A wonderful ending to our life-changing trip
As we began our final touring day so many admitted they can’t believe that our trip is almost complete. Where has the time gone? I heard many at breakfast discuss what their favorite location was.
This morning Pastor Steve shared devotions. He read from 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 “We walk by faith, not by sight.” He said that our eyes can deceive us and he reminded us of the great hope that we all have. We have all the fullness of God. What a blessing!
We left a little earlier this morning because Miriam said that Bar Mitzvah’s are often held on Monday traffic can get heavy in the city. A Bar Mitzvah is for a young man at age13 (son of the commandment) Bat Mitzvah is for a young lady at age 12 (daughter of the commandment.)
As we head to the Davidson Center we find that we are driving around the Kidron Valley which we’ve seen and walked through just recently. Our tour today begins by visiting the excavations around the southern wall. We entered Jerusalem through the Dung Gate.
The Davidson Center visitor center that we will be visiting dates back to the 800 BC. They have completely modernized this facility while managing not to damaged the antiquities. Miriam told us that the Eastern wall was originally as high as the two cypresses which we could see so clearly from where we were.
We had our own guide inside the Davidson Center and she showed us a virtual model of Jerusalem, as it looked 2000 years ago. This computer-generated program was originally produced by UCLA and the information we were able to see was phenomenal.
As we walked towards Robinson’s arch and the southern gates, we saw the Mount of Olives in the distance. Miriam said that the Mount of Olives has the oldest functioning cemetery as well as the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world.
The temple that Herod built was the single largest building until it was destroyed in 70 AD, the profit from the temple’s destruction paid for the building of the Coliseum in Rome. Herod was not well liked and he was a megalomaniac, but he was a great builder.
During the time of Jesus under Robinson’s Arch were located shops including where money was changed into temple money or as we would know it as, “Wall Street.” Miriam pointed out a verse from Isaiah carved into the upper wall. We also saw huge stone from the upper wall that has been left as a reminder of the destruction of the temple.
The actual western walk for praying is very short. To offer a sacrifice you had to change your money, possibly purchase a sacrifice, and use the ritual mikveh (bath) which you entered from the right and exited from the left. The southern entrance to the Temple is known at the Hulda’s gate.
Miriam pointed out to us the remains of the Hulda Gate and according to the Mishnah everyone went in on the right side and out on the left unless you were mourning. If you were mourning you would go the opposite way so people could comfort you on your way in. This could also be what they called the Beautiful Gate where Peter healed the man. And it is probably where they sang the Songs of Ascent from the Psalms. The steps are designed with the rhythm of the Psalm in mind one long step one short step. Miriam did a beautiful job of demonstrating it for us by singing Psalm 126 walking up the steps.
After lunch where we were able to witness a Bar Mitvah below at the Western Wall, we visited the water system that was found by Charles Warren. This is part of the City of David excavation. We learned that archeologists believe they may have located David’s Palace. We explored the water system, which is actually the shaft many believe was used to invade the city while it was under the control of the Canaanites. Miriam shared with us that the Gihon Spring was protected by two massive walls then later on Hezekiah built a tunnel from the spring ultimately to the inner pool of Siloam to make access easier inside the city and to protect the water from the Assyrians.
We saw the area where Solomon was crowned by the Canaanite pool. Miriam told us that they found an ancient Hebrew inscription describing how they built Hezekiah’s tunnel. Apparently one team started at the Gihon while the other started at the Pool of Siloam a third team listened to the sound of the pick axes and found a way to assist them with this incredible project. We sat on the original steps that led to the pool of Siloam which is possibly where Jesus Himself was. The area of the Pool of Siloam is owned by the Greek Orthodox Church, which I found very interesting.
The Jewish Agency is at the location of the Shadow Government before the declaration of the State of Israel. This is also the location where the Israel’s Declaration of Independence was drafted. Jim shared with me that there was an attempted bombing of this building at one point.
The Jewish Agency is the organization that established the State of Israel. Herzl declared that Israel would be a state within 50 years he was only off by one year.
The Jewish Agency was established in the 1920’s it was founded by Chaim Weizmann and he was also the first president.
Last year 30,000 Jewish people made Aliya (Jewish people coming to Israel) from around the world. Operation Solomon was a mission to bring Ethiopian Jewish people to Israel. They are considered to be the tribe of Dan and while living in Ethiopia, they did not know that there were any other Jewish people in the world. They didn’t even know the Temple had been destroyed. In 1991 Israel paid the failing Ethiopian ruler $20 million to remove every Jewish person from Ethiopia. 14,400 were removed in 36 hours – a miracle in itself. Before the money could be paid the ruler. Ethiopia fell and the money was never paid. There are many other stories of courage and triumph to bring the Jewish people home to Israel. The Jewish Agency works in 80 countries and is the only agency that brings the Jewish people home and assimilates them.
On our final evening in Israel we had a farewell banquet. Jim Showers shared with the group that we walked almost 36 miles since we arrived in Jerusalem just a few days ago. He shared with us just how many places we have visited since we arrived. What an amazing blessing this trip has been. We had a wonderful guest for the evening, Rebecca Reinstein. She and her husband Josh are wonderful friends of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Josh is traveling so we were blessed to hear his wife Rebecca. Rebecca shared that Michael Levine (the IDF soldier that lost his life) was another connection that The Friends of Israel shares with the Reinstein’s. The Michael Levine Lone Soldier Center has been established it exists to help those who are alone and serving with the Israel Defense Force (IDF) with physical needs like furniture or counseling to help them become comfortable in their new home.
Josh works as a connector between the Knesset through the Christian Allies Caucus. Currently there are 30 caucus’ throughout the world. We were encouraged by Rebecca to Pray for Jerusalem. It is a command from the Lord to Pray For the Peace of Jerusalem. Jim closed the evening reminding us through Psalm 137 to never forget all that we’ve seen, all we’ve experienced. The world needs to know the truth.
What a wonderful ending to our life-changing trip! Tomorrow we head home!