Our Family

Our Family

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Israel Trip cont....

Please read the previous entry 1st. It is the start of the journaling, and everything else will make more sense, read in order.

This day we went to see the Temple Mount. The pictures I have up from my last post have some pictures of the West Wall, or Wailing Wall of the temple. This is the area up above that. Interestingly enough, there is a Muslim mosque, called Al Aqsa Mosque. Remember, this is the 3rd holiest place in the Muslim religion. It is so odd to see the 2 areas of worship, one for the Jews and the other for the Muslims so close together. The top area of the temple mount is huge, equivalent to 12 soccer fields I believe. Below is a pic of a section of the large, open area with people walking around.

This is a shot of the shrine, not the mosque, on the temple mount. Inside is the sacred rock that Jews and Christians believe Abraham was going to sacrifice Issac, the Muslims believe it was Ishmael, therefore making the area sacred to them also. I apologize, I did not get a good shot of the mosque.

Next we went to see Bethesda. This is the area where the story of the angel would come down and stir up the waters of a pool and the first sick person to get in the pool would be healed.

Below are a few pics of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is one of the churches that I mentioned earlier. The Catholic church built this over the site they believe where Christ was crucified and also buried near by. This pic below is what they believe to be the rock that they laid his body on in the tomb.

Here is the area they believed He was crucified at.

And here is a structure they built around the tomb that he was buried in. It was all very hard to picture. Good thing it doesn't really matter where it all happened, just that it did and He is no longer in there!

And onto lunch. This is a local dish called a Falafel. It's a pita with balls of fried chickpeas, some fresh veggies and some sauce on it. It was actually pretty good!

Paul and I riding a camel!!

Masada - a resort built for himself by Herod the great. It is in the middle of a desert, on top of a mountain. It is a pretty impressive site. In one of the pics below you can see a mountain with a plateau structure on top, if you look over to the left you can see small remnants of walls and buildings. This resort, which was built by Romans ended up being the last Jewish stronghold against the Romans themselves toward the end of the 1st century. There was a group of about 1000 men, women and children who were holding out at Masada and Rome was not about to let them win. Eventually, the Romans were able to break through the walls to take over the city, but night had fallen, so they decided to wait until morning to capture the city, kill the Jews and take their wives, children and possessions. The Jews knew what was coming, so instead of passively waiting, they decided to end their live on their own accord. 10 of the men were chosen. Every husband gathered his family, killed his wife and children. Then, the 10 men who were chosen had to kill all the other men. Of the 10, one man was chosen to kill the others of the 10. After that, he set fire to all of their houses and possessions, except the food storage, they wanted to let the Romans know that they had been well prepared, then he killed himself. You can imagine the confusion and frustration of the Roman soldiers that next morning. There were 2 Jewish women, hiding with their children, who told the story of what had happened. Very sobering.

some of the boulders launched over the walls by the Romans.

Herod's private quarters.

A view of the desert from the top of Masada.

One of the Roman camps down at the base of the mountain.

Our trip to the Dead Sea. I don't have any floating pics, because someone else took them while we were both in the water. It was pretty cool though!

The Dead Sea mud spa!

A dip in the pool in the middle of the desert!

Getting our nightly Gelato!

This is the Western Wall of the temple at the archaeological dig site. This part of the wall and road way are all original to the time of Christ. This was one of the neatest things for me personally.

This is one of the booths that would have been where the vendors were selling animals for sacrifices outside of the temple.
Eric taking a "bath" in one of the pools where the men were purified prior to making their sacrifice in the temple.

Every Israeli citizen is required to serve in the Israeli military. Here is one of the many young people we saw walking around with very large guns!

This is the view of Jerusalem from the top of the Mount of Olives. This was the other really awesome site to see. This is the spot that Jesus ascended into heaven, and the spot that He is to return back to earth. It was pretty humbling to be standing on the same ground as that.

The Garden of Gethsemane.

This is the second site that is thought to be Golgotha, the place of the skull. There is debate as to the actual location. The pics of these rocks below show how the rocks look like the face of a skull and Road to Damascus runs right by it.

Here is the proposed site of the tomb of Jesus, but again, no one is really sure.

We took a day trip into the West Bank, one of the 2 Palestinian territories in Israel. The next 4 pics are of the wall that separates the people inside the West Bank, from those on the outside. It was actually very hard to see and made me sad for the majority of the Palestinian people who are literally jailed inside those walls.

