Day 11--Wednesday, April 5
Today was a shorter day in order to make time for an afternoon of shopping. We began on the Temple Mount, dressed appropriately. This is the location of the temple Jesus knew, later destroyed by Titus in AD 70, but it is now home to the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim building to honor the thought of Muhammad's ascension from here. Known in scripture as Mount Moriah, this hill is where Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his son Isaac in a test of his obedience to God (Genesis 22). Unfortunately the Muslim world has an alternate reality where it was Ishmael, not Isaac, who was offered in sacrifice here.
In a city and region of tension, both sides make compromises for peace. Regarding the Temple Mount, that compromise was that Israel gave up control to the Muslims. Since it is Muslim-controlled, we had to be careful about what we wore, that we brought no Bibles, that there be no show of affection or joy, and that there is no praying. Well, some of us got called out for showing affection or joy, but there is no way they knew we were praying!
The Jewish temple is important to us as Christians because it illustrates the centrality of God to our relationship with Him as individuals and a whole nation. In the temple God revealed His glory and made access to Him possible through a priest. But our bodies are His temple now, Christ in us the hope of glory. We no longer need sacrifices to atone for sin or priests to serve as our access because Jesus came to die as our substitute and to become a permanent High Priest interceding always on our behalf. In the temple we find the value of the past, the joy of the present, the hope of the future. To learn more, go to http://templemount.org/.
Interesting note: Jerusalem has been rebuilt 17 times.
We then explored what is known as the Citadel and Tower of David museum near the Jaffa Gate. In reality, this structure is likely the site where Jesus was interrogated by Herod during the trials Jesus endured. To learn more, go to https://www.tod.org.il/en/.
After the museum we walked on the ramparts around the Zion gate and then went to lunch. After lunch... free time for shopping. So imagine 36 Americans heading out to shop the merchants in Jerusalem. It was fun and unfamiliar at the same time. These male shopkeepers have learned the trade through many generations, and they are masters of the sale. Everyone I asked seemed to enjoy the experience and came away with something satisfying. Of course, that many shoppers is also good for the merchants who depend on the purchasing power of tourism. Many, many sellers are on a first-name basis with Ken, and we are so glad! To learn more, go to http://www.epilgrim.org/ramparts_of_jerusalem.htm.
WHAT DID OUR FATHER TEACH ME TODAY?
Fatigue is temporary; fun is contagious. This is the point in a study trip like this that exposes the fatigue from information overload, bodies operating in a different time zone, poor sleep, inadequate sleep, no sleep, etc. You get the point. Even while we can't wait to go to the next site, there is in fact the reality of fatigue. We can see it in each other's eyes and hear it in our tired voices. For some it shows up with illness or sore muscles or pained backs.
Even while fatigue is present there are still awesome moments when the joy of the Lord invades our presence through a funny comment, a thought-provoking devotional idea, spotting a vendor with Magnum ice-cream bars, or just enjoying becoming better acquainted regardless of our home address.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." --Philippians 4:4-5 NIV