Travelling the Holy Land (5)

Time is flying and we are heading to Jerusalem again. This time we enter at the Damascus gate. Eayd has us on a tight schedules. Even as tourists on the bus are disturbed by the news of riots on the temple mount, we are planning to start off there, stroll through the old city of Jerusalem once again before we head out to the Knesset, see the big national Knesset Menorah and make our appointment at Yad Vashem. We would still have plenty of time to get to Tel Aviv and start saying our goodbyes to this very promised and Holy Land.

The sweet and short of the nights trouble was, that some Palestinian radicals had shut themselves up in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. They were trying to prevent extreme Jews to enter in and sacrifice some paschal lambs and/or heifers. It was a free ticket to the extremists, who were insisting on their rights to freely pray in the Mosque whenever and now they could blame those die hards in the mosque for keeping them from this acknowledged right of access. That is why the police stormed the place early in the morning and cleared out all obstacles even against the heavy opposition of those Palestinians. When we got there, things were quite relaxed. Remarkable how the security forces keep things in check. I could not thank them enough for making our stay safe and possible. Can You imagine walking into Mecca or Medina in a collar or a kippah? Just remember the aggression faced by Israelis coming out as such during the world soccer cup in Dubai. It is not just Iranians, who bedevil the Jews. Well, on the temple mount Palestinian girls and younger women were still sitting in all over filming every step of tourists, security guards and Jews pilgrims just too eager to post any signs of disturbance and aggression on social media. Well, I felt perfectly safe. I believe, the Israeli troopers were on my side and so I enjoyed the morning in the bright sunlight. It sure is a beautiful site: Adam´s skull buried here; Abraham´s figurative offering of Isaac took place there; Jesus was finally crucified here and buried too before He rose on the third day. No wonder all hold it to be the very center and navel of the earth. Sounds a lot more convincing than alternatives in Delphi etc.

The various muslim holy places sure dominate the place today. No small wonder some extreme Jews want to change that even if the more moderate prefer the status quo: Just don´t rock the boat. I presume, it is very much like the politically savvy Sadducees arguing with more radical Pharisees in Jesus times and then You would even get some way out Zealots stoke the pot as much as they possibly could. Funny thing is, that Jesus got disciples from all different walks of life – even turncoat tax collectors like Matthew. No small wonder they were a colourful band on the way up to Jerusalem.

My visit to the Western Wall was quite emotional. It´s not often that I am surpassed by far by religious zealots, but I think it is fair, that in comparison with these religious people, I am but a poor straggler and learner. St. Paul knew all about it:

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Romans 10,1-4ff

Well, there is much to say about this – and St. Paul continues for a while before he confesses the faith:

“The deliverer will come from Zion;
    he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”

Romans 11,26-27

and praises the triune God in highest tones:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[i] knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Romans 11,33-36.

I felt very much at home on the site of these temple foundations. I am sure, it was a foretaste of the great day, when we will see our good Lord Jesus Christ returning and we from the North and the South, the East and the West will sit with the patriarchs of old and rejoice in God´s visible kingdom at last – the heavenly Jerusalem for all to see – and the Lamb at the center of all. For now, we have but His promise, which He fulfills all in all through and in IX – for us and our salvation +

We looked in at the Austrian Hospice for Pilgrims. Walter von der Vogelweide stayed there too. They have a wonderful terrace and cafe, but nothing beats the view from their roof across Jerusalem. That alone is worthwhile the visit. This is high on my bucket list.

We took our coffee and pomegranate juice with Jacob (?) – the father of Rimon Himo – next to the Damascus gate. Nice view down the alley way and enjoyed the busy scene.

On the bus we got to parliament. It´s just around the corner and from there it was just a hop, skip and jump to Vad Jashem. There are so many museums, excavations and sights we skipped, that another visit to the Holy City seems the natural thing to do.

In Tel Aviv we drove through the “White City” (Bauhaus) to get to the site, where Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist before we dropped our bags in some hotel and from there walked down to the beach and old Jaffa harbour, where St. Peter had been called to visit the non-jewish Cornelius (Acts 10). Well, we just walked through the balmy night, enjoying the vibe of this relaxed city during these high holidays, when pious Jews burn all old bread and clear out all left over yeast.

Sitting at the seaside of Jaffa Port and looking over to the skyline of Tel Aviv was bliss. At that time, we did not imagine some terrorist tearing down that street to mow down relaxed french tourists. That would only happen the next day and a bit further north. We were still very much at peace. This however, is a very fragile state. Especially in the Middle East – and the Israeli heartland – with so many terrorists with serious grudges running around freely and that is not even counting all the “nearly normal residents” with old ressentiments sky rocketing. Kyrie eleison +

We walked hand-in-hand and totally relaxed through the parks and narrow alley ways – not afraid and very much like we used to in summers down south. The blooming oranges spread their fragrance and the ocean waves were soothing sounds in this high holiday season.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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