What’s Your Motive? There’s One Way to Tell

How Tisha B'Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

I find it fascinating that when the New Testament talks about God judging our motives, it uses the metaphor of a burnt house. In Jerusalem, one site I pass always begs the question: “What’s your motive?”

How Tisha B'Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

(Photo: The Burnt House in Jerusalem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Some call it coincidence. Some call it Providence. But according to tradition, both the First and Second Temples (in 586 BC and AD 70) were destroyed on the same date in history. Tisha B’Av marks the 9th day of the month of Av—the fifth Jewish month. During the exile, the Jews instituted a fast to commemorate the Temple’s destruction. After they returned to Jerusalem, they asked God a question about Tisha B’Av:

Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years? —Zechariah 7:3

Their question made sense.

They had observed the fast in exile, but should they continue to fast on Tisha B’Av now that they were building the Second Temple? God’s answer to their question reaches beyond them to the heart of why we do what we do.

One question gets to the heart of our heart.

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A Lesson on Holiness from the Western Wall Tunnel

Why God's Holiness Doesn't Hide Underground

Most of Jerusalem’s Western Wall lies underground today, accessible only through the Western Wall Tunnel in which we walked. A spry Jewish woman in her 20s led our group through the tunnel.

Western Wall place closest to Holy of Holies

(Photo: Western Wall place closest to Holy of Holies. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After moving some distance north along a small hallway, with the Western Wall’s massive, dressed stones to our right, we stopped about halfway down at an alcove with a single light bulb. We huddled in close.

This niche represented, the young guide explained, the closest that we can get to where the Holy of Holies resided on the Temple Mount.

But what she said next caused a few biblical penalty flags to go off in my head.

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Only One Place of Sacrifice Remains Today

A Final Sacrifice Near the Temple Mount Points Us Forward

The Dome of the Rock, the icon of modern Israel, sits atop a large and flat prominence in Jerusalem that Muslims call the “Noble Sanctuary,” a title befitting the whole hill. For on this site, identified by Christians and Jews as the “Temple Mount,” Solomon built his magnificent sanctuary some 3,000 years ago.

Only One Place of Sacrifice Remains Today

(Photo: The Dome of the Rock on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In building the Temple for God, Solomon recognized, “Who am I, that I should build a house for Him, except to burn incense before Him?” (2 Chron. 2:6). Solomon’s question gives a principle that extends to our lives.

Only one place of sacrifice remains today.

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The Source of Our Peace—Reflections from Yom Yerushalayim

Why Peace Requires One Thing More than Anything Else

The holiday, Yom Yerushalayim, “Jerusalem Day” always reminds me of the T-shirt my grandmother bought me when she went to Jerusalem in 1987. (We men keep clothes way too long.)

The Source of Our Peace—Reflections from Yom Yerushalayim

(Photo: The Jaffa Gate, celebrating Jerusalem’s 40th Birthday. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Printed in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, the T-shirt celebrated “The 20th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem.” Yom Yerushalayim is a Jewish holiday annually celebrating the first time the Jews controlled Jerusalem since the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in AD 70.

Now almost 70 years since the beginning of the State of Israel, the land has just as much tension and heartache as ever. And much of the conflict cloaks its true motives in the name of religion.

One day in Jerusalem I saw a humorous sign that tried to bridge that religion gap.

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What Do You Think of When You Hear a Rooster?

One morning when I was in Jerusalem, I chose to have my devotions on the Mount of Olives at sunrise. Making my way through the Old City’s dark and narrow streets, I passed beside the Temple Mount and exited the city on its east side.

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

(Photo: Overlooking Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Photo: צולם ע, via Wikimedia Commons)

After climbing the steep ascent of the Mount of Olives, I sat near its summit as the sun began to warm my back. Turning to Matthew’s Gospel, I read about Jesus leaving the Temple, predicting its destruction, and sitting on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24:1–5).

Looking across the Kidron Valley at the Temple Mount—now crowned with a Muslim shrine—I thought about how Jesus’ prediction proved true. Because Israel rejected Him, they ultimately lost the very objects they hoped to secure through His death—their Temple and their nation (John 11:48).

Suddenly I heard a sound that jerked my mind in another direction.

