Going to the Bible lands was not something I’d always wanted to do, though I’ve always appreciated that others went, especially other believers who have labored under sweltering heat to dig up yet more antiquities to add to the mountain of ever-growing evidence of the historicity and divine inspiration of the Biblical text. I’ve often wondered how many of them have prayerfully held up their finding toward the heavens while praying through quiet tears “Maybe now they will believe, Lord!”
Intellectual stimulation is one of my favorite things in life, and sightseeing to familiarize myself with topography and architecture and to learn some interesting new facts, is often the reason I go where I go. But this trip was different. Gathering knowledge was certainly not primarily why I went to Israel. The reasons I went to Israel were reasons of the heart; so much so, that this final entry will feel, by far, the most vulnerable for me as I navigate all the special, intimate moments I shared with my First Love (Revelation 2:4) and decipher which sacred moments I can share without making my readers unnecessarily uncomfortable. I’m committed to being conscientious about not exceeding the scriptures in everything I say and write, so some of the things I experienced in the Bible lands, I did not entirely understand and discretion suggests I keep such moments closer to my heart to ponder in private the humble way the mother of our Lord did (Luke 1:29; 2:19; 2:51) who obtained the favor of God, as I also, more than anything else, hope to obtain.
I went to the Bible lands to draw nearer to the heart of God and to walk with Him through the places where He had a dream for something beautiful; but, the free souls He loved so well did not love Him back. Instead, they broke His heart. I journeyed to Israel to weep alongside Him as I, too, with a broken heart, see much of Biblical history repeating itself in my own generation, and also, to worship Him there in spirit and in truth and express to Him at every high place “You deserved to be shown love and loyalty by every soul who has ever lived, for You are worthy of every single knee bowing and every tongue confessing (Ephesians 2:10) Your perfect beauty and holiness.” I went to the Bible lands to be touched by God and to do so alongside a daughter whom I had been missing dearly. And finally, I wanted the “full circle” experience of finishing this one hundred churches book, exactly where the church began.
Everything seemed to fall into place for this trip: My friend, Phillip Martin, had invited Mark and me to come along for the next trip he’d be taking to Israel with Luke Chandler, but we could not yet swing that. When another tour the following year began to be advertised, I knew a few people who were going and started considering it. Mark was not interested in going, but was willing to sacrifice the funds for my daughter and me to go, as a kind of “thank-you” for my having worked a year in 1986 so that he could tour the Bible lands with my mother. My daughter happened to be turning 40 the year of this trip (a very Biblical number, wouldn’t you say?) and we thought it would be a very special gift to her in appreciation for being such a light in our lives all these years, especially for having embraced her spiritual heritage the way she has alongside her Christian husband and diligently raising our three (obviously above average :D) grandchildren in the Lord. The fact that $20K worth of the group’s collective touring fees was to be donated to a cause I believed to be advantageous for young souls ー scholarships to attend Florida College — was the icing on the cake and clinched the deal. We paid the deposit to reserve two tours, made sure my passport had not expired and Ashley went on to spend the next ten months studying in her ESV Archaeology Study Bible the biblical texts related to our itinerary, creating a beautiful playlist of music for us to enjoy, and planning outfits that would, in some way coordinate, with the Biblical sights we’d be seeing (think red scarf for Jericho. Ha!!) She. Was. Ecstatic.
There were almost 50 of us in our group, including our guides 一 our brother-in-Christ Luke Chandler, who is experienced enough in archeology that when we popped into The Israel Museum, he pointed to a piece of history on display there that he had been present for when it was pulled out of the ground! Luke had hired a most knowledgeable and fascinating Israeli guide named Zak who had worked for many years with our Palestinian driver Fowzi, an expert at navigating traffic with at times virtually no inches to spare on either side of our bus. Between our stops, I loved every minute of Zak and Luke educating us all those hours, every day, on various biblical topics, Jewish history, archeology, geography, wars, religion, politics, finances, family life, present cultural challenges, and so much more, with lots of levity in-between. Zak told us that when he saw Luke’s itinerary, in all his experience he’d never seen one so ambitious. Our 9-day tour was at an athletic pace to be sure, but I absolutely loved our packed schedule and how, if for some reason we did end up with some extra time, Luke knew the coolest thing we could also spontaneously see along the way.
