To read about our trip from the beginning, start here.
Today is Maundy Thursday, and I couldn’t think of a better day to post our touring adventures on Day 6! Hope you enjoy :)
After gaining our crash course in the Old City of Jerusalem yesterday, we enjoyed a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the Old City. We spent the morning over on the Mount of Olives, just to the east of Mount Moriah (aka the Temple Mount). I didn’t realize how close this was to the Temple Mount, until we were actually here. The view of the temple from this vantage point must have been spectacular! We began our day at an alcove near the top with a view down over the Temple Mount, where we sang “Jesus Messiah” – I hope that it echoed all over the Temple Mount and surrounding area (just like the Arab calls to prayer from the loudspeakers on the Temple Mount do). Then Pastor Jeffress spoke about 7 main differences between the rapture (when Christians meet Jesus in the air) and Jesus’ second coming (when Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives after the Tribulation):
- Rapture: no more prophecies need to be fulfilled for this to happen. 2nd Coming: still many prophecies left to be fulfilled, including rebuilding the temple.
- Rapture: we will meet Jesus in the air (1 Thess 4:16-17). 2nd Coming: Jesus’ feet will touch the earth on the Mount of Olives and it will split in half (Zech 14:4).
- Rapture: Jesus will return to Heaven. 2nd Coming: Jesus will establish His kingdom on earth with the Church.
- Rapture: this was a mystery given to Paul to reveal. 2nd Coming: Jesus talked about this and the Tribulation as it will be the last chance for the Jews to repent, and it was also discussed in the Old Testament.
- Rapture: the earth will not change. 2nd Coming: part of the curse on the earth will reverse, and the earth will have a partial “renovation”.
- Rapture: Satan will run rampant on the earth after the rapture. 2nd Coming: Satan will be bound up for 1,000 years after the 2nd coming.
- Rapture: will happen instantly. 2nd Coming: will take some time
Jesus will win in the end! He closed with this very timely passage (given our location) from when Jesus ascended to Heaven from the top of the Mount of Olives:
“They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.'” Acts 1:10-11
After this great message we began walking down the mount to stop off at some other interesting points before reaching the Garden of Gethsemene. First, we walked into the cemeteries that cover the sides of the mountain. Following some of the same traditions I mentioned yesterday that led to the Muslims building their cemetery blocking the Eastern Gate of the Temple Mount, the Jews all yearn to be buried here on the Mount of Olives. They believe that when the Messiah comes for the first time, he will descend the Mount of Olives, resurrect the Jews, and enter Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate. Contrast this partially flawed tradition, with how Jesus first entered the city on Palm Sunday. He did come over the Mount of Olives, but he was riding on a donkey, and weeping over the coming destruction of Jerusalem. Next, we walked to a church built on the side of the mountain. Inside, behind the pulpit, is a window looking out over the Temple Mount, with an image of a cross that completely blocks the Dome of the Rock. As we were continuing on down the mountain, we saw a stone set up remembering Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.
And then we reached the Garden of Gethsemene. It’s original name comes from the Hebrew Gat Shemanim, which means “(olive) oil press”. This was a wonderful, peaceful oasis. There is a magnificent church on one side of the winding mountain road, that has a beautiful portico and steps in front directly across from the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount. On the other side of the winding mountain road is the rest of the private garden. It is still filled with olive trees! We sang again here and Pastor Jeffress spoke again about Jesus’ last night here in the garden. Jesus was prostrate on the ground, praying fervently, because He couldn’t imagine being separated from God the Father. His death would be the ONLY time in all eternity for God to be separated from Himself. Talk about theological conundrum!! But, praise the Lord, Jesus submitted his will to God’s. It is interesting to note here, that Jesus was in the midst of a mighty struggle in prayer, but then when the trial came, He was calm. Contrast that with the disciples falling asleep that night, but then falling apart when Jesus died! After this message, we had time to find a spot in the garden and pray fervently to God.
I have noted some of the Biblical references above for the events that took place on the Mount of Olives, but here is a more comprehensive list, for reference. 2 Samuel 15:30-37 King David flees here when he learns of his son Absalom’s treachery, 1 Kings 11:7-8 Solomon built pagan shrines here for his wives, Ezekiel and Zechariah both prophesy about here, Matthew 21:1-11 Mark 11:1-10 Luke 19:28-40 John 12:12-16 Jesus makes his Triumphal Entry from here down into Jerusalem, Luke 19:41-44 Jesus wept over Jerusalem, Matthew 24-25 Mark 13:1-37 Luke 21:5-36 Jesus describes the future of Jerusalem, Matthew 26:36-56 Mark 14:32-52 Luke 22:39-53 John 18:1-11 Jesus prays here before being betrayed by Judas, Luke 24:50-53 Acts 1:9-12 Jesus ascends to Heaven.
After our lovely morning on the Mount of Olives, we went over to the Old City and entered through the Zion Gate on Mount Zion. Near here is the traditional location of the Upper Room where Jesus and the disciples had the Last Supper. The current building was built by the Crusaders. We then had a little bit of free time in the Jewish quarter and we found a lovely little cafe for lunch.
Our afternoon touring was primarily in the ruins of the City of David. Not to be confused with Bethlehem, this City of David is on a hill just to the south of the Temple Mount, where David built his fortress. Later, his son Solomon built the “Old City” of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
There are still teams on site at the City of David, excavating and discovering more about the original City of David. They have found various artifacts here, including a bell from the robe of a rabbi, a stone used to indicate an animal was pure and good for sacrifice, coins, and jewelry. We also saw where they found a dog cemetery. This is from the time of the Persians, as dogs were holy animals in the Persian culture. One of the largest discoveries that we were able to truly experience was the underground tunnel system. In order to have fresh water for the city, David had his workers dig a tunnel, starting at 2 different sides of the hill to bring water from the Gihon spring to an open pool, known now as the pool of Siloam. We crawled through the tunnels and went down to where the pool would have been. From the pool, they built a set of steps leading up to the Temple Mount, in order for the people to be able to use the pool as a ritual bath before heading up to the Temple. Because they were quite a steep set of steps leading up, they also built a drain underneath them to carry water down without knocking over the people walking up. During the Roman siege in 70 AD, many Jews hid underneath the steps in the drain. When the Romans discovered they were there, they blocked off the entrances and lit the tunnel on fire and killed all of the Jews within.
The Siloam area is mentioned specifically a few times in the Bible: in Nehemiah 3 the wall of the pool was repaired, in John 9, Jesus tells a blind man to wash in the pool, and in in Luke 13, Jesus recalls when a tower under construction in Siloam collapsed.
Our last stop of the day was to the St Peter in Gallicantu, which is built on top of the ruins of a Byzantine church. which was on top of the traditional location of Caiaphas’ house. This is where Jesus was held in prison. Additionally, Gallicantu means “cock crowing”, which remembers this as the location where Peter denied Jesus 3 times. Down underneath the church, we saw the ruins of a house and dungeon, which would have been used to hold prisoners.
And that was the end of the sixth day! To be continued…
Read about Day 7 here.