One Story, Many Chapters
Today I asked Ronen what his favorite places are to take people as a guide over Israel. He said “I have no favorite place. They are all the same to me because this is all one story, just different chapters.” That statement could not have been more perfect for describing this day. We covered a lot of ground and a lot of history that makes it near impossible to hit on everything.
The morning started on the Temple Mount which is deep with history. Being that it is a Tel, which means layer after layer of civilization, Ronen took us from 4000 years ago to present day and helped us understand why this is such a politically and religiously charged spot for many.
From this point we moved on to the Western Wall which is geographically the closest place to the “Holy of Holies” for the practicing Jews, which is why in the photos you will see many praying at this wall. To them this is the closest they can get to the presence of God. Some call it the Wailing Wall because of the passion and devotion witnessed by people here. We may believe differently when it comes to Christian beliefs, but we definitely admire their devotion to prayer and WANT for a closeness to God.
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.
After this there was so much history covered from walking the Tunnels of Hezekiah to seeing the Pool of Siloam (mentioned in John 1:1-9). But what we want to spend a little time talking about is Herodium and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
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.
Herodium is 1 of 8 massive palaces built by Herod the Great (we saw three of them on this trip!) and the most fascinating thing was standing atop this man-made mountain overlooking Bethlehem. We know Rachel in Genesis 35 was here. We know King David was born here. We know Jesus was born here!
Herodium is 3 miles southeast of Bethlehem and 8 miles south of Jerusalem. Its summit is 2,460 feet above sea level.
Herod built or re-built eleven fortresses. This one he constructed on the location of his victory over Antigonus in 40 BC.
At the Church of the Nativity we walked through what they think “could be” the place of Jesus’ birth within the cave under the church. The thought was mentioned “just imagine the possibility that Joseph may have been pacing outside the cave while Mary was in labor with Herod the Great’s palace within his peripheral KNOWING that at this moment the TRUE KING was being born. It’s okay to pause for a second and take that in.
Ronen was right. This is one big story. There are layers upon layers of history here. It’s safe to say that all of us are nearing the end of this trip with a new perspective of the great love story that God has written and IS WRITING! We are a part of it and it is not over.
Tomorrow is our last full day... and full day it is! We’ve got about 8 stops plans, but we will see what the Lord has for us. Continue praying for strength of body, mind, and heart. Thankful for you all!
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Septemer 5-17, 2020
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