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By

Nick Parsons

City of The Great King

Submitted By: Erin Touring the Old City of Jerusalem! We started at Ammunition Hill, a memorial of the fight for the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War. They have an amazing presentation incorporating a film with original footage from the war along with a topographic map on the floor that lights up to show battle lines and movements of the soldiers. Outside there is a network of trenches we ran around in, old tanks, and a bunker which houses a museum. The exhibits in the museum tie together the history of the battles with journal entries, poetry, and drawings made by the soldiers. With a new appreciation for the sacrifices that were made so that we could merely stand in this place, we piled into the vans and drove to the Mount of Olives. “When the L-RD brought back the captivity of Zion, We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The L-RD has done great things for them.” The L-RD has done great things for us, And we are glad.” Psalm 126:1-3 We gathered around as Tommy challenged us to examine the root of our faith – that when Messiah comes he will be above all the Son of David – the King of Israel, whose throne will be in Jerusalem. “Of the increase of government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever.” Isaiah 9:7 We sang a few songs together, with tourists watching us curiously and camel sounds in the background (“Smile, Kojak, Smile” “SNORT”), then took off down the steep slippery road past the supposed location of Gethsemane (closed for the afternoon), the Magdalene church (also closed), and the Jewish cemetery (open). We crossed the Kidron valley and began the ascent along the valley below the Golden Gate. This eastern gate of the Temple Mount complex is a subject of much prophecy and legend. It is said that the Shechinah (Divine Presence) used to appear through this gate and will appear again here when Messiah comes. Although in Muslim tradition it is called the “Gate of Eternal Life,” it was blocked off in the 16th century by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I and a cemetery planted in front in the belief that this would prevent Elijah (who is said to be a Cohen/member of the priestly family) from entering, thereby preventing Messiah from coming to redeem the Jews. Man plans, and G-d laughs. . . The double arches of the gate are also called the gates of teshuvah (repentance) and rachamim (mercy) and Jews often prayed here when the Western Wall was lost under rubble. The Eastern gate that was used in Biblical times is buried somewhere under this more recent gate. I wonder when it will be opened? I’d like to be here to see that. We entered the city through the Dung Gate which, as the name implies, was just outside the stables. We scattered through the Jewish Quarter to find lunch. We took in both the holy and profane sights and sounds of the city – Rabbis going to study, American teenagers being typically flamboyant, the gold menorah prepared for the future temple, and bedraggled stray cats. Falafel, shwarma, pizza, Mediterranean salads and greasy fries were all equally enjoyed and shared around. We piled into Shorashim, Moshe and Dov Kempinski’s shop, to hear a word from Moshe about why we are here. He encouraged us that no matter why we think we have come to Israel, the real reason is because G-d has invited us to come spend some time with Him in His own house. I hope I can focus while I’m here to really appreciate this gift, to touch the holiness of this place and be changed by it. . . Meanwhile, Barret Warren (with the blessing of all fathers involved, of course) was outside asking Devin Schaefer to marry him. She said yes, and sealed her answer with an excited high five. Congratulations, Warren and Schaefer families! Thank you for letting us share in your joy. We continued to the Kotel, the Western Wall of the Temple area, where the prayers and yearnings of centuries have become a river that can sweep away even the most restrained soul. Then through the Armenian Quarter to Mount Zion. I’ve been here enough times now that the edge has worn off my excitement – but it is being replaced with growing awe of what it means to stand in the City of the King and gratitude that I have been blessed to walk these streets enough times that they are becoming familiar. Always the time here moves too fast. These are places I want to sit and reflect and pray, to see and smell, to observe the flow of life and be an unnoticed part of the scenery.  I lag behind the group envying the permanence of the stone in the pavement and wishing to see what the olive trees see, the generations that have come and gone and will continue to gather here and come up to worship the King. For now we go out through the gates and continue on. . . “But You, O L-RD, shall endure forever, And the remembrance of Your name to all generations. You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, And show favor to her dust. So the nations shall fear the name of the L-RD, And all the kings of the earth Your glory. For the L-RD shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory.” Psalm... Read MoreRead More

