Stories of Our Boys http://storiesofourboys.com Stories from a mom of 4 boys, to make you laugh & encourage you in your faith. Thu, 22 Jun 2017 23:27:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 http://storiesofourboys.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/blogchalkbutton-75x75.png Stories of Our Boys http://storiesofourboys.com 32 32 78942211 Why We Didn’t See Bethlehem http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/06/22/why-we-couldnt-visit-bethlehem/ http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/06/22/why-we-couldnt-visit-bethlehem/#comments Thu, 22 Jun 2017 23:27:43 +0000 http://storiesofourboys.com/?p=9972 Bethlehem has a few important distinctions. 1.) It’s the birthplace of Jesus. 2.) Rachel is buried there. Rachel was the wife of Jacob. Jacob is the ONE who God re-named Israel. “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have wrestled with God and with men, and you have won. That’s why your name will be Israel.”[   Genesis 32:28 Now

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Beautiful view of Jerusalem from the bus window, on our way to the Bethlehem gates, or from Bethlehem…I forget, but isn’t it nice?

Bethlehem has a few important distinctions.

1.) It’s the birthplace of Jesus.

2.) Rachel is buried there. Rachel was the wife of Jacob. Jacob is the ONE who God re-named Israel.

“Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have wrestled with God and with men, and you have won. That’s why your name will be Israel.”[   Genesis 32:28

Now if you want to understand that story better, ya just gotta go read Genesis because an awful lot of strange things happened back in those days of barbarians, much more than we are going to get to today on this blog.

Another beautiful scene near Bethlehem

So of course, many people wish to visit Bethlehem, myself included.

Where’s the problem?

Ah, yes. The problem. You can’t visit Israel without this eventually coming up. You see, Bethlehem belongs under Palestinian Authority in what’s called the West Bank.

Wait. Does that mean Americans can’t visit Bethlehem??

No.

It does not mean that. It means that American government employees and Israelis cannot visit the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, or Golan Heights, with the exception of Bethlehem and Jericho.

I got online today to read the exact stipulations. You can find that information here. We actually didn’t know that on this trip and were under the impression that we were not allowed to go to Bethlehem.

The Gaza Strip is far more unstable than the West Bank, and Americans are strongly advised to not go there, but Bethlehem is not in the Gaza Strip.

So technically, we COULD visit Bethlehem, and most Holy Land tourist groups do so. We weren’t actually with a tourist group from the U.S. We were only taking day excursions with a tour guide from our hotel in Tel Aviv.

I don’t remember where I saw this, but interesting, eh? President Trump was there the week before. Perhaps that’s why they made this sign?

Our tour guide was an Israeli. She can’t visit Palestine, but she was full of fascinating information. Bethlehem wasn’t even a scheduled stop on our tour, but she knew we wanted to see it, so she took us to see the border wall.

Border wall of the West Bank

border wall

Everywhere you go in Israel, security is high, so as I have mentioned in my previous posts, I always felt completely safe.

But the Palestinian/Israeli tensions are still there.

Arabs walking through security, into Bethlehem.

If you look closely, you can read the words on the brown sign, “Rachel’s Tomb”.

Some of what we saw out the window looked exactly like California.

We passed this UN truck at the Bethlehem gate.

Our guide said, “There’s the UN. He is not supposed to be here. He is supposed to be at Golan Heights.”……interesting….

Border wall of Bethlehem. Bethlehem is only around 5 miles from Jerusalem.

Our guide said, “You are here. You have seen the gate to Bethlehem, so really you can say you’ve been to Bethlehem. Okay. We are good. Now we will turn around and see the place where John the Baptist is from.”

That’s right. The next stop in this series will be the birthplace of John the Baptist.

By that time in the day it was around 3 or 4 pm, we’d been touring Jerusalem all day, and my brain lost its ability to take in new information. So the next post will mostly be pictures.

 

Did you miss the other Israel articles? You can catch up with these links:

Going to Israel

Jerusalem Part 1: Mount of Olives and the Upper Room

Jerusalem Part 2: Where Jesus was Crucified

Via Dolorosa

The Western Wall

 

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Why is the Western Wall so important? http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/06/21/why-is-the-western-wailing-wall-such-a-big-deal/ http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/06/21/why-is-the-western-wailing-wall-such-a-big-deal/#comments Wed, 21 Jun 2017 19:34:57 +0000 http://storiesofourboys.com/?p=9953 Alan and I were so excited to pray at the famous “Wailing Wall.” Truthfully, I wasn’t sure exactly about the history of this wall. I went into our Jerusalem tour thinking the wall was the only remaining wall from the ancient Jewish temple. That’s almost true. That entire temple was completely destroyed. The Western Wall is what’s left from the

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Why is the Western Wall so important?

Tourists are not allowed to take pictures of the prayer sections of the Western Wall, once you are past security. See the gold dome? The wall that you can see here in front of the dome is where people pray.

Alan and I were so excited to pray at the famous “Wailing Wall.”

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure exactly about the history of this wall. I went into our Jerusalem tour thinking the wall was the only remaining wall from the ancient Jewish temple.

That’s almost true. That entire temple was completely destroyed.

The Western Wall is what’s left from the retaining wall that went around the temple.

The Western Wall is holy because it was the outer part of the temple, renovated by Herod around 19 B.C. It is the closest standing wall to where the Holy of Holies was located.

Why is the Western Wall so important?

Beside the Western Wall

“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.

29May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.

30Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

~King Solomon, in 1 Kings 8:27-30

Why is the Western Wall so important?

Me, with the wall back behind me

 

Why is the Western Wall so important?

Immediately next to the Western Wall is this area.

Why is the Western Wall so important?

