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A trip to Israel

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I have a little over 1000 pictures taken from a trip I went on with The Church in 2005, and for the sake of our time (15-30 minutes depending on your involvment) will only be sharing a few of them.

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This is a group of Bedouins, near Bethlehem in the Judean desert. These people are very strange, yet unique. It would be a shepherd boy from this indigenous ethnicity that would stumble upon a clay jar he broke, housing one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, while throwing a stone into a cave in search of his lost stray.

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Here is Caesarea (Maritima), with the Mediterranean Sea in the background. Herod’s hippodrome is just to the right of the people in the image beyond the guard railing.

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Who is this guy with the shaved head?

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Highway signs are written in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

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Which way to go?

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Hmm, is that water beyond the signs drinkable? It sure is hot and dry out here.

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Here is a bird’s-eye view of the Dead Sea. This area of the region is just barren for miles, except for what’s in the next picture. Much of the Middle East depends on Israel for fresh water supplied through the Sea of Galilee (which is actuality a large lake, not a sea), like we depend on the Middle East for crude oil.  This dependence is slowly changing as more fresh water is can be desalinized and different types of energy sources expand.

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En Gedi!

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En Gedi is a tropical oasis in the middle of the desert.

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It’s like those cartoons you might have seen when you were a kid with the cartoon character tromping through the desert, and all of a sudden he sees an oasis, that’s En Gedi. The difference here is it’s no mirage as it is in the cartoons.

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It is believed by many that some of David’s most poignant Psalms were written at this very location while his life was hanging in the balance during King Saul’s murderous pursuit.  He’d say at this time to his best friend, King Saul’s son Jonathan, in regard to this matter “…as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.” (1 Samuel 20.3)  Ever been there, or at least felt like you were there through some venomous circumstance; just one more step and off you go into eternity?

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This place was beautiful… and helped get your mind off of the sweltering heat of the desert.

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There were little pools like this in nooks and crannies all over this small mountainous paradise.

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…still the desert was not far.

En Gedi overlooking the Dead Sea

The view of the Dead Sea, so close by, is also a subtle reminder of the desolation of this crude environment outside of this resting place. They don’t call it ‘Dead’ for nothin’.  You can believe that the palm trees (seen to the right in the middle ground) that man has brought in for this present tourist site were nowhere to be found in David’s day.

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If you spend a few hours out here in the middle of the day, alone, without any water, they’ll give you the same title of that Sea that you see.

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Imaged is a distant view of one of the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls (The Holy Bible of ancient times) were located.  The Scrolls have furthered the support of the inerrancy found in the texts of the Bible for all of these centuries.  The Holy Bible is without a shadow of a doubt a trustworthy document to be treasured. It was a miracle these documents were ever found.  I mean this place is in the middle of nowhere in a desert.  This photo has nothing in it to give you a sense of scale so I’ll try my best.  Beyond the profiled edge of the face of the small mountain in view with the cave is about a mile from where this photo is taken from, and the little speckles are huge dried shrubs the size of our tour buses next to a small road down there.  You can see the road better in the next pic.

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Again, right behind us if you did a 180 degree turn-about, you’d see the picture a couple pics back of the Dead Sea.

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I’m just so amazed that these ancient scrolls were ever found, and due to the dry and dark conditions of the caves were preserved so well. It all seems like a miracle.

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Here was a cool little stop just on the outskirts of the old city of Jerusalem. It is a full scale model, I’m not quite sure of the ratio probably something like 1:50. I’ve read that this has since been dismantled and put into the Israel Museum. This is photo 1 of 3 of the full view.

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2 of 3

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3 of 3

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Here’s a little closer look.

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The one tour guide gives you a sense of the scale.

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Solomon’s Temple with his Colonnade in view to the left, but was it really his?

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OK we’ll call it Solomon’s, but in actuality the LORD will do as He pleases.

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View from atop of the Mt. of Olives looking West, with ossuaries [see the picture after the next for an ossuary explanation] in the foreground, looking west towards Jerusalem, (The Mother City, as an Islamic acquaintance of mine refers to it as) with its unmistakable golden Dome of the Rock Mosque in center view.

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Such debate arises over that golden dome. I mean the majority of the extreme warfare we can see in and on the media I believe ultimately all stems from this location. Just my opinion, you can of course formulate your own.

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Picture taken from the Temple Mt. looking East through the Kidron Valley (Gehenna-ancient Israeli garbage dump) up to the Mt. of Olives, the place prophesied to be where Jesus Christ will return (cf. Zech. 14.4f); with a Jewish graveyard in view along the right. Graveyard is probably not the right use of terms though, please read on for further explanation. Interestingly, these cultured people have method of preserving the memory of their loved ones in ossuaries (i.e. bone boxes), primarily constructed from marble and housed above the ground, right on the earth’s surface.

