DAY 8--SUNDAY, APRIL 2
We continued our discovery of Jerusalem today by visiting the City of David. You may be thinking, "Wait. I thought Jerusalem is the City of David." Well, yes and no. Jerusalem is certainly the city of David in a broad sense, but technically the oldest part of Jerusalem is known as "the City of David." If you think about it, Jerusalem as we know it didn't exist when David arrived. So within Jerusalem is a more ancient area outside the current city gates which is named for its famous king and psalmist. To learn more, go to http://www.cityofdavid.org.il/en.
We enjoyed a delightful tour with a guide named Oren who skilfully integrated history, humor and humanity throughout our adventure. The highlight of the tour was to travel through king Hezekiah's tunnel (2 Chronicles 32), an amazing engineering feat--carved out of rock--to bring water directly into the city during the reign of king Hezekiah in preparation for the assault by the Assyrians (8th century BC). Imagine walking through a 1750 foot narrow and frequently low-ceiling tunnel in the dark and in knee-high cool water. What a blast! For the men who labored to carve this tunnel using oil lamps and chisels, not so much. To learn more, go to http://m.cityofdavid.org.il/en/virtual_tour/hezekiah’s-tunnel-city-david.
We emerged from the tunnel to a downpour and rain that continued on and off for the remainder of the day. We stopped briefly to visit and discuss the Pool of Siloam as well.
Entering through the Jaffa Gate we sat together for lunch and then walked along the ancient Cardo with modern shops. No shopping today, though.
Next was a tour through a museum called the Wohl Museum of Archeology featuring what is known as the Herodian Quarter. This was an excavation of some of Jerusalem's wealthy leaders and priests from the time of Herod's temple over 2000 years ago. We gazed on some beautiful mosaics, colorful frescoes, and luxurious architecture. To learn more, go to http://www.israelandyou.com/herodian-quarter/.
As we then looked at the Dome of the Rock in the distance, we discussed a huge Mennorah which stands outside the museum. The Mennorah is the ancient candlestick with seven candles. Sometimes though you will see candelabra with nine candles. Which is right? Both but for different reasons. The Mennorah does indeed have seven candles, but the nine-candle stand is a version of the Mennorah used in the celebration of Hanukkah. To learn more, go to http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-menorah.
After passing through an x-ray security checkpoint we emerged on to the Prayer Plaza and the West Wall commonly referred to as the "wailing wall." The wall is monstrous, composed of 11 large stone layers, 16 small layers, and a single cap layer. Women and men are separated, men required to wear a head covering, and all to be respectful. We each took the opportunity to approach God in prayer at the wall, touching this part of the temple wall that was part of Jesus' experience.
We also were able to spend some time reflecting on God's Word at the southern steps to the temple where Jesus and His followers would have frequently entered the courts (read Psalm 122, one of the songs of ascent the Jews would sing as they approached the temple). These stones are indeed from the first century and are yet another place where Jesus walked. Immediately adjacent are many large ritual baths known as Mikveh. When you read of 3,000 people responding to Simon Peter's message at the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41), you have to wonder if they simply commandeered those Mikveh to get the job done.
After visiting Robinson's Arch and walking through the Davidson Center we passed through another security check and re-entered the Prayer Plaza en route to the temple wall tunnels. These tunnels were formed when the conquering Muslims erected arches upon which the Moslem Quarter was built. The subterranean park explores the oldest foundations of the city of Jerusalem dating back to the second temple period (2000 years ago). Our guide was Josi (sp?) from Manchester, England. He did a nice job showing us the underside of Jerusalem complete with a huge 570 ton single stone in the temple wall. Massive! How did they get it there?!!
By the time we were done with the tunnels, we were done. Tired. Ready to get to dinner.
WHAT DID OUR FATHER TEACH ME TODAY?
Impossible odds mean nothing to a God who keeps His promises. When you read and understand what king Hezekiah and the people of Israel were about to face in Sennacherib and the Assyrian war machine, they didn't stand a chance. There is just no way this tiny nation could possibly defend itself against this world-conquering army in the 8th century BC. But know what? They did just that. And it wasn't just because they engineered an amazing tunnel to transport water. No, the key is found in 2 Chronicles 32:
Hezekiah said, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles." And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said... And the LORD sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace.
To be honest, you and I live at a time when we have great control over our own lives. We choose to go here, do that, whatever we desire within our means. We often don't think about it, but the consumerism of our culture has conditioned us to be self-centered and self-sufficient. And when things are going well enough, we act as though we are in control of our world. Then when crisis hits we are suddenly demanding that God rescue us or we simply blame Him for our misfortune. But what would it look like if we were to take to heart the attitude of Hezekiah? Can you imagine how you might respond differently to the crisis you are facing? How could you call out to God, not just to be rescued, but in honest and confident faith that He can be trusted? Things may still be difficult, but when we are trusting God with the impossible odds we face, that's when He loves to show us the way forward.