Israel Trip – Day 8 – Garden Tomb, Jesus’ Steps, Last Days, Southern Wall & Messianic Lecture

Today was a very packed and emotional day as this evening,  we had to  say goodbye to some of our group members as they were heading home in the morning.   One of the pastors in our group collected names and emails of everyone in our group.  So I’m sure we will be staying in touch.

It really is amazing how tight this group actually had become in the short time we have been together.   Sharing meals and stories and time together.  Saying goodbye is hard to do to these people.   We really have been very blessed to be with this group and with our amazing tour guide,  Irit.

Well,  here is a recap of all the sites that we visited today and some pictures of each.

Golgotha & the Garden Tomb

The actual place of crucifixion and burial is a very interesting study – we were looking at the possible area of Golgotha (place of the skull) and the Garden Tomb, where we celebrate the resurrection with communion and a time of praise.  It was an amazing time to be together for communion and a time of sharing with each other.  Many tears were shed by many people, yours truly included in that list.

On the right you can kind of make out possible eye sockets of what looks like a skull, which is what Golgotha translates to.

Here is an old picture of the potential Golgotha site from a slightly different angle.

Mount of Olives

We traveled to the Mount of Olives near the top where Jesus will return!  We took a group picture and panoramic pictures of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. We walked down hill (very steep) on the traditional Palm Sunday road to the garden of Gethsemane.

A closeup of the Golden Gate on the Eastern Wall where Jesus will enter when He returns.

Looking at the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

Walking down Palm Sunday road. You probably can’t tell from the photo, but it is very steep!

About halfway down Palm Sunday road, looking left into the Jewish cemetery. Interestingly, you see the rocks on top of the tombs? In America, we use flowers, but here the Jews use rocks to represent their memories of the decreased on birthdays and special days as the rocks are everlasting., where flowers wilt and die.

Nearing the entrance to the garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane is an amazing place to visit, near the base of the Mount of Olives. It is not nearly as big of an area as I originally thought it was,  but it is a very beautiful area and there are olive trees there that are very old.   Some could easily have been there when Jesus was actually in the garden praying on the night he was betrayed.

Picture of the Golden Gate taken from the Garden of Gethsemane.

Closeup from the Garden of Gethsemane  of the Golden Gate on the Eastern Wall.  Notice that the gate is sealed  shut currently.   Also,  the tombs in front are Muslim tombs.  We were told they were placed there because the Muslims feel that will stop Jesus from entering the temple area on Mount Moriah (a Rabbi or priest can’t walk through the tombs).   Check out Zechariah 14:4 in the Bible when you get a chance.

The Church of All Nations that was built at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Upper Room

We stopped to visit the traditional “Upper Room” just outside the Zion Gate where the disciple whom Jesus loved laid his head on His breast and where later Thomas cried, “my Lord & my God”. After that we were able to go see the traditional site of king David’s tomb.

Not the best shots I’ve taken but you get the idea of this traditional site that was built by the crusaders.

Sorry… this one turned out a little blurry. If I can get one from my wife I will update this post with that picture.

The entrance to the tomb of king David.

Abraham’s Tent

This afternoon we took part in the Genesis Land/Dinner in Abraham’s Tent, where we enjoy a trip back in time: a reliving of life in the time of the Patriarchs, complete with costume, dramatic presentation, camel ride and authentic food. The food was simply amazing and they served hot coffee with cardamom and tea at the end.  The tea was an herbal tea with added hyssop and it was so good, I had to buy a small bag of it in loose leaf form.  Yum!  The presentation was very good as we had the dinner right in the area where Abraham settled.

Some of our group were able to ride a camel down to Abraham’s Tent.

The amazing view from Abraham’s Tent as we look east and can see the plush Jordan River area where Abraham’s nephew Lot decided to live. In the hazy distance, there are the mountains of Moab (now called Jordan).

Southern Wall Excavations & Pentecost

This afternoon we visited the Southern Wall Excavations. This southern side of The Temple was the main entrance for the common folk, whereas the Priests and Levites had their own entrance from the higher eastern side.

Parts of the giant stairs, which led to the Temple Mount from the courtyard have been unearthed along with the purification pools. From here Jesus entered the Temple Mount and drove out the vendors and money changers who were exploiting the people.

It is also likely that this is the place that Peter stood and preached and where thousands were saved and baptized on the Day of Pentecost.  It was amazing being able to just sit on those stairs and pray and think about the Lord.

The very stairs that Jesus would have used when entering the temple area.

A mikveh (ritualistic cleaning bath) – there are a bunch of them here which leads people to believe that the 3,000 that were added to the faith and baptized would have been feasible at this location as there are a lot of mikvehs that they have excavated here in the past couple of years.

Messianic Life in Israel

This evening we enjoyed a special lecture by a local believer prior to dinner, giving us a perspective of Messianic life in Israel.  I didn’t get any pictures of this event,  but it was very interesting to say the least.

Well,  I am tired and need to get some sleep.  Tomorrow is our last day in Israel before we fly home on Thursday. I will try to get tomorrow’s events posted before we leave to fly home,  but we have to get picked up at the hotel at 12:50 am.  Yes, I said a.m.  we are going to try to get a little sleep if we can before we go.   This is why I might not be able to post again until we get back in the US.  We will see.

Shalom, my friends.

 – michael

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