Saturday, August 21, 2010
This might be disappointing to some of you, but I am not more spiritual for having gone on this trip. This does not mean that I did not have spiritually impactful moments. In fact, I had many. Praying at the Western Wall of the Temple complex was a one of the top ones. The Jews believe this area is where the Spirit of the Lord dwells. I cannot comment on the veracity of that claim, but I do know that Spirit of the Lord dwells inside of me. I am now the Temple. Inside of me is the Holy of Holies. It is also inside of you. It was a great offense to desecrate the Temple. In fact, Antiochus IV sparked the Maccabean Revolt by desecrating the Temple in 167BC. He sacrificed a pig to Zeus in the Temple. What you see below is called the Western or Wailing Wall. It is what is left of the outer wall of the Herodian Temple complex from the time of Jesus
Do I have a high enough view of my temple? There are things from the outside that assault my temple to the Lord. Most of these happen because of my own decisions. Sometimes they happen because we live in a fallen world. Other times unfortunately I desecrate my own temple. I become too passive about my own sin. I put up with it way too much.
I need a higher view of the Spirit which dwells inside of me. I need a larger appreciation of the Lord's decision to make His dwelling place inside my heart. This is not so I can laud my own spirituality in front of others. This is not so I can prove myself worthy of the Lord (I could never). This is so I can show respect and appreciation to the one being that is worthy of all my praise and adoration. His deep love for me must move me to change. If it does not, then I have not really accepted his love.
This wonderful trip I was able to go on will have a lasting impact. However, I, we must be about doing the things that bring lasting and permanent renewal in our lives. We must have a high view of the Spirit which lives inside of us. Otherwise, we are simply practicing religion just like every other major faith in the world. We need to move beyond the ritual movements of Christianity. Just like a trip to Israel did not make me more Spiritual, neither does the act of going to church, the act of fasting, the act of giving, the act of praying, the act of reading the Bible. Bear in mind, none of these are bad. In fact, I could easily argue that they are all good. However, doing these things does not bring Spiritual growth. They can put is the right posture for Spiritual growth, but there are plenty of people who have done these things for years, but do not know the Lord any better. They have listened to hundreds of sermons and can probably quote a lot of Scripture, but the do not know the Lord any better. Even those like me who have gone to Seminary. This does not make me know the Lord better, only to know more about the Lord.
The answer is found in active faith. We all need to more intentionally rely on Him. We need to allow Him to move us into situations where we HAVE to rely on Him. This is what He desires. To get to know Him well, sometimes we need to strip away all the other things: the material excesses, the religiosity, the drive for success, and many other things. Do we have what it takes to really belong to the Lord? Do we really want it? Do we really think He is worth it?
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Later that day, I had some time so I went with some friends to the grave of Oskar Schindler. If you do not know who this is you can Google him. I was expecting some grand display, but we actually found his grave by luck. It was not set apart from any of the other graves except for the rocks that people place over the top. This man gave his wealth to save some Jews in WWII and felt remorse for not giving more. I want to give it all to tell others about Jesus. My prayer is to finish the race used up completely by the Lord. Here is a picture of his grave.
Also that day I went shopping in the Old City and finished buying some gifts for my family. As I was walking through I came across this store. ROLL TIDE. The shop owner has a brother attending the University of Alabama and they had Tide stickers inside the store as well. I took pictures of this, I think you should be able to make out the stickers in the second picture. I almost cried when I saw this.
Thanks to everyone who read my blog. My course officially came to a close on Friday. In case any of you forgot, I was taking an actual class with tests, prework, and reflection reports. I finished the last of the work on Friday. It has been difficult since my plane does not fly out until Monday night, meaning I will not see my family until Tuesday morning, hopefully.
I am probably done blogging from here, but as I continue to decompress over the next few weeks I plan to continue blogging about my experience. I have been incredibly blessed to be here and I hope in some small ways I have shared this blessing with you. Please pray that I have a safe and uneventful trip home. I miss my family terribly. Being away from them has helped me see what a tremendous blessing they are to me.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Next we went on to the Jerusalem Museum where they have assembled a large model of the 2nd Temple Jerusalem. This model is based on the best archeological evidence available. We also were able to look at a few of the Qumran documents that were on display. I was not able to take pictures of these documents, but here is an image of what many believe the Temple looked like in the days of Herod.
Later we went to Shiloh, where the Tabernacle was kept prior to the Ark's capture by the Philistines and the subsequent destruction of the Tabernacle. Below is the place that some believe held the Tabernacle.
