The Timothy Team Israel Tour is on the road again for day number twelve. Being on the move as witnesses for the Lord is what this training is all about.
Its is an interesting fact that God never asked David or Solomon to build a temple. The Tabernacle was another thing altogether. There was a splendor to the simplicity of the Tabernacle. God provided the instructions for it’s building to the craftsmen who made it. Once completed, God took up residence there among His people. When He moved, they moved. Where He stopped, they set up camp. This activity from the Hebrew Scriptures also reflects the life of a disciple of Yeshua. We are to move when and where He tells us to. When He tells us to stop and take up residence somewhere, that is what what we are to do. Why? We are to be His image bearer wherever he wants us to be with whatever people He wants us to hang out with, until He tells us to move on.
Today, our focus is on the Temple, crisscrossing the city on foot to explore the idea and expression of the Tabernacle and the Temple from the time of David to its destruction in 70 AD.
City of David It is about a 15 minute walk from where we are staying at the Maronite Convent just inside the Jaffa Gate to the City of David. This is the old Jebusite city that was in existence when David cut off Goliath’s head in the Elah Valley, not far away. David brought the Philistine’s head to the walls of Jerusalem as if to say, “You’re next!”
Under cover of darkness, David’s troops snuck through a waterway into the ancient city and took it. Once David was ensconced in his new capital, he united the twelve tribes around him by making Jerusalem the capital. After building a palace for himself, David wanted to build a spectacular house for God, a permanent Temple where God would reside forever. David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah as the place for his Temple to be built. He began to plan God’s dwelling place on the very site where Abraham had brought his only son Isaac to be sacrificed at God’s command. Because David had blood on his hands, innocent blood, he was prohibited from building the Temple of God. His son, Solomon, would construct the most amazing temple in all of the world after David’s death.
From the City of David, we descended under ground to Hezekiah’s Tunnel. There we entered a shaft cut through solid granite by Hezekiah, one of the eight good kings of Judah as a safeguard for Jerusalem’s water supply from the Assyrians who were coming to besiege the city. It is an amazing thing to wade through water running knee high with only a flashlight and the laughter ahead of you as a guide. The water flowing through Hezkiah’s Tunnel comes from the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley. It is channeled through the ground underneath the City of David to what became known as the Pools of Siloam.
Pools of Siloam Read Luke 13 & John 9. Isaiah 35:5-8 prophesied that when the Messiah appeared He would perform specific miracles as a resume of His credentials to lay claim to deity and David’s throne, thus establishing the 1,000 year Messianic Kingdom. While in Jerusalem, Yeshua met a man blind from birth. Day is the time allotted to do God’s work according to Jewish thought. Night sets the limits of that time. Jesus, as the Light of the world, worked all the days of His life in obedience to His Father’s will. It was the Father’s will that Jesus bring light to the eyes of this blind man. Making some mud with spittle and dirt, Jesus applied it to the eyes of the blind man and told him to go to the Pools of Siloam and wash it off there. When he obeyed, his eyes were opened. Siloam means “sent.” Yeshua sent the man to the pools to see the light, just as Yeshua was sent by His Father to be the Light of the World.
At the time of Messiah, during Shavuot (Feast of Tabernacles), priests from the Temple would go down to the Pools of Siloam and retrieve water to be taken back to the Temple amidst the praises of the people. They would pour the water out at the base of the altar as the crowd recited the Hallel, Psalms 113-118. This procession likely illustrated Isaiah 12:3. Shavuot is an eight day festival. What the priests did happened on the first seven days of the festival. It did not occur on the eighth day. This was the day Yeshua stood up and said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. (John 7:37-38)
Leaving the Pools of Siloam we once again entered a tunnel that at one time was open to the sky. The tunnel runs along the route that the priests from the Temple would come to retrieve the water as described above. Climbing steadily, we ascended to stairs, entering the daylight once again. Where were we?
Davidson Archeological Park In Matthew 24:1-51, we find the account of Yeshua and His closest friends leaving the Temple compound. They pointed out to Him the grandeur of the building Herod the Great had constructed. Jesus said, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”
About forty years later, as that generation was dying off, Titus arrived at Jerusalem and laid siege to it to put down the First Jewish Revolt. Following a lengthy wait for the city to fall the Roman army broke through the walls, set the Temple ablaze and melted the abundant gold that adorned the Temple. It ran down between the cracks in the stone. In order to retrieve it, the soldiers pried every stone loose and threw it down into the area we just entered.
There amidst the rubble of the Temple that Yeshua’s disciples were so proud of, MK told the story of the Birth of the Church, the tenth story in our Stories of God disciple making series. Her video of this will be posted soon.
Just around the corner are the Southern Steps. It was these steps that most of the people in Jesus’s day would use to enter the Temple compound from the city below. On these steps, Jesus and Paul likely taught. Just above them, in the Court of the Gentiles, Peter would have delivered his first sermon on Shavuot. Shavuot, or Pentecost, occurs fifty days after Passover. It was therefore ten days since Yeshua had ascended back to heaven. Following Peter’s fist sermon, 3,000 people were baptized in the mikvah (ritual bath) below. Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai to the direct physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Their line would become known as the Jewish people.
