Thursday, November 27, 2008

Five Smooth Stones

On our trip we visited many places in Israel that we saw when we were there two years ago. However, there were several sites that we saw for the first time. Because they were new to me they were very fascinating.

The first was the most staggering of sites on this trip so far. It was the house of Caiaphas the High Priest who Jesus stood trial before the night before His crucifixion. Of course a church is built over that spot today but the dungeon area is the original. Here we saw the area where Caiaphas would have had Jesus scourged and the pit where he would have spent the night as they awaited daybreak to officially sentence Him and take Him to Pilate. I still am reflecting on the fact that I stood in the very room where Jesus took such a horrible beating on my behalf. This would have been the same dungeon where Peter and John also received beatings in Acts 5. There is just no way to describe what it is like to stand in the room where Jesus would have spent the night in utter agony and darkness knowing that the next 24 hours would mean crucifixion for Him.

Outside we saw the courtyard where Peter would have denied Jesus to the little servant girl and where Jesus would have caught his eye after the third denial and the crowing of the roosters. We saw the steps that they would have brought Jesus up after arresting Him in the garden and bringing Him to the house of Caiaphas. I walked those same steps this morning. For me, this was the most hard-hitting moment of our trip so far.From Caiaphas’ house we went to the Jewish Museum. Here we spent much time moving around an exact model of Jerusalem at 66AD. It was on a 1 to 50 scale. It was amazing and really helped us to capture in our minds the geography of the city as it related to the events surrounding the passion of Christ.

We then drove to the Valley of Elah where David the shepherd boy would have fought, killed and decapitated Goliath the Giant. We went down into what would have been the only stream in the area where David would have gathered five smooth stones. The stream was dry this time of year. Why five stones? I think David had confidence that God would allow him to do the job with just one stone. However, David knew that Goliath had four brothers who may seek retaliation on him for killing their taller brother. If this were to occur, David would be ready for them with the remaining four stones.

In that same stream where David picked up his five smooth stones, I also bent down and picked up five stones of my own (pictured) to take back with me as a reminder that God is bigger than any giant that comes into my life. I know that these were not the stones that were there around 1000 BC when David lived and fought Goliath but the symbolism to me is a very powerful one. I will put these stones somewhere in my office as a constant reminder to me of God’s power and my need to rely more heavily upon Him in all areas of my life. Laura also picked up five stones from this dry stream to put on a shadow box at home for the same symbolic reminder.

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