Lastly we ended the day at the Garden Tomb site. This is a site that some believe was actually the site of Jesus' death and burial. This is based on a skull that some see in the rocks on the side of the cliff and the tomb that was excavated . Archeologists are dubious on this clain, but this site captures what I believe is the essence of the site, unlike the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I must say this was a pretty cool experience.
The gentlemen who gave us a tour of this site was passionate for Christ. He was talking about the tomb and the potential for this being the burial place of Jesus, he stopped and reminded us all that the big deal about the tomb is that Jesus is no longer there. He is risen. He is risen indeed.
Blessings - DC
Next we drove through Nazareth. Frankly there is not much to see in an antiquity site. Archaeologists and scholars alike believe this town was no bigger than 300 people. They barely left a mark. It was situated in a little bit of a hole. It would have been unnecessarily hot because of this position as it would not have gotten the sea breeze. However, they needed to live close to a meager water source. We did go up onto a nearby cliff where the story of the people of Nazareth trying to throw Jesus off a cliff might have happened. The picture of me is as close as I would get to the cliff. This cliff also overlooks the Jezereel Valley where most of the battle involving Barack and Deborah took place. The mound behind me is the Hill of Moreh. Nazareth now is a fairly big town.
One of the last places we went was Beth Shean also called Scythopolis. Scythopolis was the only city of the Decapolis west of the Jordan River. It was Greco-Roman in construction. This was our last stop on the 4 day trip to Galilee and I got a little silly. There was a communal latrine on this site and I could not resist this picture. Also there was a theater where I proceeded to dance my way across the stage while singing I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady. I did not realize that there was a tour guide leading a tour in the seats until after, I had done this. This was my first and only obnoxious American moment.
After here we drove back to Jerusalem. It felt odd coming back to the Old City after being in Galilee. We truly went from the country to the city.
Blessings - DC
I was ready not to do the hike, I felt good physically but was terrified. One of my friends here shamed me into doing it and I am glad he did. Below are a few pictures. There was a steep, scary descent and ascent, but I was able to push through my fears and do it. There is something to be said for not letting fear get you down. I am glad I did it. After this particular hike, I had a surge of energy that has served even to this moment now. I feel great again. By the way the temperature was over 107 this day.
Me trying to smile.
The way down
Part of the way back up.
We started the day on a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. We got a demonstration on 1st Century fishing methods in the Sea. It was a great feeling to cross this Sea that Jesus crossed so many times. Below is a picture from the boat looking towards the modern and ancient city of Tiberius.
We stopped at a museum where they kept a fishing boat that was dated to the early 1st Century. This would have been the exact type of boat that Jesus crossed the Sea in. Below is a picture.
We went to some other sites this day. We saw Capernaum where Jesus based his ministry. This site had been excavated by a Church and they believe they found Peter's house here. The pictures of this did not come out well. We also went to Tahbga where Jesus is said to have multiplied the fish and bread and we went to the Mt of Beatitudes where they believe Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. Churches had taken over these areas for better or worse. They were neat places, but they did not preserve the natural site. Anyway that is all for now.
Blessings - DC
Friday, July 2, 2010
We later went on to Dan, which is where the Danites settled after they were not able to control the Philistines in their allotted space. There is a powerful spring at Dan that helps feed the Jordan River. We had to hike up to the location and it was beautiful. Dan was one of the 2 sites that Jeroboam built his unauthorized temples when the Nation split in two. This temple complex had become a place of syncronistic worship. YHWH was honored with Baal. This tribe of Dan was out of its place and out of its religion. Over and over again I see how the Israelite people did not follow God as the should. They combined the religion of the land with the one true faith. I wonder what our religions of the land are. What do we combine with the true faith? Anyway food for thought.
We then went to Ceasarea Phillip, the Golan Heights, and stopped at a little place called Qazrin. There are no Biblical things that happened here. However, they had excavated and recreated the living space of the 1st Century here. Below is a plowshare that in times of battle would be beaten into a sword. The condition of your plowshare would tell others a lot about your situation. Anyway here is a picture.
I forgot to mention on my last post that we were staying on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee every night. We were able to swim in the evening when we returned from these long hot days. On this night we got to see the sunset and it was beautiful. Here is a picture of me and the sunset. I would like to say I was thinking about deep theological things, mostly I was just missing my wife.
Blessings - DC
Next we went to Mt Carmel. There is a monastery on the highest point of the mountain where they believe the event in 1 Kings 18:19-40 took place. Below is view of the Jezereel Valley from the mountain. From this spot you could see the Mediterranean Sea as well, thus we got a breeze coming off of the Sea. The picture below is pointing towards Megiddo which I will write about next.
