Walking in the Footsteps of Christ
Today, our penultimate day in Israel, began with a strong start. Our 8:15 a.m. departure took us directly to The Jewish Agency for Israel. Jim Showers introduced us to a quick history of The Jewish Agency while we stood outside the building and asked the question, “Can a people become a nation in one day?” That’s exactly what God did with Israel.
On November 29, 1947 the UN General Assembly voted to partition the British Mandate into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. In short, this was the day Israel became a nation. The leaders of Israel stood on the balcony with crowds of Jewish people celebrating below. The history of The Jewish Agency has deep roots in a story that dates back to the 1800s, and today it continues to operate as a dedicated service to help Jewish people return to Israel (make Aliyah) and motivated by their mission to provide “the global framework for Aliyah, ensures global Jewish safety, strengthens Jewish identity and connects Jews to Israel and one another, and conveys the voice of the Jewish People to the State of Israel to help shape its society.”
We concluded our visit there with a message from Danielle Mor, the director of the Christian Friends of The Jewish Agency who shared with us about the amazing work that was done there to help the thousands of Ukrainian refugees find refuge in Israel. It was an incredibly moving time for all of us and made even better when our director of Ministry Support, Amy Hansen, presented a check to The Jewish Agency as a gift on behalf of all of the generous donors of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
The Old City of Jerusalem
We then made our way to the old city. We entered from the Zion Gate. We learned that the city is divided into four quarters: Armenian, Jewish, Muslim and Christian. We walked down the Cardo from the Jewish quarter into the Christian quarter trying to keep up with one another amidst the crowds.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Earlier in the week we visited the Garden Tomb. As I mentioned, it’s one of two sites that are considered probable for Christ’s death and burial. Today, we visited the other site, which is located at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. To paint a picture, the Garden Tomb experience is located in a quiet and serene garden which lends itself to contemplation. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre can best be described as the exact opposite. The crowds were so thick it was hard to move, and the wait to enter where the actual tomb is believed to be had a wait of almost two hours. A church was built on top of this location, and you’d hardly recognize it as anything other than that, if you didn’t know why you were there.
And while many people are divided as to where the actual crucifixion and empty tomb happened, it certainly begs the question: What matters most? The fact that Christ was nailed to the cross OR nailing down the exact location? In my heart of hearts, I’m not sure it matters to know where it happened as much as it matters to know that what God’s Word says about Christ’s death and resurrection are true.
Southern Entrance to the Temple Mount
We spent the majority of our day walking through the Old City. We never walked farther than one square mile, and yet we never were at a loss for history lessons, biblical connections or interesting stories from our tour guides.
But, it was our last stop in the Old City that was one to be remembered. Our tour guides took us to the steps at the southern entrance of the Temple Mount. Remember, for those who are new to biblical history, four walls of the Temple Mount are the retaining wall built around Mount Moriah—where Abraham went to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Today, it’s an Arab mosque and shrine, but it once was the location of the Temple where Jesus would have walked and taught.
But we sat on the steps outside the entrance where Jesus would have sat, spoke to His disciples and climbed the steps that we were on. The steps were intentionally laid unevenly leading up toward the house of the Lord to force those coming to slow down, and get in the right state of mind before being in such a holy place.
As our last stop in the Old City and almost last day in Israel, Dan Price reminded our group that Christ made a promise that when He ascended after His resurrection He would leave the gift of His Holy Spirit to dwell within us. For us today, that means that no matter if we are at home, work, in Jerusalem or anywhere across the globe, as believers we are the temple of God today, and what an honor it is to be.
Since we depart tomorrow evening, tonight was our farewell dinner. We enjoyed a delicious meal together and heard an impassioned message from Josh Reinstein, Director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and President of the Israel Allies Foundation, who reminded us that Christians don’t return home from Israel as tourists, but we return home as ambassadors for the state of Israel.
We were blessed to hear beautiful original worship songs from Jael Kalisher, and we applauded our Israeli tour guides and bus drivers who so carefully and thoughtfully led us through the Holy Land.
It was a beautiful evening where we all left with full hearts and an eagerness to see what our final day holds.
Until tomorrow! Good night from Jerusalem.
Blog author: Karen Katulka
Director of Marketing & Communication
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
Photos: Dan Price
Assistant Director of International Ministries
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry