Up to Jerusalem
Our first day in Jerusalem started with a short drive to the Old City. We walked through Jaffa Gate and worked our way through a maze of streets and alleyways of the Christian Quarter to the plaza by the Western (Wailing) Wall. The area was traversed by both Jews & Christians as many prayed before the Temple Mount foundation. While this location holds significance for many, it is a comfort to know that at any time we have the ability to approach the throne of God with our prayers & petitions. We praised God for his provision and that He would reveal himself to the Jews awaiting their Messiah.
Following that, we went into the Rabbinical Tunnels, an archeological dig along the base of the Temple Mount. A presentation explained how Herod the Great had built a wide flat base on the top of Mt. Moria. On this base the Herodian Temple was erected. The excavation revealed massive stone work that provided the foundation for the buildings above. Subsequent cycles of distruction and construction have altered and raised elevations around the mount, and the top area is now the location of the Muslim Al Aqsa mosque. Leaving the Temple Mount area, we exited the Muslim Quarter by the Lion Gate.
The tour of the western wall tunnels is one of the most popular tourist sites in Jerusalem. These underground tunnels connect the western wall prayer area to the north-west side of the temple mount, passing along the side of the temple mount and under the present day houses in the Old City. Along its path are remains from the second temple period, as well as structures from later periods.
Boarding the bus again we traveled east to Herod’s Palace (Herodium). This complex was Herod’s official residence that contained a theater, pool, and an entertainment area. Above, on the mountain, a fortress-palace was built.
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.
As the king at the birth of Christ, the Jews said that Herod gained power “like a fox” ruled “like a lion” and died “like a dog” unmourned by his subjects. A skilled builder, his legacy is limited to crumbled walls of stone. In contrast, a child born during his reign has established a kingdom that will never end.
We capped the day visiting the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Located in a Palestinian area, the church site has been influenced by Byzantine, Islamic, Crusader and Ottoman powers as dominance shifted over the centuries. Today it is a confusing mix of denominations that cling to their respective traditions regarding Christ’s birth. While honoring the concept of “Christ’s birthplace” it often looks like the humble origins of our Lord’s purpose on earth are overlooked. Born as the “Lamb of God” and not as royalty, we need to remember Jesus’s humble beginnings. He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10)
Keith, Darl & Kurt Gloeckler 11/6/2019
Featured Upcoming Tour
GTI Signature Tour: Israel & Jordan
Septemer 5-17, 2020
Experience Israel & Jordan for 11 days in the context of biblical history and personal faith.
View Itinerary & Register