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This is a very interesting pic because of all that is going on. First off here is the majority of the group from the church that went on the trip. There were about 70 of us. Secondly we are congregated on the southern steps of the temple mt. which lead up to “The Hulda Gate” a double gate that has been long since blocked off, as can be seen by the wall protruding out from the main wall at the left in the picture. You can see a part of the arch above the old opening for the gate on the face of the wall adjacent to the protruded blocking wall. One last thing to note is the windows and/or openings in the southern wall face. These are for rooms or chambers on the other side of the wall, which in reality are in the wall. This reminds me of a similar place, in Jericho, where according to some historians one of the 2 most beautiful women in Jewish history lived. The diva in mention is Rahab the Harlot; yes, a whore. Probably a prime location for a brothel business as it would offer passers-by discrete access to such a facility without being in full view of the city. Only when she gave her up life’s work in exchange to work for God did her wantonness for her clients turn to wantedness for family and true friends. Read more of her story in the book of Joshua chapter 2, and in regard to my mentioning her relation to the wall, verse 14.

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The long lock or twisted sideburn is a true sign of an Ultra Orthodox (Haredi or Chareidi), Hasidic or Yemenite Jew. Even the little boys wear these.

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How could you go to Jerusalem without visiting the Western or Wailing Wall of the Temple Mount? Check out the stratum of the wall from its partial destruction to its partial rebuilding over the sands of time. Notice the smaller blocks on the top right gradually getting cleaner and not as dense as they move towards the left. Of’ course the temple has been totally destroyed as prophesied by Christ. (Matthew 24.2, Mark 13.2, Luke 21.6)

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Here is a prime examples of that prophesy.

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These stones are more like boulders. Kirk here gives a sense of the their scale. They were thrown off from over the wall by Titus the Roman General in 70 AD “…not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.” (Mt 24.2) This was no easy task I’ll assure you. Look at the dents they’ve put into the large stone slabs! And no one has attempted to move them all these thousands of years. The mass of these stones is unbelievable; I mean you need a modern front end loader or bull dozer to move them today. How could they pick these things up and throw them without a diesel powered crane? Who knows but God said it’d happen, and it did as we can see.

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Here I am reading the Shema, found in Deuteronomy, a portion of the Torah while facing the Wailing Wall, and wondering what it is that still makes this place so Holy to so many people of Abrahamic religions throughout the world. Ooohhh!, do they not know our Maker dwells not in a building made with hands. (cf. Acts 17.24) I was saddened by the spirit of turmoil and tension in the air, at this location of such rich history. I felt kind of strange standing next to this wall reading from the Holy Bible. I mean I never stand facing a wall anywhere else and read from the Bible. This was the verse that came to mind that made me decide to do such a thing, 1 Cor. 9.22, where Paul talks about becoming all things to all men. The Ultra Orthodox will bob and weave while facing this wall holding and reading from their Torah. They do this bobbing and weaving, strangely enough, to keep from falling asleep. They’ve actually got a number of desks, similar to drafting tables in that they’re slanted toward the user, all spread out in front of the wall loaded with books; I presumed for the tourist. Also to the left of my neck you can see an archway which leads to a tunnel that some serious Ultra’s will gather under. We’ll go there in the next pic. By the way my hat isn’t just being worn for fashion or to keep the sun out of my eyes. Since this is considered a ‘holy site’ everyone must wear some form of head covering as mandated by Israeli custom and law. One last thing, can you see all of the little white things in all of the joints between the blocks of stones? Those are little pieces of papers with prayers written on them placed there by all of the visitors that come to this wall.

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Here’s a shot in that tunnel, the Ultra’s come here because they believe it is the closest place they can get to legally in proximity to where the original temple was located just a couple hundred feet above.

Mt. Carmel looking down  into the Yizrael,Jezreel valley (Armageddon)2

The Jezreel Valley (Megiddo), as viewed from atop of Mt. Carmel where the prophet Elijah showed some pagans a thing or two about the One True Living God.

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Megiddo’s etymology probably comes from the Hebrew Har Megiddon transliterated into Greek with a rough breathing accent for the ‘H’ sound replaced by an apostrophe, ‘ar-Megiddon. Hence the title for an epic battle as mentioned in the book of Revelation titled Armageddon.

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Believe me you want to be on the winning side of the battle that is prophesied to be fought in this what now appears to be a peaceful plain, but has a history of being a battleground; again as well as a future field of fighting.

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Here is a group of Soldiers in the Old City Jerusalem. They are required as Israeli citizens to serve their last 3 years after their 18th birthday for men and 2 years for women (maybe we could learn a lesson?). Thus these are mostly 18, 19 and 20 yr. old young men, youth we might say in the West. It appears that they are each carrying a type of an M16 assault rifle; definitely not a toy.  Oh you say, “they’re not loaded though” …true, but I can count at least 3 magazines in this picture alone, do you see any more?

