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.  

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Garden Tomb: Then and Now

Judy and I made our first pilgrimage to the Garden Tomb in December 1977.  Thirty Three years of water under the bridge does indeed bring change.  The most important aspect of the Garden revolves around the Tomb itself.  It has not changed... it is still empty!
33 years ago!

 33 years ago
Our first tour of the Garden 33 years ago.
The number of visitors each year has significantly
increased each year in 33 years.
Our Guide 33 years ago.
We are trying to identify him
Any help will be appreciated.
Bear in mind that he is 33 years older but just might have a son that looks just like him!

Volunteers in the Garden Today.
OK, you got me.  The picture was taken in February.
It is not cold enough for leather coats yet!
 Skull Hill, Golgatha, 33 years ago.

Notice that there is no TV antenna on the tomb atop Skull Hill.
Today, complete with TV antenna.
Wine Press 33 years ago, full of rain water.
Wine Press today minus the water.

Sadly there are more changes to come that we are not looking forward to.  Our neighbors, the Waqf that control the Muslim cemetery atop Skull Hill are building a Mosque and Minaret in the cemetery.  They are getting ready to pour several tons of concrete on top of an unstable brick wall that the Garden Tomb Association built 105 years ago to separate the Garden from the Muslim Cemetery.  We are concerned for the safety of our guests in the Garden as well as for the Skull face on Skull Hill.  The Minaret is being built right alongside and above the Skull Face.

15 foot high poured concrete wall will sit on top of
a 105 year old brick wall.  Incredibly unstable!
It could come crashing down into the garden at any time
crushing upward of 200 guests.
A potential disaster of catastrophic proportions just waiting to happen!
Minaret under construction in the bus station next door.
It will rise alongside the Skull Face and tower above it.
The pile of dirt above the Skull face, alongside the tomb on the top,
is preparation for further building.

The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) was here last week and aired a great news story over the weekend.  You can catch it online at

On top of everything else, this month is Ramadan.  Approximately 130,000 Muslims marched past the entrance to the Garden this past Friday on their way to Temple Mount to pray at the Dome of the Rock.  It was heart breaking watching them go past our gate without Christ while we knew that we had the Truth they needed.  Ramadan ends this week.  Please pray with us that God will give us unique opportunities to share our faith in this land.
 On the way home from Muslim Prayers

We do not know the future for the Garden.  We just know Who holds the future.  Please pray with us that God will protect this place.  A quarter of a million visitors come to the Garden Tomb each year.  There are a significant number of those who do not know Christ as their Savior but they ALL year the gospel while they are here.  This place has been a very special place in our lives for 33 years personally.  We trust that it will remain a light house in this land for the Kingdom until Jesus returns!