Thursday, October 28, 2010

JERICHO: The Oldest City in the World

We have visited Jericho in Israel many times since 1977 - our last visit was over 20 years ago.  Since it lies in the West Bank Occupied Territories today, it is not so easy to visit.  We teamed up with our Brit friends, the Haywood's, last Sunday - hired a Taxi and visited Jericho!  We were a bit disappointed.  Not as much fun as we remembered.  Maybe it is because not many tourists go there anymore.

There is a new cable car that takes you up over the ancient walled city of Jericho to the Mount of Temptation.  From the Cable Car, we looked down on the ruins of ancient Jericho.  We skipped going in to the ruins and visited the ruins of Hisham's Palace (a Muslim Palace built around 750 AD).  Nothing Biblicaly important about this site, just very interesting.  We stopped by a 2,000 year old Sycamore tree, thought of Zacchaeus and returned to Jerusalem.  Anytime we do anything with the Haywood's we have FUN, Sunday in Jericho was no exception - we had FUN and got some great pictures!

 Looking down onto the ancient ruins of Jericho
 On the Mount of Temptation looking toward Jordan
 Mt. of Temptation
 Great Conversation:
Roy: "I am NOT afraid!"
Mavis: "Yes you are, you ARE afraid!"
Roy: "I am not afraid!"
Judy: "Al, don't say anything!"
 Mount of Temptation
 Monastery on the Mountain
 Palm Tree in Jericho
 Ruins of Hisham's Palace built around 750 AD by the Muslims.

 Small private bath
 Huge Public Bath
 Incredible Tile Floors

 Fountain Pool
2,000 year old Sycamore Tree.  Zacchaeus, where are you?

We leave Jerusalem one week from tomorrow on November 5, arriving in Tampa in the late afternoon November 6.  We will spend Thanksgiving with our oldest daughter and family in New Hampshire and Christmas in Tampa with the rest of our family.  We are looking forward to spending time with family and friends in the USA.  We are scheduled to return to Jerusalem mid February for three months and will spend Easter in the Garden next year.  Blessings from Jerusalem!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Galilee September 2010

We have been busy in the Garden the past few weeks but have managed to squeeze in a little "away time" from Jerusalem.  Just over two weeks ago we went North to Tiberius, around the North side of the Sea of Galilee and on up onto the Golan Heights to the Syrian Border.  From the top of a small mountain there we were able to look over into Syria.  The weather could not have been better as we took in the sights and thought often of the coming of our Lord and how that piece of real estate would play into His plan for the future.

This mountaintop was fortified as a first line of defense to repel armies from Syria advancing on Israel during the war.  The fertile plains in the last picture are between the mountain and the Syrian border.

We drove further West to one of Al's favorite places in Israel; the Fortress Nimrod.  This fortress was built by the Muslims out of cut stone in the 13th century to protect the road to Damascus.  The Crusaders tried to take this fortress but were unsuccessful.  The Fortress was captured and destroyed by the Marmalukes shortly after-wards.  The fortress lies in ruins today, is from 500 feet to 165 feet in width and 1,380 feet in length.  Al played Crusader Knight for an hour and climbed over most of the ruins!

The Psalmist cried out over and over again his faith that God would always be our Fortress!

Our travels took us South to the West of the Sea of Galilee to Tel Dan, the headwaters of the Jordan River and to an early Canaanite town captured by the tribe of Dan.

Archaeologists are in the process of excavating ancient Canaanite Gates to an earlier village just up the path!

We spent the night in a wonderful Guest House in Migdal overlooking the Sea of Galilee. 

 The High Rise buildings in the distance are in Tiberius just East of Migdal.
The Horns of Hitin from the balcony of our Guest House.  I know I know... YES we are suffering for Jesus in Israel. 

Our day away ended watching the sun sit across the Sea of Galilee...  the perfect ending to a perfect day!

