Friday, January 30, 2015

Israel: Garden of Gethsemane

We descended further to what is believed to be the Garden of Gethsemane.

Of all the places we had seen coming down the Mount, this seemed to me to have the most evidence of authenticity. And it was because of these trees. These olive trees were over 2000 years old and this little grove held several of them. A gardener was inside the low fence, tending the flowers.

The church built there was beautiful. It was silent, a place of prayer. We went inside and sat for a few minutes, telling God the things on our hearts.

This place became a favorite.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Israel: Coming Down the Mount of Olives

All points of Israel were heavily guarded. We noted the attire included riot and bomb gear, as well as bullet proof vests and automatic rifles for every police and military person. Military service is mandatory for every Israeli, including women.

We began our descent of the Mount of Olives. We talked to the kids about it being where the very road upon which Jesus rode his donkey would have been, where palm branches were laid for him.

We were high enough to see the Dome of the Rock and the Temple walls surrounding it.

I'm smiling a brave smile, but I was in a lot of pain. At this point, I dug out a couple of granola bars from my stash and divided them for us. CC wondered where I had gotten them, then pulled out an identical one of his own. "Grandma?" We had both packed a couple of bars from our leftover flight care packages made last summer as we flew out of Nashville! Grandma fed us even in Israel!

The graves I told you about are in the backdrop.

We stopped for a quick rest at this beautiful garden and church. It is believed this is where Jesus would have looked out upon Jerusalem, felt sorrow, and predicted its fall. It faces the West toward Jerusalem. The church was built in the 1950's, in the shape of a tear drop, and the name, Dominus Flevit, means "The Lord Wept."

As the others sat upon the wall looking out on Jerusalem, I slipped into the small chapel.

I really liked this place. It didn't hold the pomp of the other places. It was simpler. And whether this is where he lamented the fact that the hearts of Israel had not turned to Him or not, it certainly was the same view He had, and that was enough for me.

Israel: Mount of Olives and Mishaps

Just after I took this beautiful picture (color not re-touched), I turned my foot on an uneven spot on the path. The pain was intense, and I almost fainted. Miss Middler was beside me, so I sent her to get the others, who were just ahead. I sat down and put my head down so I would not pass out. I realized the side of my foot was starting to swell, and I was not even sure I could get my shoe back on. (I had chosen my Dansco's because they are so very comfortable. I didn't factor in ankle support in my decision.)

Immediately, Firstborn, without a thought, took off her tennis shoes and insisted I take them. She put on my shoes, which were loose on her. It touched me. CC was worried I had broken my foot. I have never broken a bone before. I felt it was just a bad bruise. I took some Advil, walked more slowly, and insisted we press on.

This small mount was once covered with Olive trees. It is now covered with tombs. At burial, Christians want to face the Calvary, Muslims want to face the Dome of the Rock, and Jews want to face the Temple. And so, together they lie in death, each in his/her own beliefs.

The Scriptures printed throughout the country touched me, and I photographed as many as I could.

This is the Tomb of Absalom, which many said he built to honor himself. For centuries, people, as they passed by, threw a rock at it (Muslims, Jews, and Christians). Jews brought their unruly children here to see what becomes of a rebellious son. However, scholars agree that this was perhaps just a "tradition" or "legend," as the pillars date it to the first century AD. Still, it is interesting that Absalom's bad reputation never departed from him.

This is called the Tomb of Zechariah, who according to Chronicles, was stoned to death. Again, the structure dates it as later.

But then I turned from these structures, inaccurately named and dated, to this one right behind me. The Golden Gate, accurately named. Through this gate Jesus entered on Palm Sunday. It was called Beautiful Gate in ancient times. In Arabic, it is called Gate of Eternal Life. And according to Ezekiel 44, the Messiah will enter through this Gate when He returns. In 1541, the Sultan sealed this gate, fearful of the return of the Messiah and in a desperate attempt to prevent it. Also a cemetery was built behind it, in hopes that the forerunner Elijah would not pass through a place of the dead, preventing the Messiah from fulfilling the prophesy. Interesting that the Sultan was concerned enough to believe it was a possibility. Interesting that he did not know that a sealed gate could not prevent my Messiah's return.

This is the Jerusalem cross, with its four quadrants, and I bought an olive wood one for my kitchen wall. I want to add this picture to my cross photograph collection I will mount one day. CC visited Jerusalem briefly 20 years ago before we married, and gave me a small silver Jerusalem cross. I am certain at that time, I never imagined I would be hobbling through Jerusalem on a (soon-to-be-discovered) broken foot with the 5 children I have had with him!


And here is one of the remaining olive trees, for which the Mount Of Olives was named. These trees are over 2000 years old.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Israel: First Impressions of Jerusalem

We came into Jerusalem just as the sun was setting. We were able to find our hostel and get settled in for the night after such an adventurous day!

Our hostel, which I will blog more about later, was the home of a famous Israeli. It was set up in dormitory style. We all slept in single bunk beds, but they were clean and comfy. The next morning, we were served breakfast. Much of it reminded us of Turkish breakfast. Bread, jam, cucs, tomatoes. All normal. But we don't have cottage cheese in Turkey, so that was fun! And tuna? For breakfast? Straight out of the can? Three of my kids devoured it and are asking for tuna in their lunches now. They smelled like little kitty cats all day.

The kids were troopers. Parking was difficult, so we walked into the Old City, which was several kilometers.

Just behind the plant, you see a hillside. This was where the people (in Bible times) came to throw their trash. It is called Gehenna. It was also where apostate Israelites were sent and those who chose to follow Baal and Moloch went to sacrifice their children. It has come to be a word for "hell."

I suppose it made a deep impression on me because it was the first site that CC pointed out in Jerusalem that I recognized from my Bible reading.

This was my first view of the Mount of Olives and the hillside of graves lining it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Israel: The Road to Jerusalem

The advice CC received from multiple online sources was that it would be safe to drive on a highway straight down to Jerusalem which runs by the Jordan River and is just slightly into the West Bank, but to gas up before you leave and don't stop. No side trips. No stopping for photo shoots. And that was exactly what we did and found to be good advice.  But in following this plan, there were several photographs that alluded me. I finally got right behind this military tank and got a picture.

I kept seeing flocks of sheep, something I see quite a bit in Turkey, but I never tire of them. I just kept missing good pictures, as we whizzed by in the car. Finally I put my camera on a mode that takes multiple shots one after another and just hung it out the window.

And then, finally! I got the shot I wanted.

On our way, CC pointed out Jericho. We thought of Caleb and Joshua. We wondered where they hid out and slept. We thought of Rahab, who had heard of the God of Israel.

We decided that if you are going to drive down a highway in the West Bank, tailing an Israeli tank might just be the best spot to do it.

And then we drew near to Jerusalem, and my Bible scholar husband told me this would have been the desert in which Jesus fasted for 40 days. The sun was setting, and I began to think of Him. From where did He get his water? Was He cold at night? How was He preparing for his soon-to-be encounter with Satan? Did He often consider the beauty of this Earth He had created or did He only see it as sin-ravaged? I could not take my eyes off of the desert hills.

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