Day 11 – Monday, May 15: Eastern Gate, Pools of Bethesda/St. Anne’s Church, Western Wall, Southern Wall Excavations, City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Siloam Pool, Holy Sepulcher Church, Free Time, Garden Tomb
Today was our last day here in Jerusalem. The day included a mix of Old and New Testament connections, especially associated with the City of David and the Temple Mount. Once again, we enjoyed sunny skies, with warmer temps of about 80. Ending with a service at the Garden Tomb was a special end to the Israel portion of the trip!
Eastern Gate/Pools of Bethesda/St. Anne’s Church
Our day began by driving to the north side of the Old City. Getting off the bus we then walked to the Eastern Gate (Ezekiel 44) and then through the Lion’s Gate (also Called St. Stephen’s and Jericho Gate). We visited St. Anne’s Church, a Crusader Church with a 6-7 second echo. We enjoyed singing here! Next to the church is the Pools of Bethesda. We read John 5 of the miracle that took place here.
Western Wall/Southern Wall Excavations
Next, we walked to the Western Wall. This wall served as one of the four retaining walls for the expanded platform of Herod’s Temple, a project he began in 20 BC. We moved on to the SW corner of the Temple where we walked on the Herodian pavement. This corner may have been the pinnacle of the Temple where Jesus was tempted (Mt. 4). We walked up the southern steps used by commoners in Jesus’ day. Jesus Himself would have used these steps to enter the Temple. We recalled the many mentioned in the NT who used these steps (Luke 2, 18; John 2; Mark 13; and Acts 2, etc…). Before leaving the steps, we considered how God wants us to be His spiritual temple (2 Corinthians 3).
City of David
From here we continued walking south to the City of David. After gathering on the observation tower, we walked down through the excavations (“Area G”). We saw David’s palace, city walls, and 7th-6th BC house structures (one of them was excavated/uncovered by Dr. John in June-July, 1982). We all continued through Warren’s Shaft (2 Samuel 5). The upper part of this discovery was probably used by David but not the vertical 52 foot shaft. Finally, we descended down to the Canaanite/Jebusite pool to the Gihon Spring. Many in the group braved the waters of the 1,710 foot-long Hezekiah’s Tunnel (2 Kings 20, 2 Chronicles 32), while others took the “dry” Jebusite tunnel built 100s of years earlier. Both groups met at the Pool of Siloam where we read John 9 in dramatic fashion.
Holy Sepulcher Church / Free Time
We boarded back on the bus and drove to the Jaffa Gate. In the Christian Quarter of the Old City, we went inside the Holy Sepulcher Church. Built in 325 AD, this is the traditional location for the death and burial place of Jesus. The archaeological and historical records favor this site. We saw the Edicule that has enclosed the suggested tomb of Christ for now nearly 1600 years. We also enjoyed some free time. It was fun exploring the streets and alleyways of the Old City on our own.
“Today was our last day of the trip. Bitter sweet. What a great way to end this tour with amazing visits here in Jerusalem. God provided us safety, great weather, and life-changing encounters with Him in the land! Praise God!”
At 3:15 p.m. we gathered for our walk to the Garden Tomb. This is an alternative location for the crucifixion and burial site of Jesus. The site is wonderfully operated by Protestants. After we saw the suggested tomb, we enjoyed a time of worship and Communion.
We returned to our hotel for our “Farewell Dinner.” Many of the group who are not going to Jordan tomorrow were driven to the airport for their night flights home, while those going to Jordan enjoyed a free night.