The next day we headed South back to Jerusalem.  On the way we stopped off at Mt. Tabor just outside Nazareth.  Mt. Tabor is the traditional site of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.  The road up was curvy!  The church at the top was beautiful.

We went on to Tel Megido, an active archaeological dig spanning multiple lairs of civilization covering centuries and overlooks the valley of Armageddon, before returning to Jerusalem and the Garden Tomb.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). This is my favorite of the Jewish fall festivals.For a 25 hour period, religious Israelis fast, seek God's face, attend up to 5 synagogue services and ask forgiveness of each other.
This culminates 10 days of awe which started with Rosh Hashanah. They believe that on Rosh Hashanah God opens three books and writes each one's name in one of the three for the next year: the book of life, the book of death or the unsettled book. During the following 10 days, each one in the unsettled book can do mitzvahs(good deeds) to get into the book of life or if not, they are recorded in the book of death.
Because there is no temple they believe this is in place of the sacrifice for atonement made during the temple times.
Why is this my favorite? because for 25 hours, all focus is on God. All traffic stops and everything shuts down: stores, radio, TV, even the airport is closed. Only emergency vehicles operate! There is what I call a Holy hush. It is a day dedicated to God. Can you imagine if everything closed , nothing operated in Tampa Florida or where you live because of God!!! I would love to see it happen in America, that our country, one nation under God would give Him the honor due Him.
It causes me to focus on my atonement for sin and on Jesus who shed His precious perfect blood for my sins and not for mine only but for anyone who wants to accept his payment price. Thank you Jesus sounds so inadequate!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A busy time in Jerusalem...

We have been very busy in Jerusalem over the past couple of weeks.  The number of tourists coming to the Garden continues to increase each day (we had almost a thousand guests through the Garden yesterday in the matter of a couple of hours!).

We have managed to squeeze in a little sight seeing in between busy times.  Several trips to the Western Wall (our favorite outside the Garden) in Jerusalem, visited two churches, walked through Hezekiah's Tunnel and our friends from England (Roy and Mavis Haywood) returned to the Garden for three months.  

We went through Hezekiah's Tunnel this past Spring with Roy & Mavis but wanted to go again.  The tunnel was built in the 8th century B.C.  The aqueduct is 1,575 feet long.  There are no lights unless you bring a flashlight with you.  We did!  Water still flows through the tunnel from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam.  The water was one to three feet deep and cool - very refreshing on a very hot day!  Amazing!  It is 2700 years old, built without machines and water still flows through it today!
Roy & Mavis Haywood
We were out and about with our friends the Haywoods on our day off this week and wound up at the Central Police Station.  Al found a wallet with a fare amount of cash in it on Ben Yehuda Street.  A young man came running up to him and said "that is my wallet."  Al thought; "no it isn't!"  Took the young man into a shop and asked the shop keeper to check the ID (our Hebrew language skills are non existent).  The shop keeper looked at the ID card inside the wallet and asked the young man, in Hebrew, what is your name?  Hmmmm.... NOPE not the name on the ID card.  "OH, it is my friends wallet!"

Can you see where this is going?  Al suggested that we call the police and let them sort it out.  The young man decided he would go get his friend (say "Yeah right"  with me).  We took the wallet and went to the Central Police Station.  I think we shocked the police that we brought the wallet (with cash) to them.  They looked up the owner (a 77 year old Jewish man) and called him.  He came to the police station right away to claim his wallet.  The police asked us to wait until he came so he could say "thank you."  We did...

The best part of the day was the conversation with the Police.  We answered questions about us... Are you Tourists?  Why are you here?  What do you do?  They had never heard of the Garden Tomb but were impressed... not with the Garden but that we had turned in the wallet.  What a golden opportunity to say; "we knew that bringing the wallet here was what God wanted us to do."
Don't you just love Al's new best friend?

Night before last we went out with friends from the Garden for coffee and stopped off at an overlook for incredible Night Views of the City of Jerusalem.  

We are off Sunday and Monday and have made arrangements to go up to Galilee and spend the night in Migdal.