We’ve done a lot in the past few days. We’ve visited countless biblical sites, beautiful scenes and hiked some amazing trails.
On Monday, January 19, we went to the Garden Tomb which is most likely the place of Jesus’ tomb where the resurrection took palce. Very close by is also the place of His crucifixtion. This is commonly believed by Protestants whereas the Church of the Holy Seplechure is believed by Roman Catholics. Biblically, everything about the Garden Tomb lines up with Scripture. Golgatha is clear in sight with the eye sockets and nostrils. You can read about this in Matthew 27 and John 19. It’s been fascinating to read these things and see them right before my eyes.
“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb…Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” -Matthew 27:57-61; Matthew 28:1-6 ESV
To get to the Garden Tomb, we had to go through the Muslim quater and Damascus Gate. Once we started walking through, I definitely felt like we were in a different place. There was a heavy oppression that filled me. Again, so thankful for the guys that are so protective. In reality, the things we are experiencing aren’t much different from what I live with on a day-to-day basis in Chicago, but the fact that we are in a different country and culture changes things. A lady from England, Anne, took us through the garden. She showed us Golgatha, told us about when the bus parking lot was a field of sheep, walked us through the biblical implications and finally brought us to the tomb. The stone that was rolled away, she told us, would have been monstrous. The track for where it was rolled was huge. The door that had been put on the tomb now read “He is not here for He is risen!” We walked in, sang, prayed and rejoiced. Although we can’t be 100% positive that this is the exact tomb, I believe it is. Everything lines up and it was so surreal and peaceful to be there. It’s incredible that this place has been preserved, a church hasn’t been built on it and that it’s in the midst of the Muslim quarter.
On Wednesday, we heard that there was a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv on a bus. A Palestinian had stabbed 10 people. At first, as I read about this random but hostile event, I was scared. Knowing that we take those buses scared me…although we are never really close to Tel Aviv. However, I started to realize that things like this happen several times an hour in Chicago. Last semester I heard screaming outside my window on a regular basis. Someone was stabbed three blocks from where I live. There is suspicious and violent activity all around me but it doesn’t really scare me. I’ve gotten accustomed to it. The scary part about this happening in Israel is that it’s in a new country and new culture. All in all, I’ve felt a lot more safe than I expected since being here. The only times I’ve felt a bit nervous were in the Muslim Quarter.
On the 22nd, after class we went to Soreq Cave. This place had no biblical significance other than it was an amazing creation that the Lord made. This cave was discovered after an explosion about 45 years ago. The explosion revealed this cave full of stalactites and stalagmites. It was small but beautiful and a nice little treat after a long day of class. We all bought ice cream from the gift shop for 11 shekels and enjoyed the sunshine. Although our trip started out with snow, it is definitely warming up here!
Some things I’ve enjoyed so much while I’ve been here are our drives through Israel. I am fascinated by the incline of the roads and how these huge buses can get up them. But more than that, I’ve been fascinated by this beautiful land. As we drove back from Soreq, we saw a family in the mountains sitting on a big couch that looked like they’d pulled it out of their living room. I’d much rather watch the moutains and the sun set over them than watch TV. They have a great idea 😉 Horses, camels, sheep and their shepherd. I like this place a lot 🙂
More from the last few days later…