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  • Pool of Siloam, Blind Man Healed, City of David, Gihon Spring |

    Pool of Siloam Photo Gallery Places of Interest Pool of Siloam Location 1. The Pool of Siloam was uncovered in 2004 during a water pipe break. 2. It is in the lower part of the City of David. 3. It was located on a main road that headed up to the Southern Gate entrance to the temple. Historical Background 1. The Pool of Siloam was a large purification mitzvah for the Jewish holy festivals like the Passover, Feast of Tabernacles, Pentecost, etc. 2. The historian, Josephus, who lived during the time of Christ, records that up to a million Jews would make pilgrimages to Jerusalem on these holy festivals. These Jews had to be purified before entering the Temple Mount. 3. It was the size of two Olympic sized swimming pools. 4. It has the same kind of stones and style as the Southern Stairs. 5. Its water source comes from the Gihon Spring in the City of David. 6. The water runs through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, which was built in 700 BC to prevent Jerusalem’s water source from being cut off by the warring army of the Assyrians. Places of Interest 1. Pool of Siloam 2. Pilgrim's Road that went from the Pool of Siloam up to the southern entrances to the temple. As they ascended this road, they would sing the songs of ascent found in Psalms 120-134. 3. Southern temple entrances (Southern Stairs & Robinson's Arch Stairway) 4. Gihon Spring 5. City of David 6. Temple Mount ​ 7. Hezekiah's Tunnel Pool of Siloam in the Bible 1. Jesus performed an amazing miracle here by healing a blind man. John 9:1–7: As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 2. Why did Jesus make clay out of dirt and His saliva? To possibly show that He was the Creator and formed Adam and Eve out of the dust of the ground. 3. Why the Pool of Siloam? It was a key purification place, and multitudes of people were likely present to witness the miracle. It was an example of living water. John 7:37–38: Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 4. Confrontation between the blind man and the religious leaders. John 9:28–34: And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. 5. Later this man also received spiritual sight and became a follower of Christ. John 9:35–38: Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 6. Jesus pronounced judgment on those who refuse the light God gives them. John 9:39–41: Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind .” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” Faith Lesson from the Pool of Siloam 1. The blind man received physical sight because of Jesus. 2. Later, he would receive spiritual sight as well and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Have we received spiritual sight by being born-again? 3. The blind man was cast out of the synagogue which was an enormous price to pay for a Jew. Are we willing to pay any price to follow Christ? 4. If we refuse the light God gives us, we can become spiritually blind like the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day. 5. Contrary to what many believe, God does not always heal everyone and has more than one purpose for sickness. Seven Biblical Purposes for Sickness and Ailments 1. Sickness for the glory of God. Example of the blind man Jesus healed at the Pool of Siloam. John 9:3: Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 2. Sickness for disciplining believers living in sin. Example of believers who partook of the Lord’s Supper with sin in their lives. 1 Corinthians 11:30: For this reason, many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 3. Sickness to keep us humble and dependent on God. Example of the Apostle Paul. 2 Corinthians 12:7: So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 4. Sickness that allows us to glorify God in the midst of our suffering as we show our love and devotion to God despite our problems. Example of the life of Job. Job 13:15: Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. 5. Sickness for transforming us into the image of Christ. Romans 8:28–29: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. 6. Sickness that will develop within us a greater appreciation for heaven and all its pleasures. 2 Corinthians 4:17: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 7. Sickness unto death. Eventually, we’re all going to die regardless of what happens. Example of the great Prophet Elisha. ​ ​

  • About Holy Land Site Ministries |

    About Us About Us In 2010 we began going to Israel, and in 2011 we began leading tour trips to Israel. God gave us a passion for helping people see the places and context in which the Bible took place. As a result, we started creating videos, writing books, and leading tour trips to Israel to fulfill this calling and passion. In 2012 we officially launched Ministries. It is a rapidly growing ministry that has become our central ministry focus. ​ In conjunction with leading Holy Land Tour Trips to Israel, we go to Israel regularly to film more sites for our Bible teaching videos. For example, we just spent 2 months in Israel filming around 100 sites for the upcoming videos we plan to produce. ​ Holy Land Site is a ministry affiliated with Go Missions to Mexico, a Christ-centered, biblically-based, non-denominational mission organization that has 29 years of experience in missionary service. It exists to incorporate short-term mission teams in the Great Commission to reach the unreached and strengthen churches and believers of Christ in Mexico. ​ ​ Scroll down to see more info about us. Todd & Letsy Fink (left), Logan Fink (center), Joel and Miriam Fink (right), Jonathan & Jason (Joel & Miriam's children) Todd Fink Todd has 45 years of ministry experience in the U.S. and Mexico. During this time, he has served as Youth Director, Campus Life Staff, AWANA Director, Sunday School Teacher, Youth Pastor, Associate Pastor, Hispanic Outreach Pastor, Building Construction Chairman, and Missionary. He also has experience in the secular field in agriculture and construction. Currently, he is in his 25th year as a missionary in Mexico and is the founder of Go Missions to Mexico and Holy Land Site Ministries. ​ Todd is married to Letsy Fink and has four grown children and 8 grandchildren . ​ Todd holds the following Bible degrees Bachelor of Theology Degree from Freelandia Bible College Master of Divinity studies at Western Seminary Master of Theology Degree from Freedom Bible College Master of Biblical Theology from Trinity Theological Seminary Doctor of Theology Degree (Ph.D.) from Trinity Theological Seminary. For books by Todd, click here . Letsy Fink ​ Letsy has many years of ministry experience in both the U.S. and Mexico. She has served in many children's ministries, served with Todd in youth ministry, and loves leading Vacation Bible School Outreaches in Mexico with short-term mission teams. She has become a vital part of Holy Land Site Ministries and does a lot of camera work and filming for our videos. Letsy grew up in a godly home and went to church in an evangelic, Bible-believing church her whole life. She is currently working on a Bachelor of Theology Degree and delights in learning and growing in the Lord. ​ Letsy has four grown children and 8 grandchildren . Joel Fink​ Joel moved to Mexico with his parents when he was 9 years old. He has grown up in Mexico and attended a local high school. It was there he met his high school sweetheart, Miriam, and later married. The culture of Mexico is second nature to Joel, and his Spanish speaking abilities are flawless. He has been working with short-term mission teams for practically his whole life. He has many building skills, ministry skills, and is a worship leader at his home church in Mexico. ​ Joel accompanies us on all our Holy Land Tour Trips to Israel and helps with all the details, and is the main camera operator. Joel received a Bachelor of Theology Degree from Freedom Bible College and Seminary. Joel has two children. Miriam Fink​ Miriam is from Mexico and married Joel Fink in 2009. She has been an incredible addition to the ministry team and loves the Lord. She enjoys working with children and short-term mission teams. She is a great mother and loves her family deeply. Mirian goes to Israel on occasion and loves it very much. ​ Miriam received a Bachelor of Business Degree from a university in Guadalajara, Mexico, and a Bachelor of Theology Degree from Trinity Bible College and Seminary. Miriam has two children. Logan Fink​ Logan moved to Mexico with his parents when he was about a year old. He has grown up in Mexico and feels very at home in the culture and his Spanish speaking abilities are flawless. He has been working with short-term mission teams for practically his whole life. He has many building skills, ministry skills, and is the youth pastor at his home church in Mexico. ​ Logan accompanies us on many of our Holy Land Tour Trips to Israel and helps with all the details, and is one of the main camera operators. ​ Logan has done Bachelor of Theology studies at Freedom Bible College and Seminary. Bere Fink​ Bere is from Mexico and married Logan in 2019. She has been an incredible addition to the ministry team and loves the Lord. She is the children's director at her home church, helps Logan in youth ministry, and is active in leading VBSs with Go Missions to Mexico. She is very gifted administratively and brings organization to whatever she does. Bere goes to Israel on occasion and loves it very much.

