I can't believe it's the last of my travelogue in the Holy Land and day 8 is our last day in Israel. Today we are headed to the Garden Tomb. We did not to go to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is the traditional spot on the pilgrimage route because our pastor believe it is not the site of the crucifixion. As we walked away, a man bellowed that she didn't know what she's talking about and went on about how the Garden Tomb is so new... so you can tell there's much disagreement about the spot.
So back to the Garden Tomb. We believe that this is the correct spot because:
1) The crucifixion occurred outside the city wall.
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. ~ Hebrews 13:122) Jesus bore the cross with the inscription near the city, and people can read the inscription.
Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. ~ John 19:203) He was crucified on the road, with many people passing by and it can be seen from a distance.
And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, ~Mark 15:294) It is near a garden with a new tomb of Joseph Amaritia.
Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. ~John 19:415) Jesus was brought to a place called the Skull.
And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, ~John 19:176) Mount Calvary should be in northern Jerusalem, and Jesus is our perfect offering.
He shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the Lord; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar. ~ Leviticus 1:11
Okay, side tracked a little, but check out the sign! =P
Can you see the eyes of the skull?
This is how the spot look like previously when it was discovered before it became a tourist spot.
Not only that, a large cistern located underneath the garden indicates that this is the garden of Joseph of Arimathea.
We then visited the tomb whose interior matches the description for the seating of the two angels and how the disciples looked into the tomb.
Looking for Jesus? He's not here, He's risen! :D
We then took some time to have a short sharing session and then a praise and worship session.
It so happened that the Pastor Prince devo for the day (March 18) is about how we are blessed regardless of your location because of Jesus' finished work on the cross and it made mention of Calvary's hill. Everytime when there's such 'coincidences', I just feel so loved by Daddy God.
From my notebook:
Jesus has come to give us a brand new beginning. Sin separated us from God and Daddy God wants to be with us all the time. That's why He sent Jesus to reconcile us to Him.
He was raised from the dead so that we can be made right with God. We need to be restored the sense that God is no longer angry with us.
Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. ~Romans 4:25He has decided we will be saved.
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, ~Ephesians 1:4When you love someone, you give. I know Daddy God loves me, because He gave me Jesus.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8Then we had a Passover meal experience for lunch at Yad HaShmonah Biblical Garden! It's located in the Judean hills and ran by messianic Israeli Jews and Finnish Christians. There's also a garden that displays plants and agricultural tools from biblical times. :)
Taking an exciting trip back to the times of Jesus!
Our host explained to us that this is how people ate in Jesus' time, reclining on one arm. She also shared with us that John sat at the right hand of Jesus while Judas sat at His left hand. She also walked us through various foods and its symbolism.
It's pretty interesting how before we ate or drank each item, we had to recite a Hebrew blessing first. For example before breaking bread, we were to say a blessing that went something like Bless the Lord, our God, the King of the universe who brought forth bread from the earth in Hebrew. :D
And there were so many cats at this place too! They were all quite affectionate. The white one repeatedly came up to me, jumped onto my lap and rubbed against me. I guess it's really cold out there for them. It also kept wanting to take pictures so I had to oblige ;)
One of the last few places we visited was the Valley of Elah, where the well-known battle of David against Goliath took place. We also went down to the Brook of Elah, which is famous for the five stones David picked to take down Goliath. Avi said that David chose 5 stones just in case he needed to face Goliath's other brothers too, haha!
Walking to the dried up riverbed of the Brook of Elah. The whole place is covered with mustard flowers and it's so pretty :)
Avi gave us some guidelines on the kind of rocks to pick that were similar to David's. They needed to be smooth and palm-sized, and many of us took our stones to Avi to get his stamp of approval hahaha!
In the end, I picked up 5 (not all for myself!) and they were heavy despite their small size!
I was back on the bus when I looked out and saw Avi plucking stuff from the tree and began eating it. He then took some and passed it to some of the tour members with him.
Intrigued, I asked Sarah what they were and she said they were almond fruits and I've never seen an almond fruit! She passed me one to try and you have to eat it whole like that. It's a little sour and tasted like green apples, interesting!
Cute inflatable on the construction crane, hahaha! we should have these things in Singapore too.
The last place we went was Joppa, now known as Jaffa and it is where Peter raised Tabitha from the dead. This is also the place where Peter received the vision of a large sheet filled with animals (some non-kosher) being lowered from heaven and it was the pivotal moment for the gospel to reach the Gentiles.
Guess what? We saw a wedding car and a wedding couple too in this place!
We then had dinner at one of the restaurants and made our way to the airport.
This trip has been amazing on so many levels. After a terribly dry season, it felt like rain had finally come. I hear Daddy God's little whispers at every corner I turn and I felt reassured that He has good things lined up ahead for me.
In this place, He showed me that He listens to prayers. When I had prayed for rain to come in Singapore and it happened the next day, I was overjoyed when my fellow P&W leaders verified that it did rain and I was like, wow Daddy God, You answer prayers really fast in Israel! Then He corrected me, it's not where you pray that matters, it is Who who answers the prayer. :)
In this place, He showed me that He takes care of me. Through the tour agency, we were given the chance to rent a local Israel phone or a nano/microsim card for usage in Israel because it will be hard to get a prepaid card since we wouldn't have time to stop and buy one locally. Kevin and I missed the deadline for the order so I was left thinking, fine, I'll just be MIA for the 8-10 days then. Little did I know, that our bus was Wifi-enabled! *gasp* That means if I want be connected, I could be. We didn't need to fork out any additional money to enjoy the connectivity! :) I used it whenever I had pictures I wanted to share on Instagram or text on Whatsapp or check out something on the Internet, but other than that I'm happily looking out of the windows, drinking in the scenery set before my eyes.
In this place, He showed me that He loves me and hears my heart's desires. I asked to see a rainbow in this beautiful land during the trip and He answered not just once, not just twice but thrice! At the Garden Tomb, when Pastor Pauline asked for suggestions on songs to sing during a time of praise and worship in this place, I wanted us to sing Just let me say, but I guess my voice wasn't loud enough to communicate my song of choice so we didn't sing it then and I let it go. But Daddy God didn't and He saved the best for last because He wanted to make it a memorable trip for me. On route to the airport, Sarah suddenly called out from the back and made a request to sing one last Praise and Worship song to end the trip and it was that song. :')
So let me say
How much I love You
With all my heart I long for You
For I am caught
In the passion of knowing
This endless love I've found in You
And the depth of grace, the forgiveness found
To be called a child of God
Just makes me say
How much I love You
O my Savior, my Lord and friend
So long Israel, I know it wouldn't be too long before I'm back :)