Israel Study Abroad Blog #2(14 Dec 2015)

Sterling Ottun and Jared Laskey
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Monday, December 14, 2015

The Israel Initiative was in for multiple biblical treasures today to absorb. The morning began with worship in a lounge at the Gloria Hotel that is located near the Jaffa Gate of the Old City. After this time of worship we walked towards the City of David, located on the southern part of the eastern hill, between the Kidron Valley and Central Valley. First mentioned in the Genesis 14 as Salem where Melchizedek was priest, it was later known as Jebus which King David’s men, led by Joab, went through the water system and then conquered the Jebusites.

King David moved his residence here, calling the ten acres of land the City of David and fortifying it(2 Samuel 5: 6-10). His palace was built here and he prepared plans for what would later become the Temple that his son Solomon built. The current walls of the Temple Mount are visible from here.

In 2005, an archaeologist by the name of Eliat Mazar publicized that she discovered where the Palace of David was specifically located, which we walked down into, that is under the current reception center. Mazar released that she had discovered a large stone structure, as well as a two bulla that is an inscribed seal, and a second bulla in 2008. Jeremiah 38:1 names a “Jucal(Jehucal), son of Shemeliah” and “Pashhur the son of Malchiah” whose names were inscribed on the bullas discovered by Eliat Mazar.

Later in the afternoon, Sterling Ottun and I went to the Wailing Wall and took the opportunity to pray that the gospel will saturate this land. Then we ventured together going through several marketplaces having fellowship with one another. At one point we met a Bedouin shopkeeper whose name, as he described to us, is similar to the English word for “Patrick.” He quickly discussed with us his lack of a specific faith, identifying to what we can state is similar to agnosticism.

After witnessing to him and sharing personal testimonies which he was inquiring from us, we asked if we can pray for him and he accepted. He was encouraged by the prayer that we prayed over him and Sterling gladly asked for his business card so that he can keep in touch for further witness.

At dinner I had encouraging and deep fellowship with wonderful students from both Shepherds and West Institute. I could not help but think in my mind that I appreciate and value to deep friendships being formed on this trip. I considered if this form of fellowship is similar to the community that was felt and shared among the first century Christian church.

After dinner, as one body we ventured out to a place that is only 150 yards from the current Jaffa Gate, where Dr. Bookman led us in the events of the day that Jesus was placed on trial. Step by step we were given the biblical record as we were a few feet from what could have been Gabbatha. At this location of the wall there are steps that jut out here and reveal steps and a possible bema seat(judgement seat) where Pontius Pilate may have sat as the Sanhedrin presented Christ before him. In my mind I could picture the trial, and the hesitations of Pilate. The entire time I was amazed at the treasure being shared to us in this location.

Taking all of this in, a small group of us went to Aroma Coffee where we discussed the events of the day and had deep fellowship one with another. This is Christian community during the Israel Initiative.

Jared A Laskey, Master of Arts in Church Ministry at Shepherds Theological Seminary, church planter in Virginia Beach, VA.