DAY 10 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
Today was the first of three full days in Jerusalem. The weather was perfect, with blue sky and fluffy clouds, and temps in the low 80s. Leaving the hotel after breakfast, we drove around the Old City and up to the Mt. of Olives east of the city. Here we enjoyed a panoramic view of the Old City and Temple Mount. We connected what we saw with many Bible texts. These included the City of David (2 Samuel 5), the Palm Sunday event (Luke 19), the Eastern Gate (Ezekiel 44), and other references related to Christ in the Temple. We stopped briefly at Dominus Flavet where traditionally Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19). We also read the prophetic words of Zechariah 14 about Christ’s return and the splitting of the Mt. of Olives.
Walking further down the “Palm Sunday” road, we entered into a private garden at Gethsemane. It was a wonderful place to read about Jesus’ betrayal (Luke 22) and ensuing passion and crucifixion. We spent some quiet time reflecting upon Jesus words, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Leaving Gethsemane, we walked across the Kidron Valley and into the Old City through the St. Stephen’s Gate (also called Lion’s Gate / Jericho Gate). We enjoyed singing in the St. Anne’s Church. There is an eight second echo in this Crusader church. Nearby is the Pool of Bethesda. We read from John 5 about the healing of the lame man here.
From here we walked the “way of the cross” (Via Dolorosa) to the Holy Sepulcher Church. This is one of the two traditional locations for the crucifixion and burial site of Christ. Following visiting the church on our own, we enjoyed lunch in the Christian Quarter.
Leaving the Old City through the Jaffa Gate, we drove to Herodium located about 8 miles south and east of Jerusalem. Located on the edge of the Judean Desert, this was one of Herod’s palace/fortress. It was also where the tomb of Herod was found. We climbed this “artificial” mountain, and saw many of the ruins. We left the site be walking through the cistern system.
Driving towards Bethlehem, next we enjoyed a stop in the Shepherds’ Fields located in Beit Sahor. We enjoyed singing a few Christmas carols in a cave as we read from Luke 2. God sent His Son “just at the right time” (Gal. 4:4). We also enjoyed singing in the small chapel. An African group beautifully sang before us.
We ended the day by driving to an olive wood shop and store in Bethlehem. We enjoyed some shopping here of the local olive wood products carved here.
Driving back to the hotel, we enjoyed dinner together again as well as an optional walk to Ben Yehuda Street in western Jerusalem. We also got a peak of the famous signature floor inside the King David Hotel.
It was a great first day here in Jerusalem!
DAY 11 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29: OLD CITY, WAILING WALL, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEM