Oh, it was difficult to get up after 14 hours of sleep. The jet lag has finally caught up and the walking, too. With stiff legs and sore feet, we trudged our way to Roeh Israel, a Messianic congregation very close to where we are staying. We learned about this congregation from Har Tzion, the congregation we visited in Belo Horizonte, Brasil two years ago. It’s kind of ironic that we found our Biblical roots at Roeh Israel in Denver, Colorado almost 23 years ago to the day. What is even more interesting is that we had to travel through a snow storm to get there. Toronto was our snow storm to Roeh Israel, Jerusalem!
We passed so many men, women and children, walking toward their synagogues. It reminded me of my childhood days when everyone made their way to worship services on Sunday. As we passed by the Great Jerusalem Synagogue, there was this cute little girl holding her daddy’s hand wearing a pink tutu.
Our little congregation was held on the fifth floor of the City Building on Ben Yehuda Street. About fifty people filled the room. Prayers in Hebrew from the Sidur were sung and the singing was beautiful. Singing the Shema in Israel – priceless. Listening to the Torah read in Jerusalem, prophetic.
Micah 4:2 “Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, 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.”
The Torah Portion – http://tentstakeministries.net/2013/10/parashah-20/
The leader of the congregation spoke about the dress of the priests and how it was to be for their glory and splendor. It was an honor to dress as a priest for Elohim. By putting the priests in ‘set apart’ clothing, they would be recognized by as priests. Just as important, their clothing was a reminder to them of the importance and holiness of their position before God.
We, too must consider our dress as people in the presence of the Lord. Though we are not to be judged by our outward appearance, our outward appearance affects our heart and our heart affects our outward appearance. We should dress ‘in the congregation’ according to our means as those who are in the presence of the Lord. Our dress affects our hearts, and when we dress as a royal priesthood, we will act like a royal priesthood. According to Yeshua, we should not worry about what we wear, but we are to have the right clothes for the right occasion as explained in the Parable of the Wedding Feast.
The message was translated into English though it was fun to try to listen for Hebrew words that I recognized as the leader spoke. The final prayers were for the IDF soldiers and protection over Jerusalem and Israel. How blessed we were to stand ‘in the epicenter’ and pray for those who protect this country as they have for centuries before.
After the service, we introduced ourselves to the woman sitting next us. Believe it or not, she moved to Israel from Lakewood, Colorado.
After a quick lunch, we took a taxi to the Mount of Olives. Because it was Shabbat, our taxi driver was Arab. He took us through every Arab village he could find and it was definitely an experience in confusion and disorder on the roads. When he finally dropped us off at the top of the Mount of Olives where we could view the Old City, we were not only overjoyed to see the beauty of Jerusalem from such a vantage point, but relieved we lived to see it. Think worse than NYC taxi drivers.
From the top of the Mount of Olives we could see the whole city of Jerusalem and the Kidron Valley below. The Kidron Valley goes from Jerusalem all the way to the Dead Sea.
John 18:1 “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.”
We took the short walk from the top of the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane passing cemetery after cemetery. If you notice on the tombs there are little rocks. It is the Jewish tradition to place rocks on tombs as we would flowers. It is thought that these little rocks were the beginning of what we know as actual tombstones today. There are many reasons for the stones ranging from the eternality of the stone as the soul of the deceased, to let others know that the grave was visited and to remind everyone of the strength and presence of the Rock of Israel. Next time you visit a huge cemetery, look for rocks on the tombstones and you will know that a Jewish person is buried there.
At the bottom of the Mount of Olives, we entered the little walled area claimed to be the place where Yeshua spent his last hours before being betrayed by Judas. I’m sure in the summer it is lovely with flowering plants, but on this day, it was nothing but Olive trees. I even ‘bought’ a little olive branch as a reminder to the olive trees.