Get a load of how much we explored in nine days: The Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock, the Pool of Bethesda, the Western Wall and its tunnels, the City of David, Masada and Qumran (famous for the Dead Sea Scrolls), En-Gedi, the Dead Sea, Bethlehem, the Judean foothills, Lachish, the valley of Elah (where David faced Goliath), Gath, Beth-Shemesh, the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, the Kidron Valley, Jerusalem’s Old City market, Hezekiah’s Broad Wall and the likely location of Golgotha, the Israel Museum, Canaan, Gibeah (King Saul’s city), the cliffs at Michmash (where Jonathan fought the Philistines), the Lebanon Valley, the Tabernacle’s original home at Shiloh, Samaria, the Jordan Valley, Jericho, Galilee via the Jordan River valley, Beth Shean, Harod Spring (Gideon’s 300 men), and Tel Jezreel, Nazareth Village, Magdala, the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, Hazor, Dan, Abraham’s Gate, and Caesarea Philippi (where Jesus likely said, “Upon this rock I will build My church.”), Mount Hermon (the likely area of Jesus’ Transfiguration), the route Saul of Tarsus took to Damascus when Jesus first appeared to him, Caesarea, Jezreel valley, Deborah’s battlefield by Mount Tabor, Nain (where Jesus raised a widow’s son), Megiddo, Mount Carmel (Elijah’s contest with the Baal prophets), and the ruins of Caesarea, including the Hadrianic aqueduct, and more. So how’d we keep this fabulous whirlwind straight? Every night after we returned from our gloriously busy day, there would be in our emails a recap from Luke of all we had seen — a resource I knew would be indispensable in writing this last chapter, as well as recalling the location to write with my black sharpie next to the day’s date on the bottom of the rocks I’d picked up from each of the day’s sites.
My mother had gathered rocks and sand as well on her and Mark’s trip 37 years ago, but most of mine were either the shape of the mountain we had climbed, a spearhead shape, or a heart depending on the events that had occurred at the particular location I’d found the rock. In the end, I hauled home over 6 pounds of broken ancient pottery shards, and rocks, along with the other souvenirs I’d bought — an ornate carved wooden dirge flute from Meggedo (Armageddon), and two tiny ancient coins out of the precious dirty hand of an engaging little Samaritan boy who had found them with his metal detector among the ruins of Jezebel and Ahab’s home (the location I was touring when I purchased them from him as he followed us around.) As we exited the bus at Shiloh, we entered a courtyard with a lovely garden that was softly playing an instrumental version of “I Will Always Love You”, and it was there that I purchased an artistically handcrafted ceramic/mosaic matchbox case, which was especially meaningful because I purchased it at Shiloh, where God had chosen to dwell between the cherubim above the Ark of the Covenant inside the Tabernacle for 369 years during the days of Joshua and the Judges.
There was every kind of moment on this journey, and you’d think the scariest moment would have been after our Jewish guide had exited the bus so that the rest of us would be allowed to cross the Palestinian border into the West Bank ー (a location dangerous enough that most tours were no longer venturing), several guards with their machine guns came on our bus insisting to see our passports. This experience was honestly about 1% as scary for me as losing my phone later that night for about five minutes in a vast, bustling dining room. Eeesh.
The most refreshing moment occurred when after a hot day in the desert we put our feet in the cool waters at Harod Spring, the location where Gideon's 500-man army was reduced according to the manner in which they drank from that very spring (Judges 7:4-16). While there I thought about how, like Gideon and his army, we who love God can rest our hearts knowing that if God is with us (Romans 8:31), it matters not who is against us.