On the Southern Steps, just as the Apostle Peter told his story to the people at Pentecost, our own Peter told us why he believes in the Resurrected One. Incredible!
Burnt House / Temple Institute Following the first hamburger of our trip at lunchtime, we made stops at two places that are incredibly interesting and amazingly sad at the same time.
Most of the Pharisees refused to even look at what the Scriptures said about the coming Messiah. They were more concerned with maintaining their power over the people than bending their knee to the All Powerful. The result was devastating. Rabbinic Judaism claims a direct line of succession from Moses to the rabbis from Mount Sinai to this day. What Rabbinic Judaism teaches is most often in direct opposition to the teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures. Watch this video for an explanation.
As a direct result of the national acceptance of the teaching of the rabbis as opposed to their acceptance of Yeshua as Messiah, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was assured. The Burn’t House shows a short video that profiles an actual 1st Century priestly family that lived near the Temple at the time of its destruction. Their family name was Katros.
Just a few steps from the Burnt House is the Temple Institute. The group that runs this facility are Orthodox Jews who are actively preparing for the construction on the Third Temple. They have been studying the Talmud, the writings of Rabbinic Judaism, for instructions on how to make all of the articles necessary to reinstitute the practices of the Pharisees in the soon to be new Temple. They believe that the building of this Temple will prepare the way for the Jewish Messiah to finally come as the Hebrew Scriptures foretold. The problem with this is that He has clearly already come. This Temple will be built in unbelief and will result in further judgement by God.
Kotel / Western Wall Tunnel The length of the western side of the Temple Mount enclosure made by Herod the Great is 1,601 feet. Only 200 feet of this is open to the air. The rest is underground, running north. The Kotel is that part of the Western Wall known to much of the world as the Wailing Wall. Why? This is because following the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent domination of the Temple Mount by Rome and then the Muslims, the Jews have not been given access to the Temple Mount itself, place where Solomon’s Temple once stood. The Kotel is the place closest to the location of the Holy of Holies in the Temple built by King Solomon, when the Ark of the Covenant was still in the Temple. This means that God’s presence among His people was still occurring there until Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple the first time in 586 BC and carried the Temple treasures away to Babylon. This including the Ark of the Covenant. Read Ezekiel 10 for an account the prophet’s vision of God’s presence leaving the Temple towards the east. When the Temple was rebuilt by the exiles that returned from the Babylonian captivity, those who saw it mourned at the loss of the glory of Solomon’s Temple. In the Holy of Holies they placed a foundation stone from the First Temple. Not quite the same as the Ark, is it?
Immediately north of the Kotel, the Western Wall goes underground into what some have termed the Rabbi’s Tunnels. This is because the the leaders of Rabbinic Judaism have concluded that prior to the destruction the First Temple, the Ark was hidden underneath the Temple Mount and that the Jewish sages know where it is. Hope is held out that Temple worship along with the sacrifices will be reinstated when the Third Temple is built and the Ark is restored to the Holy of Holies.
The Western Wall Tunnel runs the entire length of the enclosure that Herod the great built to increase the size of the Temple Mount Compound. Some of the stones used in this massive project exceed 700 tons! We don’t currently have equipment that can move stones of this size today. Herod the Great had two great passions according to our beloved guide, Natalie. They were killing his people and building monuments to himself. He did both very well, so much so that we are still talking about him today.
Virtual Reality Temple Just prior to entering the Western Wall Tunnels, our guide told me that there was a brand new exhibition adjacent to the Western Wall Tunnel entrance. A three dimensional movie has been released that takes one right into the Temple as envisioned by the folks at the Temple Institute. While there were clearly some biblical discrepancies, it was amazing to sit in a chair swiveling 360 degrees around and up and down as we stood in the video recreation. Pretty incredible!
Big Idea There were lots of take-aways from this day. The most important is this. The Temple was destroyed because there is no longer a need for it. The Mosaic Law (Torah) required that a member of the tribe of Levi and also a direct descendant of Aaron, was to be the High Priest in the Temple. One of the main purposes of the Holy of Holies, both in the Tabernacle and subsequently in the Temple, was to house the Ark of the Covenant. The Mercy Seat, that point on the surface of the Ark’s covering between the two outstretched wings of the Cherubim was where the blood was to be applied each year on the Day of Atonement by the High Priest to cover the sins of the people for the following year.
It was belief in the sacrificial system that saved those who trusted God to make a way for the restoration of their relationship with Him. It was not act of making the sacrifice itself. That would be a works based salvation. When Jesus offered Himself as the perfect Lamb of God who takes away not only the sin of the Jewish people and also that of all people who believe in Him, the need for a High Priest in the Temple was eliminated. Technically speaking, because the Ark was no longer there, the act of making the annual sacrifices was no longer possible.
Moreover, Yeshua became the High Priest in heaven, having already made permanent atonement for all who believe. Jesus does not qualify as the High Priest of the Mosaic Law. He is not of the Tribe of Levi. Yeshua is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! According to the book of Hebrews, Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Jesus initiated a completely new law code, one whose burden is easy and light for all who believe.
Thank you, Jesus!
P.S. – Today we walked over 6 miles. Read the Timothy Team posting for this day by MK. It’s a good one.