I'm super tired and I'm forcing myself to get this entry done so I'll be caught up for tomorrow. We have mentally ingested so much great information and seen so many amazing things that our brains are in overload shutdown mode. It's hard to imagine trying to assimilate anything else into my mind, but we still have three more days to do so.
This morning we went to the Temple Mound where the Jewish Temple used to be. This is basically the focal point for the Jewish religion and by proxy a big deal to Christianity as well. However, there is no temple. Instead the Muslim Dome of the Rock sits on the exact location where the Temple used to be. Obviously, this is very controversial. When you visit this site there are several rules you are supposed to abide by: No touching anyone of the opposite sex (even your wife), no laughing, no praying unless you are a Muslim. So with all that in mind, the 53 of us on this trip went through pretty stiff security and entered the Temple Mount area. Below is a pic of the Dome of the Rock.
We learned some amazing things about the Temple in the first century, scroll down to hear more...
We learned that the Temple was way more magnificent and a much bigger deal worldwide than I realized because it was MASSIVE. This is what's left of one of hundreds of columns that were this size in width, made of marble and were over 100 hundred feet high. This was just the stuff around the enormous courtyard that surrounds the temple. The courtyard could hold well over 100,000 people. Huge! The temple was also way, way higher than I ever imagined. People from all over the Roman empire travelled to Jerusalem to see this massive group of scriptures. Scroll down.
This is my friend Kyle standing in front of a tower that is very high, the Temple was taller! I have to add that the sense we got around the Dome was one of great unrest. We were watched by Muslim men wherever we went and at one point one of them confronted a member of our group in a somewhat intimidating way, too hard to explain in my current mental state. It was clear that the muslim folks who were hanging around on the Temple Mount were very pro-Islam and anti everything else. Some young Jewish men came to the sight (lots of non-Muslims visit this location because there is tons of history to the sight and it's an important location in Judaism) and wherever they went islamic children and adults screamed at them Allah Akbar over and over again, it was creepy and frankly quite rude and childish.
After we left the Dome of the Rock we went directly to a church just outside the grounds of the Temple Mound and sang a few songs. Beautiful church with great acoustics. While were there a group of Christians from Indonesia came in and sang a song for/with us. It was amazing, they were incredibly sweet and gracious and there was not a dry eye in the place. Incredibly powerful and moving and a great picture of what the Kingdom of Heaven will be like when it is fully realized.
After we met the Indonesians we went directly to the Pool at Bethesda. This is 100% the exact pool mentioned in John 5 where Jesus heals a paralyzed man who had laid by the pool for 38 years trying to get healed. This is what is left of the pool. A couple of fun facts, it was huge, I mean really huge, way way way bigger than what you see here. Secondly, it was very deep, like 40 feet deep. It was used as a water source for sheep who were on their way to get sacrificed in the Temple. It didn't look much like this when Jesus healed that paralyzed dude because the city has been built up around it and destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, but everyone agrees (archeologists) that this is that exact pool. Super cool.
This afternoon we came down to the original City of David, meaning Jerusalem in the time of David. This is a pic of where David probably lived at some point and later the prophet Jeremiah worked here (his seal was found on the sight). If you look closely at the white block in the center of the picture you will see it has a hole in it. That is a 1,000 BC fancy toilet. Seriously.
This is David and probably Solomon's palace. It is covered now by some modern buildings, but they took great pains to preserve the sight so we could see the palace that they lived in 3,000 years ago!