  • Gibeon, Nabi Samwil, Nebi Samwil, Nebi Samuel, Tomb of Samuel, Gibeonites |

    Gibeon - Nebi Samwil Photo Gallery Places of Interest Gibeon - Nebi Samuel Gibeon is mentioned 43 times in the Bible and played a major role in the history of Israel. Here are just a few key events that happened here: 1. This ancient city is named after the Gibeonites who tricked Joshua into making a treaty with them after the Israelites entered the Promised Land. 2. Just above the city of Gibeon was this key high place that was used for worship during much of Israel’s history. 3. The amazing miracle of the sun and moon standing still as a result of Joshua’s prayer happened at this high place of Gibeon. 4. Gibeon, also known as Gibeah, was the hometown of King Saul. 5. The tabernacle resided at the high place of Gibeon during the reigns of David and Solomon. 6. Soon after Solomon became King, he went to Gibeon. Here he received supernatural wisdom, wealth, and power to use for ruling God’s people. 7. Today, there is a synagogue and mosque here that is built upon the ruins of a Crusader church, which was built on the ruins of a Byzantine church, which is built upon where the tabernacle was located during the reigns of King David and King Solomon. 8. A tradition dating back to the Byzantine period places the tomb of Samuel here as well. Location 1. Gibeon is located about 6 miles (10 km.) northwest of Jerusalem. 2. Today, it's known as Nabi Samuel or Nebi Samwil, which means, “The Prophet Samuel” because it’s believed Samuel’s tomb is located here. 3. Just below this high place and to the north is the ancient city of Gibeon with its ruins, known today as Al Jib. 4. Gibeon is on top of a high mountain with a spectacular view of Jerusalem and the surrounding area. In fact, you can see Jerusalem quite easily from this site. It becomes clear that this spot was a significant high place and fits the biblical descriptions of many events found in Scripture and history. 5. This high place is about 3,000 feet or 908 meters above sea level. 6. It’s located on an ancient route that led from the coastal plain passing through Beit Horon, this high place of Gibeon, and on to Jerusalem. Today highways 436 and 443 mark this route. Historical Background 1. Before the conquest of the Israelites, Gibeon was a Canaanite city. 2. Gibeon was a popular place in the Bible and is mentioned 43 times. 3. Its name means “Hill City” and it’s located in the heart of the Tribe of Benjamin. 4. It was a high place of worship throughout much of Israel’s history, and the tabernacle was here during the times of King David and King Solomon. 5. The tomb of the Prophet Samuel is believed to be located inside the synagogue part of the building. 6. Excavations, which are still ongoing, have uncovered the remains of settlements from both the First Temple (7th century BC) and the Second Temple (Hasmonean Period 167 BC–63 BC) can be found here. 7. During the Byzantine period (5th–7th century AD), a church and monastery were built at this high place of Gibeon. Also, in the Byzantine period around 500 AD, Christian tradition said that the prophet’s bones were relocated here, and a monastery was built at the site to honor Samuel. 8. The Crusaders then built a church and fortress over the monastery in the 12 century AD. The main structure that can be seen today is a magnificent Crusader-era church, and it's one of only four that survived after the Muslim conquests of the Crusaders. It survived because the Muslims turned this church into a mosque, which they still use today. 9. After Saladin conquered much of Israel in 1187, the church and monastery were damaged. 10. In 1267 the Mamluks captured the area and controlled the Holy Land until 1517. In the 14th century, the Mamelukes converted the church to a mosque. Remains from this period include two ceramic ovens near the stables. 11. Because it’s believed Samuel was buried here, along with the biblical history of the site, in the 15th-century Jews built a synagogue adjacent to the mosque and resumed pilgrimages to this site. 12. It appears that later on, the mosque was renovated by the Ottomans in 1730. 13. The building that we see today was rebuilt by the British after World War 1. Both the mosque and synagogue share the same building. Places of Interest 1. Tabernacle Location The original tabernacle is believed to be directly under the synagogue and mosque of this site. This would make sense as we have a long history of one thing built on top of another, which in archaeology is a strong sign of authenticity. As mentioned, this synagogue and mosque were built upon the ruins of a Crusader church, which was built on the ruins of a Byzantine church, which is built upon where the tabernacle was located during the reigns of King David and King Solomon. It also has other ruins dating back to the first temple period of the 7th century BC. 2. Hannah's Spring Just down the hill below the ruins is a place called Hannah’s Spring . It's named after Samuel’s mother, Hannah, who is believed to have traversed this area and lived close by. Today, women come here to pray for God’s blessing for conception and childbirth. An ancient road passing through an orchard of strawberry, olive, and fig trees leads to a small spring flowing from a cave. Picnic tables have been set up in a pleasant and tranquil corner in the shade of the fig trees. Above Hannah’s Spring, entrances to First Temple period burial caves can be seen. 3. Hasmonean Ruins During extensive archaeological excavations, archaeologists found remains dating to the Hasmonean period , which was from around 164 to 63 BC. We can see a number of well-preserved two-story houses and streets in this section. 4. Byzantine Church and Monastery During the Byzantine period in around 400 AD, a large monastery was constructed at this site. There are few remains from that period since the Crusaders built their church and fortress over the monastery. The monastery served as a hostel for the Christian pilgrims who came to visit Jerusalem. It existed until around 900 AD. 5. Crusader Ruins The crusade to liberate the Holy Land and free Jerusalem started in 1096. On June 7, 1099, three years after the military expedition started in Europe, the Crusaders finally approached the gates of Jerusalem. They first arrived at this site of Nebi Samuel, where they could see Jerusalem in the distance. They were so joyful on viewing the Holy City for the first time that they later named this site the “Mountain of Joy.” In 1140 the Crusaders upgraded the site as a military fortress as well as a holy shrine. They cut into the bedrock on the west, north, and east sides, creating a defensive moat. However, only part of the moat was finished. The hewn rocks were used for the building material of the church of St. Samuel on the top of the hill. The church was completed in 1157. The fortress was a rectangular structure with the church at its center, built over the traditional tomb of the prophet. On the north and north-east sides, the Crusaders cut away the bedrock to around 15 ft. or 5 m. below the surface. The stones were used to build their structures and fortress. This large flat area was then used as a campsite for armies and a hostel for Christian pilgrims headed to Jerusalem. On the north side, within the quarried area, are a number of hewn structures. We can see a large stable with rock-cut troughs. There are also pools, cisterns, rock-hewn tombs, and agriculture installations here. 6. Synagogue An earlier synagogue was preserved at a lower level where the actual tomb of Samuel is located. The entrance to the Synagogue is on the north side and houses the believed tomb of the prophet Samuel. There is a women's section and a men’s section. The men’s section is accessed by going down some stairs and is where the tomb of Samuel can be found. It's located below because its level was the original level of the Byzantine Church and monastery. 7. Rooftop Viewing Area On the roof above the mosque and synagogue is a large area that provides spectacular viewing of the area. Jerusalem, the Mt. of Olives, and many other sites can be seen from this high place. 8. Quarry 9. Stables ​ Gibeon in the Bible 1. This ancient city is named after the Gibeonites, who tricked Joshua into making a treaty with them. Joshua 9:3–7: When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4 they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, 5 and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled. 6 They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.” Gilgal is only 29 miles (32 km.) from Gibeon. Joshua 9:14–15: So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the Lord . 15 Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them. 2. The amazing miracle of the sun and moon standing still happened at Gibeon. Joshua 10:1–14: Now it came about when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured Ai, and had utterly destroyed it (just as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king), and that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were within their land, 2 that he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city , like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. 3 Therefore Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent word to Hoham king of Hebron and to Piram king of Jarmuth and to Japhia king of Lachish and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4 “Come up to me and help me, and let us attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the sons of Israel.” 5 So the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they with all their armies, and camped by Gibeon and fought against it. 6 Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites that live in the hill country have assembled against us.” 7 So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him and all the valiant warriors. 8 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.” 9 So Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gilgal. 10 And the Lord confounded them before Israel, and He slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon , and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword. 12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, and O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day . 14 There was no day like that before it or after it, when the Lord listened to the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel. 3. Gibeon (Gibeah) was the hometown of King Saul. 1 Samuel 10:26: Saul also went to his house at Gibeah. ​ 4. Gibeon is the likely place the Prophet Samuel anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel. Tradition affirms, and it is also believed by some, that this place is the biblical Mizpah, which in Hebrew means tower, where Samuel anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel. 1 Samuel 10:17: “Now Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah.” Then in verse 24 it says: “Samuel said to all the people, ‘Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people.’ So, all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!’” 5. According to Scripture, Samuel died and was buried in a place called Ramah, which was the hometown of the prophet. Samuel 25:1: “Then Samuel died; and all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him at his house in Ramah.” The location of Ramah is not known, but according to its meaning in Hebrew, which means heights, it should be on a high hill in an area close by to Jerusalem. This area certainly fits this description but we’re not totally certain. 6. The tabernacle resided at the high place of Gibeon during the reigns of David and Solomon. 1 Chronicles 21:28–29: At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he offered sacrifice there. 29 For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were in the high place at Gibeon at that time. 2 Chronicles 1:2–3: Solomon spoke to all Israel, to the commanders of thousands and of hundreds and to the judges and to every leader in all Israel, the heads of the fathers’ households. 3 Then Solomon and all the assembly with him went to the high place, which was at Gibeon , for God’s tent of meeting was there , which Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness. 7. God caused a famine in Israel because King Saul broke the covenant Joshua made with the Gibeonites. 2 Samuel 21:1: Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the Lord. And the Lord said, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” 8. Soon after Solomon became King, he went to Gibeon. Here he received supernatural wisdom, wealth, and power to use for ruling God’s people. 1 Kings 3:3–5: Now Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place ; Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 In Gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” In response, God not only gave him supernatural wisdom, but wealth and power as well. Faith Lessons from Gibeon 1. The Gibeonites tricked Joshua into making an agreement with them because he failed to seek the Lord in prayer. Do we make poor decisions as well because we fail to seek the Lord? Proverbs 3:5–6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." 2. God heard Joshua’s prayer and the sun and moon stood still for a day. There is nothing we can ask in prayer that is too big for God to answer. James 5:16–18: "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit." Do we believe God truly hears our prayers? 3. God punished the Israelites because they broke their agreement with the Gibeonites that Joshua made with them. Psalm 15:4: "But he honors those who fear the Lord; he who swears to his own hurt and does not change." What about us? Do we keep our agreements with others? 4. God gave Solomon supernatural wisdom, wealth, and power to serve others and glorify God. How do we use our wisdom, wealth, and power? Do we mainly use it for the Lord, or primarily for our own good and benefit?

  • Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ |

    Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ Church of the Holy Sepulchre Photo Gallery Garden Tomb Photo Gallery Places of Interest Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ Location 1. We filmed our video about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ at Gordan’s Garden Tomb, as it provides a good setting for the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. 2. The Garden Tomb is located just 250 yards (220 m.) to the north of the Damascus Gate of Old City Jerusalem. 3. The traditional location of Golgotha is at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which has overwhelming evidence as the authentic site. ​ Historical Background 1. The property of the Garden Tomb was purchased in 1894 by The Garden Tomb Association. 2. It is a Charitable Trust based in the United Kingdom and is made up of people from many different denominations and national backgrounds. 3. Their passion is to help people understand all Christ did for them on the Cross. 4. The site is maintained by volunteers that come from around the globe and join a team of local Palestinians and Israelis. Places of Interest 1. Garden Tomb. A cave-like tomb that can be entered. It has a channel at the entrance where a stone could be rolled to cover and uncover the tomb. 2. A rock face cliff that has the form of a skull which is believed to be Golgotha. 3. Damascus Gate 4. Old City Jerusalem 5. Church of the Holy Sepulchre ​ Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ in the Bible 1. At 3:00 pm, Friday afternoon, Jesus dies. This happened at the exact time the sacrificial lamb for the Passover was to be killed. Matthew 27:45–53: Now from the sixth hour [12:00 pm] there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour [3:00 pm]. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, "This man is calling Elijah." 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him." 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 2. Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb. John 19:41–42: 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. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. 3. Jesus’ body was given to Joseph of Arimathea, prepared for burial, and placed in Joseph’s own tomb. Matthew 27:57–61: As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. 4. The Tomb of Jesus is sealed and secured by the Romans. Matthew 27:62–66: The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. 5. On Sunday morning, very early, Jesus rose from the dead. Matthew 28:1–10: After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." 6. Mary Magdalene is our example of what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. John 20:11–18: But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept, she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. 7. The Roman soldiers report to the chief priests. Matthew 28:11–15: While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep. 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. 8. The disciples respond in unbelief to the report from the women that Christ had risen from the dead. Luke 24:9–12: When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 9. Jesus appears to the disciples. Luke 24:36–47: While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence. 44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” 10. Christ appeared to many others after His resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:3–8: For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me [Apostle Paul]. Faith Lesson from the Garden Tomb 1. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are true historical events that form the foundation to the Christian Faith. 2. Without Christ’s death on the Cross, our sins are not forgiven. 3. Without Christ’s resurrection, our faith is in vain (1 Cor. 15:14). 4. No other self-acclaimed prophet has risen from the dead. The fact that Christ did separates Him from all others, proving that He was God in the flesh. 5. The resurrection proves that all believers will receive resurrected bodies after death. 6. Mary Magdalene encapsulates what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Do we love the Lord as Mary did?

  • Mary's Tomb, Jerusalem, Church of the Sepulchre of Mary |

    Mary's Tomb & Gethsemane Cave Photo Gallery Places of Interest Mary's Tomb & Gethsemane Cave Location The Tomb of Mary (mother of Jesus), also known as the Church of the Sepulchre of St. Mary, is located just a little north of the Garden of Gethsemane in the Kidron Valley. Right beside the Tomb of Mary Church is the Gethsemane Cave Complex. Historical Background 1. The New Testament is silent regarding the death and burial of Mary, but strong Christian tradition places her tomb at this site. 2. The church is in an underground rock-cut cave in the shape of a cross. It has a wide staircase leading down to the church. It is dimly lit and has blackish ceilings due to centuries of candle burning. 3. The church began as burial caves that were cut into rock in the 1st century. 4. These caves were later expanded in 455 AD into a cross-shaped church with the tomb of Mary in its center. 5. The large crypt containing the empty tomb in the church is all that remains of an early 5th-century church. 6. In the 6th century, an octagon-shaped church was built on the upper level, covering the tomb. However, it was destroyed in the Persian invasion in 614. 7. During the Crusader period (1130), the church was rebuilt and included a Benedictine monastery called the Abbey Church of St. Mary of Jehosaphat. Virtually everything was destroyed by Saladin in 1187 except for the south entrance and staircase. 8. After the Crusaders left, the site was taken over by the Franciscans. Since that time, it has been shared by Greeks, Armenians, Syrians, Copts, Abyssinians, and Muslims. 9. Muslims also worship here, and in the wall to the right of the Tomb of Mary is a mihrab niche, giving the direction of Mecca. It was installed after Saladin’s conquest in the 12th Century. 10. According to Catholic tradition, Mary ascended into heaven. Her tomb at this church is empty and is a shrine honoring this event. However, there is no proof of Mary ascending to heaven, and Protestants believe Mary died a natural death. Places of Interest 1. Gethsemane Cave Complex This is believed to be the place where Jesus and the disciples often stayed while in Jerusalem and the place nearby where Jesus was arrested before His crucifixion. Eyewitnesses from the fourth and sixth centuries attest to the remains of original artifacts that this was the authentic place where the Gethsemane Press was and where Jesus was arrested the night before being crucified. 2. Church of the Sepulchre of S t. Mary The modern upper level of the church. Forty-seven steps leading down to the dimly lit church. On the way down the steps, there are 2 chapels. On the left is the Chapel of Joseph (Mary's husband), and on the right is the Chapel of Mary's parents, Hanna (Anna) and Joachim. Mary’s Chapel Mary’s Tomb Copt Altar 3. Garden of Gethsemane 4. Kidron Valley (Valley of Jehoshaphat) 5. Temple Mount ​ The Life of Mary in the Bible 1. Mary was a godly woman who had the privilege of being the mother of Jesus. Luke 1:26–31: Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 2. Mary treasured the privilege of being Christ’s earthly mother. Luke 2:19: But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 3. Being the mother of Jesus would come with a high price. Luke 2:34–35: And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” 4. Mary was an obedient woman, submitting to God and her husband in all things. Matthew 2:13: Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” 5. Because Christ’s earthly father, Joseph, is not mentioned after Christ was 12 years old, and because Christ entrusted the Apostle John with her care at His death, it appears she became a widow at an early age. John 19:25–27: But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. 6. Mary did not remain a virgin as she had 4 other sons and several daughters after Jesus was born. Matthew 13 :55–56: Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? 7. Mary witnessed the crucifixion of her Son on the Cross. John 19:25: Therefore, the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 8. Mary continued to support the apostles and was part of serving the cause of Jesus after His resurrection. Acts 1:14: All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus , and his brothers. Faith Lesson from the Life of Mary 1. Mary was a deeply devoted woman to be honored, but nowhere in Scripture is she worshiped, nor are we commanded to worship or pray to her. ​ 2 . Mary did not stay a virgin after the birth of Christ. The Bible says she had at least four sons and other daughters. The Bible should be our highest authority, and we should believe it over what any church or religion teaches. 3. The Lord highly favored Mary because of her love and obedience to Him. When we obey and seek the Lord, we are favored by Him as well. 4. Our obedience doesn’t earn God’s love, but it does bring blessing and favor. 5 . We could learn a lot from the life of Mary and should emulate her faith and devotion to God. ​