Here’s another distant picture of the Western Wall. The Wall is to the right, in front of the gold dome. In the front of the photo is the check-point gate. The guards look in your bag and make sure you are properly covered. Men wear hats, and everyone should have on modest clothing.

Did you know?

–The Temple Mount is also called Mount Moriah and Mount Zion.

–This is also the location where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac, and the Lord instead provided a ram for the sacrifice.

–They say it is here, on Mount Moriah, that Jacob saw a ladder ascending to Heaven in a dream.

–Jerusalem was destroyed and re-built 9 times, but the Western Wall has remained through it all.

–The Orthodox Jews do not like for us to call it the “wailing wall.” That’s offensive. Instead, it should be called the Western Wall.

–Men pray on the left side, and women pray on the right. There’s a partition to divide the 2 groups.

–The Jews refer to the wall as the Kotel.

–From 1948 to 1967, Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule, and Jews were prevented from visiting the wall in spite of the peace agreement.

–In the 6 Days War, the Jews re-took the Wall, in 1967, after 2,000 years.

 

Sources:

1. My tour guide

2. History & Overview of the Western Wall  on jewishvirtuallibrary.com

3. Six Reasons Why the Wall is Holy  on Aish.com

Why is the Western Wall so important?

The Dung Gate is very near to the Western Wall. That’s the Dung Gate behind us.

 

I felt privileged to have the opportunity to pray at the Western Wall. Placing my right hand upon it, I just sort of breathed in the atmosphere of worship. I didn’t even know what to pray, and I regretted not having been more careful to formulate an important plan for what to pray about at this holy place.

While I have no memory of what I prayed for, I do remember feeling thankful and in wonder of it all.

Why is the Western Wall so important?

This is part of the Western Wall, but not the part where people go to pray.

Thankfulness was the theme of this trip for me. I felt thankful and undeserving, but I took full advantage of it, and we enjoyed it ever so thoroughly.

It was Shabbat, the day that we were there. That’s what they call Saturday, the Sabbath day. The Israelis all greeted each other and us, their guests, with “Shabbat Shalom.”

Our tour guide said that at dusk on Shabbat, the ultra-orthodox Jewish men come out and dance at the Wall. I would have given all the shekels in my purse to watch that, but alas, we were with a group, and it was time for the group to move on.

Shalom, y’all!

 

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Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa in Pictures http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/06/20/jerusalem-tour-the-via-dolorosa/ http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/06/20/jerusalem-tour-the-via-dolorosa/#comments Tue, 20 Jun 2017 19:29:41 +0000 http://storiesofourboys.com/?p=9921 After we left Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified, located now within the Church of Holy Sepulchre, we headed down the Via Dolorosa. All day I had the song in the video above in my head. Okay, sometimes I couldn’t help but sing a little of it out loud. I’m one of those people. I usually have a song in my

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Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

After we left Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified, located now within the Church of Holy Sepulchre, we headed down the Via Dolorosa. All day I had the song in the video above in my head. Okay, sometimes I couldn’t help but sing a little of it out loud.

I’m one of those people. I usually have a song in my head that occasionally accidentally comes out for others to hear.

The Via Dolorosa means “the way of suffering.”

Jesus did not get to head down it as we did. He walked UP it, to Calvary, after being brutally beaten by Roman soldiers, and carrying a cross on his back.

So what is the Via Dolorosa?

It is simply the path Jesus took as he carried his cross up the hill to Golgotha, where he was crucified.

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”   (Matthew 27:22-23)

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

26Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.    (Matt. 27: 24-26)

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

Funny story: Alan met this German man on his flight from Sweden to Tel Aviv, and then we ran into him on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem! You never know who you will see again.

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

It’s a beautiful city. I loved these trees, which were everywhere.

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

I don’t know what this pathway looked like back in the days of Jesus. Our tour guide said there were no buildings here then.

These days, in order to trace the Via Dolorosa, you actually have to walk through a Muslim market area.

 

The video above is our Israeli tour guide talking to us about it. She was outstanding. The video may be hard for you to hear, though, unless you have a device that’s capable of loud volumes.

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

Station 9 on the Via Dolorosa: I think she said this is one of the places where Jesus fell.

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.   (Matt. 27: 27-31)

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

Station 7 is in an extremely busy area. Actually, pedestrian traffic was high the whole way.

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

Yes, they sell American sports team gear in Jerusalem too. LSU, anyone?

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

Where Simon took the cross.

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.

33They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”).   (Matthew 27: 32-33)

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

The lights hung above us remind us that we are standing in a Muslim area, where they were celebrating Ramadan at the time that we were there.

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

crossing through the Muslim market

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

We couldn’t get close enough to get a picture of the giant gold-domed mosque. These guards only let Muslims past the stairs.

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

Alan, placing his hand where the legend was that Jesus had stopped and held on to the wall.

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

 

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

And this is us at the security checkpoint to the famous Western Wailing Wall. Yes, we went there too. We’ll talk about that next time!

Jerusalem Tour: Via Dolorosa

crowded street through the Muslim market, overlapping the Via Dolorosa

“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.

46About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,c lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).d   (Matthew 27:45-46)

 

Back in those days, the Bible wasn’t divided into chapters and verses the way we do today. They named a passage by the first words of that passage. “Eli, Eli, lemsabachtani” is Jesus not only crying out to God, but also referencing Psalm 22.

This part will give you chills, if you stop and realize what Psalm 22 is. It is a promise fulfilled by Jesus:

Psalm 22 is long, but it begins like this:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me,

so far from my cries of anguish?

and it ends like this:

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;

all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—

those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30Posterity will serve him;

future generations will be told about the Lord.

31They will proclaim his righteousness,

declaring to a people yet unborn:

He has done it!

True. He has done it. Praise the Lord!

 

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