Feb 20, 2012

Day 6 in Israel

Sunrise over Jerusalem - View outside my room
Started our day this morning at the House of Caiaphas, where Jesus was held prior to his trial. The view overlooking the city and Kidron Valley is fantastic.

Statute of Peter denying to know Jesus three times before the cock crows
The modern day church that sits on top of where people believed Caiaphas resided
Kidron Valley
View of the Old City of Jerusalem
Looking across to the Mt. of Olives
We then visited the City of David. They have found the ruins of the palace of David and the origins of the first wall that surrounded the City of David - Jerusalem in David and Solomon's time.

Ruins at the City of David
City of David
After exploring the ruins and Hezekiah's tunnel that connected the city to the water source, we then went back up and entered the Old City through the Dung Gate. This is one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament. You can read about the builder of the Dung Gate in Nehemiah 3:14.
The Dung Gate
The Walls of the Temple Complex
As we entered the city, there were hundreds of people there to celebrate Bar Mitzvahs, complete with drums, horns, singing, and dancing.

The Western Wall
People praying at the Western Wall
Men only section of the Western Wall. 
Bar Mitzvah celebration
After exploring the Western Wall, we took a lunch break in the Muslim quarters at a restaurant that is dug into the wall/cave. When's the last time you had lunch in a cave?

A model of the Second Temple
The Dome of the Rock peering over the Western Wall
Southeastern View of the Wall

The original steps leading up to the Temple Complex
View of the Southern Section of the Wall

Men who gathered to sacrifice would have to take a ceremonial bath to cleanse themselves. They would walk down on the right to bathe, and climb up on the left ceremonially clean.

One of the last stops of the day was at the supposed location of both the tomb of David and the place of the Last Supper. No one can know with any certainty that these are the actual places. However, we can be sure these events did take place on Mt. Zion.

One of the most interesting parts of visiting this site was seeing Christians praying at and touching a niche that is in the church complex there. What should be noted about this niche is that it's not Christian. It was built there by the Muslims when they controlled Jerusalem. It was placed there to help orient Muslims to pray toward Mecca.

Without knowing that, people were in tears praying and crying as they were touching this niche as if the niche had some great spiritual significance.
As I have been reflecting about my time in Israel and in Jerusalem, one of the things that we can say for sure is that this is the land where God entered human history. Without a shadow of doubt, this is the land in which God's story intertwines with our story to make his-story. What is important is that God acted, and God continues to act. 

There is a danger in making "holy" sites and shrines. It's not the place that is holy. It's the God who enters into our space that is holy. And without this God, no place is holy. 

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