As the Jewish people enter the evening of their weekly Shabbat (Sabbath), our team is heading for Ben Gurion airport–tired, and ready to go home.
Our last meeting with a group of scholars involved a conversation on the northern lakeshore of Galilee. Together with the eight professors pictured with me here, it was pretty amazing to think that we were talking about the life and teachings of Jesus on the site of the synagogue of Capernaum where he, himself, taught.
As we left the north and headed south to Jerusalem, we also left behind two days of sunrise over the Galilee. I think this is my favorite part of Israel because of all that Jesus said and did in these shoreline communities. And there’s something about sunrise that seems so closely tied to the one who once walked these shores– and waters.
Oh, but I don’t want to forget this coney (Hyrax or rock badger) that we spotted high up on the rocks above us as we worked at Caesarea Philippi (just south of the Israel-Lebanon border. I figured the only reason he could have been there was for the view– or to count the number of “takes” it took to me to get my “lines” right.
I’m always fascinated when I see these little guys because of the Proverb that says that the coney isn’t very strong, but it knows enough to take shelter among the rocks (Prov 30:26).
Since I’m talking about conies I got pictures of two other animal friends I met over here. Their features speak for themselves. The camel poses for pictures all over Israel. I’ve seen him– or one of his relatives– at a rest stop in the Jordan Valley, at the “sea level” “pull off” on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, and then also on the Mount of Olives.
And this donkey knows how to carefully make his way down the steps of the Mount of Olives when people like us want to reflect on the day that Jesus rode a donkey down this same path. Actually, I haven’t yet tired of thinking about the prophet Zechariah’s prediction that some day Israel’s long awaited King and deliverance would come to them riding, with all humility, on the back of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)
Also since I’m talking about the Mount of Olives, here’s a picture of the golden, onion shaped domes that cause the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene to stand out so dramatically on the hill facing Jerusalem. In some ways it almost seems like a counterpart to the dramatic gold topped Dome of the Rock that dominates the skyline on the Jerusalem side of the valley.
Something else we found interesting was our visit to a Jewish antiquities salvage site. A couple of years ago the international press reported that Jewish authorities were upset to find that Moslem workers had removed truckloads of ancient stones from under the Al Aqsa Plaza (known to Jewish people as the Temple Mount area), and dumped it in the Kidron Valley.
Ever since, archeologists have been carefully sifting through every stone looking for ancient artifacts that might provide physical evidence of the history of the most contested piece of real estate in the world. As these pictures show, school children are now being trained and then allowed to assist archeologists in looking for fragments of bone, glass, metal or pottery.
There’s something about seeing school children looking for fragments and clues to their own history and past that I find very compelling. So often, we merely live in the present moment, until something happens to make us realize how important it is to also reflect on our own past and future.
We saw and experienced a lot more as well, but I think I’m going to stop with one more piece of information about the falcon that landed on us during a night shoot earlier in the week. As we’ve compared notes, a couple of our crew said that just before the falcon flew onto our set they saw it being chased by large crow-like birds. If that’s the case, it seems amazing to think that the little guy might have looked for refuge among us. That seems like a long shot to us. But here’s another picture that shows I’m not making this up.
Yeh, I realize I might be getting sidetracked on this my last post from Jerusalem. But, well, maybe not. If Jerusalem, together with its prophets, temple and Messiah, is actually the place our Creator chose to reveal himself, and to buy our eternal life, then maybe it’s appropriate to take notice not only of this land, and people, but of our Creator’s other creatures as well.
Good-by Jerusalem. May God soon give you peace, as a way of bringing peace to all the nations of the world.