Israel Day 11: Temple Mount, Southern Steps, City of David, Warren's Shaft, Hezekiah's Tunnel, Pool of Siloam

This morning was an early start at 7:50AM. We head in the bus with curious and anxious minds as we head towards the Temple Mount. We walk through the security gate where guards are separating the men from the women and making sure you don't have any weapons and are fully covered (clothing that is).

As we walk up the wooden ramp to the top of the mount, you can look through the cracks down at the Wailing Wall and see families celebrating Bar Mitzvah's and also praying their prayers to God.

Once we arrive that the Temple Mount, my heart becomes heavy. Israel keeps the security of this place, but Muslims have the spiritual control. Muslims gather in groups of mean and women and separate while they take time to pray, learn, and be together.

Israeli's are concerned that the southeast corner of the mount might fall, but the Muslims won't do any reconstruction to fix it. Jerusalem is the third most important city outside of Mecca and Medina to the Muslim faith.

We head up to the Dome of the Rock and when you get close to the marble on the side, you can see something strange... (can you see what we all saw? Creepy if you ask us.)

Through the arches you can see the Mount of Olives.

Underneath this covering is solid bedrock, just placed outside where the Dome of the Rock is. This is where Abraham sacrafised Isaac, where the 1st temple was built, where the Ark of the Covenant stood, and one day, where Jesus will return to reign. Just another moment on this trip where my mind was blown and I stood in awe.

We head outside the Temple Mount and visit the Wailing Wall for a brief time. Women are crying their prayers to the Lord.

You can write your prayers on paper and stick them in the wall. Hundreds of thousands of prayers are everywhere when you get up close. Every crack you see has papers in it.

There were also many moments of celebration as quite a few families were going to the Wailing Wall area to celebrate their sons Bar Mitzvah's. This was very special and unique for us to be there and spectators.

Some of you know how Marcy likes to ask, "Was this the exact spot where Jesus was? Did he stand right here?" It makes it extra fascinating for there to be affirmation of what you hope and dream is true. This is a pic I finally got for Marcy... she's literally walking exactly where Jesus walked 2,000 years ago.

And JT and I sat right outside the southern gate where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims would come  every year to visit the temple. These are the steps Jesus would've walked up when coming to the temple.

That afternoon we headed over to the City of David, just outside the Temple Mount and visited the beautiful garden, examined what the city would've looked like in David's time, and then those who were brave enough, slushed through knee deep water in a pitch black, narrow tunnel for 20 minutes. This is also known as Hezekiah's Tunnel. I'm sad I don't have any pictures from this... but it was too wet and dark to risk ruining my camera!

Once out, we walked just a ways to visit the Pool of Siloam. This is the pool where Jesus healed the blind man. It's neat to now be able to put visuals to everything you read in the Bible.

As I was waiting on the bus to pick up the rest of our group further up the hill, I looked to my left and saw a man working construction on a home. He quickly pulled out his orange mat, removed his hat, and knelt to pray. He is Muslim and it is time to pray to Allah. Multiple times a day Muslim prayers will ring through the air reminding the people to pray. I wonder if it ever gets to a point where Jews will drown out the sound and it becomes background music to their lives in Jerusalem... probably not. It is a constant reminder that things are not right.

Our final visit was to the Holocaust Museum. This was one of the greatest museums I've ever been to. The designers did such a fantastic job of telling the stories and facts of this awful, tragic event. As I walk through the halls and zig zag my way through, I feel raw emotion. Tears fill my eyes and I think to myself, "Pictures tell 1,000 words". I almost didn't even need to read the captions. The Horror... such evil. What they do with the photos is just amazing. I now have a greater appreciation for the stories photos can tell.

One of the most impressive moments in the museum was when I was standing in front of a 10 ft. tall photo of Auschwitz and it appears as if I'm standing right on the train tracks heading towards the end. To my right is a life size box car from one of the trains that would've pulled into that very spot. The children were separated from their parents here. Heartbreaking.

At the end of the museum you walk out and see the most magnificent view of a huge forest in Israel. This is to remind you of the new growth and the re-birth of the Jews. Off to the side is a 6 candle menorah. This stands for the 6 million lives that were lost, and 1.5 of which were children.

Come, Lord Jesus, and save us.

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