The final morning saw us walking along the city walls – again in 30° of heat – past the East Gate, which, as Ezekiel had prophesied would happen (Ezek. 44:2) was blocked up in the 16th century by an Ottoman Sultan. A cemetery was also established there to hinder the Messiah’s return, knowing that no Jew would ever step over a grave. The Lord will not be so easily deterred! It is prophesied that He will return to the Mount of Olives and, together with his chosen saints, walk down through the Kidron valley through the East Gate and into the Temple area.
This Golden Gate, as it is known in Christian literature, is the oldest of the current gates in Jerusalem’s Old City Walls. According to Jewish tradition, the Shekhinah (שכינה) (Divine Presence) used to appear through this gate, and will appear again when the Messiah comes (Ezekiel 44:1–3). Jews used to pray for mercy at the former gate at this location: hence the name Sha’ar HaRachamim (שער הרחמים), the Gate of Mercy. In Arabic it is known as the Gate of Eternal Life, and was also known in biblical times as the Beautiful Gate. It is the gate through which Jesus passed on Palm Sunday.
The present gate dates from the early sixth century, having been built on top of the ruins of the earlier gate in the wall. It is located in the middle of the eastern side of the Temple Mount. Click here to read what Dr David Reagan has come to understand about the significance of this East Gate.
It was a great privilege to visit Gethsemane – the word derives for from the word simply means olive oil press. I had seen a replica olive oil press at the Nazareth Village – it is quite a sobering thought how extreme pressure and “pressing” so often produces the best anointing oil! I left Francis and Sally amongst the ancient olive trees and dashed up a very long series of steps as we were running out of time to catch the highly efficient personalised mini bus system which takes people inexpensively right from their house to Ben Gurion airport.
I was enormously aware that I was walking along the route by which Jesus regularly came in and out of Jerusalem from Bethany to preach in the Temple during the final days of his public ministry. He could so easily have escaped back to the relative safety of Mary and Martha’s house on the fateful night when He knew that Judas was going to betray him, had He not chosen to remain in Gethsemane and face His agony.
On my way down from the Mount of Olives I took a short detour to the Dominus Flevit church, (literally “the Lord wept”). In Luke’s account, immediately before the cleansing of the Temple, it was here that Jesus looked out over the city and wept.
God does not despair over the state of the world – but He does weep over it.
How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you. (Luke 19:41-44)
I will share more another time . . .