DAY 8 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17: JERUSALEM, MT. Of OLIVES, GETHSEMANE, OLD CITY, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM
Today was the first full day in Jerusalem! The weather was perfect, with full sun and highs in the mid 80s.
Mt. of Olives
After a full breakfast, we left the hotel at 7:40, reading Psalm 122:1-2 on the way (“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forever more…”). Circling the western and norther side of the Old City, we arrived to the top of the Mt. of Olives. The view was incredible, with the entire Old City and Temple Mount in view. We read from Luke 19 and Zechariah 14 about the kingship of Jesus and His 2nd Coming!
Garden of Gethsemane
We walked down the western slope and to a private garden where we read from Luke 22. It was somewhere around here where Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet Jesus said, “Not my will but yours be done…” We reflected upon Christ’s passion and obedience.
Old City – Pools of Bethesda/St. Anne’s Church
From here we walked up to the Eastern Gate and then into the Old City through the Lion’s (also called Jericho & St. Stephen’s) Gate to St. Anne’s Church. We sounded like a marvelous choir as we sang a few songs in the church. It has about an 8-second echo! On the same premises the Pools of Bethesda are located. We read from John 5 about the miracle that took place here.
Holy Sepulcher Church
Walking through the Old City was a challenge given the crowds of people. We finally made it to the Holy Sepulcher Church. Built in 325 AD, this marks the location of the traditional crucifixion and burial place of Jesus. We walked in the church on our own before lunch in the Christian Quarter of the city.
“It still seems unreal to me that I am actually in Jerusalem! To think that Jerusalem was Israel’s capital for such a long time and to see it myself is truly a blessing.” -Tour Member-
After lunch we walked to the Jaffa Gate where we met our bus. Driving southwest about 8 miles, we arrived at Herodium. This is an active archaeological site. It was where Herod the Great was buried after his death in 4 BC. We climbed this artificial mountain to see the ruins. The view of the surrounding area was fairly good, with Tekoa in full view to the south, the Judean Desert and Dead Sea to the east, Jerusalem to the north, and Bethlehem to the west. We exited the site by walking through the cistern system.
Our last site to visit of the day was to the Shepherd’s Fields. Descending down into a cave, we considered the role of the shepherd in biblical days! Caves like this were used by shepherds to protect their flock. We also reflected upon God’s redemptive plan of God in sending His Son “just at the right time…” (Gal. 4:4). We sang a few Christmas carols here in the cave and in the chapel. In Bethlehem we also visited an olive store and factory.
We drove back to the hotel for dinner and another optional walk. This time we walked south on the quiet Promenade.