Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 27, 2009

Jerusalem | Day 2-b

This post is a continuation of the events of March 16.

In Hezekiah's Tunnel

In Hezekiah's Tunnel

Hezekiah’s Tunnel | From the Temple Mount we traveled the short distance to Hezekiah’s Tunnel. More than 700 years before Jesus, King Hezekiah prepared Judah to face the threat of Sennacherib’s Assyrian army. Hezekiah instituted religious reforms and took practical measures to safeguard Jerusalem’s water supply (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chron. 32:30). Without water, the city would not survive a siege. So, Hezekiah’s workmen created a tunnel by chiseling through solid rock. One team of workers started at the spring of Gihon in the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem. The other team started on the western ridge of Jerusalem. Chiseling their way through rock, at points more than 140 feet underground, the two groups met in the middle — an amazing feat of engineering. Water still flows through the tunnel today.

We waded through the entire quarter-mile distance of the tunnel in knee-deep water. At places the tunnel was so narrow that our shoulders rubbed against both walls. The beams of our flashlights illuminated the chisel marks still evident on the walls of the tunnel, each mark a mute testimony to King Hezekiah’s determination to do everything possible to prepare his people to face the Assyrians.

Reflections | As we walked through the tunnel I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the workmen who labored so hard with hand-tools to chisel through solid rock. Each worker had a vested interest in the project — the survival of his family. Perhaps it was the thought of their families that kept them swinging their tools when they became weary. “How determined are we,” I thought to myself, “in confronting evil and in making provision for our families to not be overcome by the evil of our day?” Sadly, I think that far too often we allow evil to tunnel its way into our homes and hearts rather than taking steps to chisel a path away from evil.

Learning about the Pool of Siloam

Learning about the Pool of Siloam

Pool of Siloam | Siloam is a Greek translation of the Hebrew word “shiloah,” meaning “sent.” The pool of Siloam is located in the southeast corner of the city at the end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. King Hezekiah’s workers built this pool to contain the living waters channeled inside the city walls through the underground tunnel. If the city were ever under siege, the people could access water at this pool without having to leave the city. Brilliant! We were fortunate to meet the Israeli archaeologist who is responsible for the current excavations at the pool of Siloam. He took time to talk to our group about his work and to show us around the site. Every day’s work at this dig yields new discoveries — ancient coins, pottery shards, stone pavers, and more. Exciting!

The pool of Siloam is mentioned in John 9. When Jesus saw a man blind from birth, He stopped to help him. Jesus spat on the ground and kneaded some mud to put on the blind man’s eyes. He then “sent” this man to the pool called “sent” — the pool of Siloam. The man obeyed Jesus and was healed, gaining both physical sight and spiritual insight about Jesus. Jesus had earlier told His disciples, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me…” (John 9:4). And Jesus, the sent one, later told His disciples, “as the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).

Reflections | As in Jesus’ day, many today are blind to His true identity as the Son of God. And, instead of allowing Him to satisfy their thirst with living waters, they drink from broken cisterns and never find the satisfaction they seek. Let’s do the work of Him who sent us and help others to gain new sight and insight about Jesus.

Hinnom Valley | Our afternoon hike took us to a beautiful green valley. The thick grass there was inviting and beckoned us to take a load off our feet.  As tired as we were on our final day of the trip, I think we all could have easily taken a nap on the beautiful carpet of grass. That is, until we learned about where we actually were!

The Hinnom Valley is known as Ge-Hinnom in Hebrew and is translated Gehenna in Greek. In Old Testament times, this was a place where people of Judah sacrificed their children to Baal (2 Chron. 38:1-4; Jer. 7:31). Even King Manasseh of Judah sacrificed some of his own sons in Baal worship here (2 Chron. 33:6). In Jesus’ time, Gehenna was a perpetual-burning garbage dump and the place where sewers carried and dumped their waste. This place became a metaphor for hell, where worms never die and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:48).

Reflections | As I surveyed the Hinnom Valley I could not help but think about how easy it is for us to forget about the reality of hell. The green grass here concealed centuries of garbage, sewage, and human sacrifices to Baal. Perhaps if we thought a little more about hell we would be motivated to tell others about heaven more often than we do.

sign-oskar-schindlers-graveOskar Schindler | Although we did not visit Oskar Schindler’s grave, I took a photo of the sign that guides visitors to his grave near the Zion Gate. Schindler was a German businessman who saved 1,200 Polish Jews during the Holocaust. Liam Neeson played the role of Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s movie, “Schindler’s List.” The inscription on his grave reads, “The Unforgettable Lifesaver of 1200 Persecuted Jews.”

Brian, Ronen, and Marty

Brian, Ronen, and Marty

The Peace of Jerusalem | We concluded our visit to Israel at a hill overlooking the city of Jerusalem. We shared impressions of our trip and then read Psalm 122, one of the psalms of ascent, and prayed for the peace of Jerusalem. I am grateful to Brian Haynes, our Associate Pastor, to Marty O’Conner of Follow the Rabbi, and to Ronen ben Moshe, our Israeli guide. These men did a great job of working together to make our experience in Israel meaningful. I personally learned a lot and will continue to process what I learned every time I read the Scriptures. And, as Ronen often said throughout our journey — next year in Jerusalem!


Responses

  1. I have been reading your posts “Jerusalem | Day 2-b” I have blessed a lot, through learning about Israel. I have been reading all the scriptures in the posts.

    Is it great things for me to learning about God’s land, and His people! He had sent His final sacrifice for while people of the world! He gave Laws, for the people, children of Israel! Through His son Jesus, I saved! He was an Israelite!

    This is an opportunities to learning more and more, About Jesus!

    Mortuza
    Bangladesh

  2. Omar, I am headed to Israel March 8, 2010! I am enjoying reading your notes to help me be even more aware of my surroundings. For me this will be a trip of a lifetime until I see Jesus face to face!

    Celia Peace

  3. Hi Celia…

    You will absolutely love Israel. Traveling to Israel and walking through its rich history was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’m glad that you will have the opportunity to visit Israel and to walk where Jesus walked. Have a great time.

    Blessings,
    Omar~


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