Damascus Gate is the main one of three gates on the north side of the Old City wall in Jerusalem. The gate we see was built over a gate from the early second century when the city was rebuilt by the Romans, and likely over the earlier gate from New Testament times.
The gate is called Damascus because this formerly was the way one would depart Jerusalem to head for the city of Damascus. Paul may have used an earlier gate when he made his way to Damascus to locate and bind followers of Christ and bring them to Jerusalem for trial (Acts 9, 22, 26).
This morning I spent some time in the Old City of Jerusalem visiting the Temple Mount, and the Pool of Bethesda. The pool of Bethesda is known to Bible students from the account of Jesus’ healing a lame man, recorded in John 5. Few biblical sites have firmer archaeological evidence. I enjoyed listening to three or four tour groups singing beautiful hymns in the Church of St. Anne, The acoustics are exceptionally good there.
I made some new photos of the excavations of the ancient pool and the Byzantine building that was constructed over them (there are actually two pools). Something new that caught my eye was a beautiful dove perched near where I was standing.
In Psalm 55 David uses the imagery of the dove to describe his desire to be rid of his problems.
Who among us has not at times cried out this same way to be relieved of the problems that overwhelm us? David did indeed flee to the wilderness far away from the comforts of his home, but the ultimate resting place was in the LORD. We also can find that shelter in the Lord.
Mount Hermon is an impressive mountain situated in the Anti Lebanon range and is now divided between three Middle Eastern countries: Lebanon, Israel, and Syria. The mountain can be seen from each of these countries. I am thankful that my travels have allowed me to have some view of the mountain from each of the countries. On the current study trip Leon Mauldin and I were able to go up to the area of the ski trails in Israel. It was beginning to snow that day and I understand that the area was again covered with snow.
We are informed in the Bible that Mount Hermon was the northern boundary of the land promised to the descendants of Abraham; those with whom He made a covenant at Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 3:8; Joshua 12:1-2; 1 Chronicles 5:23).
The mountain rises to a height of 9,232 feet above sea level, The melting snow provides the water of the significant rivers of Israel that join to become the Jordan River.
Psalm 133 is described as a Song of Ascents of David and reads,
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. (ESV)
Psalm 89:12 mentions both Hermon and Tabor:
“The north and the south, you have created them; Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.” (ESV)
Mount Hermon is of interest to Christians because it may have been the mount of transfiguration spoken of in Matthew 17. Verse 1 specifically says that Jesus took certain of his disciples into a “high mountain.” Mount Tabor is the traditional mountain of Transfiguration but it is not the only plausible site.
Lange’s work is old but the reasoning here is good. I present it for your consideration.
“Since the fourth century tradition has fixed on Mount Tabor, in Galilee, as the locality of this event. See the description of it in Schubert and others. This opinion is, however, evidently untenable. Not only was Mount Tabor inhabited to its summit at the time (see Robinson), but it seems exceedingly improbable that Jesus would have so suddenly left His retreat in the highlands of Gaulonitis, and transferred the scene of one of His most secret revelations to Galilee, where He was everywhere persecuted. Besides, ver. 22 implies that the change of residence to Galilee took place at a later period, while in Mark 9:30 it is distinctly stated, that after these events Jesus had secretly passed through Galilee. “The highest mountain-top in Gaulonitis was Mount Hermon. Accordingly, some fix upon Hermon itself as the scene of this event; others on Mount panius, near Cæsarea Philippi. But from the description of the mountain, and the statement in ver. 9, that “they came down” from its height, it seems likely to have been Hermon. (Lange, John Peter, and Philip Schaff. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Matthew. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.
(Lange, John Peter, and Philip Schaff. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Matthew. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.
The next day day we visited Mount Bental. It is located in the Golan Heights but is a national park maintained by Israel. It serves as an honor to the military who fought there during the war with Syria. From there we could see the snow on Mount Hermon. Note that the top of the mountain is nearly three times higher than the location of our first picture.
For the past nine days I have been traveling through Israel to places that most tourists do not see. Leon Mauldin, one of my early students at Florida College and now a successful tour organizer, has been traveling with me. We call one of these trips our Personal Study Trips.
I have no idea how many pictures I have made of the sunrise on the Sea of Galilee. since 1967. This one was made from the fourth floor of the Ron Beach Hotel and is the first I have made with a cell phone camera. With a little help in Photoshop it looks pretty good.
Jesus and his earliest disciples lived in Galilee and they must have seen many beautiful sunrises.
I am planning to attend the IBC 2022 conference in Franklin, TN, August 8-10, 2022, and I would like to see many of my friends from across the eastern United States there.
This conference features three days of teaching on JOHN: His Life, Legacy, and Last Words. Having taught all of the writings of John on the college level, and having traveled extensively in the area where John traveled in Israel, Turkey, and the Greek Island of Patmos, I am always interested in learning more.
The brochure for the 2022 Conference tells us:
John is unquestionably one of the central characters of the New Testament. Brad Gray who has been back of these conferences, and whom I have met during our travels in Israel, describes the importance of the conference this way:
John was a disciple. John was the caretaker of Mary after Jesus’s death. John describes himself as an elder to those who received his letters.. John was a writer who penned a gospel and three epistles. And then there’s Revelation.
Something about this man led Jesus to entrust him with the final words in Scripture. He’s seen a vision of the end and has words for us in the present.
In a sense, he’s the Church’s first elder statesman. He was there in Galilee with Jesus in the beginning, and he’s there in Asia at the end of the first century leading and guiding the church as its expanding to the ends of the earth.
90% of John’s gospel includes material that doesn’t show up in the other gospels. And there’s a reason for that. He’s writing last. He’s got a specific audience in Asia, and he’s had six decades for the Jesus story to simmer in his memory and heart. Many of us don’t realize how multi-dimensional his life was and how critical it was to the expansion of the Jesus movement. As a result, we misunderstand and misinterpret things he wrote, and also miss out on so much of what he was saying.
So how does one gain this critical learning? By attending this conference!
This 3-day event will help you encounter John in ways you’ve never experienced before.
Join Us AUGUST 8-10 in Franklin, TN. If you live in the western part of our country the same program will be AUGUST 15-18 in Parker, CO.