This is The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, built over the cave where Mary gave birth to Christ.

This is a picture of the "decor" inside the church - note the red christmas balls hanging from the candelabras - I am not attempting to be non-revernant, it was just.....interesting.

This is the spot that traditions say Mary laid Jesus after He was born.

if you look really hard at the top of the church, you can see a red "yard art" angel hanging from the cross, one similar to what you might see in someone's yard at Christmas time.....

and here are 2 crosses on top of the church with lightbulbs to light them up, yes, lightbulbs. i am horrible, i will stop knocking the decorations now.

This is the field where they think the sheppards were watching their sheep when the angel appeared to them to tell them Christ was born.

And here we are at our very last stop, Jericho.

They believe the fallen walls of Jericho are in this excavated area. I had trouble seeing them, so I am not really able to point them out, but it was neat enough to know that we were in the same area.

Here are a few of the group, Eric, Phil, Paul and Mac.

We had an amazing trip and are so glad that we went. While it was so amazing to be in the same places that my Savior was, it was more encouraging and amazing to me to see the places that are still to come. To see where the 3rd temple will be built, where the battle of Armageddon will most likely occur, most of all to see the spot that Christ is going to return to this earth and claim His title as King of Kings. I think the thing that I walked away from this trip with is the reinforcement of the idea that God has a plan for His people, His nation and for me and that plan is not finished yet. It is exciting and humbling to think that He has allowed you and me to be a part of that plan, but it is also a challenge to live each day with purpose and to be reminded of what this life is really about.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What I learned in Israel

Israel has always been something that I had wanted to see in my lifetime, but not a trip that I had ever seriously considered planning. A guy named Phil Johnson came and spoke at church a year or two ago and his presentation of end time prophesy and his knowledge of that area of the world really caught my attention. We got to hear him speak again a few months back and he mentioned this trip that he was offering through his company, Global Next http://www.globalnext.org/. We both were pretty interested in going over there with someone who had such a great knowledge of the area, but also such a focus on current events and how they fit into biblical prophesy today. So, we decided to go for it! Going into the trip I really did not know much about the going ons of the middle east, I knew that Israel was God's chosen land and that the Jews were His people, but beyond that I really could not have had an intelligent conversation about it. For my own sake, I want to take a few minutes to write down a brief summary of how Israel is what it is today. I will be taking a lot of the info out of the book we received at the conference.

I. God Promises Abraham many descendants: Abraham lived around 2100 BC in what is now Iraq. God told him to move to Canaan, with later became Israel. God rewarded his faith, making him the father of a great nation, Israel.

II. Exodus from Egypt: 1446 BC - after 400 yrs of enslavement, the Jews, led by Moses, leave Egypt and head toward the land of Canaan, later named Israel. The Jews wandered for 40 yrs prior to reaching Canaan.

III. David becomes king of Israel: 1010 BC - David is king of Israel and reigns for 40 yrs, he expands the size of Israel.

IV. Solomon Builds the Temple - 970 BC - He builds the first temple in honor of God.

V. Babylon destroys Jerusalem and the temple - 586 BC - Jews are taken captive to Babylon and the temple is destroyed

VI. Second temple is dedicated - 516 BC -70 yrs after the captivity in Babylon, the Jews were able to rebuild their temple. This temple was smaller than the first and paled in comparison to what it once was. When Herod the Great ruled he actually added on to the second temple and made it an incredible structure. This is the temple that Jesus would have gone to.

VII. Jesus is born in Bethlehem - 5 BC - Fulfilled a prophecy delivered by Micah, about 700 yrs beforehand (Micah 5:2)

XIII. Jesus is crucified - 28 AD

IX. Romans destroy Jerusalem and the temple - 70 AD - The roman army, under Titus, destroys Jerusalem and the temple. This event dispersed the Jews around the world. According to Josephus, about 1.1 million Jews were killed, others were taken as slaves.

X. Zionist movement begins - late 1800's - Zionist movement gains momentum in late 1800's among Jews living in Europe. They begin a quest to re-establish an independent Israel. Jews begin returning to ancient homeland of Israel, which at the time was called Palestine, and occupied by the Palestinians.

XI. 6 million Jews murdered by Nazis - 1933-1944 - During the 30's-40's Jews are persecuted by Hitler. Many move to Palestine. International sympathy for the Zionist quest to re-establish a Jewish homeland increases.

