One Massive Gate Jesus Absolutely Refuses to Enter

The keys are in a surprising place.

The Old City of Jerusalem has a lot of gates. On the eastern side of the city walls, the Golden Gate stands bricked closed. It reminds me of the one massive gate Jesus refuses to enter. 

Golden Gate

(Photo: Golden Gate at Jerusalem’s eastern side. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In front of the Golden Gate lies a massive Muslim cemetery. In fact, dotted along either side of the Kidron Valley lie thousands of graves. Some Muslim. Most Jewish.

Ironically, both cemeteries lie there, in part, because of the Messiah.

Here’s why. 

Click to continue reading »

Touring the Holy Landfill and its Surprising Helpful Lessons

Why we can never allow the ho-hum to replace the holy

Sometimes we confuse the holy for the common. Tourism proves it. What sites does your hometown or nearby big city offer tourists? Let me guess. Nobody comes to your city to see the local landfill.

Silwan, Iron Age tombs with trash

(Photo: Silwan, Iron Age tombs with trash. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In San Antonio (where I grew up), the Alamo and Riverwalk still draw a crowd. In Dallas (near where I live now), Dealey Plaza ranks near the top. But the garbage dump never ranks high on “Things to See” (or smell) for any city.

Except perhaps Jerusalem.

Click to continue reading »

The King’s Garden in Jerusalem: A Lesson in Futility

Solomon’s experience shows us how not to waste our lives.

Some folks love gardening. For them, nothing compares to the joy of creating and appreciating beautiful landscapes and gardens. It provides them hours of relaxation and satisfaction. Me, not so much.

The King’s Garden in Jerusalem-A Lesson in Futility

(Photo: The King’s Garden began in the Kidron Valley beside the City of David. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

I guess it’s because working with plants requires continual maintenance. Mowing, pulling, watering, trimming—then do it again next week. Then again.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love the results of the work. It’s tremendously rewarding. But the results are just so short-lived.

King Solomon had a similar experience. He wrote:

I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. (Ecclesiastes 2:5–6)

After all this work—and many other pursuits—Solomon concluded a few verses later:

Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. (v. 11)

The King’s Garden in Jerusalem offers us some valuable lessons how not to waste our lives.

Click to continue reading »

The Kidron Valley – How Your Burial Can Point to Your Faith

Even after death, we can have a powerful witness to the living.

Have you thought where you’ll be buried? The place where someone chooses to get buried is always significant.

  • A hometown family plot is common.
  • The place where one’s ashes are scattered or stored often holds a special association.
  • Even unknown soldiers who die in battle occasionally receive a prominent interment.
The Kidron Valley with olive trees and graves

(Photo: The Kidron Valley with olives trees and graves. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But in Israel, a burial place often exposed one’s faith. The tombs beside the Kidron Valley bear witness to this truth.

Each one offers a connection to resurrection.

Click to continue reading »

Kidron Valley and Jerusalem Walls

I snapped this photo of the Kidron Valley beside the Old City walls of Jerusalem. It’s impossible to fathom the history that occurred simply in the space of this photograph. Not the least of which is Jesus and His disciples crossing the Kidron Valley to enter the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1).

Sometimes it’s enough just to ponder a photograph.

Tombs in Israel You Can Walk in (and Out)

Ancient tombs lay open many places in Israel. With their original inhabitants decomposed, stolen, or relocated, these unoccupied sepulchers offer insights into history.

Tombs in Israel You Can Walk in (and Out)

(Photo: Beth Shearim’s Cave of Coffins. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

I’ve written several other posts about tombs in Israel, most notably:

There are more, to be sure. But I’d like to share several more tombs you can see in Israel, as well as their significance.

Most of these you can actually walk in—and thankfully, also walk out.

Click to continue reading »