  • Biblical, Historical, Eyewitness Accounts of the Temple Location |

    Temple Location Photo Gallery Places of Interest Temple Mount Location Location 1. Archaeological discoveries now reveal the location of the original temple and Temple Mount Platform location of Solomon, Hezekiah, Zerubbabel, the Hasmoneans, and Herod's temple wherein Christ ministered. ​ 2. Today, a growing number of people claim the temple and Temple Mount were located in the City of David. This is simply not true. Therefore, we will attempt to show, from Scripture, historical, archaeological, and practical reasons, why their claims are untrue. 3. The Temple Mount is located on the eastern side of Old City Jerusalem 4. It occupies 1/6 of the current city. 5. It is 35 acres (14 hectares) in size, the equivalent of 35 football fields. Historical Background 1. The Temple Mount has played a “center stage” role for much of Israel’s history and has functioned as the center of God’s dwelling place and ministry on this earth. 2. It will play a key part during the Millennial Reign of Christ on the earth as well. 3. God has chosen to focus His presence and attention there like a laser beam from heaven like no other place. 4. Solomon built the first temple around 960 BC, which the Babylonians destroyed in 586 BC. 5. The second temple Zerubbabel oversaw after the deportation and return of the Jews. It was dedicated in 515 BC. ​ 6. The Hasmoneans enlarged the Temple Mount to the south in around 140 BC. 7. King Herod enlarged the Temple Mount and rebuilt the temple Zerubbabel built in around 19 BC. It would seem that this would be called the third temple, but because Herod built a new temple over it and then removed the old one inside, it is still referred to as the second temple. ​ Following is a 10-part series done by Leen Ritmeyer, who is probably the leading archaeologist on the Temple Mount and its history: ​ 1. Mount Moriah ​ 2. The Temple Mount During the Jebusite Period ​ 3. The Temple Mount During the Time of Solomon ​ 4. The Temple Mount During the time of King Hezekiah ​ 5. The Temple Mount During the Times of Ezra and Nehemiah ​ 6. The Temple Mount During the Hellenistic and Hasmonean Periods ​ 7. The Temple Mount During the Herodian Period ​ 8. The Temple Mount During the Roman Period ​ 9. The Temple Mount During the Byzantine Period ​ 10. The Temple Mount in the Early Muslim Period ​ Places of Interest 1. Temple Mount 2. Archaeological, historical, and eyewitness accounts place the location of the first and second temples directly on top of the Dome of the Rock. ​ 3. Western Wall ​ 4. Location of Solomon's original Temple Mount Platform. According to the Mishnah (Jewish writings about different aspects of Jewish laws, customs, measurements, and so forth), the original Temple Mount Platform measured 500 cubits square. Using the royal cubit, which was the universal measurement of these times, would be 861 feet, or 262.4 m eters in length. Amazingly, evidence supports these exact measurements on each side of the original platform we will be seeing. 5. The Southwest corner of the original Temple Mount Platform Solomon built. This can be located by archaeology from Barclay's Gate. ​ 6. Western side of original platform. Warren's Gate: Evidence can be seen by an additional gate called “Warren’s Gate,” which can be found butted up against the original 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform beneath the platform surface. ​ 5. Dome of the Rock Platform Solomon's original Temple Mount Platform was at approximately the same level. 6. Northwestern Corner of Solomon's Original Temple Platform Evidence from massive stones dating back to the time of Solomon or Hezekiah can be seen today. They run parallel with the Eastern Wall. ​ 7. Antonia Fortress There are holes in the rock face where beams were attached for the portico that ran along its southern side. ​ 8. Northern Side of the Original Platform This is on the same line as the northern part of the Dome of the Rock platform today. Evidence of a pre-Herodian wall found underground by cistern 29. 9. Eastern Side of Original Platform Just north of where the northern wall of the 500-cubit mount platform meets the Eastern Wall, we find an offset in the wall located 68 feet, or 20.73 meters to the north. This offset reveals that there was once a tower at this corner for protection purposes. Measuring from where the northern wall of the 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform meets the Eastern wall, we find a curious bend in the wall at exactly 861 feet or 262.4 meters. This bend in the wall resulted from later construction that was added onto the 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform during the Hasmonean period in around 140 BC. Their construction used a slightly different angle than the original platform. Also, there is a change in the stone style. The stones after the bend have a boss shape that dates to the Hasmonean period. The stone positioning and configurations also indicate that a corner was once located at this bend in the wall. Farther down the Eastern Wall, we see a seam in the construction. The stone styles change, and the stones are butted against one another. This is the starting point of Herod the Great's enlargement of the Temple Mount Platform he built. 10. Eastern Gate In this Eastern Gate area, we also see ancient stones with boss shapes dating back to Solomon or Hezekiah’s time. It should be mentioned that the Eastern Wall location was never changed during the entire history of the Temple Mount. This is so because of the Kidron Valley and its steep decline on this side. So, again, these ancient stones reveal that the Eastern side of the 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform dates back to the time of Solomon or Hezekiah. ​ 11. Solomon's Portico Acts 5:12: Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico . 11. Muslim Excavations In 1999, when the Wakf, the Jordanian body that retains authority over the Temple Mount and other Muslim holy places, used bulldozers to remove some 10,000 tons of dirt (400 dump truck loads) from the area known as King Solomon’s Stables to create an emergency exit for the Marwani Mosque, which can accommodate 10,000 people. This was dumped in the Kidron Valley. Israelis took this dirt to a place on Mount Scopus that is now being sifted. This is known as the "Sifting Project." Its contents reveal overwhelming evidence that the Temple Mount is the authentic location of the original temple. The original stone tiles of Herod's renovated Temple Mount Platform have been found. 12. Royal Stoa Most likely the place where Pentecost happened. 13. Southern Stairs Area ​ 14. Al Aqsa Mosque ​ 15. Stone Stairs Leading to the Original Temple Platform ​ 16. Dome of the Rock ​ 17. Recycled Decorated Stone from a Byzantine Church This is found at the base of the Dome of the Rock just to the right of the main entrance that faces due east. This was placed here during Turkish times. It has some crosses that have been scratched away. ​ 18. Original Temple Location Holy of Holies Altar Nicanor Gate/Beautifull Gate Inner Court Outer Court Court of the Gentiles ​ The Original Temple Mount Platform Location ​ 1. It was not in the City of David but on Mount Moriah, where the Temple Mount Platform is today. After Solomon built the temple, he brought the Ark of the Covenant out of the City of David to the temple on Mt. Moriah. 2 Chronicles 5:2: "Then Solomon assembled to Jerusalem the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ households of the sons of Israel, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the City of David , which is Zion." 2. The Northern Part of the Original Temple Mount Platform According to the Mishnah (Jewish writings about different aspects of Jewish laws, customs, measurements, and so forth), the original Temple Mount Platform measured 500 cubits square. Using the royal cubit, which was the universal measurement of these times, would be 861 feet, or 262.4 m eters in length. Amazingly, the measurement from the corner of this Pre-Herodian stone step is exactly 861 feet or 262.4 meters to the Eastern Wall. This northern edge of the original Temple Mount Platform also aligns with the current Dome of the Rock Platform. Additional evidence of a pre-Herodian wall can also be found underground by cistern 29. Considering these factors, we now have strong evidence of where the northern wall of the 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform is. Next, we come to the Eastern Wall. Just north of where the northern wall of the 500-cubit mount platform meets the Eastern Wall, we find an offset in the wall located 68 feet, or 20.73 meters to the north. This offset reveals that there was once a tower at this corner for protection purposes. 3. The Eastern Part of the Original Temple Mount Platform Measuring from where the northern wall of the 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform meets the Eastern wall, we find a curious bend in the wall at exactly 861 feet or 262.4 meters. This bend in the wall resulted from later construction that was added onto the 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform during the Hasmonean period in around 140 BC. Their construction used a slightly different angle than the original platform. Also, there is a change in the stone style. The stones after the bend have a boss shape that dates to the Hasmonean period. The stone positioning and configurations also indicate that a corner was once located at this bend in the wall. This archaeological evidence reveals that this point was the corner of the original 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform. Again, this section of the Eastern Wall measures exactly 861 feet, or 262.4 meters, which is 500 cubits. ​ In this Eastern Gate area, we also see ancient stones with boss shapes that date back to Solomon or Hezekiah’s time. It should be mentioned that the Eastern Wall location was never changed during the entire history of the Temple Mount. This is so because of the Kidron Valley and its steep decline on this side. So, again, these ancient stones reveal that the Eastern side of the 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform dates back to the time of Solomon or Hezekiah. 