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Israel Update #4

Greeting from the Holy City!

My heart leaped for joy today as we entered the Holy City of Jerusalem. I never imagined that I’d walk the streets where patriarchs, prophets, and the Priest (Jesus) walked…unbelievable! I find myself thanking God over and over for this glorious experience. During my seminary days, I studied pictures and charts of the Holy City. I’ve seen television footage of Jerusalem hundreds of times. However, seeing this city with my own eyes (and heart) is beyond words.

Our day started at the Jordan River. We were in the proximity of where the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea. It’s a narrow point in the river. And the Jordan River isn’t the cleanest water you’ll ever see either. However, standing on the bank of the River Jordan, in an authentic area of Jesus’ baptism, stirred me to pray for people who need to be baptized. Baptism (by immersion) is the first step of obedience after turning from one’s sin and trusting Christ. If you’ve trusted the Lord and have never been baptized, I appeal for you to take that step and follow Jesus’ example. I witnessed people today being baptized in the Jordan, and other people who were dipping themselves in the water seven times for healing (2 Kings 5:9-10). Other people were filling up their plastic bottles with water from the Jordan River to take home.

Our next stop placed us in the city of Jericho. The biblical history in this town is amazing! Joshua led God’s people to march around the city and shout for victory, leading the walls to crumble (Joshua 6). Jesus healed blind Bartimaeus near Jericho (Lk. 18:35-43). Zacchaeus, a rich and chief tax collector, heard that Jesus was passing through Jericho. He wanted to see Him. However, being small in stature, he couldn’t see over the crowd. Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see the Lord. As Jesus neared the place, He looked up into the tree and called the tax collector by name. Jesus redeemed Zacchaeus’ heart and soul (Lk. 19:1-10). We were able to see a sycamore tree in the city of Jericho. I’ve used this story in Gospel conversations for years. Jericho isn’t the safest city in Israel. It’s one of the cities in the Holy Land under Palestinian rule. Palestinians and Israelis don’t interact or socialize often these days.

Near Jericho is the Mount of Temptation. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Jesus overcame every temptation by quoting God’s Word (Mt. 4:1-11). I rejoice that we have a Savior who understands the temptations we face. As Jesus did, let’s rely on and use God’s Word to put the devil in his place.

This day is about to come to a close. We returned minutes ago from an evening at the “Wailing Wall” in the Old City. The area was filled with people praying and asking God for help. I peeked at one of the written prayer requests. Susan penned a few words on a piece of paper and placed her request on the wall. She asked God to heal her of cancer. “Lord, I pray for Susan tonight. May You heal her physical body of cancer and show her Your unending love, grace, mercy, and peace!”

We stepped on a section of street in the Old City that is dated to be 2,000 years old. Imagine with me the many people and animals that walked that street through the centuries. That section of street led people into the Temple area. My mind ponders the truth that the soles of Jesus’ feet may have touched that stone pavement. I recalled the strong likelihood that once a year the high priest and many animals walked that same pavement on their way to offer sacrifices for people’s sins. Praise God that Jesus died on the cross and offered the ultimate sacrifice for our sins once and for all! I must calm down because I’ll start preaching in a moment. This is a blog, not a sermon. I’ll preach the sermon when we return.

I hope you enjoy today’s pictures of the Jordan River, the Mount of Temptation, the “Old City,” the “Dome of the Rock,” the “Wailing Wall” at night, and a 2,000 year old street.

Good night from Jerusalem! I’ll send another update tomorrow.

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem,
Pastor Ronny
Psalm 122:1-9

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