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Places of the Passion Week in 360-Degrees

Between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Jesus spent every day in Jerusalem. The places of the Passion Week where He taught, died, and rose again are now traveled by Christian pilgrims.

Places of the Passion Week in 360-Degrees

(Photo: Sunrise over Jerusalem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Last week I shared some 360-degree images from 11 various sites in Israel. This week I’m including some panoramic images I took from sites in Jerusalem—specifically, those that connect with the Passion Week of Jesus.

Just click on the images and drag right or left to look around!

The Mount of Olives from Dominus Flevit

Jesus began the Passion Week on Palm Sunday, descending the Mount of Olives on the back of a donkey—presenting Himself to Israel as their Messiah (Dan. 9:25; Zech. 9:9, 16; Matt. 21).

The site of the Dominus Flevit Church remembers the point where Jesus paused and wept over Jerusalem, knowing the leaders would reject Him and His offer of the kingdom.

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Mount of Olives—The Place of God’s Coming, Going, and Coming

How fitting that the first mention of the Mount Olives in the Bible represents the irony that would occur on its slopes throughout the centuries.

In King David’s day, the summit of the Mount of Olives held a place “where God was worshiped” (2 Samuel 15:32). And yet, that same context revealed the rejection of God’s chosen king, David, who crossed the Kidron Valley and ascended the slope weeping as he fled from his rebellious son.

Mount of Olives—The Place of God's Coming, Going, and Coming

(Photo: The Mount of Olives. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

David’s mournful exit as Jerusalem’s rejected king offers an ominous foreshadowing of the ultimate Son of David’s rejection on those same slopes a thousand years later.

But the history that occurred on Mount of Olives does more than tell the story of rejection. It speaks of redemption and—one day—of the ultimate acceptance of the King.

More than that, it tells our own story.

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Connecting the Rapture, Rosh Hashanah, and the Place of Trumpeting

A reminder of where our true hope lies.

Whenever I visit the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, I’m eager to walk to the southwest corner of the Temple Mount. I’ve never been to this corner on Rosh Hashanah or during the Feast of Trumpets, but I’d love to go there then. Archaeologists have uncovered a large portion of the first-century street that stretched north along the original Western Wall.

Echoes of Rosh Hashanah— To the Place of Trumpeting

(Photo: The southwest corner of the Temple Mount at left. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

One hundred meters north of the corner is the part of the Western Wall where locals and tourists pray. But beneath the ground, Jerusalem’s Central Valley has been filled in with the rubble of the Second Temple’s destruction in A.D. 70.  As a result, the beautiful modern plaza stands about 30 feet above the first-century street uncovered at the southwestern corner.

There at the corner lies a reminder of something Jesus predicted 37 years before the temple’s destruction.

And of a promise He made that could be fulfilled at any moment.

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5 Christian Sites in Jerusalem You Should Know About

Jerusalem is famous for the standard sites tourists visit. The Western Wall, the Temple Mount, the Holocaust Museum, and the Israel Museum top the list of many visitors to Jerusalem.

5 Christian Sites in Jerusalem You Should Know About

(Photo: Sunrise over the Holy City of Jerusalem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Pilgrims, sightseers, and worshippers from three major religions journey to the Holy City every year. Because Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all see Jerusalem as a Holy City, it’s tough to designate many of the Christian sites in Jerusalem as distinctly Christian.

After all, Christianity has its roots in the faith of the ancient Hebrews. Jesus was a Jew, and so, many Jewish sites are therefore also connected to Christianity.

Even still, I have selected ten Christian sites in Jerusalem that have a direct, historical connection to the ministry of Jesus.

In this post, I’ll share with you the first five of these Christian sites in Jerusalem.

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The City of David—Surprises from Original Jerusalem

When people picture Jerusalem, they usually think of the historic Western Wall, or the Old City, or the Temple Mount crowned with the Golden Dome of the Rock.

But most folks are surprised to learn that the original city of Jerusalem lay just south of the Temple Mount on a small spur of land that encompassed about only ten acres.

The City of David—Surprises from Original Jerusalem

(Photo: City of David seen from the Observation Platform. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Crammed with houses and punctured with archaeological digs, the original area of Jerusalem looks much different today than it did three thousand years ago when King David conquered it.

But you can still get a sense of its drama.

Let me show you.

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