Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jerusalem~Day 8

Welcome to Jerusalem.
A place that was mentioned as far back as the days of Abraham in the Bible.
This city is the epicenter to three major faiths:
and Islam.

As soon as we entered Old Jerusalem, bells from a church began to ring. It was Sunday, after all. This all happened so quickly that I was scrambling for my camera and could only snap a few hasty pictures. A group of MONKS marched right up this alleyway, pounding their...STAFFS(?) on the ground to the beat of the march, which was concurrent with the church bell.

Welcome to Jersusalem.
A holy Christian site (more on that later).

Alleyways like this are the only "roads" in Old Jerusalem. Consequently, it is massively difficult to maneuver this town and absolutely confusing. A maze of a city if one ever existed. Unfortunately, there are also parts of town that we should not have gone to, but couldn't figure out how to NOT go there, and, once there, couldn't figure out how to LEAVE.

Shop after shop lined the streets of this grid work of a town with shop owners who tried their darndest to make a sale, offering (no doubt) the famed "tourist prices" that you would have to barter the shirt off your back and your firstborn in order to make a good deal.

But, Oh BABY! Look at this!

Welcome to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
This is where Jerusalem became confusing.
Some claim that THIS is where Jesus was crucified and prepared for burial.
(I'll write another post soon explaining why I do not subscribe to this idea)
It was an interesting place with worshipers from afar.

The domed ceiling of this grandiose church was GORGEOUS!

This slab of marble was said to be the place where Jesus' body was prepared for burial. This was a strange experience for me because people were kneeling before it and kissing it (Blarney Stone, anyone?), rubbing money on it (Lucky Rabbit's Foot, anyone?), and some were just crying. I'm not really a crier, so I just snapped some pictures of this rock. Now, before you go thinking my heart, rather than this slab, is made of marble, let me explain that Jerusalem has been absolutely LEVELED and rebuilt (at least 40 feet higher than in Jesus' days), leaving me to believe there's no way they could have known that THIS particular marble slab is THE ONE on which Jesus was lain. Aside from that, nothing about the location of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher lines up with Scripture.

Here's a snapshot of the Via Dolorosa~the way of the Cross.

Welcome to the Western Wall. Some know it as the "Wailing Wall."
To explain, the Western Wall is actually the Western wall of Solomon's Temple, which has been destroyed and rebuilt twice, and then destroyed again. Solomon's Temple, which is actually the Holy Temple of God, according to the Bible, is the place where God's presence rested in the Ark of the Covenant, which would have been kept in the Holy of Holies, inside the Temple. Because the Jews believe that God's actual presence still resides in the Holy of Holies, and because the Jews no longer control that area, they get as close as they can to what they believe is the Presence of God, hence, the Wailing Wall. They believe they are actually separated from God by this outer wall of the Temple. WHY? Because this is ALSO a holy site for Muslims. The Muslims, inaccurately, believe that Abraham took ISHMAEL (rather than ISAAC) to offer to God as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, on which Jersusalem now sits. The Muslims now control that place atop the Mountain, where a grandiose, gold plated, Mosque now sits...atop God's Holy Temple.

Dallas walking down to the Western Wall.

Our friend, Stewart, said that this picture encapsulates Israel. An Orthodox Jew and a young Israeli soldier pray. I'll let the picture tell the story.

The men and the women are separated at the Wall. The women's side was a lot different from the men's side. The men's side had these prayer boxes and tassels that the men tied around themselves to pray. This is, perhaps, a good time to thank Jesus for FREEDOM! "Let us THROW OFF everything that entangles us..." For this religion (Judaism) worships the same God we do, but they go through a plethora of actions (works) in order to keep in good standing with God since they are still waiting for a Messiah to come.

Paul even warned the Galatians this: "You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace." (Gal 5: 4)

The men's side had this whole library, too! (I'm not gonna lie. I sorta feel like I got short changed after having only been able to sit in front of the wall when Dallas got to see all these men wrapping boxes to their heads, teetering back and forth in prayer, and strapping straps to themselves)

Men with beards...

Another man with another beard...
...he must be REALLY holy.

This is the women's side of the Wall.
This was interesting, and I don't know WHY they do this, but they actually back away from the wall (I do not know how far away they have to be before they can turn around). Because I didn't know what that was all about and didn't want to offend anyone, I, too, backed away. Still, I have no idea why I did that, but 1 Cor 9: 20,21 comes to mind. It seemed like the right thing to do.

This WAS a sad place. GOD'S Temple is SUPPOSED to be there, not a MOSQUE! So, I flipped open to Revelation Chapter 21, where I read about the NEW JERUSALEM!

The Jews got one thing right!

Behind me, you can see the Western Wall, and the Dome of the Rock, the Mosque on top of Mount Zion, God's Holy Mountain. (please pay no attention to the massive bags under my eyes. Remember, this is day 8 of us running from roughly 6am to 11pm every day)

This is a picture of Jerusalem from the top of the Mount of Olives. Jesus ascended into Heaven from the top of this Mountain. If you look closely, you can see thousands of tombs packed onto this Mountain. People want to be buried as close to the Temple as possible.

Mourners visit a loved one. People place rocks on top of the tombs in remembrance.

The Lion's Gate.
In Jesus' time, the arched gateways into the city would have been open, and this is the gate that Jesus would have entered into the city through when he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I just love these people so much.
Our friends, Stewart, Elizabeth, Lydia and Will

One Day, there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more suffering or death or crying. For the old order of things will pass away. The NEW Jerusalem will come out of the sky, shining in glory. Yes. The latter glory of this house will be GREATER than the former!

"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."

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