Today was a day of walking and exploring and so it was very important for us to wear comfortable shoes. Can you imagine how it must have been for a pilgrim journeying to Jerusalem in ancient days – He would not have been wearing Nike or Reebok! Nevertheless, he would have travelled in the hot sun, on rough ground, determined to be close to God.
The Western Wall
We went to the Western wall and Pamela gave us a brief history lesson on why the Jews come to this particular wall today to be close to God. In 70 AD the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem and Judea. However in 145 AD after the Muslim conquest, the Jews were allowed to settle. The Western wall is the closest place that they could get to the former location of the Holy of Holies (as was in the then destroyed ‘House of God’). As disciples of Christ we walk with the presence of God within us, there is no need to visit a certain place to be near God. With this in mind we prayed for the Jews.
“31Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. 32Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least to the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
After praying we went to the Davidson visitor’s centre and saw a short film about a pilgrims journey to the House of God. This journey involved buying the appropriate animal for sacrifice and undergoing cleansing in the ritual baths. With this knowledge fresh in our minds it was the perfect time to be introduced to more women of the bible.
After purchasing turtle doves and cleansing herself, Mary would have brought the baby Jesus to be dedicated (Luke 2:22). As she went up towards the court of the women, Mary meets Simeon and Anna who both prophesy over baby Jesus and his life – a very special day for Mary.
The Heart of a Widow
When Jesus was older, we read about how he saw the rich putting contributions in the treasury but noticed a widow who put just a mite in. Jesus commented on how she gave all she had, giving out of her lack. She put her own needs aside, giving all she had and capturing the attention of Jesus. This caused us to ponder how we give. Do we hold back? How we give to God is an expression of how we worship, it is a condition of the heart.
City of David
At the City of David we heard the account of David and Bathsheba. Bathsheba was the wife of a soldier named Uriah. However David saw Bathsheba and wanted her for himself. They had an affair and she became pregnant. David then made sure that Uriah was sent to the frontline of battle, where he was sure to die. Uriah did die.
It was interesting to consider Bathsheba’s feelings. She may have been confused, angry at herself or David, even resentful. She had no choice but to go to the king when David summonsed her because he was the king. Their child died and no doubt this would have saddened her but she may also have felt guilty about her scandalous relationship. We cannot know her emotions but we do know that David repented and she married him and bore Solomon, who rebuilt the temple and was in the ancestral line of Jesus.
Bathsheba had the strength to maintain a marriage that was based of shaky ground. She was a strong advocate for her family, ensuring that Solomon was made king as desired by David. This shows us that God can make something out of a life of sin when we repent. All people are redeemable by God.
Before returning to the hotel we stopped of in Jerusalem. The day had been very full and we were ready to reflect and meditate on what we had learnt. The general sentiment thus far is that this trip to Israel has been life changing. Learning about these women has initiated a deep work in the lives of everyone in the group.
Looking forward to tomorrow….