Today is Wednesday August 28, 2013 in the land of Israel!
Part of me can’t believe that I am here. I am so thankful for this opportunity to understand with more reality the truths of scripture: putting a place with a story that isn’t just a story-it really happened.
On Monday we, me and the twenty-eight other students, got oriented with the campus and introduced to our first class: Land and the Bible. There are still lots of stair and lots of walking-Dad, you would love it. Then after that, the secretaries Natalie and Wendy took our group off the Moshav, where we are staying: Yod Hashmonah, to Kiriath Jearim which is where the Ark of the Covenant was said to have been kept for 100 years then moved in 2 Samuel 6.(Baalah is Kiriath Jearim). And now I can see how it would be easy to have the Ark be fine getting there if they stay on the ridge, which is the path we took, but then going to Jerusalem, which we could see up from the hill where Kiriath Jearim is, looks like a shorter path through the valley, yet so much more hilly opposed to just staying on the ridge where they could have walked much easier yet taken more time. It was crazy to see with my own eyes-and it was only day one!! Up the mount which we climbed to get to Kiriath Jearim, is a Catholic church today. It was a beautiful building in which we sang a few songs and it was just so surreal. Why is it that the acoustics of Catholic churches are so beautiful and not so much in Christian/Biblical churches?
Then we kept walking and went to a town Abu Ghosh where the whole town is built around natural spring that flows all the time, cold in the summer and warm in the winter. We went into another Catholic church where it was really dark and built over this spring. The paintings on the walls really caught my eye as they didn’t have faces except for the virgin Mary, the rest were almost blurred out.
On Tuesday we went to the Old City Jerusalem. There is so information taught, I don’t know if I’ll be able to remember half of it. There were a few things that did catch my attention. The Old City Walls that are standing today are not the original walls, but rather they were built by the Turks at a much later date than the life of Christ. We walked into the Jaffa Gate which is on the Western side of the city. And right inside the gate is the tower of David, which is where Herod the great made large and lived in his time. From the top of the tower, also known as fortress, you can see the whole old city, Kidron Valley, Mount of Olives, Temple Mount (Dome of the Rock), and City of David. From this place, Bill (one of the main instructors) said that he believes that from that place where we were standing is where Jesus was tried. Then if you look at the picture, the big dome and little dome is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the big dome where Jesus is said to have been buried, and the small one crucified. We walked into this church and it was amazing in architecture, but so sad to see these people worshiping and laying everything they own on the place where they think Jesus might have been killed and buried hoping that it’ll bless them so much more. The worship of the places breaks my heart. Are they special places with holy significance? Yes. But being found in Christ, I am blessed no matter where I go as Christ is found in me and as a believer, I am to worship the Lord in everything and through everything-it is a lifestyle.
We walked through the different quarters and ate falafel outside the city gate, which someone pointed out to me that it is older than America, and I thought that was awesome. Hahahaha. Anyway, we continued to walk around the city wall and when we got to the East side of the wall we reached St. Stephen’s gate, where Stephen is said to have been stoned. We entered the gate and walked through to the pools of Bethesda where I got to read John 5, and the healing of the lame man on the Sabbath-again, just brought it to life how Jesus worked showing that He is greater than any man and rules the Sabbath. Again, there was a Catholic church of sorts on this site, and we went in and sang, and this time I got chills. We sang “It is well” and the last verse of “Amazing Grace”. My favorite verse of It is well, “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and has shed His own blood for my soul. It is well…with my soul.” I got chills.
We kept walking and at this point we were on the Western side of the wall, closest to the Temple Mount, and this is where Jesus would have said to the Pharisees, Matthew23:27-28, that they are like white-washed tombs, and I don’t find it ironic but sovereign, that the hill facing the temple mount is a graveyard with lots and lots of tombs laying out in the open on the outside of the city as they are the most unclean thing that could ever exist.
We finished our walk going through the Dung Gate and going through the Jewish quarter then coming back to the place we started by David’s Tower. Right next to that is the first protestant church in Israel, Christ Church where we will be attending every Shabbat. They have really awesome acoustics in their church and I love their stained glass windows as they have an olive tree, which are literally everywhere here, with one side a menorah and the other a cross symbolizing that we as Gentiles are grafted into the family of God.
The weather is very hot as the sun’s intensity is much greater here than America. I am very thankful for the occasional breeze. Only got a little burnt on my nose. The cats are kind of annoying-sound like complaining children. The food is decent-always something to eat. My roommate is Beatrice, aka Bea, and I absolutely love her and am thankful for her as we have laughed a lot and I hope to laugh so much more with her. The group that God has placed me in is great-all sorts of personalities and great friends that have been easy to laugh with and have encouraged me with good conversation. I am so blessed to be here and have already learned so much-and it hasn’t even been a week. Praise God for what He has done and what is going to be done this semester!