We have landed in the Promised Land. The sun is shining and we’re feeling rather warm after being in blistering cold for the past several days. We leave the plane and walk through a beautiful international terminal in Tel Aviv. There’s virtually no Customs and we receive our Visas with our Passport.
Israel is doing new type of Visa that is not an actual stamp in the Passport. This is for people who would like to travel to Israel and then one of the neighboring Arab countries. Since the neighboring countries do not acknowledge Israel as a sovereign country, they do not allow you to enter if you have an Israeli Visa stamp.
We cruise through the airport to pick up our rental car. It is brand new and very small. We can barely fit our suitcases and carry-ons in it, but we’re used to squishy and it makes for an adventure. The drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is short and nearly all uphill. After all, the tribes ‘go up to Jerusalem’ because it is on a mountain.
Isaiah 2:3 “Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of theLord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
We had no difficulty at all finding our apartment, Ariel gave excellent directions even though the route was full of cars and skinny roads. We have a lovely place to call home for a few days.
Soon after ‘unpacked’, we headed for the Old City of Jerusalem. The walk is about 20 minutes to the Jaffa Gate, however, instead of walking on the rock walkway, we followed traffic and came to the gate from the road. There is a mezuzah on the side of the gate that many Jewish people touch before entering the city. This comes from the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 where the Israelites are commanded to write the words of the covenant on their doorposts. Of course, as we entered the city, we touched the mezuzah as is the custom.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (echad) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
From the inside of the gate, we decided to do a walk of the ramparts or around the top of the south wall of the city. This walk would take us to the Western Wall of the Temple. We were not prepared for the cold and wind after the warmth of Tel Aviv and so the walk was rather chilly.
The views of the city of Jerusalem from the ramparts were spectacular. Trying to imagine standing let alone running on these ramparts while in the heat of battles was overwhelming. There are very nice iron railings that weren’t there hundreds or thousands of years ago. The rocks were difficult to walk on and the stairs were steep and scary.
Isaiah 62:6-7 I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”
Psalm 48:12-14 “Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation. For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.”
Psalm 122:7 “May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.”
At the end of the rampart walk is the Kotel or the Western Wall of the Temple. Many people milled around taking group photos or just watching the prayers at the wall. We each went to our separate sides – my daughter and me to the women’s side; my husband to the men’s.
It was a quiet and awe-inspiring moment to stand at the Wall and pray with women from all over the world. I leaned my head on one of the ancient rocks and prayed many of the prayer requests people had given us. The most important one was “Do not forget your people, Israel.” Yes, Lord, don’t forget all of these women who prayed and cried at what remains of Your Temple.
When I had finished praying, I stood next to the ‘dividing wall’ and listened to a young boy of about 12 (his voice had not changed yet) pray the afternoon Hebrew prayers from the Sidur – prayer book. Old and young men joined him in responses. While listening to him, I thought about how he is the next generation of thousands to pray the ancient prayers and cry out to the God of Israel. I recognized many of the Hebrew words, but the one that he spoke twice penetrated my ears as he prayed for Yerushalayim: yeshua. He prayed for yeshua, salvation of Jerusalem.
Isaiah 38:2-3 “Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and withwholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.”
My husband seemed to have disappeared, but he went into a room for men next to the Wall. Inside were ancient scrolls and more men praying and blessing the Lord. Though these men and women do not know Yeshua personally, they do know how to reverence Him, call on Him, and desire Him in ways that most people do not.
My daughter and I watched many women go to the wall, scantily dressed and uncovered, even though there were many signs that requested ‘proper dress and heat attire’. The lack of respect for the people who have guarded our Scriptures for millennia and who birthed the Messiah, saddens me. Even more so, the lack of understanding of how important the Western Wall is to the Jewish people and prophecies waiting to be fulfilled.
We will be returning to the Wall tomorrow evening to join Yeshua’s brothers and sisters; and our family in the commonwealth of Israel to bring in the Sabbath at sunset. No cameras or cell phones will be allowed on the Shabbat so this time will be very special to us as we meet Yahweh on His Appointed Time in the place where Yeshua will return someday soon.
From the Kotel we walked back toward the Jaffa Gate. It is such a blessing to see young families with children walking on the streets – obvious residents. I was reminded how Scripture says the ‘voice of the bridegroom and the bride’ will be heard in the streets again. These little children are the evidence of that promise and yet, there are greater promises to come.
We spent a few moments around Zion Gate. Two young men in gym shorts bouncing basketballs entered the Old City through the gate. I wonder what it must be like to live in the Old City and go to and from Zion’s gate. A gate where battles were fought and now cars try to squeeze through. The walls of this particular gate has a lot of damage, but is just as impressive as Jaffa Gate. We stood for a few minutes and listened to a tour guide explain the bullet holes in the wall from the wars for Independence.
From there we walked through the Armenian Quarter. We laughed and talked about our son’s Armenian college roommate from last year. For Nicolay, we said, and took photos of the Armenian words and ceramic pottery. For those unfamiliar with the country of Armenia, they were the first country to accept the message of Messiah fully and completely.
As the sun set, the colder it became. We weren’t completely prepared for the colder weather (we foolishly left our jackets at the apartment) so we stopped in at Christ Church Cafe near the Jaffa Gate to get something hot to drink. The coffees were delicious!
We left the Old City through Jaffa Gate that we had entered several hours earlier and walked back along the rock walkway to King David Street. The beauty of the lights on the exterior walls makes Jerusalem look golden. We walked down King David Street and passed the King David Hotel. A beautiful old stone building that is beautifully lit and a treasure to this city. We passed King Solomon Street along with George Washington St. and Lincoln Street until we came to Keren Hayesod.
We had a wonderful dinner with a very special waiter who allowed us to practice our Hebrew. We did a quick shopping trip to the grocery store for breakfast items and finally ended this long day. As my daughter said, “It feels like we’ve been up 24 hours.” In many ways we have been and tomorrow is another day.