The moment I experienced the most conflicting emotions was at the Stations of the Cross, along the Via Dolorosa, where tradition marks fourteen places where Jesus was likely condemned to death; made to bear His cross; falls for the first time; meets his mother; Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross; someone wipes His face; He falls for the second time; The women of Jerusalem weep over Him; He falls for the third time; He is stripped of His garments; is nailed to the cross; dies on the cross; and is taken down from the cross and placed in the sepulcher. I kept seeing those signs along the way of the bustling city, causing my spirit to silently scream cry, but showing no such signs outwardly so as not to make a scene. I so earnestly desired to commune there with my Savior, but had no way of knowing with certainty what was true and what was mere deception in order to dupe travelers out of their tourism dollars. Do I touch the rock where some say they nailed the hands of my Beloved, or not fall for all this because others say that these slabs of rock are not the originals, but are replaced from time to time? I was at a loss, especially knowing the opportunities before me would likely be “now or never”. Because of the easier access, I followed a brother-in-Christ who had opted to touch the “Stone of the Anointing” where tradition says our Lord’s body was prepared for burial by being anointed and being wrapped in cloth, confessing in my heart as I did, how I adore Him, but did not know what He wanted me to do. When I observed the visitors who had waited in huge crowds for their turn to finally lay on the floor to reach and touch the Rock of Calvary (or “Golgotha”), the stone on which tradition says Jesus was crucified, as they rose again to their feet, a priest was seated three steps away with his money box selling candles. I stood and watched, with sadness, that scene for a while, remembering with disgust the moneychangers of Jesus’ time (Matthew 21:12-13) that were so offensive to Him and recalled how every feather I had picked up, in and around Israel, was to me a reminder of having been set free from so much: my own sins, the Jew's self-imposed Old Testament restrictions, and every idolatrous man made religious practice with its fleecings found in denominationalism. The artistry of the lovely glow of the candles set against breathtaking architectural design was stirring, but I had lost the desire to participate in the touching of the Rock of Calvary, and instead thanked Heaven that He allows all everywhere to draw near to Him by putting on the beautifying virtues of His perfect Son, rather than touching just the right supposed holy relic. Praise You, Jesus.
Some of the most unifying moments were when we sang, prayed, and worshiped together as one. Dr. John Weaver, the President of Florida College, led us in the most moving prayer during our boat ride on the beautiful Sea of Galilee, where we could see in the distance the hill where Jesus most likely taught His Sermon on the Mount. After visiting Mt. Carmel where God brought judgment on the Baal worshippers after consuming with fire Elijah’s acceptable offering, Dr. Weaver also invited us on the bus to sing with him “These are the days of Elijah.” Again, after seeing the pool of Salome in Bethesda where Jesus had healed the lame man, we stopped in at a Crusader-era church building called St. Anne to sing “Alleluia”, which within my heart was in celebration of our walking with our Lord after being spiritually healed. The acoustics of our heart’s outpouring were so beautiful that when we exited, the Franciscan priest asked Luke if we were from the New York Philharmonic.
My quirkiest moment may have been riding my invisible unicycle in the Dead Sea. I discovered that I could escape the crowds a bit, by sitting in more of an upright position, kicking my feet like one would use to ride a unicycle and could use my arms in breaststroke-style unison to pull myself forward and thus, could awkwardly swim to the farthest boundary I was allowed and back.
My chicken-out moment was finding a large bullet on the ground near the Syrian border to keep as a souvenir, but when the morning arrived that I’d be trying to get it through customs, I ditched it in a flower pot outside the hotel on the way to the airport and was glad that I did when passing through each security stop throughout the day.
One of the most puzzling moments was when everyone in my party received a long, cheerful ride on a camel in Samaria, but when it was my turn, the same young, Arab man was as mad as a hornet, angrily yanking the camel around for my ride that lasted only a fraction of the time the others had enjoyed. I found out a couple of days later that it was because the slightly torn $5 bill I had handed him was unspendable and considered garbage in his part of the country. I can apparently be pretty offensive without even trying.
I experienced a couple of “I can’t believe this is even real” moments when my daughter and I started spontaneously singing “The Walls Came Tumbling Down” as we marched up the incline into the heart of Jericho. The most surreal of all moments was being at Armageddon (Meggedo) where 34 wars have been fought and Premillennialists, and perhaps others, believe the last battle of all will be fought before the world ends. On nearby Mt. Carmel, I relished being at the site of my favorite Old Testament story and as I looked down on the beauty of the valley on all sides, I wondered how many souls living in those valleys witnessed the event in 1 Kings 18 when “The Lord’s fire came down and devoured the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dust, and lapped up the water in the trench?” We do know that “Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, ‘The Lord is God! The Lord is God!’”, a scene that reminds me that one day in the future the day will come when “...every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue shall give praise to God” (Romans 14:11). In the meantime, what a blessing to be able to say, “I’ve been to Armageddon”, and while I was there waiting for my bus driver to arrive, I passed the time by pulling broken pottery shards and teeth (?!) out of the dirt hills near the bus stop.