We entered the Old City through the King’s Gate or Sheep Gate in the Arab Quarter. From this gate we followed the Via Doloroso route so we could see the remains of the Bethsesda Pools where Yeshua healed a lame man. We did not enter into any churches built to memorialize some ‘station’ along the route that ‘might have happened there’. We did not want to be distracted with the silver and gold of others’ temples when Yeshua walked through Jerusalem in simplicity and sorrow toward his impending death on the cross. This is just the way we decided we wanted to visit the Land and why there are no photographs of churches.
John 5:1-9 “Some time later, Yeshua went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate (King’s Gate) a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Yeshua saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him,“Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Yeshua said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath ….”
The Via Dolorso runs into Al-Wad Street. This Arab street holds significant value for our family as many years ago through a British ministry to Israel, we were given this street in Jerusalem to pray for. I had envisioned a quiet narrow street filled with Arab families and children playing in the street. Though families may live there and children were running in the streets, it was a very busy street with lots of venders screaming and yelling trying to entice people to buy their stuff. It was packed with people, people, people and loud, loud, loud. There were lots of men sitting in their storeways smoking hukkah. I did relent and bought some fresh strawberries from a vendor which were bright red and deliciously sweet. One kind man did stop us to make sure we were going the right direction when we had our map open. I believe he may have been an answer to our prayers years ago, and, we were actually heading in the right direction.
We exited the Old City through the Damascus Gate where Arab venders were still everywhere yelling and selling everything imaginable. People push and shove and it’s not conducive to feeling ‘safe’ except when you see IDF soldiers carrying their firearms. And, yes, they are everywhere protecting the city and the country.
The traffic was crazy as we tried to cross the main thoroughfare to Nablus Street. We wanted to make our way to the Garden Tomb via a very run-down trashed out street. Normal tourists don’t walk this route we realized after we arrived at the tomb entrance and saw the parking lot full of tourist buses.
The Garden Tomb is a quiet place with lots of trees and again, probably flowers in the summer. We walked to the Place of the Skull first. As I was standing there looking at the rock that has eyes, nose and mouth like a skull, I overheard the tour guide for a group of people. Strangely enough, I understood the language and it wasn’t English. He was speaking Brasilian Portuguese. It was such a blessing from the Lord as I know people are here from around the world. I was actually able to speak to some Brasilians in Jerusalem at the Garden Tomb. How cool is that? Yes, the nations.
Back home again. Tired feet. Trying to decide if we want to go to Ben Yehuda Street for post-Shabbat activities and food. What would you do?
We went to Ben Yehuda Street. It was like Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall only in the center of Jerusalem. We heard it is the ‘hopping’ place for young people after the end of Sabbath. True, that is. Lots of young people either break dancing, singing, or just hanging out like regular young people. Street musicians play guitars, violins, or accordians. One man was playing a conck shell – big sea shell type thing we saw everywhere in the Bahamas.
We found a Kosher pizza place called “The Avenue” and went in to order, but everything was in Hebrew – too much Hebrew for my slow mind to read. I’m sure we not only looked hungry, but very bewildered. A very nice young Jewish boy who spoke a little English asked us what we wanted. We ordered what he had – a pizza – and added some toppings. I did recognize a Large Water and a Small Water and ordered 2 large ones. THEY WERE HUGE which meant we would have to carry them all the way back to our apartment. Though it’s not far, remember, we were tired and had sore feet!
This particular evening on Ben Yehuda Street I will always remember because you always remember where you are with something shocking happens in the world or your life. While walking down Ben Yehuda Street, I received a text message from the woman who led me to the Lord 35 years ago. Her son, who I love like my own children, whose little heart beat I heard while in his momma’s womb, decided to take his life. For the moment, he was on life support, but with no brain activity. My husband and I had to sit down and consider the impact on our hearts. Memories flooded my mind while I walked the street in shock trying to embrace all the excitement post-Shabbat. I saw a baby at my wedding, a young boy who spent time with my children, a young man who had a rebellious heart, and a grown man who struggled from so many undeserved events in his life. I knew I had to call home to talk to my friend who has no idea what the future is for her 31-year old son. While it’s wonderful to be here, it is so difficult to be away from her when her son, the joy of her life, is dying.
As I was getting ready to post this, I received a message that he passed away.
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