The Mount of Olives
It’s hard to keep the days straight as I have been so sleep deprived, but it is getting better slowly but surely – Praise the Lord!
It’s Sunday, the week before Palm Sunday and we are going to the Mount of Olives! Can’t wait!!!
They call the Mount of Olives a mountain range, but it doesn’t look like a mountain to me, more like foothills. At least compared to some of our mountains at home. I guess because everything is now so populated. Nevertheless, this mountain range divides and protects Jerusalem from the eastern deserts. (the way we traveled to the Dead Sea area).
As described in the “City of David” article from last week, this range starts in the North with Mt. Scopus. Mt Scopus derived its name when in 70 AD, the Romans, led by then General Titus, ‘scoped’ out Jerusalem before making the siege. The middle of the range is called Olives and this is where we are today. The southern part was the Hill of Scandal, rightly named as Solomon allowed his wives to build pagan temples and high places to worship foreign gods, expressly against God’s decree.
The Olives are not far from our hotel so it is a relatively short ride, but rather nerve racking. We are on very large buses driving on very narrow streets that are VERY full of cars! Our bus driver, Menachem, is a wizard with this monster and he drives like he is in a VW bug?. None of us can actually believe we have made it without scraping the paint or knocking off a bumper, but here we are.
We have parked actually about half way down the Mount of Olives which is where the tourist’s area is located. Our guide, Eli, gives us a warning before exiting the bus. “I recommend leaving your valuables on the bus, they will be safe. If you choose to take them with you, watch them carefully as there are pickpockets. Pay particular attention to street vendors selling large fold out postcards. While unfolding them to show you, they will adeptly steal your valuables. It’s best to not to enter into a conversation with them at all, just say no thank you and keep walking.” What a Shame.
It was just as he described and I guess like most large cities and tourist traps, you have to be careful. Just like when I went to Times Square N.Y, with my daughter-in-law, her mother, and my granddaughter. It’s still unfortunate.
The day was cold and a little windy. It looked like rain. My rain poncho that I purchased from Big 5 will come in use today – either to shield me from the rain or block the wind. Burr!
After going through the vendors, we gathered together on a patio of sorts looking down the hill, overlooking the graves we saw in the previous blog and down on the Valley of Kidron as it is known today and the Old City.
|A close up of the graves behind us in picture 1- all facing Jerusalem waiting for the Messiah|
Jesus would have been very familiar with this area. From the time He was a child throughout His adult life, He lived North of here by the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberius. Nazareth is not too far from the Sea of Galilee which is where Jesus spent His youth. At least 3 times per year, the Israelites in the north, including Jesus and His family, would travel down through the Jordan Valley, up through Jericho singing songs of ascent and finally reaching the Mount of Olives or Olives. The three holy days were: Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles.
This mountain area, aptly got its name as it was covered in olive trees, both on and around. Olive trees were very important back then. I’m told not so much for eating olives as we do today. The oil as used for anointing, treatments for various wounds or illnesses, lamp oil and, of course, cooking.
This journey would have taken days by foot at least. It took us a couple hours driving on a highway to reach the northern area. When they finally did reach the Olives, they would have easily seen the Temple inside the old gates of the city.
Interestingly, they did not stay inside the city, but on the hills sides of the Olives. The Israelites’ pitched tents and set up camp on this mountainside and would stay there until the Holy days were passed and the sacrifices had been made. Jesus didn’t even stay inside the temple area when he was an adult nor during His ministry. He would go and teach and talk to the people, but then retreat to stay with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethpage/Bethany during the Holy season, then return to Galilee. Not until the night He was betrayed did He stay inside the gates.
From our vantage point, we can look down and see the current eastern gate of the Old City. This wall and gate were built about 480 years ago by the Muslim Turks. The walls and gate that Jesus looked down upon were buried beneath the walls we see today. The eastern gate is actually not even a gate at this time, it is sealed. It is told that the Muslims intentionally blocked, buried and defiled the gates and soil to prevent the Messiah from entering upon His return.
In Lamentations 2:9, this was predicted”
Of course, burying the gate will not stop Jesus from coming again. His return is clear and the gate will re-surface. I’ll explain more about this later.
The most poignant part of being in this very spot is knowing that Jesus entered the city from here on the donkey on Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, so many years ago. Jesus was being honored by a great multitude, as He made His way into the city great multitudes of people lined His path with palm branches, clothing. The people were shouting:
The people thought He was the king who would lead the people in victory from the Roman oppressors. However, Jesus was not celebrating. He looked down over the city of Jerusalem and wept!
Our pastor told us that in Hebrew, wept does not mean a few tears. Wept, means shoulders heaving, crying!
The Jews missed their visitation! If only they had understood their own scriptures!
The Prophet Daniel prophesied the exact date the Messiah, Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on a colt! See Daniel 9. It predicts that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem 73,800 days after the decree was given to rebuild the Temple by the Persians and in Zac 9:9 that He would come in riding on a donkey, a colt.
Standing there where Jesus rode, knowing that our Savior wept, with shoulders heaving, brought tears to many eyes, including my own. Jesus is looking to save all of us now! Don’t miss your visitation.
Next up- The Kidron Valley AKA The Valley of Jehoshaphat
Debbie lives in Southern California with her husband Doug and her children and grandchildren.
Scripture is taken from the New King James Version Copyright @ 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.