The most beautiful architecture I encountered was, by far, the Church of All Nations which was adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane, with its deep blue and artistically detailed, ornate gold curved ceilings and purple stained glass windows. It enshrines a section of bedrock where Jesus may have prayed before His arrest. As an artist always looking to incorporate inspiration from what others have created, though I’m certain if my church house was this physically beautiful, I’d personally find it a distraction from the spiritual realm, for I could barely take my eyes off it.
The prettiest town by day was most certainly the Mediterranean coastal city of Caesarea, with its crystal clear blue sea and white waves crashing on the rocky coastline among the 2000-year-old ruins of King Herod I, a gorgeous 1000-year-old aqueduct, and massive stone theater where gladiators fought and in the Haifa District, a racetrack that once hosted chariot races. By night the most beautiful city was Tiberius, viewable from right outside our hotel room on the Sea of Galilee, and truly a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14-16).
There were indeed every kind of moment on this trek through the Bible lands, but there are a handful of memories that I’ll treasure most. When we passed through the guard station to enter the Islamic Dome of the Rock, upon our entry, many of the women in our party were tossed polyester green, gold, and grey Islamic garments to wear over our clothes. I’ll never forget my daughter’s confidence in dismissing the mandates of the Islamic laws on The Temple Mount which stated that nothing be read, worn, or done that would give any hint to the existence of Christianity. These mandates are enforced even though it was on this very mount that Christianity, as the Kingdom of God, would go forth into all the world (Isaiah 2:1-4; Daniel 2:36-46). Even in Genesis 22, when a very symbolic ram was caught in the thicket of this mount to take the place of Issac whom Abraham was willing to sacrifice, a foreshadowing occurred of God’s willingness to fulfill his promise to Abraham that, through him, all nations would be blessed (Genesis 17:1-8;15-19; 21-22) when God Himself would offer His only begotten Son to atone for our sins. Later, this was also the very place where Solomon’s Temple was built that included the Holy of Holies 一 that precious, experienceable presence of God on earth. All this historic significance moved my daughter to choose that day to unlawfully read from her cell phone one of the fifteen Psalms of Ascent and when I joined her, upon my request, she whispered to me, from memory, what would have been prayed by the priests as they ascended the fifteen steps to minister in the Temple that once stood where we were standing:
To You I lift up my eyes,
O You who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
Until He is gracious to us.
Be gracious to us, O Lord, be gracious to us,
For we are greatly filled with contempt.
Our soul is greatly filled
With the scoffing of those who are at ease,
And with the contempt of the proud.
When we gathered alongside the others in our party to listen to Luke, I stood protectively with her while she sat down to pray on the pavement, which is also very much forbidden. Because we were all encircling, by the grace of God, she went unnoticed by the Islamic guards toting their machine guns who, when I looked in their direction, were looking at their cell phones.
I will remember later in the day as we approached the last remaining outer wall of God's ancient temple to pray, seeing among the many darker birds circling around, a single white dove flying around and disappearing over the wall. We were in the Jewish Quarter now and though Ashley felt it best that she use the moment to simply watch, listen and write, I waited for a turn to put my hands on the Wailing Wall — the only stones remaining from the Temple structure during Jesus’ time on earth and the closest I will ever be to where the Holy of Holies once was located on just the other side of it. For a long while I poured out my adoration and appealed for God’s nearness. I then begged for a spiritual remnant in my family tree, and that the Jewish women around me rocking and reciting their own prayers would realize that God has already answered their prayer to send them the Messiah, and is offering to give them so much more than what they were in that moment so earnestly praying for. After this special moment, it meant so much to hike through the foot-high waters of Hezekiah’s water system tunnel (2 Samuel 5) wearing our headlamps to light the way, and though we could not see one another, when Ashley and I broke out into praise songs, including “It Is Well” and “Jesus Loves Me”, soon many unseen voices of other hikers in our party joined in.