Last on this day we went to Megiddo. This is the city that guarded the major path from the Philistine Coast into the Jezereel Valley. Every major power in the area wanted control of this city as a means of controlling trade. This is the place where Josiah meet his early end and it is the place that many believe is referenced in Rev 16:16. Har Meggido is the Hill or Mount of Megiddo and when it is put into Greek many transliterate it into Armageddon. Any way, food for thought. Below is a picture of a Solomonic large 6 chambered gate. Solomon reinforced this city because of its importance in trade routes and in protecting the Israelite people. Also elders would meet at the city gates like this one to discuss political and legal issues. Consider Prov 31.
Blessings - DC
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Next we had lunch at the Dead Sea near En Gedi. It was extremely hot and I was not feeling well this day so I did not get all the way in the water. The water is not refreshing. It is hot and full of things that I do not want to know about. The mineral content of the water is around 35% while the Ocean is around 7%. Incidentally, this is the lowest place on Earth.
After lunch, I was struggling but En Gedi called and I really wanted to do this. I was rewarded with a beautiful and inspiring hike. Additionally, I got to swim in one of the pools and was refreshed to my bones. I know why David hid hear. It was a lush green garden in the midst of a vast wasteland. Here I got some energy back.
Our last stop was Qumran. We were not able to explore the caves at all, but only the communal site of the Jewish Monks. This was a little disappointing and I will not include a picture of this. However, at this place the most important archaeological find of all time occurred since Joshia recovered the Book of the Law.
I am preparing for a 4 day trip to the Galilee region after having had 2 days off. Unfortunately, my days off have consisted of resting and trying to get better. I am feeling much better today and I am ready for the trip north. I will check back with you in a few days.
Blessings - DC
We later went to Avdat (an important Nabotean City). This town was eventually converted to Christianity and had to Churches. I find this interesting that a town in this time period had two Churches and they were within 150 ft of each other. Then we spent time at a Wadi near Avdat. This was a beautiful area that had a challenging hike up the side of the Wadi wall. This was an amazing hike and I was feeling good, so I went. Here is a picture of the Wadi.
We went from there to Beersheba. They found an altar their that looked half pagan and half Jewish in design. The excavator of the site was Amaroni and he was never every to firmly establish the location of the temple area. Typically temple areas where built on top of old cultic sites, so he was intrigued as to why he was not finding this. They did find a room that had no floor going down very deep. His conclusion is that Hezekiah uprooted the temple so completely that he dug up every temple going as far back as they could dig. Here is a picture of the reconstructed altar found there with a living sacrifice on top.
The last place we stopped was Arad, where we explored the site where they found a temple that reflected Israelite worship and design. Inside of what would have been the Holy of Holies were two standing stones. Some scholars believe that one represented YHWH and the other Ashura. Other scholars think that these two stones were to represent the law given the absence of the Ark of the Covenant in their temple. Intriguing.
Blessings - DC
Friday, June 25, 2010
As I noted earlier I had been struggling with "Herod's" Revenge and bus travel was somewhat treacherous for me. I was not able to do many of the sites. I had to stay by the bus and bathroom, and I had no energy to do anything. This was extremely difficult for me as I trained hard for this trip so that I would not miss anything. All morning and early afternoon I would try to keep up, but was ultimately not able and had to retreat to the bus or lay in the shade. I felt like a leper (OK that is hyperbolic, but it was difficult). The last place we stopped was at Ashkelon along the Mediterranean Sea where I once again had to lay in the shade. At Ashkelon I received His peace.
I did not get to explore this impressive ancient city. Instead I lay in shade and prayed. -
I prayed for my wife that she would continue to have the strength to endure with me gone. I thanked God for her and the strength she provides for me.
I prayed for my children that they would make the lives of each other and others richer as they have made my life richer. I thanked God for them and their endless energy and heart for Him.
I prayed for my parents and parents in law and thanked God for their loving support in our lives.
I prayed for my brothers and their families. I thanked God for the way they have loved me and accepted me. I prayed that my children would feel the same way about their brothers as I do about mine.
I prayed for the Watsons, Degoughs, and Dreyfus' as they wait on that phone call telling them to come get their children.
I prayed for the Boykins and the Davises as they enter into a dry and thirsty land.
I prayed for the myriad of people that I know are wanting to get pregnant. May God release this upon you.
I prayed for many others whose requests I know, but are too private to mention. I prayed that the Lord would provide what you need.
I needed this day. I needed this day badly. I am in a great place learning great things, but one of the true blessings of Christ is those that I get to live my life with. So on a day when I was missing some of the best educational teaching available, it was not a waste, because I prayed.
Lord may I never let the pursuit of knowledge of You get in the way of my life that is lived for You.
Below are two of the few pictures I got this day the first is from the Valley of Elah (I also got a smooth stone from the Valley) and the second is a picture of the Mediterranean Sea.
