Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jerusalem - Going the Distance

Nothing amazes me more than the realization of distance.  This can be applied to almost anything; however, in this case I am speaking geographically. For instance, I am staying in Nazareth, where we all know, Jesus lived His boyhood years.  Today we took a tour to Jerusalem, this was nearly two hours from Nazareth by bus and we even took Route 6 which is Israel's equivalent to the autobahn. Think about this, in modern time this took us two hours, I cannot even begin to understand the amount of time that it took in Biblical times.  Nevertheless, here is the journey:
A random sign along the way to Jerusalem.

The trip started out about 815am.  For those who don't know; the country of Israel is divided.  There are places that are controlled by the Jews, the Arabs and the Palestinians. In order to get to Jerusalem we had to drive through a military check point in Samaria; as this is an area that is controlled by the Palestinians.  (Yes the men were in full military gear, machine guns and all.)   There are walls erected around the areas which do and do not belong to the Israelis.  This in itself was unfathomable to me.  In America we take for granted the ability to drive from state to state, to basically do as we please, with the only hindrance being a toll or two should that be the route taken.  However, the division of "states" in Israel is as blatantly defined as is the difference between night and day.  The tour guide thoroughly explained these definitions and accepted them as any other day to day goings on.  Once we reached our destination, we first toured around in New Jerusalem; the tour took us to all the government buildings and such, then went to the Old City; this is the city from Biblical times.

A view driving up to the entrance of the Old City
The steps that we had to climb to get to the Old City.
We were presented the opportunity to see Bethlehem, but there was one major catch; this being that the tour guide and driver were not allowed in the city, as it was now under the control of the Palestinians.  However, we were able to drive up to an area that had been used as a battle strategy point, complete with bunkers and trenches, to look into the valley where Bethlehem could be seen.  This trip, by bus, as well as the walking, took another half an hour.
The city of Bethlehem in the distance under the rays of sunshine.  This blessed me in more than one way.

Biblical Journey:
1) "In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary" (Luke 1:26-27 NIV)
2) "So Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem to the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child." (Luke 2: 4-6 NIV)
3) "When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him (Jesus) to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord." (Luke 2:22 NIV)

It is honestly humbling to see how we take things for granted.  Not the act of taking things for granted, but the fact that we do.  I guess what I mean, is that for Mary and Joseph, and then Jesus, life was first about the journey then the destination.  Each of these travels (journeys) took time, took planning, and took faith in that the destination would be reached.  How so in life.  Every day, we take journeys, some as short as to and from work, others on vacation, others simply to town, but in each, the destination has a purpose and in each the experience leaves a mark on you and you on it.

I hope to follow this up in the next few nights with information about the time in the Old City.  I also hope to share about my trip in general.  In other words, stay tuned!

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