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Here is another group of Soldiers, mostly young ladies 18 and 19 years old. They appear to be receiving a briefing, if not a class, from another young woman not much older than them maybe 20 or so years old. Back pack over one shoulder, M16 over the other. There will be no gender exclusion for the battle that will be fought on that plane in Megiddo, believe it or not; like it or not. Again I urge that you be sure that you’re on the side that will win in accordance with prophecy of Scripture.

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The Pool of Bethesda or Bethsaida, the inscription on the little green sign reads in I believe French ‘Jésus a guéri le paralytique pres de ces bains Jn 5’ and in English ‘Jesus healed the sick man near these medicinal baths Jn 5’

Mnt. of Beatitudes

Here we have The Church of the Beatitudes on top of, well coincidentally, the Mount of Beatitudes. Here is where, again in my opinion, the finest sermon that will ever be preached was served. This is most well known as ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ and can be read in just 2 short chapters in the gospel’s of Matthew 5-7. Take the time if you have to first learn from or refresh your memory regarding this section of Scripture. It is the first section of chapter 5 that are called the Beatitudes. Maybe it’s because these are the attitudes we are to be havin’, the be-attitudes, sorry that was a little corny but I couldn’t resist. Nevertheless we do ourselves a great service to posses these traits in our lives as well as following the nature of the teaching in the aforementioned chapters.

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This is a good representation of what a full dinner setting in the times of Christ would have looked like. Scholars agree that the table layout of The Last Supper would have been oriented this way – a low posture for the eater, in a reclined position, which is supposed to aid in digestion. If you recall in one of the gospel writers account, (John 13.23) “…the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.”

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The Gethsemane Garden Olive trees in view behind us are estimated to be over 2000 years old, thus would have been the same trees Jesus walked among with the sleepyheads, excuse me I mean disciples, as they rested their eyes under the olives while Christ prayed for His life to be spared from the worst possible death execution imaginable.

Gethsemane Kirk & Rick

Again Kirk and I at the Garden of Gethsemane where the Ultimate Battle was won in Christ’s submission to the Father! And is still won today in our lives when we echo the words of our Savior “Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine.” The first man, Adam, was defeated in the garden by the serpent, and Christ the last man Adam had victory in the garden (Romans 5 especially vss.18-19) over the serpent as His heal crushed his head. (cf. Gen. 3.15) My hope in sharing all of these pictures and this information with you is that you’ve laid a hold of and claimed that victory personally in your life through accepting, living for and worshiping Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior of your life.

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Golgotha better known as Mt. Calvary

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Here’s a closer look,

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and another closer still…

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Although the image is smaller this is a better view of Mt. Calvary (Golgotha- the place of the skull). You can see an image of the skull, with the 2 eyes and the nose. In some of the pictures I’ve shared there is almost a subtle view of teeth as well. Can you picture 3 crosses here, three naked men beaten, bruised and bleeding; a crowd rallied around for their Friday spectacle? And then at noon the whole earth turns to darkness… …the ultimate Sacrifice for sin was made. The Holy Temple’s, Holy of Holies veil was miraculously rent (similar symbolically to the soldiers tearing of Christ’s garment hours previously), an indication to the high priest and all of the charlatans in charge of temple sacrifices that the temple was no longer in business.

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The tomb has been empty now for over 2000 years! Where is the body? Unlike any other prophet, king or ‘so called’ messiah of other beliefs and castes this Man, very God, has risen from the dead and is alive and well today. He is alive in me, my hope of glory (cf. Col. 1:27). I pray that this proclamation is the same for you. If it is, great! If it’s not, won’t you rest in Him and make Him LORD of your life? I hope so.  It is the greatest and most important decision you’ll ever make in your life; greater than a carrer choice or whom you choose or have chosen to marry!!!! If you’ve made that decision, congratulations you’ve been spiritually born and there are some follow thru actions you should make to seal the best deal on earth: tell me, tell a trusted friend, begin reading thru the Bible and attending a Bible believing church where the entirety of the Bible is taught so that you might now grow into full Christian maturity. Calvary Chapels are usually a good example of such a church; go here to find one near you http://www.calvarychapel.com/find_a_church.cfm .  You can also listen to some great teaching online. Some names of men I’d recommend listening to who you can hear online are: Chuck Smith (of Calvary Chapel), Chuck Swindoll, J. Vernon McGee, Jon Courson, John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and Ray C. Stedman just to name a few.

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May God Bless You! …Amen? Amen!!

Written by RickHoover

June 22, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Posted in Israel