In our Israel pre-trip meetings, we discussed the need to be fluid (flexible). News arrived early this morning that our plans had changed for the day. We’d planned to visit the Temple Mount first thing. However, authorities decided last night to close it for the day.
Our first stop was the Western Wall. It’s the holiest place for the Jewish people because of its proximity to the Holy of Holies. As we entered the Western Wall area, there’s an entrance for men and an entrance for women. The men needed to wear a kippah to go near the Wall. The Jewish people prefer to call the area the Western Wall, not the Wailing Wall. The Jewish people (and guests) write out prayer requests and place them in the cracks on the Wall. Prayer requests are removed from the Wall two times a year and buried on the Mount of Olives.
Our morning worship service took place on the Southern Steps (“Teaching Steps”). What an experience! Jesus taught on those steps and walked on those stones to enter the temple. The Mount of Olives is a short distance away. Eddie led us in music. Rick read Psalm 122 (a Psalm of Ascent) and prayed for the peace of Jerusalem. Early worshippers would recite the Psalms of Accent as they entered the temple to worship. We lifted our voices and praised our great God for the sacrifice of His Son and our Savior. Jesus has defeated death and the grave! We sang the hymn, “Jesus Paid It All.” In the Temple period, people brought animals without blemish to sacrifice. We read Hebrews 9:26-28 and remembered that Jesus offered the sacrifice for our sins once and for all…HALLELUJAH!
We visited the Israel Museum. The “Model City” and the “Shrine of the Book” are located in the museum. The “Model City” is impressive and provides a comprehensive look at Jerusalem during the days of David and Jesus. The “Shrine of the Book” houses a few of the original Dead Sea Scrolls.
We spent a few minutes in “The Shepherds’ Field.” We entered a first century cave, read the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20), and sang many of our favorite Christmas carols. Another tour group came into the cave and joined us in singing. We visited the Church of the Nativity. It’s the location of Jesus’ birth. The crowds at this site were massive. Bethlehem is no longer a little, still town.
Lunch today was in Bethlehem in a “Shepherds’ Tent.” The meal was a typical shepherd’s meal. It consisted of lamb and vegetables in a bowl, with rice as a side. After eating today’s lunch, and if this is what the shepherds’ ate, I have a greater appreciation for them. Our group shopped an hour or so in a local Bethlehem store. One of the four original jars that contained the Dead Sea Scrolls is located in the store. The jar contained the Book of Isaiah and the Temple Scrolls. The owner’s grandfather was the original owner of the jars. I apologized for asking the question. However, I desired to know the estimated value of the jar. The owner said, “Priceless.” He did say that he was offered $37 million recently for the jar, only to turn it down. There are only four original jars in the world. Two are in the Israel Museum. One is in the Vatican, and the largest one is in his Bethlehem store.
We leave the hotel early in the morning for another full day of visits. Tomorrow’s worship service will be in the Upper Room. We’re in the home stretch of our time in Israel.
Thank you for praying! We’ve been blessed of the Lord!
God is with us!
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