In the days that followed, I’ll never forget watching in the late evening, storm clouds roll in over the Sea of Galilee and sitting with Ashley at the end of a wooden pier to watch in surprised delight as a late night lightning storm lit up the skies over the Sea of Galilee, with the city of Tiberius, to our right in the foreground, lit up like a beacon.
I’ll think back often of our getting weepy at the ruins of the synagogue of Magdala, with many of its original tiles still intact where virtually indisputable evidence points to this being a location where Jesus once taught. “We are 2,000 years late for church”, I told Ashley and we both agreed that it felt much more holy for that reason than the chaos and commercialization happening at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
I’ve something to confess at this point that is not very ladylike, I admit. The truth is, I spit on every Old Testament idolatrous high-place site we visited. And if the place where the rulers met had also been excavated, I spit there, too, for their having allowed or promoted this spiritual adultery. I didn’t really plan my odd little ceremony, it just sort of naturally evolved, after weeping in private for my Heavenly Father, my heart connecting these ancient events with today’s spiritual forces of wickedness presently bearing down on our own culture. After spitting on all the high places such as Tel Dan where King Jeroboam built a golden calf altar for the Israelites and in Lachish where the spiritual adultery of Judah had occurred, I had to run to catch up with the group. By the time I got to the top of Lachish where all those rebellious kings had ruled, the others had headed back to the winding trails leading to our bus. As I took in the holy silence and solemnity of the moment, a very rare single little drop of rain fell from the sky and hit my cheek. In that very moment, the wind so abruptly picked up that it blew my hat off, sending it tumbling away so quickly that I had to sprint to chase it down outside the tourist boundary. When I’d finally retrieved it, I took one last longing look around, put my hat back on, and ran to catch up with the others. It was not until about an hour later on the bus, that I realized my stretchy, bright southwest-printed hatband was missing. It’s weird to think that presently, somewhere at the top of Lachish where all the judges of Judah ruled for hundreds of years, I had inadvertently left behind a little piece of myself in a very special place…(two things I guess, if you count the saliva).
I’ll never forget seeing in person the location of the greatest archaeological find of the 20th Century: Dead Sea Scroll cave #4 where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found at Qumran. Because these 1000-year-old copies read just like our Bibles today, such proves the scriptures to have been accurately handed down to us and perfectly preserved. It’s this kind of hard physical evidence that proves that the Scriptures are indeed from God. My faith rests in the knowledge that God has kept His promise that “the living and abiding word of God” is absolutely imperishable seed; that when implanted in human hearts, will always cause our souls to be born anew, for “...the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:23-25). It was at Qumran that I purchased my most special keepsake of all: a silver spinner ring with the Hebrew inscription: “אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִ”, pronounced “ani le dodi ve dodi li” meaning, “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.”
I’ll never forget seeing in the center of the beautiful Garden of Gethsemane, among all the gnarled, ancient olive trees, a lone, single white flower in full bloom, and stopping to photograph it while church bells rang and a man with a thick accent was reading to his small tour group the story of the betrayal of the One who prayed here with tears and sweat as blood for you and me, the night before His death.
And how meaningful it was to be the one nearest my daughter to slowly and gently lead her to the fresh water of the outdoor showers, so that she could cleanse her stinging eyes and clear her vision from the salty waters of the Dead Sea; walking away from that moment grateful that the cleansing had been easier and more effective than she had anticipated. There were so many times when my own mother had been spiritually supportive of me in a similar way, as my daughter will for her own daughter if she will allow her, and I think she will.
And lastly, I’ll always remember continuing to swim alone at night in the Sea of Galilee, after my daughter swam to shore. When I came close enough to the shore, I reached down into the waters to take home the first rock I touched, and when I pulled it out, I found that it was in the perfect shape of a heart and thus, it became my favorite rock of my trip.