Harvest Flip Movie

 

Submitted By: Jacob We are up early driving to the vineyard as the sun rises! When we arrive at the vineyard we read a morning scripture and then getting instructions for the day normally includes admonishment NOT TO LOSE THE CLIPPERS! We pick up our clippers and head into the vineyard starting the live music and prayer as we work. We usually pick grapes till lunch. This is a normal workflow for all of us harvesters volunteering here. Below is a slideshow that we produced to show a little bit of the joy of harvesting in these Historic, Biblical Covenant Hills of Judea &... Read MoreRead More

Touring the Heartland

Submitted By: David Our train of passenger vans snaked through the mountains of Samaria – a fluid spectacle of movement passing quickly through the early morning darkness. We had been traveling east through the biblical heartland toward an orange haze beneath the pale blue distant horizon. Suddenly we began an abrupt ascent and the road turned jagged and rocky. Anticipation pulsed – we were ascending one of the highest mountains in Israel, racing the sun to watch it emerge from behind the mountains of Jordan and the low lying clouds that hung between heaven and earth. Within moments our vehicles were stopped and we began the short walk to the crest of Elon Moreh. We made it! The sun had not yet lifted itself from behind the Jordanian mountain ridge. Yet the buzz was not for the sake of a sunrise breakfast and mountain top view – this was no ordinary mountain. We were standing in the place where G-d showed Abraham the land of his inheritance. Where one’s eye can see a broad stroke of the land – as far as Jerusalem in the south and Mount Hermon in the north. On this very mountain, the King of the Universe made a decree and spoke a promise – an eternal word of hope for the seed of Abraham. “Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as Elon Moreh. Then the L-RD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” Genesis 12:6-7      Over an hour had passed before we made our descent from the peak of Elon Moreh. The route was tortuous as we skirted around the biblical city of Shechem. We travelled into the depths of a wide valley that lay between the mountains of Elon Moreh, Itamar, Mount Ebal and our next destination – The Mountain of Blessing. This historic mountain rests opposite Mount Ebal which is also known as the Mountain of the Curse. With a deep but narrow valley interposed between these two peaks, Joshua and the Elders stood somewhere in the valley and were flanked by half of the tribes on Mount Gerizim (Blessing) and half of the tribes on Mount Ebal (Curses). It was here that the Covenant was reaffirmed – Israel would be the people of the Almighty and the Almighty would be the Sovereign of this people. “All Israel with their elders and officers and their judges were standing on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the L-RD, the stranger as well as the native. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the L-RD had given command at first to bless the people of Israel.” Joshua 8:33      We had yet one more stop on this morning tour. We loaded up the vehicles and travelled a short distance to ascend another important mountain in the biblical region of Samaria to Kfar Tappuah. This broad, flat-topped mountain sits about 35 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea in the west and 35 kilometers from the Jordanian mountain ridge in the east. Our distinguished guide, for this segment of the tour, shared a story of interest with the vinedressers and harvesters who are the fabric of our group. He talked about a promise that was spoken thousands of years earlier – that vines would again take root in the mountains of Samaria. But even 15-20 years ago this word remained unfulfilled. Experts came to the region and proclaimed the land unsuitable for grapes – too rocky. But resting at the feet of our guide was a deep pit that had been hewn out of the rock several millennia ago. This pit was a remnant of an ancient winepress – proof that vines had once flourished here. Against the counsel of experts, the brave farmers of Judea and Samaria began to plant. Today, prophecy is being fulfilled. Grapes are being harvested and the winepresses are dripping their fragrant juice that will ferment sweetly into award winning boutique wines. “Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; The planters will plant and will enjoy them.” Jeremiah... Read MoreRead More
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