Friday, June 17, 2011

Mount of Olives

This morning we were up at 4:30 because we were going to have Bible study on the Mount of Olives. We needed to board the bus by 6:15 so we could get to the “Tear Drop Church” or Dominus Flevit, before it was opened to the public. The bus let us off at the top of the mount and we walked down the Palm Sunday Walk to the church. Of course, the Mount of Olives is directly across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount. Because we were early, there was no haze and the view was spectacular!

The hill is first referred to in the Bible when King David flees the city (2 Samuel 15: 30). King Solomon erected altars on the hill dedicated to false alien gods. They were later destroyed by King Josiah who "filled it with bones" to prevent future worship. Zechariah talks about the Day of Judgment, with Mount of Olives its epicenter of God's fiery fight against the enemies of Jerusalem. In the New Testament, of course, it is associated with many events in the life of Jesus, some of which are yet to come.

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. Acts 1:9-12

In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south…Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!…And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem…And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one. Zechariah 14: 4-9

We were standing on holy ground!



To the right of the tree is the Southern Steps. To the left of the tree is the City of David.


Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” Matthew 24:1-3 This was accomplished by Titus in 70 A.D.


We’re walking down the Palm Sunday Walk to the little church that you see in the midst of the trees below the olive grove. Tradition holds that the Teardrop Church is where Jesus wept over Jerusalem as he was entering the city.

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept (wailed) over it, saying, “If You had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”  Luke 19:41-44


Again, this is our view looking straight ahead. Along the outside of the wall is a Muslim cemetery.


We’re still heading down the Palm Sunday Walk. You can see that it is steep.


This is part of the Jewish cemetery. The holes in the side of the grave markers are there so that visitors can place a candle there in order to see when they visit. It is a Jewish tradition that when you visit a grave you put a rock on top of the marker, so it is obvious who are the most popular people in the cemetery.

The Bible tells us that Jesus will return to Jerusalem.  Jews believe that the Messiah will come to Jerusalem. This cemetery is very crowded, and is actually considered to be the holiest cemetery in the world to Jews, because everyone buried here will have a front-row seat to Messiah’s coming and the resurrection of the dead.



The building in the upper left center of the picture outside the city walls is the Dormition Abbey. It sits on Mt. Zion.



We’re standing on the plaza in front of the Tear Drop Church. (Remember that we’ve been up very early!) To the right of us is the East Gate. Our teaching from Kay today is going to point out the significance of this gate.


Here is a close-up of the East Gate, which is also called the Beautiful Gate, the Golden Gate, and the Gate of Mercy. To the right of the gate inside the city walls is the Antonia Fortress, which figures prominently in Jesus’ last days. The Bible indicates that Jesus passed through this gate many times while he was in Jerusalem. Jewish religious tradition teaches that the coming Messiah will enter Jerusalem through this gate.

In 1517 when the Turks conquered Jerusalem, Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt the walls of the city. In the midst of this building project he ordered that the East Gate of the city be sealed. According to tradition, he had it sealed because he learned that the Jewish messiah would enter through this gate and liberate the city from foreign control.

Then He brought me back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces the east; and it was shut. The LORD said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.” Ezekiel 44: 1-2

On June 7th, 1967 during the Six Day War, the Israeli paratroopers broke through the Lion’s Gate to return the old city of Jerusalem to Jewish control for the first time in 1,897 years. It had been suggested by an Israeli commando that they blow open the sealed East Gate because it would catch the Jordanian defenders off guard.  But the leader of the group, an Orthodox Jew, had vehemently protested the idea, stating that "the Eastern Gate can be opened only when the Messiah comes."


Kay’s powerful teaching was from Matthew 24.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, "’I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.


You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.


Therefore when you see the Abomination of Desolation  which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains…For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.


This is a closer view of the Antonia Fortress.




The tradition that the site of the Tear Drop Church, or Dominus Flevit which means Jesus wept, is the site of the prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem dates back to the Byzantine period (324-636 AD). When standing inside the church one is supposed to get the feeling of standing inside a tear drop. Since Jesus is prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem, the single large window causes the visitor to look out onto Jerusalem.Through special dispensation this is the only Catholic church to face west, allowing the view to be the altar picture.

Outside on top of each corner, the architect placed huge stone replicas of tear bottles. In Roman times there was a tradition of collecting tears in glass vials and pour them out on the grave of the deceased.



This is another view of the cemetery where the Jews will have a front-row seat to Jesus’ return. Actually, the hillside is white with grave markers.




More olive trees…



We’re continuing to walk down the Palm Sunday Walk to meet up with our bus and go back to the hotel for breakfast. As you scroll through the pictures, think about Jesus entering the city  using this same path. When He came the first time, Jesus rode a donkey from the Mount of Olives down into the Kidron Valley and up to the East Gate where He entered the Temple Mount for His last days of teaching. As He made that ride, the Valley of Kidron was filled with thousands of admirers who had heard about the resurrection of Lazarus. They waved palm branches and chanted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" Within a few days that same crowd was shouting, "Crucify Him!"








You can see the path up to the Muslim cemetery.


But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other…But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone…Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

With angels hovering above and millions of the Redeemed filling the Kidron Valley, Jesus will ride up to the Eastern Gate on His white horse, and as He approaches the East Gate, it will blow open. He will then enter the City of David, and to the triumphant shouts of "Hosanna to the Son of David," He will be crowned the King of kings and the Lord of lords.



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