Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 25, 2009

Jerusalem | Day 2-a

At Dome of the Rock

At Dome of the Rock

Temple Mount | On the morning of March 16 we visited the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Kind David originally purchased this site from Araunah the Jebusite (2 Sam. 24:18-25). Chronicles identifies this location as Mount Moriah (2 Chron. 3:1), the place where Abraham had been willing to offer Isaac (Gen. 22:1-14). Solomon built the first Temple at this site (2 Chron. 2–6) but it was destroyed in 586 BC when the Southern Kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians. Almost a century later, Zerubbabel built the Second Temple here (Ezra 3:8-13). Finally Herod, in an effort to gain favor with his Jewish subjects and impress the Romans, enlarged the Temple platform and made the Jerusalem Temple bigger and better than ever. This construction work was still going on when Jesus was presented at the Temple (Luke 2:22). Herod’s project was finally completed in 60 AD but was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

The Dome of the Rock was erected near the site of the Jewish Temple in the 7th century AD. This mosque, with its golden dome, is perhaps the most prominent feature of Jerusalem’s low skyline. Mount Moriah lies somewhere beneath the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock. The presence of this mosque makes it impossible for archaeologists to excavate the Mount.

Reflections | I reflected on the story of Abraham and Isaac as we walked around the Temple Mount. God said to Abraham, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac…” (Genesis 22:2). This is the first time in Scripture that the word “love” is used. I think it is interesting that the word is used in the context of a father’s love for his son and not of a man’s love for a woman. And, the first time the word love is used in the New Testament is at the baptism of Jesus when a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

Isaac asked Abraham an important question at this place, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Gen. 22:7). Abraham replied that God himself would provide the lamb (Gen. 22:8). Isaac’s question reverberated through the centuries and found its ultimate answer in the words of John the Baptist who “looked upon Jesus as He walked and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’” (John 1:36). Jesus, the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice (1 Peter 1:18-19), was not crucified on this mount, but on another mount called Calvary just outside the city walls — all because of love.

Team at Wailing Wall

Team Members at the Wailing Wall

Wailing Wall | We visited the Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall. This wall is part of the original retaining wall from the time of Herod and was the wall closest to the Holy of Holies. When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD, they left this fifty-yard long section of the wall, perhaps to serve as a reminder of the grandeur of what they had destroyed. In the past, the Jews would gather here to mourn the loss of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. Today, they gather here to pray. Men and women have their respective areas for prayer. Jewish men stand facing the wall, with their heads covered and wearing their tallits, or prayer shawls, with tassels on the corners. Jewish petitioners, as well as visitors, place strips of paper containing written prayers into the cracks and crevices of the wall. As I approached the wall, the folded pieces of paper wedged into the joints between the massive stones were as thick as mortar — a reminder that there is something within us that longs for a meaningful connection with God.

Reflections | While I was deeply moved by the sight of so many people praying at the wall, I gave thanks that Jesus makes it possible for His followers to approach God’s “throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). And, we can pray at any time and from any place. Even so, I am glad that we spent an extra half-hour at the Wall. Most of us spent that time in prayer. I found it interesting that it was not hard to focus and concentrate while standing there and enjoyed my time with God. I came away from the Wall with admiration and respect for those who spend hours and even days praying there and concluded that I really have no excuses for being lax in my prayer life.


Responses

  1. Thanks, or the post “Jerusalem Day 2-a”

    I am reading through all the verses & trying to learning about biblical histories!

    Mortuza
    Bangladesh


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