Israel (Day 8)

Michelle and I in front of the walls of the Temple Mount

Michelle and I in front of the walls of the Temple Mount

Between our travel time and jet-lag kicking in with full force, this post is off schedule from the rest of the others. Our last day in Israel was just as busy as the rest and then we boarded a long flight for home at the end of it. I’m glad I didn’t know when we boarded that our flight from Israel would be the worst landing I’ve ever experienced once we touched down in Philadelphia. Many people in our group used the complimentary sick bags on this flight and I managed to hold in my breakfast by the grace of God alone. This helped us to feel the raw nature of our “pilgrimage.”

On our last day we got to visit the part of Jerusalem known as the ancient city, or the City of David. This is the part that David established when he conquered the city from the Jebusites when it was called Zion. This was especially cool to see and imagine history in this place.

City of David

City of David (click to zoom)

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Israel (Day 7)

Oscar Schindler's Tree

Oscar Schindler’s Tree at the Holocaust Museum in Israel

We started day seven with a visit to the Holocaust museum. This continued our time in Jerusalem. As can be imagined, this was a very tough time to experience yet it is absolutely vital to remember. There are a number of different museums that address the Holocaust and this one is heavy on stories and testimonies from survivors. There weren’t a ton of items from the Holocaust itself but the museum does a terrific job with retelling the story. I especially liked the quotes that they had spread throughout the museum. There were a few in particular that stood out to me.

“A country is not just what it does – it is also what it tolerates.” Kurt Tucholsky, German essayist of Jewish origin

“Don’t rush to fight and die… we need to save lives. It is more important to save Jews than to kill Germans.” Tuvia Bielski

“I know that when I stand before God on Judgement Day, I shall not be asked the question posed to Cain – where were you when your brother’s blood was crying out to God?” Imre Bathory, Righteous Among the Nations, Hungary.

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Israel (Day 6)

Breakfast is a little different in Jerusalem

Breakfast is a little different in Jerusalem (herring and sardines)

Day six was by far our busiest day yet! We visited many of the main sites in the old city of Jerusalem. We began with a tour of the temple mount (the area where the first and second Jewish temple was built). Now there sits a Muslim site called the Dome of the Rock on the site of the original temples. This site has another significance in that it is also called Mount Moriah. This was where Abraham took his son Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice to the Lord. Because of that moment this site has been considered holy ever since.

Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock (click to zoom)

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Israel (Day 5)

Masada

The view from the top of Masada (click to zoom)

Today started in the Dead Sea and then we were off to a crazy historical sight. We visited the ancient city of Masada on the very top of a mountain range. This isn’t anything significant in the Bible but it is a crazy story of a group of first century Jews who defied the Romans to the very end. When it was evident that they would be captured and turned into slaves, the entire community of Jews committed suicide instead. You can read about the crazy story here.

Since it was a walled city on the top of a mountain, it was extremely difficult to attack the city. Roman soldiers pulled it off by building a giant dirt ramp up to the entry and then building a siege tower with a battering ram on top. The pictures below show what remains of this attack today.

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Israel (Day 4)

Jordan River

Jordan river (click to zoom)

We began today with a very cool experience on the Jordan river. This is the river where Jesus was baptized Himself. We had a handful of people from our group go in and be immersed in the very frigid waters.

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

Click here to watch one of the baptisms

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Israel (Day 3)

Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi (click to zoom)

Day three began by visiting Caesarea Philippi (different from the Casearea by the sea that we saw yesterday). This is a gorgeous area by a natural spring and carved into the rock side of a mountain. It reminded me of many of the ancient Hindu temples in Nepal. This is where one of the pivotal conversations between Jesus and His disciples took place.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. (Matthew 16:13-18)

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