XII. Jews declare independence of Israel - May 14, 1948 - The Palestinian territory that the Jews claimed was under the rule of the British at that time. Israel was reestablished world wide as a state and a Jewish nation. War with surrounding nations followed this and approximately 80% of the Arab population that lived in Israel fled to refugee camps that are still in place today. Primarily these areas are the Gaza strip and the West Bank in Israel. Jerusalem though remained in control of Jordan.

XIII. Six Day War: 1967 - Jews capture the holy city of Jerusalem - Provoked to war by Egypt and other surrounding countries, the Jews enter into 6 days of fighting with every surrounding country only to come out victorious. They regained Jerusalem and expanded their territory. Since then, Israel has been involved in several more wars. They have gained territory and given it back, made peace with Egypt and Jordan.

Current Day - Today, Jerusalem is a religious center point for 3 of the worlds major religions. Judaism, Muslim and Christianity. The Jews view it as their God given land and the place of worship from the time of Solomon. To the Muslims, Jerusalem is 3rd holiest city, behind Mecca and Medina. It is sacred to them because according to them, it is where Muhammad was brought for his "Night Journey" that God took him on. It is believed that He was taken up to heaven from the rock that Abraham sacrificed Issac on, making the city holy to them. Then obviously it is a center point for the New Testament and future events in the Bible, thus important to Christians.

Socially, Israel is free, but there is an oppressed people group living in its walls. Those Palestinians that fled in 1948 are still cut off from the rest of the world. Those that live inside the fences of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are literally stuck there. There is no way out for them. If you are born there, you die there. You can see where the tension between the Jews and Palestinians comes from. They both feel like the land of Israel is theirs and that they both have rights to it. The terrorist organizations are fighting for a right to return to their land and houses that were taken away from them. I'm not condoning the behavior at all, just saying that I have new perspective on the "why" of why they do it. It is a complicated, messy situation that does not seem to have a solution, but the Bible has already made that clear. Obviously, this was very brief and there is a lot more that has gone into getting Israel to its current situation, but hopefully the highlights give a good enough picture.

These 2 pics are of the West Wall or Wailing Wall of the temple. It is all that is left of the temple. It is where the Jews go to pray. It was very sad to see the sadness of them, there were multiple women (there was a men's and women's side of the wall) praying earnestly, crying the whole time. It's so sad to see that they are God's people, but have missed Him.

This is Paul on one of the streets in the "Old City", this is what they call the part of the city that is within the old city walls. It is a lot of narrow streets, stone roads and tons of vendors selling a bunch of stuff.

On our way to Nazareth, we passed Megiddo. This is a valley outside of Jerusalem, in northern Israel. It is though to be the area where the battle of Armageddon will occur. Kind of crazy to think about....

This was a sign hanging up outside the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth.

Here is the town of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. Obviously it has changed a little bit, but never the less, here it is!

This is a pic inside the Church of Annunciation. This shows a cave that is believed to be where the Angel told Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus. They built the church on top of the site. I noticed on this trip that the Catholic church likes to build churches on top of things. There will be many more examples to come!

This is a site right outside of the church. It is believed to be a house from the time of Jesus. You can see a cave like structure down under the fence.

Here are Paul and I standing on top of Mt. Arbel. From here you can see the Sea of Galilee, the town you see just down to the left is where Mary Magdeline was from. This is thought to be the area where Jesus walked on water and where he fed the 5000.

We ate at a restraunt right on the Sea of Galilee. We were brought there to eat St. Peters Fish, which is the type of fish that Peter caught as a fisherman in that very sea. In the spirit of the trip, I though I should eat it and not stay safe with the other entree option, which was a chicken kabob. I will admit something.....I am not much of a cusser, but if I am honset, a few curse words flew through my head at the sight of some of the food we were offered. Lucky for me I can put a smile on my face even when I am crying inside!!! As scary as this fish looked, it really wasn't that bad, once I got past the fact that it was staring at me as I ate it.

Our next stop was at Capernaum, located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the city where Jesus spent 3 yrs of his public ministry. This structure below is though to be Peters house for various reasons. The smaller circle structure in the middle was actually the house, the larger stone structure surrounding it was built later as a church. There is a large structure that was built on top of this site by the Catholic Church.

This was the synagogue in Capernum. It is not the actual one that Jesus would have gone to, this one was brought in later and built on top of the old one. Still, pretty neat to see.

The Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized.