It’s our last day in Israel. Can’t believe we have walked 85 miles on foot in this land in the last 10 days! We are so tired physically, but rejuvenated spiritually as we have unpacked so much of God’s love letter to us! We are forever changed!
We started at the Mt. of Olives, in the Kidron Valley, preparing to walk the same path that Christ did at the end of his life here on earth. His Annointing. His Arrest. His Trial. His Crucifixion. His Buried Tomb. His Resurrection. His Ascension to Heaven.
Mount of Olives
Separated from the Eastern Hill (the Temple Mount and the City of David) by the Kidron Valley, the Mt. of Olives has always been an important feature in Jerusalem’s landscape. From the 3rd millennium B.C. until the present, this 2900-foot hill has served as one of the main burial grounds for the city. The two-mile long ridge has three summits each of which has a tower built on it.
First we hear the beautiful story of God using Mary to anoint Jesus for the crucifixion and burial. In John 12:1-11 Mary anoints Jesus for one of the hardest journeys. Just six days before the Passover, Mary takes the most expensive perfume, one pound of pure nard, and anoints the feet of Jesus with her hair.
One thing we’ve learned here is it’s HOT and you can get smelly really quick! Now, all of the sudden, Jesus smells different! He was anointed with perfume so you could smell the King coming when He rides into town on Passover. I can’t help but think about the song Lion & the Lamb: the God who comes to save, to set the captives free, our God is the Lamb that was slain for the sin of the world, where every knee will bow before Him. He’s UNSTOPPABLE! Who can stop the Lord almighty!? No ONE! He fights our battle for us, in the desert, the wilderness we are living in. He comes in like a lamb, and comes out like a lion roaring! His blood breaks our chains, and here Mary sets it up, so everyone can smell the King coming into town! How awesome! He is the RESTORATION of ALL things!
Next we take the ancient path Jesus did as he rides into town on Passover. As you can imagine, the city is packed! We learned that he comes into the city on “lamb selection” day! Roughly 80,000 lambs are being slaughtered on this day, and he passes through the eastern city gate, which means he passed though a lot of blood, from all the blood running into the valley! Again, symbolizing that our God comes in like a lamb and out LION! A LOVE restored for us!
Next we come to the Garden of Gethsemane, which means olive press, the place of the crushing. So many times we forget that yes, Jesus is fully God, but he is also fully man. He’s human. He feels like we do! So what does he do? He PRAYS...that should be our first instinct too when we are fearful, anxious or overwhelmed! He cry’s out in Mark 14:36 “ABBA Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Gethsemane (Greek: Γεθσημανή, Gethsemane; Hebrew: גת שמנים, Gat Shmanim; Gaḏ Šmānê, lit. "oil press") is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, most famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before Jesus' crucifixion.
ABBA is a word a child uses when he is crying out in desperation. It’s an intimate term. He’s experiencing this enormous weight, the sin of all humanity will soon be on His shoulders! The prayers he is praying will be answered, but not the way His flesh wants. How many times have we been there? We were reminded the will of God is often in the crushing. May that prayer that Jesus prayed to His Heavenly Father be our same prayer too. “Not my will, but Yours be done!” His way is always WAY better anyways! Lord, help us to trust Your sovereignty.
Later that morning we came to the Sheep’s Gate at the Pool Of Bethesda which means “house of mercy”. Here lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame and paralyzed (John 5). One man was there for 38 years! This city is full of people praying to Asclepius, the god of medicine. A god that hadn’t done ANYTHING for this man for 38 years! Jesus comes along and heals him instantly! We took a moment here to pray with our tribes for specific areas that we needed healing. It was powerful! Then we walked into the church that was inside the Sheep’s Gate and sang Amazing Grace with some of the most beautiful acoustics you have ever heard! It was a worshipful moment, we are so full of gratitude to our Savior!
Next we came to the Valley of Hinnom which means Hell. Can I just tell you that this place smells like straight up sewer! This is where the city throws all the trash and sewage. Beautiful thick green grass lays atop this stench! It smelt so bad! Back in 2 Kings 23 this used to be a place where people would offer up their children as a burnt offering. It was also a place of dumping trash and body parts! This at one point was a really creepy place! Now you would never guess that because this valley now holds astroturf, a park, water features, and a mall with everything at your finger tips!
The picture was very clear when it says in the Bible that the pathway to hell is wide and the pathway to heaven is narrow! That wide path is easy and appealing. When we are a NEW creation in Christ, we need to stay on that narrow path, the path of righteousness, for His names sake! Colossians 3:1-10 says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
There should always be people in your life that lead you on the straight and narrow path. Accountability is huge! Confess your sin and bring it in the light so we can continue to be healed and move forward in all God is calling us to. We want to be faithful!
Later in the afternoon we prayed for the peace of Jerusalem on the ramparts of the city wall. We prayed for the invasion of God’s Spirit to go forth in this city, and for every man, woman, and child to come to know the true Messiah. This is the hardest mission field in the world! Only 0.01% of the population here are evangelical Christians! We cried out in our hearts and gave thanks to God for what is to come!
“Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.” Psalms 48:12-14
So we end our time in the Southern Steps which is so important to us because this is the place believed to be where the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost and Peter preaches one of his greatest sermons. This message cuts to the heart of the people and 3,000 were saved and baptized that day! At that moment they were empowered by the Holy Spirit! EVERYTHING CHANGED in that moment!
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.
For Peter, a fisherman, to recite from the book of Joel, “in my last days, I will pour out my spirit on you...” is clear evidence that the Holy Spirit is speaking through Peter. Go read his sermon in Act 2. It’s powerful!
As we go to sleep tonight it’s our prayer that these pictures that we’ve seen in the last ten days will continue to GROW within us so we can be disciples of Christ and make HIS NAME known for the WHOLE WORLD to KNOW. Keep drinking from the living waters, throw your stone, take up your cross and follow Him. The time is NOW! Thanks for following us on our journey in the desert!