Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Temple Mount and the Garden Tomb

Today was a day that I am going to be processing for awhile.
So full.
So emotional.

I will try to put it into words the best I can.

We started out at the Temple Mount. As you may know, the site is famous for several reasons. It is Mt. Moriah, the place where Abraham took Isaac to be sacrificed. It is the site of the threshing floor where the Angel of Death stopped after David's sin of taking a census. David purchased it and then Solomon built the temple there. The Romans destroyed the Temple 70 years (I think) after Jesus died. Years later, the Muslims built a mosque there that still stands today. The Bible says that someday, the temple will be rebuilt on that location.
No Jew will enter the Temple Mount area for reasons that may surprise you. When the Temple was there, the Holy of Holies was a place that only the high priest could enter once a year. Since no one knows for sure the exact location, the Jews are afraid they might accidentally step there and be struck dead on the spot.
We entered through the same screening station as the Wailing Wall and in fact walked right past it again. It's directly on the other side of the wall that surrounds the mosque. We saw riot gear like this,
There were also large bullet-proof shields propped against the wall. It is a sobering reminder of the constant threat of unrest. Our guide has neighbors who work as policemen there and he said it is a very dangerous job. There are groups of men all over the grounds who sit and wait for a phone call telling them to start a riot. We were told to be on our best behavior after our 'laughing' incident the other day--{tongue in cheek}. Two women in our group were told to cover up or leave. They were wearing shirts that got rejected for modesty. Honestly, they were not immodest (shirts cannot be tank tops or low cut--their shirts were neither). Thankfully, we had some scarves to cover them up.
The men sit here every day and read the Koran, talk and pray

I felt uncomfortable around the men there. I guess just knowing they consider us 'the great satan' is rather unnerving. There is just a sense of unease in the air. They don't smile. They look intense all the time. I walked around the mosque walls praying--praying that they would see Jesus. That they would understand how much He loves them. That they don't have to live in the bondage of hatred and unhappiness.

After exiting the mosque area, we walked to the bus. On our way, we passed the Eastern Gate. Oh my goodness...I get goosebumps every time I see it! Just to picture Jesus riding a donkey through those gates and then the promise in Scripture that one day, those gates will be unsealed and He will walk through them again. Wow...

Then it was on to the pool of Bethesda. The 'pools' mentioned in the Bible were actually cisterns or reservoirs for holding water. Israel doesn't have a lot of water, so they had to collect rain water. Bethesda is the place where the lame man was cured on the Sabbath and the Pharisee's got their shorts in a wad over the man carrying his mat. Wouldn't want to seem like anyone was working.....
Don't you just want to say, "get over yourselves, Pharisee's!"
Yeah. Me, too.
Bethesda was near the Sheep Gate. That is because it was also close to the temple. The people could bring their sheep through the gate, wash the animal and then take it to be sacrificed.

We then went to the Holocaust museum. This is the part I am still processing. How do you put into word the hideous actions of the Nazi's? How does one's heart get so hard that they can tear a baby from it's mother and kill them both? I saw the posters the Nazi's made and hung around their country before they even started killing the Jews. Their first targets were those with special needs. They had posters that said, "No hope for life," and "Idiot" with a photo of a mentally challenged person. Those with physical special needs were not spared either. A chill went through me as I realized that my Chloe. My SaraGrace. My Jordan. My Katie. My Zoey. And my Jakie, would have been murdered by the Nazi's. Tears filled the eyes of all of us who walked through the exhibits as we saw video of Nazi's herding the Jews to the camps. It is so difficult to comprehend such unspeakably heinous crimes against another human being. I am still seeing the piles of shoes, books, a child's toy, a child's shoe or shirt. The electric fences. The boxcars. But most of all, I am seeing the faces. Faces of somber children. Faces of terrified mothers. Faces of father's trying to be strong for their families. Faces of old men and women, beaten, tired and starving.

I felt the fear. No, I could taste the fear. The oppression that is the result of the evil one.

And I felt angry. Very, very angry.

Never forget. Ever.

We left the museum quietly. Processing what we had seen.

Thankfully, our next and final stop of our tour was the Garden Tomb.
Where HOPE is found!
Tears are turned to joy.

This location was only found in the 1800's by a man who was cleaning up the area. It had become a garbage dump. He found the tomb and upon further excavations, they noticed the large rock that looked like a face (or a skull, if you will). It was kind of a small cliff--or hill.
Not far from this spot is the intersection of a busy road that connects Damascus and another prominent city (Jericho?). The Romans often put crosses next to roads so that people could spit on the criminals as they walked by. It would not be unusual for Jesus to have been hung near a road like that.
The garden

John 19: 41 tells us , "The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before." In John 19:17, 18 it says, "Carrying the cross by himself, Jesus went to the place called Skull Hill (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they crucified him..."
So...this location has all the elements listed in Scripture and could very possibly be the place. I cannot even put into words how I felt standing at that tomb.
Imagining Jesus' body lying there.
Imagining Mary Magdalene and Mary arriving at the tomb early Sunday morning.
And soon after, Peter and the others running, running, running...and stooping down to look inside but not finding him.

You may notice the track to the left of the opening (which incidentally, was made taller. It was probably about half that tall in Jesus' day). Anyway....the track. It is for the stone. We often think, "large boulder" when we read about the stone. But it was actually a stone that looked like this:

Here is another view of the track that the stone would have been put into...

The inside--very small, as you can see.

Possibly the place where He laid.
#4 is the place where a body has lain. We know that by the pillow that was there. There was no pillow in #7 (child sized burial) or #8.

After visiting the tomb, we went to a different spot in the garden to take communion. My dad gave a devotional that I want to share with you.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the 10th day of Nisan, the feast of Unleavened Bread (our Palm Sunday). This is a significant holiday for the Jewish people as they also celebrate Passover.
During Passover, it is Lamb Selection Day.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the Lamb...offering Himself up as the selected Lamb.
Jesus died on the 14th day of Nisan - which is the Passover Day of Sacrifice.
Jesus was the ultimate Sacrifice.
(He used the date of the Galilee calendar for the 10th and the Jerusalem calendar for the 14th, so for those of you doing the math, it IS correct. The two calendars have a one day difference.)

On the Passover Day of Sacrifice, the lamb had to be sacrificed between 3-5PM.
Jesus died at 3PM (the ninth hour).

In preparation for the first passover, the Israelites were told to put blood on three side of their doors, so that when the angel of death came, he would pass over them.
Jesus shed his blood so we would be passed over for eternal death and instead have eternal LIFE.

At the last supper, the disciples were focused on the lamb they planned to offer at the Temple. Jesus probably shocked them when he broke the bread and said, "This is MY body." Or in other words...I am the LAMB that will be offered this passover.

The details of Scripture are so amazing...dates, times, and word pictures. God is the same God of detail today and He cares about his little lambs with the same attention to detail. So feel loved, little lambs. He is watching over us.
The grave could not hold Him!


Kim K. said...

What an amazing post. Glorious pics, Karin.

Lori said...

Wow. I am just speechless by the richness of this post.

God is amazingly good.

His timing and plans are unfathomable!

Kristin Ferguson said...

I feel like I am in the presence of the Lord after reading this. You are experiencing the trip of a lifetime. I'm so glad you got to pray inside the mosque. How powerful!

"Shorts in a wad"? Tunic shorts! :)

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Jo's Corner said...

How are you, K? I've been enjoying your journey and LEARNING so much! Hoping to hear from you soon. Love ~ Jo