Be Blessed - DC
Next we went to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This Church is a Greek Orthodox and is built on top of the supposed birth place of Jesus. Jesus as you know was born in the humblest of circumstances and in the humblest of places. I do not know what I was expecting, but I was extremely disappointed and underwhelmed by what this church had done. As you will see below, it looks like a gaudy and never used fireplace. They have filled the area with symbols and icons. It is now a place of opulence instead of humility. I think you see where I am going. Are we a people of opulence or of humility? It seems to me that both the American Church and American Christian Culture reflect the Herodium instead of the Stable. This sad alteration of the supposed birth place of Christ must have seemed like a good idea at the time, for me it seemed to deface it and its intent.
The last thing is that I am also loading almost all the pictures I have taken onto Facebook. I have labeled them and you are free to email me and ask any questions. It is lengthy to upload pictures to this blog site. Friend me on Facebook if you want or you can go to http://www.facebook.com/dcaulley1.
Blessings - DC
Monday, June 21, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Next we traveled thorough the Benjamin Wilderness to Jericho. It was hot. 110 Degrees in the shade. The site at Jericho had been picked clean, but it is a place where many springs feed a otherwise desolate area. The next part of my day was my favorite. We stopped in the Judean Wilderness close to the old road that lead from Jericho to Jerusalem. This is the road Jesus walked several times and the road where the parable of the good Samaritan is set.
As some of you may know Anna and I have been going through something of a wilderness time for the last several months. I will spare all the details. We do not feel abandoned, only that God is stripping away the unnecessary parts of our life. Seeing the wilderness is what I was looking forward to the most. My Dad took this picture of me, and it struck me through the heart as I feel this picture captures aspects of my life. Only when you look close you see the oases along the bottom of the Kelt Wadi. These areas of green sustained people and flocks in this wilderness. My oases is my wife and kids. I am in the wilderness, but it is not joyless because of my family. God has used them to sustain me and we will be His people as we cross over the Mt of Olives and into the land that God has prepared for us. Only we will not be faithless and we will not back down and we will not give in.
My last thought from this day is the vast difference between the east side of Jerusalem and the west. Within 10 miles the land changes significantly. This last picture is from the Rephaim Canyon where we started our day. This picture below tells it all.
Be Blessed - DC
Thursday, June 17, 2010
For some reason this was very interesting to me. I am standing on what archeologists believe are the stones turned over from the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70 AD. This were found when they dug towards the southern part of the Western Wall.
Below is a picture of me and my Dad at the Western Wall (Wailing Wall). There were Bar Mitzvahs going on during our whole time there. This was a unique experience.
The second video is from the West Wall also called the Wailing Wall. You will see a Bar Mitzvah processional, a tourist taking pictures and people praying against the wall. This was amazing. Men have unlimited access to this area given that their heads are covered.
The third is a Bar Mitzvah processional that starts a little further out. The singing and dancing is fun to watch and they blow shofars along the way.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
It is difficult to not be impressed with Hezekiah’s tunnel. Modern people, me included, tend to think that we have advanced way beyond the ancients in knowledge and skill. Things like this tunnel prove otherwise. When you consider the tools and technology available to them at that time, this feat was amazing. The necessity of the tunnel for defensive purposes demanded a solution. While Hezekiah was a Godly king, he still saw the need to sure up this weakness. This monumental task was so important that the difficulty did not stop the workers. When the need is great so is the solution many times.
Also, the presence of the cemeteries is hard to ignore. In the US cemeteries are often put to the side, but here the memorials to the dead are a constant presence no matter where you go. I have never paid much attention to the burial practices of societies, but Jerusalem forces you to consider this. What does it say about a society that it memorializes its dead in this way? (And not just the kings and queens) Consider that in Egypt there is little doubt as the occupant of a tomb, but in Israel there is almost no certainty, even for the greatest leaders in the county’s history. Interesting.
This is the Kidron Valley, south of Jerusalem and separates the Mt of Olives from the Temple Mount. This valley provided quite a defensible position for Jerusalem as it is a deep drop.
This is a picture of pomegranate. I saw this is and could not help but think of the Song of Solomon. Make your own comparisons.
This is a picture of the Mount of Olives. All around the base is a large cemetery, then along the bottom is tombs. From the top of this mount on a clear day you can see the Dead Sea in the East. It over looks the Temple Mount.
This is Hezekiah's tunnel. This was a narrow part. I had to turn to walk through. There were other parts where I had to stoop to chest level. The water was as high as thigh level, but was mostly around calf level. This tunnel saved the Israelites from Sennacherib as it provided a water source inside the city walls.