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.

rooster

(Photo: By Fernando de Sousa from Melbourne, Australia. Standing Tall. CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Good Morning, Mr. Rooster

Far in the distance, a rooster crowed. Then then another let loose and screamed at the top of its feathered lungs. Then another.

  • Surrounded by a throng of cries, I immediately thought of Peter, who denied Jesus on an early Jerusalem morning.
  • Then I thought of all of the disciples who deserted Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, just below me at the base of the Mount of Olives.

Then I thought of myself.

The rooster (weather vane) atop the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu

(Photo: Rooster and weather vane atop the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, Jerusalem)

Sights and Sounds Applied

The sights and sounds flooded my heart that morning.

  • What I saw before me represented Israel’s rejection of Christ. What I heard symbolized Peter’s denial of Christ (Luke 22:60–61).
  • But what I felt within I couldn’t relieve with closed eyes or ears. My sin also put Christ on the cross.

What had started as a simple time of Bible reading and devotions on the Mount of Olives had become very personal.

That rooster crowed for me.

Question: What do you think of when you hear a rooster? To leave a comment, just click here.


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  • Marietta

    Reading your post bring sadness to my heart just thinking how the Lord Jesus Christ tried to reach us and yet we turned our back on him. I can imagine how he must felt knowing what was in store for his be loving Israel. 

    I love your post always makes me reflect on my life and helps me have a better understanding of life in ancient times and in the times of Jesus.

    •  Thank you, Marietta. I’m sure Jesus felt great sadness because of the
      rejection He experienced. And yet, His knowledge of the future
      acceptance by Israel surely gave Him joy: “and so all Israel will be
      saved” (Romans 11:26; Isaiah 59:20).

  • JFKAR

    “Because Israel rejected Him, they ultimately lost … their Temple and their nation.”

    Maybe, but does the text actually say that?The sacrificial system was obsolete now that “Christ our
    Passover is sacrificed for us,” the “temple of the living God” was now the body of Yeshua (His
    ecclesia)—both collectively and its individual members (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19). The 
    body of  Messiah is also the New Jerusalem “prepared as a bride”.“Paul sees the Land, and its focal point Jerusalem
    as … relativized by the death and resurrection of the Messiah” (N T Wright) as all
    the promises to Abraham are fulfilled in Him (2 Cor 1:20; Rom 4:16, 9:8; Gal 3:16, 7, 29).So I mainly see the destruction of the temple and the loss of Jerusalem and the Land as God’s period/full-stop on the Old Covenant, now that the New Covenant had come (Heb 8:13).  Maybe it was also punitive, but I can’t find that in Scripture.

    •  You’re absolutely right, JFKAR. The transition between covenants certainly played a part in why the Temple was destroyed. It’s interesting though that there was a period of 37 years (between AD 33-70) when the New Covenant was in effect and yet the Temple still stood.

      Although Matthew doesn’t directly make the connection between Israel’s rejection and the Temple’s destruction, the context clearly supports it (see Matthew 23:38-24:2 and ignore the chapter break).

      Luke, however, does record a direct cause-effect relationship between the rejection and the destruction (note the “BECAUSE”): “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 19:43–44)

      Thanks so much for your insightful comment.

      • JFKAR

        You’re right! It was “hiding in plain sight.” Thank *you* for *your* insightful comment!
        🙂

        • Hey, are you just now getting my response, or did it just take you a year to send me yours? That’s great. Thanks.

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  • RodriguezRaquel

    This post is both beautiful and convicting. Beautiful in that I am instantly transported to the Mount of Olives. The scent of Israel’s air is still vivid in my mind. I always relive my days in Israel through your posts. But i’m not in Israel and my reality is Miami. Another reality is how often my devotion time is a to-do and not a personal application.

    I find that when I rush through my quiet time, it easily becomes that dutiful read. But when I lay aside both duties and thoughts (cares, worries, distractions), then my devotion time is transforming and renewing.

    • Raquel, your words are a convicting reminder that rushing our devotions makes us hear roosters. I like your final words: “when I lay aside both duties and thoughts (cares, worries, distractions), then my devotion time is transforming and renewing.”

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  • Meleah

    The Mishnah (m.Bava Kamma 7:7) states that:

    אין מגדלין תרנגולים בירושלים.

    We may not raise chickens in Jerusalem.

    The reason for this is not the dung directly (dung is not actually ritually unclean). But there is a concern that the chickens may contaminate the sacrifices with the unclean creatures they might drag out of the dungheaps. (Remember, some sacrifices were eaten anywhere in Jerusalem, not just the Temple courts.)

    “Cock’s crow” is a technical term in Jewish law: kri’at hagever (קריאת הגבר). It is a time of day prior to dawn that marks the end of night.

    The Mishnah (m.Yoma 1:8) describes how the removal of the ashes form the altar in the Temple was performed:

    בכל יום תורמין את המזבח בקריאת הגבר או סמוך לו, בין לפניו בין לאחריו.

    Every day they would remove the ashes at kri’at hagever or around that time, before or after.

    In the Gemara (b.Yoma 20b) there is a disagreement as to whether the term kri’at hagever literally means “call of the man” or “call of the rooster”:

    מאי קריאת הגבר? רב אמר קרא גברא, רבי שילא אמר: קרא תרנגולא.

    What is kri’at hagever? Rav said, “Call of the man.” Rabbi Shila said, “Call of the rooster.”

    The Gemara continues by explaining that they are both right. In the Temple precinct, there was a Temple crier who called out to begin the service. Everywhere else, the time would be determined by an actual rooster crowing.

    גביני כרוז מהו אומר ־ עמדו כהנים לעבודתכם ולוים לדוכנכם וישראל למעמדכם, והיה קולו נשמע בשלש פרסאות. מעשה באגריפס המלך שהיה בא בדרך ושמע קולו בשלש פרסאות, וכשבא לביתו שיגר לו מתנות.

    Gabbini the Temple crier–what did he say?

    1. “Rise up, O priests, to your service,
    2. and Levites to your platform,
    3. and Israelites to your posts!”

    His voice was audible for three parasangs. Once it happened that King Agrippa was going along and heard his voice from three parasangs, and when he got home he sent him gifts.