What a blessing that these kinds of trips are optional, and one can have as intimate a relationship with God as he or she wants, without ever setting foot in the Bible lands. I’m in awe at the wisdom of God in no longer requiring pilgrimages to Israel of His adopted children (Galatians 3:6-9) who are spread throughout the world and have dripped tears over His literally tearing the curtain in the Old Testament temple from top to bottom at the death of Christ (Matthew 27:51) because of the open access that moment symbolized for every believer in every nation that can now draw near to Him (Acts 10:34-35; Ephesians 2:11-21) alongside fellow believers (Hebrews 10:25) right where they are every “Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10); that is, every first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). The New Covenant is so much better, in so many ways, that the entire book of Hebrews was written to point toward the various ways it is indeed better. And one of the ways that God’s wisdom especially shines in this New Covenant, is that rather than worshiping like physical Israel did ー at this physical location God had selected, now “spiritual Israel ー we who are descendants of Father Abraham by faith in God’s promises, are “true worshippers'' who worship “in Spirit and in truth” according to Jesus Christ. Praise God that the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:13) is a spiritual one, and the place of worship is now also spiritual. Jesus explained this in his conversation with the woman at the well (John 4), that the “proper location” to worship God would be within our spirits, as we pour out our overflowing love-filled hearts in worship in the exact ways (Hebrews 8:5) His truths have been revealed in writing, for “.. indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
You see, now that those who love God meet Him spiritually anywhere, this means that though there is not presently a known body of Christ regularly worshiping in spirit and in truth in Israel, when the fifty of us worshiped together in a large private room, we were that day the church of Christ in Jerusalem ー a spiritual Kingdom that by God’s wisdom can worship anywhere. I think it imperative to also mention here this advantage in a spiritual kingdom: whenever or wherever persecution arises, a handful of worshipers can be as transient as they need to be, worshiping “underground”, so to speak, in order to protect the safety of their families as best they can, as threatened Christians do today in places such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, or North Korea. Praise God for making Christianity transportable and thus practicable even under these harshest conditions!
At worship on Sunday, my brother-in-Christ and fellow traveler, Byron Nash gave a talk about why he, too, had cried at the Western Wall at his visit the year before, and I thought his talk was profound enough to request that he allow me to share part of his thoughts which he presented in order to close this entry. My concluding thoughts are contained in the afterword, and will offer a sense of closure to this book.
It was my first trip to Bible Lands. And while I was fascinated by the ruins I saw, it also made me sad to realize that it didn't have to be this way.
I cried when I touched the wall and said my prayer because it became a prayer of penance for my sins and the sins of all humanity.
Why weep over the ruins of Jerusalem and the seven cities?
Since the Garden of Eden, God has constantly desired to dwell with people.
Yet, God tells us through His prophet Isaiah, "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear." (Isaiah 59:1–2)
The ruins of Jerusalem … are evidence of our sin.
…The Temple is gone because Israel sinned.
God lived with Israel while they kept the covenant.
When Israel forsook the Covenant, God left the Temple and went to the Mount of Olives (Ezekiel 10:18-19; 11:22-25).
"Then the glory of the LORD went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth before my eyes as they went out, with the wheels beside them. And they stood at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the LORD, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them." (Ezekiel 10:18–19)
"Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city." (Ezekiel 11:22–25)
When Israel sinned, God separated himself from them, and His glory abandoned the Temple and went to the Mount of Olives.
Israel rejected their God and the Covenant He established with them, and God orchestrated the Babylonians' destruction of Solomon's Temple.
"Jesus left the Temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the Temple. But he answered them, 'You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.'" (Matthew 24:1–2)
We can walk down the same first-century street Jesus and his disciples walked and see the stones "thrown down." Why were the stones of the temple "thrown down?"
"He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him." (John 1:11)
Jesus is God returning to the Temple. When the Jews did not receive him, he left the Temple forever.
And He went to the Mount of Olives.
"As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?'" (Matthew 24:3)
Israel sinned in rejecting Jesus, and Jesus left the Temple and the Temple Mount forever.
He went to the Mount of Olives, never to return to the earthly Temple again.
When Jesus left the Temple, God abandoned it and allowed the Romans to destroy it forever.
…Samuel once preached, "..." Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty." (1 Samuel 12:20-21)
Are we giving up the glory of God for that which is temporal and worthless?
Let us learn from the ruins of these places to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul.
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18)
Let us strive to be like Jesus, for..."The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne." (Revelation 3:21)