Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.~Matthew 24:2b
Our first stop of the day was the Davidson Center and the Temple ruins that remain visible today following the fulfillment of the prophecy in Matthew 24:2 (above). Jesus accurately predicted the Temple would be destroyed, and the Roman legion obliged in 70 AD. On the Herodian street of Jesus’ day (seen above) lies the evidence that remnants of the Temple were thrown over the edge of Temple Mount on to this area at the southwestern corner of Temple Mount. You see the buckled streets where large stones pounded down.
Adjacent to the pile of stones is one very special corner piece. Inscriptions found upon it seem to indicate this was the corner piece from which the trumpet was sounded. We touched, we walked, we saw the very stones from Jesus’ day!
What followed was an excellent message from Pastor John from John 7. Imagine the Jews traveling by foot or on a donkey for several days in order to reach Jerusalem in time for the major feasts. Israel is a dry, arid land in those parts, and surely the pilgrims would experience thirst.
Now, imagine Jesus standing up and shouting to the crowds:
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”~John 7:37-38
Jesus Himself is our living water, and He will quench every thirst!
We then traveled to Yad Vashem for what is always a deeply emotional experience for some. Putting the Holocaust and all its atrocities right before your eyes can sometimes be mind-numbing. Because of that, and due to a time schedule, it seems to make much more sense to have a guided tour, rather than spending hours upon hours watching the 100’s of videos, reading 1000’s of documents, and attempting to take in every exhibit in that world-class museum. (I have found that an individual trip through the museum often leads to such overwhelming emotional duress that one emerges totally spent.) Our guide was fantastic.
Part of the Holocaust Museum and Remembrance Center is the children’s memorial which brings me to tears every time I visit. It is a rather small exhibit with an incredibly large impact. A single candle burns, but is reflected in 1000’s of times in mirrors, so it looks like the stars. Meanwhile, the names of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust are read (along with their ages) continuously, day-after-day, giving perspective to just how many children lost their lives.
We took a lunch break on the grounds of the Israel Museum, where we viewed the Model City of Jerusalem, as well as the Isaiah scroll (part of the Dead Sea Scrolls) seen here:
In the afternoon, we journeyed to Bethlehem where we made a stop at a cave similar to the place Mary most likely gave birth to Jesus. No one knows the exact location of the specific cave, so one must engage the imagination. Here, we did that, as our guide, Aly, read us the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth.
Then came another very tour highlight! Palestinian Pastor Ziad from Bethlehem met us and shared about how he came to Christ, how he came to be a pastor, and what he and his congregation are doing to reach the Palestinian, Arab and Jewish people for Christ.
One thing you should know: God is doing absolutely amazing work through Arab, Palestinian, and Messianic Jewish pastors in Israel. These are men who face unbelievable opposition, and at times extreme rejection, not only from other Arabs, Palestinians, and Jews, but also from their own families. Israel is very complicated and it is just not easy being a Christian in the land. Yet, these ministering families are pouring their hearts and their lives into preaching, teaching, and discipling their people. They need our prayers! Will you join us in praying for them regularly?
Finally, on our way back to the hotel for the evening, our bus driver was kind enough to detour in order to drive past the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Of course, it is walled, we could not stop there, and there is not much to see. However, from the bus window, we got a view of Old Glory flying over the embassy! (Pardon the photo quality.) Cheering erupted on our bus, as we realize what a stand the US has taken to recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel!
We’ll end on that praise note, but check back tomorrow. Our tour is coming to a close, but the crescendo happens as we visit the Mount of Olives, Western Wall and Garden Tomb tomorrow! Then, we unfortunately must celebrate our farewell dinner together before boarding planes to bring us home. I think many of us will have a difficult time leaving. This land is amazing, and there is something that makes it feel like home to a believer.
See you tomorrow!