4. The Southern Part of the Original Temple Mount Platform Next, we’ll look at the southern wall of the original 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform. Measuring 495 Cubits, 853 feet, 260 meters from the southwest corner of the original 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform, which has a bend in the wall, we come to the entrance of Barclay’s Gate. This gate was built later by Herod and was butted up against the southern wall of the original 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform. This slightly different measurement amounts to less than 1% and was probably the result that the two corners could not be seen due to the elevation of Mt. Moriah between them. 5. The Western Part of the Original Temple Mount Platform The Western Wall section of the original 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform can be located by the established corners of the northwest and southwest corners and measures exactly 861 feet or 262.4 meters. Additionally, Excavations of Barclay's Gate shows this corner as well. More evidence can be seen by an additional gate called “Warren’s Gate,” which can be found butted up against the original 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform. So, in summary, we see overwhelming evidence of the original 500-cubit square Temple Mount Platform. ​ Evidence of the Enlargements of the Temple Mount Platform ​ ​ We can also see the evidence of the Hasmonean and Herodian additions to the original 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform. Hasmonian Enlargement In around 141 BC, the Hasmoneans added a section to the southern part of the original 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform. Again, this can be seen in the bend in the Eastern Wall and the different stone styles used. Herod the Great Enlargement Herod the Great embarked on a massive expansion of the Temple Mount Platform around 19 BC. Josephus, the Jewish historian living around the time of Christ, speaks of how he doubled the size of the Temple Mount after the Hasmonean expansion. He enlarged it to the south, west, and north. Today, we see this evidence throughout the expansion sections. One key place is the expansion of the southern part of the Eastern Wall. A notable seam in the wall reveals Herod’s expansion, which was added to the Hasmonean expansion. This seam clearly shows the change from Hasmonean to Herodian stone styles. The location and configurations between the Hasmonean and Herodian stones show that this was once a corner. Also, the Herodian stones along the Western Wall section speak of Herod’s expansion on this side. Also, at the Temple Mount's northern wall are holes that show where a portico was once located. Again, the Eastern Wall of the original 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform was never changed, it was just repaired and expanded onto the southern end. Evidence Inside the Dome of the Rock ​ T he location of the original temples can also be established with certainty. Inside the Dome of the Rock is the highest point of Mt. Moriah. On this massive stone can be seen a cut-out square that once housed the Ark of the Covenant, and to the sides, the foundations of the Holy of Holies. It should be noted that the altar that David purchased from Arunah the Jebusite was just east of the top of the mountain in a flatter area. Here you can see where the altar would have been located in relation to the rock inside the Dome of the Rock. ​ How Was the Temple Mount Supplied with Water for Sacrifices and Purification Needs? 1. The requirement for living water was only needed for three purposes: (1) defilement by a corpse (Num. 19:17), (2) by a non-routine bodily discharge (Lev. 15:11), or (3) by leprosy (Lev. 14:5, 50). In these instances, part of the purification process requires the use of water that flows continuously. In all other defilement cases, purification is accomplished by washing in water without requiring running water. 2. There were massive cisterns on the Temple Mount (around 37), totaling more than 10.5 million gallons or over 40 million liters of water. Many of these cisterns date to the time of Solomon, Hezekiah, and Zerubbabel. 3. There are around 16 cisterns that are in the original 500-cubit Temple Mount Platform Solomon and Hezekiah built. All these water sources supplied more than enough water for the temple's use. 4. There were other large pools north of the Temple Mount as well. The need for living water was met by the close-by pools that had living water running through them (for example, the Pools of Bethesda and Siloam, Pool of Israel). These three pools alone provided over 54 million gallons or 205 million liters of water. 5. A recent discovery close to the southwestern side of the Temple Mount shows a massive cistern that was fed from water from the Tyropean Valley. 6. There were aqueducts from Bethlehem to the Temple Mount that existed in at least 250 BC that supplied living water to the temple. Many archaeologists believe that the aqueducts even date back to the time of Solomon. 7. There are 50 plus mikvehs on the southern steps and on the west side of the temple mount. The Temple Mount in the Bible 1. The Temple Mount is also called Mount Moriah and was the place where Abraham was to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. Genesis 22:1–2: After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 2 He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." 2. King David purchased the original Temple Mount when it was a threshing floor in order to build an altar to the Lord. 1 Chronicles 21:18: Now the angel of the LORD had commanded Gad to say to David that David should go up and raise an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan [also called Araunah] the Jebusite. 3. King Solomon then built the Temple in this exact location. 2 Chronicles 3:1: Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 4. During the dedication of Solomon’s temple, the glory of the Lord filled it in such a way that the priests had to suspend their activities until God’s glory subsided. 1 Kings 8:10–11: And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. 5. The prophets spoke to the nation of Israel from the Temple Mount. 6. The first temple was destroyed in 586 BC by Babylon because of Israel’s continued disobedience to God. 2 Kings 24:10: At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. 7. The temple was rebuilt again from 538-515 BC under Zerubbabel. Ezra 6:3: In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king issued a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices were offered, and let its foundations be retained. Its height shall be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits. 8. Nehemiah rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem in 444 BC. Nehemiah 2:17: Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision. 9. The Temple Mount was enlarged enormously by King Herod in 19 BC to the size it is today. God, in His sovereignty, made the Temple Mount large enough to handle the crowds Jesus would teach, the 3,000 saved at Pentecost, the 5,000 saved in Acts 4, and a place the Early Church could meet and grow in. 10. Herod also made the temple more beautiful than any before it, and it was three times bigger than the current Dome of the Rock. 11. Zachariah received the vision of having a son, John the Baptist, while serving at the temple. Luke 1:13: But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” 12. Jesus was dedicated to the Lord at the temple. Luke 2:22: And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. 13. At the age of 12, Jesus appeared and dialogued with the religious leaders at the temple. Luke 2:46–47: After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 14. The temple was where the Devil tempted Christ to throw himself down headlong. Luke 4:9–12: And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, "'He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,' 11 and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" 12 And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" 15. Christ taught at the temple frequently. Luke 19:47: And he was teaching daily in the temple. 16. Christ drove out the moneychangers on the Temple Mount. Mark 11:15–17: And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." 17. Christ was tried before Pilate close-by at Herod's Palace. 18. Next to the Temple Mount, at the Southern Stairs, is the likely place where Pentecost took place, 3,000 were saved, and the Early Church was born. Acts 2:41: Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 19. A lame man was healed on the Temple Mount by Peter and John, causing 5,000 men to be saved. Acts 3:1–8: Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. Acts 4:4: But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. 20. The Temple Mount became the meeting place of the Early Church. Acts 2:46–47: And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. 21. Close to the Temple Mount, Stephen was martyred (Acts 7). 22. Because Israel rejected Christ as their Messiah, Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount were destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans. Luke 19:41–44: And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation. 23. The Anti-Christ will commit the abomination of desolation on the Temple Mount during the middle of the Tribulation Period. 2 Thessalonians 2:3–4: Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God , displaying himself as being God. 24. Christ will reign from the Temple Mount (along with believers) for 1,000 years after the Tribulation Period. Revelation 20:6: Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. Faith Lesson from the Temple Mount 1. In the Old Testament, the temple was a focal place where God dwelt, in the New Testament, believers are now the temple in which God dwells. 1 Corinthians 3:16–17: Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. 2. What kind of temple are we? ​

