David faced the same issue with Bathsheba. He caved into the desires of the flesh and compromised his character. It is the accumulation of little compromises here and there in our daily lives, until suddenly our accountability and credibility is so compromised, we cannot even discern it ourselves anymore.
Once we entered the City of David, we went on top of a terrace, often believed to be one of the highest points in the city meaning it could have been where David lived. Listening to Ronan talk about the Mount of Olives, located right across the Kidron Valley from where we were standing, was amazing. Following Shea’s introduction to Armageddon on Tel Megiddo yesterday, seeing where the final battle of Jesus’ second coming was overwhelming and comforting.
After exploring Hezekiah’s tunnel, we changed into our warm clothes and went on into the city. In the city we began by going over to the Southern steps. The Southern Steps are significant because that was the direction that people would approach the temple from. From Hezekiah’s Tunnel, in ancient times there was a 900-step ascent that people could make from a mikveh (religious bath), known as the Pool of Siloam. This was generally the path outsiders would take, cleansing themselves before prepping to enter the city and the temple. There is also the story from John 9, where Jesus heals the blind man in the temple and commands him to go down to rinse the mud from his eyes in the Pool of Siloam.
A 1750-foot (530m) tunnel carved during the reign of Hezekiah to bring water from one side of the city to the other, Hezekiah’s Tunnel together with the 6th c. tunnel of Euphalios in Greece are considered the greatest works of water engineering technology in the pre-Classical period. Had it followed a straight line, the length would have been 1070 ft (335m) or 40% shorter.
After learning about the Southern Steps, we went into the tunnels of the Western Wall. The significance of the Western Wall is that in the Jewish tradition it is believed to be the closest location they can get to the Holy of Holies. While underground, we learned of the three different temples that existed on the Temple Mount. Initially there was Solomon’s grand temple that was initially created by David. After the Babylonians destroyed the temple, the Jews rebuilt a small temple over the Foundation Stone of Mount Moriah. When Herod came into power, he decided to attempt to recreate a grand temple in hopes of regaining the trust of the Jews. Unfortunately, the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 AD.
An enormous flight of steps leads to the Southern Wall from the south. They were excavated after 1967 by archaeologist Benjamin Mazar and are the northernmost extension of the Jerusalem pilgrim road leading from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount via the Double Gate and the Triple Gate, collectively called the Huldah Gates. These are the steps that Jesus of Nazareth and other Jews of his era walked up to approach the Temple, especially on the great pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.  The stairs that lead to the double gate are intact and "well-preserved." The steps that lead to the triple gate were mostly destroyed. / The risers are low, a mere 7 to 10 inches high, and each step is 12 to 35 inches deep, forcing the ascending pilgrims to walk with a stately, deliberate tread. The pilgrims entered the temple precincts through the double and triple gates still visible in the Southern Wall. Together, the double and triple gates are known as the Hulda Gates, after the prophetess Huldah.
Following Jewish loss of control, throughout the years the power has shifted between Jewish, Christian, and Muslim control. Currently the Temple Mount is under Muslim rule, and as we set foot on the Mount, the tension was felt instantly. On top of the Temple Mount, Christians are not allowed to talk about the old temple and no bibles can be present on the Temple Mount.
After leaving the Temple Mount, we had the opportunity to go to the National Holocaust Museum of Israel. It was an extremely challenging site to see, with specific monuments to the approximate 1.5 million Jewish killed in the Holocaust. However, it was interesting hearing Ronan’s perspective that the issue of the holocaust is not the killing of the Jews, but the fact that humans can kill humans so unaffectedly. The root of the issue is not anti-Semitism, but humanity.
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.