It is Sunday morning, now Sunday afternoon for me here in Jerusalem. It has been a week that I will never forget! What has been the highlight of my time here in Jerusalem? Was it the Garden Tomb or sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane? How about walking through Hezekiah’s tunnel or visiting the City of David? How about…well, I could go on and on with the lists of potential highlights, but the fact of the matter is that the highlight for me has been quiet times of reading God’s Word by myself while looking over this incredible land full of history. I will never forget floating in the Dead Sea or seeing the caves where they discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, but looking over the Kidron Valley and reading the story of David capturing the city from the Jebusites in 2 Kings 5. From that victory a great, wonderful, and sometimes tragic history has been written. In very direction I turn there are stories to be read from God’s Word–that is what has made being here in Jerusalem so wonderful.
Today we got to go up on the Temple Mound where the 1st and 2nd Temples once stood. It was both sad and awesome to stand there where Solomon’s Temple once stood and to look at the land where Herod’s magnificent 2nd Temple once stood before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Today there are two mosques on the site: The Al Aksa Mosque which has been on the mound for more than 1300 years and the famouns Dome of the Rock which has been here for about 600 years. We were told today that Rabbis instruct Jews to never visit the Temple Mound because they don’t know exactly where the Temple once stood and therefore they don’t know where the Holy of Holies was located. No Jew, except the High Priest, was allowed in the Holy of Holies so it is not safe to walk around where the Holy of Holies was once located. We were also told that Jews and Christians were once allowed to visit inside the mosques, but not today. We were not allowed to take our Bibles up on the Temple Mound and we were not allowed to pray while up there. (Keep it on the down low but I prayed while on the Temple Mound)
We also visited the ruins of the pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed a man who had been crippled for 38 years. (John 5:1-14) It was so interesting seeing the ruins because there were healing pools dedicated to the healing god, Ascelpius, located right where Jesus healed the man. The story has always fascinated me because Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to get well?” He had been physically limited for 38 years –of course he wanted to get well right? Maybe. While I have been here I have seen beggars every day. They each have their story. They each have their ankle bandaged or crutches under their arms or… We were told not to give them anything because many of them make their living by begging. Our guide knows some of them and he told us that they live very well. If you were to take away their story then they would have to do something else to provide for their family. I don’t know anyone like some of these folks I have met, but I do know many folks who have a challenge, are going through a trial, and instead of pressing on and trusting God to see them through they want to use their challenge or trial as a reason to throw in the towel. Jesus says, “Do you want to get well?” If so, then pick up your mat, throw back your shoulders, straighten up your back, and trust God to see you through! He’ll make a way where there seems to be no way! Don’t quit–have faith!
The story has taken on a whole new meaning after seeing the ruins of the healing pools of Ascelpius. Jesus didn’t need the healing waters of Bethesda to heal the man who had been lame for 38 years. Jesus walked right up to a pagan healing center and He healed a man without the “healing waters.” Wow! What a powerful truth for you and me. Jesus doesn’t need gimmicks or special “prayer cloths” or any such thing as some of the hocus pocus preachers are peddling in our land today. Trust Him. He is sovereign! You can trust Jesus in the midst of your pain and suffering regardless of what is causing it. You can trust Him alone!
We are off tomorrow morning for Petra. Have a super Lord’s day.
You can see the pictures as I add them here on the website.