Today started out early, as most of my days do, but this one had a more leisurely start. In fact, the entire day was one of slow-paced absorbing the sights and sounds around us.
We started out having breakfast in what has become our favorite place to eat. How did it become our favorite? It seems to be the only place open when we are hungry! Even though that’s the case, the owners of the establishment are brothers, and they are a very nice family. The food is good, though it’s swarma, falafel, and pastries. I am so glad we are doing a lot of walking. Helps fight the battle of the bulge.
So our day started and ended at the Tannour Bakery and Cafe. After breakfast, we headed over to the Jaffa Gate Visitors Center to find out about any sukkah celebrations, how to get to Rachel’s Tomb and whether or not it was safe to visit the Tomb of the Patriots. We were told that it was okay to visit Rachel’s Tomb, but that of the Patriots was not a good idea, and most of the sukkah programs were over. There was a hesitancy in the man’s voice, and it was obvious that he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of us participating in the sukkah in the Jewish Quarter, because when I mentioned the Suffra sukkah, he said that would be better. We ended up not going to either. God had better plans.
The first item on our agenda was the Jerusalem Archeological Park and Davidson Center. This place was amazing! I had read a lot of reviews and they were all good. but most said to plan for about two hours. Boy, are they wrong! We were there for 4 hours and it wasn’t enough. If they were not closing, we would have spent even more time.
We were taken on a tour of the park and lead through a computer generated model of the temple and surrounding area. We saw a short movie on the history of archeological discoveries of the area, as well as another movie of a pilgrim’s visit to Jerusalem to bring his sacrifice. It was all well done and informative. But for me, the best part was getting an audio guide of the area and exploring on our own.
As I stood on the streets of the second temple period, and looked up at the massive temple mount walls, I was overwhelmed. For anyone who has been there, they might be thinking, “It’s big, but not as big as some other stuctures.” That’s because they might not know that what is there now is only half the size of what stood in Yeshua’s time.
Maria and I stood in the one of the three shops that is still standing, entered a public mikvah that has one side for entering and the other for exiting. Why? So you don’t become defiled before heading into the temple. It speaks volumes of the practical experience of understanding just how holy God truly is.
As we explored the Hulda Gates and the stairs leading up to it, I my old fear of heights kicked in. Words fail in trying to explain the massive building, the stairs leading to it, and the vista that is behind you on a mountaintop. After praying (a LOT) I worked my way to lower steps, and just sat there and worshipped the Lord. These stairs were called the Teaching Stairs, because the teachers of Torah would teach their disciples on these stairs. You know Yeshua was there, as were his disciples. Could this be the place that the Spirit fell on Shavuot?
After the park, we headed back to our favorite restaurant, and after a leisurely lunch, we entered Christ Church for the international Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem. The Spirit was palpable, as we lifted praise to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and prayed for their children, God’s chosen people.
We then joined God’s chosen at the Wall to celebrate the Torah! Simcha Torah was wonderful. On the ladies side, there was dancing and singing. The blisters on my feet prevented me from joining in, but Maria had enough fun for the both of us, and I was abundantly blessed watching them. And being in the land alongside God’s people to celebrate the giving of the Torah – knowing Yeshua is the living Torah.
When I went up to the wall for a time of prayer, I was standing right next to the men’s side. Listening to their prayers and song reminded me of when Yeshua came into my room, and the angels chanted. After my prayer was done, I just stood there, with my head against the wall, listenting to the strong sound of men lifting their prayers and praise to the God of the Universe. It filled me with such peace.
This is a stark contrast to the sound that fills Jerusalem morning, noon, and night as the Muslim call to prayer is broadcast via speakers. It is an irritating sound that breaks into thought and sleep.
Watching the Hebrew men get so excited, so full over joy, so passionate about the Word of God is something I think many Christian men could learn.
Maria and I just sat there, basking in the joy of the evening. When we finally decided to leave, it struck me again that we were in the land. We ended our day as we started it, in our favorite restaurant, watching the people go by and talking about the events of the day. God is so good to us.