  • Dead Sea, Israel: It's History, Future, Sites of Interest, Beaches, Sodom, Gomorrah |

    Dead Sea Area Photo Gallery Places of Interest Dead Sea Area ​ At the very lowest point on earth, at about 1,410 feet (430 meters) below sea level, lies a natural wonder replete with its own unique ecosystem, breathtaking desert views, and mineral treasures that have attracted visitors for thousands of years. Because of its unique location, healing properties, geological and historical background, surrounding ecosystem, and the epic biblical events that have happened around it, the Dead Sea is an irresistible venue for tourists. Location 1. The Dead Sea is a large salt lake located in the Judean desert of southern Israel. It's about 15 miles (25 km.) east of Jerusalem and is Israel's largest body of water within its borders. It also forms part of the border between Israel and Jordan, with Jordan being on the east side. ​ Historical Background & Info 1. The Dead Sea is one of the world's four saltiest bodies of water. These special conditions are an outcome of its extreme geomorphological structure alongside a harsh desert climate. These create constant dramatic changes that form a landscape different from any other in the world. The unique mineral content of the air, land, and water in the area is globally renowned for its therapeutic qualities. Even since the time of Herod the Great (37-4 BC), it has been a health resort. ​ 2. The Jordan River is the only major water source flowing into the Dead Sea, although there are small perennial springs under and around the lake, forming pools and quicksand pits along its edges. Today, after diversifying the waters from the Sea of Galilee in the 1960s, the only incoming water sources are from sulfur springs and wastewater, along with rare drizzles and flash floods. ​ 3. The water level of the Dead Sea has been receding gradually, at an average yearly rate of about 3 feet (1 meter). This is causing large concern about the Dead Sea drying up. This drop in water level is caused by evaporation under the harsh desert sun, but also because little water is now flowing into the Dead Sea. 4. Why is it called the Dead Sea? For several reasons. Because it has 10 times more salt than other oceans. Because of this, fish and plant life cannot exist. There is absolutely no life whatsoever in the Dead Sea. In various languages, the Dead Sea is referred to by different names, all reflective of its characteristics. The earliest known name is recorded in the Hebrew Bible, referred to as “the Salt Sea," due to its significantly high salt content. It was also called the "Sea of Arabah." It's called in Hebrew "Yam HaMelaẖ" (Salt Sea), and in Arabic "Al-Baḥr Al-Mayyit," ( Sea of Death). ​ Salt was a highly valued commodity in the later Roman era – Roman soldiers were paid in salt rather than money! This is also the source of the Latin word “salary,” which comes from “salt.” ​ In a spiritual sense, some have likened it to being dead because water comes in but doesn't leave. That's what happens to us. If we only receive but don't give, then we will also be spiritually dead. 5. The Dead Sea is globally renowned for the therapeutic effect of the minerals in its waters and mud, which are especially high in concentration. Dead Sea minerals in the water and mud have helped improve many skin conditions, such as psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, and acne. ​ 6. Why is the Dead Sea so salty? It appears that after the Great Flood, this body of water was landlocked. Like the other oceans, this water had a certain level of salt. Then, over the years, its salt content was derived from the erosion of rocks on land, with their salt ions driven by rivers into the landlocked lake. Its extremely low elevation means that water cannot escape the Dead Sea once it enters, and exposed to the intense heat, the water evaporates more quickly, leading to an intense salinity. ​ Another reason it is so salty appears to be because God destroyed the area, as found in Genesis 19:23–29. Deuteronomy 29:23 mentions, "All its land is brimstone and salt , burned debris, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows on it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath." ​ 7. Why do you float in the Dead Sea? Because of the high concentration of salt, the water is much denser than plain fresh water, meaning that our body weight is lighter – which causes us to float! It's important not to say in the water for long periods as it can be dangerous. B e careful about getting water in your eyes or open cuts. It's best not to shave too soon before entering the water as this can cause burning and irritation. Lastly, it's best not to dunk your head under the water. ​ 8. The drop in the level of the water after 1960 or so, has changed the physical appearance of the Dead Sea. Most noticeably, the peninsula of Al-Lisan gradually extended eastward until a dry land strip separated the lake’s northern and southern basins. In addition, the southern basin was eventually subdivided into dozens of large evaporation pools (for the extraction of salt), so by the 21st century, it had essentially ceased to be a natural body of water. The northern basin—effectively now the actual Dead Sea—largely retained its overall dimensions despite its great loss of water, mainly because its shoreline plunged downward so steeply from the surrounding landscape. 9. The Dead Sea lies in a desert. Rainfall is scarce and irregular. It averages about 2.5 inches (65 mm) of rain a year. Because of the lake’s extremely low elevation and sheltered location, winter temperatures are mild, averaging around 63 °F (17 °C) in the winter months. Freezing temperatures never occur. Summer is oppressively hot, averaging 93 °F (34 °C) in August, with a recorded maximum of 124 °F (51 °C). Evaporation of the lake’s waters often creates a thick mist above the lake. Places of Interest 1. Sodom Lot’s Wife Mount Sodom 2. Gomorrah Sphinx Pyramid 3. Zoar 4. Admah 5. Zeboiim ​ 6. Jericho ​ 7. Jordan River Crossing Site 8. Baptismal Site of Jesus (Qsar al-Yahud) ​ 9. Judean Desert ​ 10. Jordan River Inlet ​ 11 . Northern Beaches ​ 12. Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) ​ 13. Avnat (Kidron Valley Drainage from Jerusalem) ​ 14. En Gedi ​ 15. Sink Holes ​ 16. Masada ​ 17. Southern Beaches ​ 18. Dead Sea Mineral Factories ​ ​ The Dead Sea in the Bible There are many mentions of the Dead Sea in the Bible, and it has long been associated with mysticism, wonderment, and religious significance. ​ 1. It appears the area around the Dead Sea was lush and well-watered before God destroyed the area with fire and brimstone. Genesis 13:10: Lot raised his eyes and saw all the vicinity of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord , like the land of Egypt going toward Zoar. ​ 2. It appears that after God destroyed the area, it changed to the state it is today, a dry, barren desert. Deuteronomy 29:23: All its land is brimstone and salt , burned debris, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows on it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath . ​ 3. It is referenced often to describe the borders of Israel. Numbers 34:12: And the border shall go down to the Jordan, and its termination shall be at the Salt Sea . This shall be your land according to its borders on all sides. ​ 4. It was a densely populated area during the time of Abraham before God destroyed the area. Genesis 14:1-3: And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 2 that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these kings came as allies to the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). ​ 5. Sodom and Gomorrah, along with the other cities of the valley, were wicked, sinful people. Genesis 18:20–21: And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 21 I will go down now and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” 6. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 19:23–29: The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar [located south of Sodom and Gomorrah]. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. 27 Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; 28 and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley , and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. 29 Thus, it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley , that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived. ​ 7. The slopes of Mount Sodom are located in the southeast corner of the Dead Sea, and they feature salt formations that look like pillars – which are traditionally referred to as Lot’s wife. ​ 8. At the end of the Tribulation Period, when God judges the nations in the Kidron Valley (Valley of Jehoshaphat), the blood will flow from Jerusalem down to the Dead Sea, and south. The drainage system from the Kidron Valley empties into the Dead Sea at Avnat. Revelation 14:20: And the wine press was trampled outside the city [Jerusalem], and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of 1,600 stadia [185 miles, 300 km.]. ​ The Kidron Stream is about 30 miles, 50 km., from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. This blood river will then flow south from Avnat for a distance of 150 miles, 241 km., to the Red Sea. ​ 9. During the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth after the Great Tribulation Period, a supernatural river will flow from Jerusalem, using the same Kidron Valley drainage system, and will change the Dead Sea area entirely. Ezekiel 47:7-11: Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 Then he said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea [Dead Sea], being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh . 9 And it will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh ; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 And by the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” ​ Zechariah 14:8-9: And on that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem , half of them toward the eastern sea [Dead Sea] and the other half toward the western sea [Mediterranean Sea]; it will be in summer as well as in winter. 9 And the Lord will be King over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one. ​ ​ Faith Lesson from the Dead Sea Area 1. The main lesson we'll take from this area is that of Sodom and Gomorrah. The reason it was destroyed is a serious, sobering message we should allow to sink in deeply. 2. The primary sin for which God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexuality. However, they sinned in many other ways as well. 3. Sodom and Gomorrah are a foreshadow of what hell will be like. 4. Jesus talked about how His second coming would be like that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus also spoke more about hell than heaven. 5. If God, the prophets, Christ, and the apostles used Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of the eternal judgment in hell that awaits the ungodly, then we should do the same today as well. 6. God is a God of love and has done everything He can to save us, but for those who reject His offer of salvation, eternal suffering in the Lake of Fire awaits them (Rev. 20:10). ​

