Wishing each of you a Happy Thanksgiving! There is so much to be thankful for, yet much of it we take for granted. I am guilty of this even though I strive hard not to be. “I will go about Your altar, O Lord, that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works.” Psalms 26:6-7 NKJV
It has truly been a wondrous year. Rick and I received the gift of a trip to Israel, a strange and mysterious land; mysterious in that it looks desolate, yet it flows with abundance. We made many new friends within our tour group and were deeply touched by the love we all felt for each other. For the first part of our trip, our hotel was on the Sea of Galilee, and we reveled in the sights of Jesus’ ministry. We rejoiced in the beauty of the land where he fed the multitudes, delivered the sermon on the mount, cooked for His disciples, and performed many miracles. For the disciples, it was probably their happy place as it became that for us. We swam daily in the Sea of Galilee.
Then we went to Jerusalem and along the way, we began to feel fatigued. We arrived on Yom Kippur, a Jewish Holy Day, signifying the day of atonement. On that day, we had to walk because our driver wasn’t allowed to work. We walked eight miles, a lot for these senior bodies, uphill all the way! We walked to Old Jerusalem, saw where Stephen was stoned, the pools of Bethesda, and the Via Dolorosa, the narrow road believed to have been taken by Jesus through Jerusalem on his way to Calvary. My back cried out in pain, my feet hurt, my head ached, and Rick experienced pain shooting out from his knee. In my mind, I was complaining big time and had developed a strong dislike of my tour guide! And then the light-bulb moment in my brain – whatever I felt was nothing compare to what Jesus felt. We woke up each morning wondering how hard sightseeing would be that day. We visited the Tower of David, the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane.
As awesome as seeing these sights were, Jerusalem had somehow become the city of dread. Then I realized the lamb of God, the perfect lamb, the one that was slain for me; the one of which the Bible says “This man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right of God”—it was the city of dread for Him, too. He had prayed and asked God to remove this cup, but added not my will but thine be done. He laid down His life that I might live. Jerusalem embodied the ugliness of man’s sin and the awful cost of redemption, the wailing wall and the atonement we desperately need.
I could see Jerusalem for its past, the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution of Christians, yet it is the city of resurrection and will become a new and glorious city; Mount Zion, the city of thy Great King.