Remember what God has done
Today was our first day in Jerusalem, and what a day it was! We started at the Temple Mount, which displayed the cultural tension that complicates this city. While Jerusalem and the mountains on which it is built have been significant since the time of Abraham, the Temple Mount was built by Harod the Great shortly before Jesus was born, and of its foundation, only the Western Wall remains. However, on top of this foundation and the mountain is the Dome of the Rock, the holiest site for the religion of Islam. As we visited these sites, the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall, it was difficult to witness men and women so devout, yet know that the object of their faith is not in the true Giver of Life, Jesus Christ.
We then walked a short distance into the ancient City of David to understand what the city looked more like in the time when David was king. The entire trip we've learned and looked for the elements necessary to have a city in the ancient times: access to water, fertile soil, a defensible position, ability to engage in economy, and a crossroad. Jerusalem is so-so in all of these areas, but especially when it comes to water. There is one spring that was located outside the city walls, which made Jerusalem extremely vulnerable if they were ever to be attacked because their enemy would just need to cut off their access to this spring. So, when Jerusalem was under threat of being attacked in the time of King Hezekiah, he had an underground tunnel built from this spring all the way into the city! And today we got to strap on our Chacos and walk through it! While it was a tight squeeze at times, this, like other ancient water projects we've seen stood as a challenge to us: are we willing to work as hard at following after Jesus, the true source of life, as these Israelites were willing to work to have water?
After exiting the tunnel, we were at the Pool of Siloam, which was a significant location not only because of its involvement in one of the major Jewish festivals, but also because it is where in John 9 Jesus sent a man born blind to wash mud off his eyes and be able to see! Here we reflected on how we, like the man, were born spiritually blind but have been blessed with sight from Christ and have also been sent into the world to share how he has given us the ability to see.
Pool of Siloam
he Pool of Siloam (Hebrew: בריכת השילוח, Breikhat Hashiloah) is a rock-cut pool on the southern slope of the City of David, the original site of Jerusalem, located outside the walls of the Old City to the southeast. The pool was fed by the waters of the Gihon Spring, carried there by two aqueducts.
We then had by far my favorite meal of the trip: a picnic at a local park where we each had a necklace-sized, bagel-like bread that we tore into small bites and dipped into various spreads, from hummus and goat cheese to Nutella!
The afternoon started with a step out of the biblical narrative, and we spent a couple hours at Israel's Holocaust Museum. I love museums and remembering what has happened in the past that we might learn from the previous generations, which is also a theme of the Old Testament and Jewish culture: remember. Remember what God has done for you, Nation of Israel. Remember what God has said. And here it was to remember what happened to the Jews and how that came about that it would never happen again.
Finally, we ended the day by driving to Bethlehem. We walked through the streets to the Church of the Nativity, a church built on the caves believed to be the location of the stable where Jesus was born (a change for our Western mindset that the stables in Jesus' day were caves and not wooden structures!). We learned here that a man spent over 30 years of his life studying the languages of Old Hebrew and Aramaic, the languages that the Scriptures were written in, and translating them to Latin, the more common language of his day. It was extremely humbling to walk through the caves where he did his work under this church and know that we all have access to the Scriptures in large part because of the Lord's work through his faithful diligence to translate God's word.
What a full day! What a full trip! As I sit here on the eve of our last day in Israel, I am extremely grateful for all that the Lord has gifted me to see in this land, and pray to always remember what God has done through the sights and lessons of this trip. But these lessons are not only for us in Israel; it's why we write this blog! What is something God has done in your life or something he has said in Scripture that you always want to remember?
Written by Rachel Gibson