  • Temple Mount Southern Stairs (Rabbis' Stairs): Discipleship in Jesus' Time |

    Davidson Archaeological Site/ Southern Stairs Photo Gallery Places of Interest Davidson Center ~ Southern Stairs The Southern Stairs were also called “The Rabbis’ Stairs” or the “Teaching Stairs” as rabbis taught their disciples on them. ​ Location The Southern Stairs are located at the southern part of the Temple Mount at the Davidson Center. Historical Background 1. The Southern Stairs were one of the main entrances from the south to the Temple Mount during the time of Christ. 2. King Herod had them redone and made them staggered so no one could enter the presence of God without being thoughtful in the process. 3. The width of the stairs was hundreds of feet wide, so they provided plenty of space for congregating and teaching. 4. They were the main access to the temple from the City of David and the western area of the city, where most of the population lived. 5. Multitudes arrived at the stairs by using the Pilgrim's Road (Herodian St.) that connected the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount. As they ascended this road, they would sing the songs of ascent found in Psalms 120-134. 6. The Pool of Siloam was a massive mikveh at the lower part of the City of David that was used by the Jews for purification purposes before entering the Temple Mount. 7. There were also many purification mikvehs at the base of the Southern Stairs as well (around 48 total). 8. The Southern Stairs were also called “The Rabbis’ Stairs” or the “Teaching Stairs” as rabbis taught their disciples on them. 9. There is no doubt Jesus would have walked on these stairs and taught His disciples here. It’s also likely that the young Apostle Paul sat here under the teaching of Gamaliel as well (Acts 22:3). 10. The stairs were cut out of the mountain's bedrock, and part of them can still be seen today. 11. It’s very likely that part of Pentecost took place here or ended up here. The Royal Stoa was located just above us on the southern end of the Temple Mount. It was a huge covered portico that ran the whole length of the Temple Mount at the southern part. We don't have time to talk about all the reasons now, but the Hebrew word for house means the House, referring to the temple or a covered structure. It doesn't really refer to a home. So just think that you are in the area where Pentecost took place. And, of course, around here are all these Mikvehs where the 3,000 who received Christ on Pentecost would be baptized. ​ 12. The other main entrance to the Temple Mount from the south was Robinson's Arch Stairway. The southern stairs and Robinson's Arch Stairway accommodated pilgrims accessing the Temple Mount from Pilgrim's Road. This road led from the Pool of Siloam up to the Temple Mount. ​ 13. The City of David lies just to the south of this area. This is where much of the population of Jerusalem lived. Later, Hezekiah would enlarge Jerusalem to the south and west and build what we know today as Hezekiah's Broad Wall. As a result, this southern part of the Temple Mount was highly used. ​ Places of Interest 1. Herodian Stones ​ 2. Herod's Temple Mount expansion section ​ 3. Trumpeter's Cornerstone (House of the Trumpeter) The original is in the Israel Museum. This one is an exact replica. The Jewish historian, Josephus, writes about this in his writings. Three blowings of the trumpet took place: (1) for the farmers to stop their work (2) for the shopkeepers to close down, and (3) for the Sabbath to officially begin (or other holy feasts). ​ 4. Shops ​ 5. Broken Pavement from the stones that fell during the Roman destruction in 70 AD ​ 6. Burnt layers in the Western Wall from the Roman destruction ​ 7. Isaiah Stone Right under the arch, we can see the so-called "Isaiah Stone." It has a carved inscription in Hebrew with a partial quote or paraphrase of Isaiah 66:14. The carving says: "And them will see, and rejoice your heart, and your bones like grass shall flourish." The verse they are quoting goes like this: When you see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like grass; the hand of the Lord shall be known to His servants, and His indignation to His enemies. The inscription has been dated to around 300 to 700 AD and tells us that the Jews at that time venerated the Temple Mount as the location of the temple. It's just another piece of evidence revealing the Temple Mount as the authentic place where the temple once stood. ​ 8. Pilgrim's Road (Herodian St.) led from the Pool of Siloam to the Southern Stairs and Robinson's Arch Stairway area. 9. Southern Stairs ​ 10. Mikvehs by the Southern Stairs ​ 11 . Royal Stoa - Large public meeting building on the south side of the Temple Mount just above the Southern Stairs. 12. Southern Stairs entrance doors to the Temple Mount 13. Crusader tower 14. Original stairs 15. Temple Mount 16. City of David ​ Discipleship in the Time Of Jesus 1. Discipleship in the Time of Jesus In order to understand biblical discipleship in its fullness, we must see how it functioned in the time of Christ. Ray Vander Laan provides a rich understanding of this area. He notes, “Discipleship was a very common practice in Christ’s day and especially in the Galilee area. The people of Galilee were the most religious Jews in the world in the time of Jesus. This is quite contrary to the common view that the Galileans were simple, uneducated peasants from an isolated area. This perspective is probably due to the comments made in the Bible, which appear to belittle people from this area.” Vander Laan continues, “The Galilean people were actually more educated in the Bible, and its application than most Jews were. More famous Jewish teachers come from Galilee than anywhere else in the world. They were known for their great reverence for Scripture and their passionate desire to be faithful to it.” 2. Discipleship Training Began Early in Life Training for discipleship, as we would know it today, actually started very young in the life of a Jewish child. They would enter grade school (called Beth Sefer) at around 4–5 years of age, which was generally held at the local synagogue. The teacher at the synagogue was called a rabbi. At this level, they would mainly be instructed in the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), learning to read, write, and memorize it. The rest of the Old Testament was referred to as well. Much of the Torah was committed to memory, and it’s likely that by the time this level of education was finished (age 13), they had much of it memorized. After grade school, the best students would then continue on to middle school (called Beth Midrash). They would continue to learn and memorize the Torah, but would branch out and learn the rest of the Old Testament as well, committing much of it to memory. After the Beth Midrash level, those who wanted to continue in discipleship would then seek out a rabbi who would accept them as disciples. They would often leave home to travel with him for a lengthy period of time. These students were called talmidim (talmids) in Hebrew, which is translated as disciple. 3. Memorization Was a Key Factor in Discipleship Memorization was important during Jesus’ day because most people didn’t have their own copy of the Scriptures, so they either had to know it by heart or go to the synagogue to consult the local village scroll. As mentioned, by the time a child finished the Beth Midrash level of education, they had memorized most of the Torah and much of the Old Testament. The common memorization technique involved rote, constant repetition, a practice still used to this day. 4. A Disciple Imitated His Rabbi Discipleship in Christ’s day involved a heavy dose of imitation. A talmid (disciple) emulated his rabbi in all facets of life. His goal was to be like his rabbi. Vander Laan adds, “There is much more to a talmid than simply calling one a student. A student wants to know what the teacher knows for the grade, to complete the class or the degree, or even out of respect for the teacher. A talmid wants to be like the teacher, that is, to become what the teacher is.” That meant that students were passionately devoted to their rabbi and noted everything he did or said. Vander Laan continues, “The rabbi-talmid relationship was a very intense and personal system of education. As the rabbi lived and taught his understanding of the Scripture to his students, they listened, watched, and imitated him to become like him. Eventually, they would become teachers themselves, passing on a lifestyle to their own talmidim.” 5. Discipleship Entailed Learning Much Scripture The very few talmids that reached the status of a rabbi were extremely respected and sought after. Those who became rabbis were incredibly knowledgeable in Scripture, and many had memorized much, if not all, of the Old Testament. As mentioned, during Christ’s day, they didn’t have their own personal Bibles like we do today, so they had to commit it to memory to be able to reference and discuss it. As a result of memorizing so much Scripture, the rabbis were extremely knowledgeable in God’s Word. Those who wanted to learn from a rabbi also committed much, if not all, of the Old Testament to memory as well. This was a requirement to be a disciple as their discussions about Scripture didn’t mainly deal with what the Scriptures said, but what they meant. Rabbis in the time of Christ would be equivalent to theologians today who hold at least one Ph.D. in theology. To reach the status of a rabbi was a great accomplishment. They were the ones who decided biblical doctrines, practices, and customs of the country. Their words were exceptionally authoritative and valued. Doug Greenwold says, “In the world of Pharisaism, rabbis were the teachers who had been given the authoritative role to interpret God’s Word for the living of a righteous life—defining what behavior would or would not please God.” Rabbis were affiliated as well with many different groups, such as the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and others. For example, John the Baptist was a rabbi who had his own disciples (Luke 5:33), and the Apostle Paul was a disciple of Gamaliel before eventually becoming a disciple of Christ at his conversion to Christianity. Some rabbis reached notable status and had a strong influence on religious and government affairs. 6. Strict Devotion Was Expected The rabbis expected strict, complete devotion and adherence to their teachings. They expected loyalty and obedience even beyond that given to their families. Greenwold states, “If a rabbi ultimately agreed to a would-be disciple’s request and allowed him to become a disciple, the disciple-to-be agreed to submit totally to the rabbi’s authority in all areas of interpreting the Scriptures for his life. This was a cultural given for all observant Jewish young men—something each truly wanted to do. As a result, each disciple came to a rabbinic relationship with a desire and a willingness to do just that—surrender to the authority of God’s Word as interpreted by his rabbi’s view of Scripture.” Different rabbis varied in their views of Scripture, so students would choose their rabbis according to their recognition in the country and their theological positions. It would be similar today to which seminary a student might choose for their graduate level of theological training. These rabbis, on occasion, would take their students on training trips that could last from several days to several weeks. These were intense times of training where all distractions from the busyness of life were set aside, and the students would focus entirely on the teachings of their rabbi. The rabbis also had favorite teaching places, one of which was on the Southern Steps that led up to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Tradition holds that even Christ taught His disciples on these steps. I’ve been blessed to visit this site, and while there, imagined how it must have been. 7. Theological Discussions Were a Part of Discipleship It was common for the rabbi and his disciples (a group called Yeshivas) to wrestle significantly with the Word of God. These yeshivas would intensely dialogue and debate over an aspect of life and what Scripture said about it. “It was a standard part of rabbinic teaching methodology.” Greenwold adds, “Studying their rabbi’s view of Scripture and wrestling with the text to comprehend God’s way for the conduct of their life was the main priority of a disciple and the yeshiva experience. Since all disciples had memorized most, if not all, of their Hebrew Scriptures in preparation for their Bar Mitzvahs at age 13, the issue was not what God’s Word said, rather what it meant and how it was to be lived out.” During their times of intense dialogue and debate, these yeshivas would arrive at their theological convictions and doctrinal positions. 8. Tr ansparency and Accountability Were the Norms There was amazing transparency in these groups of yeshivas as they spent much time together in their teaching sessions and discipleship training trips. Doug Greenwold says it well: “Unlike many of our contemporary discipleship programs, there was no curriculum or agenda for this multi-year discipling experience. Rather it was a continual daily relational living experience where either the rabbi would ask questions of the disciple as he closely observed the disciple’s life, or the disciple would initiate a discussion by raising an issue or asking a question based on some aspect of his daily life.” In this discipleship format, not only was theology passed on, but character, attitudes, and behavior. 9. The Meaning of “Believe” As a disciple learned from their rabbi, they were placing their entire trust and belief in him. This process was called, “believing.” Unlike today, the term “believe” had a very different meaning in the Hebrew culture. Once again, Greenwold states it well: “The Semitic understanding of ‘believe’ was not based on an intellectual assent to a creed, doctrinal statement, or series of faith propositions. Rather, to a first-century disciple ‘believe’ is a verb in which you willingly submitted to your rabbi’s interpretive authority regarding God’s Word in every area of your life. Thus, to say you were a disciple in the name of Gamaliel, meant that you totally surrendered your life to Gamaliel’s way of interpreting Scripture. As a result, you conformed all of your life’s behavior to his interpretations.” The word “believe” in the Hebrew culture meant taking some action, applying knowledge to daily life, and changing some attitude or perspective on life, not just mentally knowing something and remaining unchanged. Today, the word “believe” is used more as a noun and slants toward mere intellectual agreement or mental assent, which is a very different meaning than the usage in Christ’s day. ​ Faith Lesson ​ 1. Discipleship Meant Commitment Taking into account the historical meaning of discipleship, we can now better understand the discipleship process Christ employed with His disciples. He called them to follow Him, be with Him, learn from Him, practice what they learned, surrender completely to Him, and love Him more than their families, friends, and culture. It meant even being willing to die for Him if needed. Therefore, a disciple can be summed up as a disciplined learner or student who chooses to follow Christ, their rabbi, to such a degree that they submit their entire life, will, time, plans, desires, dreams, character, and efforts fully to Him and His teachings. They are willing to deny themself, take up their cross, and obey all His commands with total abandonment. A biblical disciple is a person who gives complete devotion and loyalty to Christ above any human relationship or influence. It’s a person who is willing to die for the cause of Christ on a daily basis, and once and for all if needed. 2. We see in the discipleship process during the time of Christ that there was a strong emphasis on knowing God’s Word, relational mentoring, character, discipline, commitment, and devotion. 3. Discipleship in Christ’s Day Versus Discipleship Today How are Christians and the church doing today in regard to biblical discipleship? The contrast between discipleship in Christ’s time and discipleship today is quite staggering. Unlike Christ’s disciples, who knew Scripture exceedingly well and had much of it memorized, 81% of Christians today don’t read their Bibles regularly and are largely biblically illiterate. Unlike Christ’s disciples, who were fishers of men and took the gospel to the ends of the earth, 61% of Christians today haven’t even shared their faith in the last six months. Unlike Christ’s disciples, who prayed extensively, the average Christian today prays somewhere between 1–7 minutes a day. And unlike Christ and the Apostles, who made discipleship a core part of their ministries, 81% of pastors have no regular discipleship program for mentoring their people. It’s clear to see that the value Christ and the Apostles gave to discipleship versus the value the average Evangelical church and Christian give it today is vastly different. ​

