Monday, March 17, 2014


As I listened to NPR last week, they were discussing the Jordan River and the geography of the area.  In referring to the west bank of the Jordan, they didn't call it Israel, but rather, "The land occupied by Israel".  Hmmmm, would have never thought to call it that,and would prefer NPR not call it that either.

If you are a Christian, and if you travel, you really need to go to Israel.  Sure, it's a bit risky, and indeed there are 18 y.o.s with automatic weapons roaming the streets... in Israeli Defense Force uniforms.  One of my friends pointed out that tourists are seldom injured in the area because all contending forces count on tourists for their economies.

I am NOT spiritually sensitive, but as I mentioned once before, Old Jerusalem spooked me a bit.  The city is neat.  The walls are old, thick and pock-marked by modern weapons from the '67 (6-day) war.  There is lots to see inside, including the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, and now the tunnel that is supposed to be down low enough to represent Jerusalem at the time of the Christ.  Inside is also the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  This is the traditional site of Golgotha, but I have serious doubts.  Inside the City is, of course the Via Dolorosa (Way of Pain, or Way of Sorrows).  There's plenty to see inside, but outside is one of our favorite places called "The Garden Tomb".  Right outside it is a hill that looks remarkably like a skull (Golgotha?).

Due East of the Western Wall is Mount Olivet, and from it there is a great view of the two Muslim mosques on the Temple Mount, plus the Eastern Gate to Jerusalem, which, if I remember right is blocked by a Muslim cemetery.  If you keep going East you will pass just south of the famous city of Jericho, and then if you turn south, parallel to the Jordan you will find Masada, another great tour.  And also, if things are going well, you can take a very interesting dip in the Dead Sea.

Our favorite place in all of Israel is back up the Jordan, many miles to the North.  The Lake at the upper end of the Jordan is the famous Sea of Galilee.  At the NW corner is Capernaum and this is the area of those two famous adventures at sea with the 12 disciples (Walk on water, sleeping through the storm).  Here too was Peter's fish that paid the poll tax, and the Sermon on the mount.  A little south is Magdala, where the Mary of Magdala (i.e. -ene) lived.  Across the sea almost due east is where those pigs committed suicide.

There's more to tell you, but enough for now.

What a thrill to walk where Jesus walked,  to see the stones that reminded all Jews of the possibility of death at any moment.  When the Bible talks about wilderness, now you know what that means.

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing."

Thank you L^rd for your mercy towards Jerusalem, towards us.

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