  • Tel Beersheba: Home of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Negev, Israel |

    Beersheba Photo Gallery Places of Interest Beersheba Location 1. Beersheba is located in the Negev, which is a semi-desert. 2. The tel of Beersheba lies a little east of the modern city, which is the region's largest city and administrative capital. 3. It’s about 45 miles (70 km.) south of Jerusalem and about 30 miles (45 km.) from the Mediterranean Ocean. 4. It’s located between the Beersheba and Hebron Streams (which are dry much of the time). 5. It was located on a significant travel route linking Africa and Egypt with Asia and Europe. The Nabateans, who were centralized in Petra, passed through here on caravans with trade goods. Historical Background 1. Beersheba is the beginning place of God’s master plan for the Nation of Israel. 2. In essence, each person has the same tendencies as the Nation of Israel. Therefore, when God wanted to speak to all mankind, He used Israel as the example (1 Cor. 10:11). 3. The name Negev means “dry land” in Hebrew, but the Bible often uses the term to refer to the southern part of Israel. 4. Because Beersheba is in the Negev, which receives an annual rainfall of 6–8 inches (18 cm.), there was not a lot of population in the area, and most of the people living here were nomadic shepherds. 5. Beersheba was in the territory of the Philistines (Gen. 21:33–34). 6. After a conflict over Abraham’s well, which he had dug in Beersheba, a covenant was made between Abimelech and Abraham to settle the dispute (Gen. 21:25–34). To ratify the covenant, Abraham gave Abimelech seven ewe lambs. Therefore, Beersheba means “well of the oath” or “well of the seven lambs.” ​ 7. Later, Abraham's son, Isaac, would have another conflict with Abimelech, and would confirm an agreement as well: "So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 Then they arose early in the morning and swore an oath with one another; and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. 32 It came to pass the same day that Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, “We have found water.” 33 So he called it Shebah. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day" (Gen 26:30-33). 8 . When the writers of Scripture wanted to speak of all Israel, they would often use the expression “from Dan (the northern-most city) to Beersheba" (the southern-most city). Places of Interest 1. Four Horned Altar ​ This altar belonged to cult worship or was misused by the Israelites as it doesn’t comply with Scripture. Altars were to be made of “stones on which you have not used an iron tool” (Deut. 27:5). This altar used hand-shaped stones. The altar was likely one of those torn down during the religious reforms of King Josiah (2 Kings 23:8). 2. Abraham’s Well – 230 feet deep (70 m.) 3. Outer Gate 4. Inner Gates 5. City Square 6. Governor’s Palace 7. Roman Bath Pools 8. Basement House 9. Four-room House 10. Casement Wall 11. Roman Fortress 12. Observation Tower 13. Storerooms 14. Street with Shops 15. Beersheba Stream 16. Hebron Stream 17. Water Cistern ​ Beersheba in the Bible 1. About 2000 years before Christ, God called Abraham from Mesopotamia to leave his family and possessions and journey to a new land with the promise that his descendants would become a great nation. Genesis 12:1–3: Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation , and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 2. After Abraham passed through the Land of Israel, he settled in the Negev area (Gen. 12:9). 3. When a severe famine came upon the land, Abraham left the Negev for a bit and went to Egypt (Gen. 12:10). 4. After the famine, Abraham returned to the Negev (close to Hebron), and God confirmed His covenant with him. Genesis 13:14–17: The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever . 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth , so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” The Abrahamic Covenant includes two promises: (1) a land, and (2) a nation of people. From this covenant comes the Nation of Israel and their land. 5. After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham settled in Beersheba and “Lived there many days” (Gen 21:34), probably meaning the rest of his life. 6. Close-by to Beersheba, Hagar, the mother of Ismael, was sent away by Abraham and an angel of the Lord ministered to her, saying “Her offspring would be blessed” (Gen. 21:14–18). 7. Isaac, the son and heir Abraham and Sarah had waited all their lives to have, was born in Beersheba. 8. It was from Beersheba that Abraham journeyed with his son Isaac to Mount Moriah at Jerusalem, where God had ordered him to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Mount Moriah is the exact place that Solomon would later build the temple in Jerusalem where countless sacrifices would be made, the most significant being the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Genesis 22:1-5: After these things, God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 2 He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you." Genesis 22:10-19: Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." 15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, "By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice." 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba. 9. It was at Beersheba that Isaac and Rebecca met, falling in love at first sight (Gen. 24:62–67). 10. Isaac’s son, Jacob, stole the birthright from his brother Esau while the family lived in Beersheba (Gen. 27). 11. Jacob lived in Beersheba when he and all his family moved to Egypt to live with Joseph (Gen. 46:45–47). 12. The Prophet Elijah came to Beersheba when he fled from Jezebel after the great showdown on Mount Carmel between God and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah. Elijah had the prophets killed, whom Jezebel supported, so he was running for his life. Faith Lesson from Beersheba 1. Beersheba is the beginning place of God’s sovereign master plan for the Nation of Israel, and through them, all mankind. 2. Beersheba played a key role in the lives of all the Patriarchs. 3. Abraham left his family and country in Mesopotamia in obedience to God and settled in Beersheba. ​ 4. God tested Abraham at Beersheba, and he proved he loved God more than any earthly treasure, even his own son. 5. Do we understand that God often tests us as well? 6. Do we understand that God’s greatest question for us is, “What do you love more than me?” 7. Do I have anything in my life that stands between God and me? 8. Do I know what my “Isaac” is, and would I be willing to give it up to God if He asked me to? 9. Abraham is called "Our father of faith" because of his obedience and devotion to God. Do we have like Abraham? ​

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