While there is a seemingly never-ending debate over exactly where human history began on the planet, there is no doubt the land of Israel is where Jewish history began. For many modern-day Christians weaned on Cecile B. DeMille epic films, the story of Judaism and of Israel began with the Ten Commandments and with Charlton Heston as Moses, the mass exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt and the wrath of Yul Brenner who played Ramses, the Pharaoh. However, Jewish history actually starts with the story of Abraham, his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob. Known as the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are often referred to as the physical and spiritual ancestors of Judaism.
The historical facts of Judaism can all seem very complicated. Especially for non-Jews raised in America under the influence of Hollywood or the umbrella of a Christian denomination, many of which teach little to nothing about Jewish history, tradition or culture. Trust me, I get how confusing it can be. There was a time when my husband Paul and I understood virtually nothing of the Jewish roots of the faith of Jesus. Paul was born in Ohio and raised Catholic and I’m a Texas native who grew up in a Lutheran family.
I’ve been to Israel on numerous occasions, but the revelations I received on a recent trip (during the Feast of Tabernacles) were absolutely profound.
Paul and I, along with our daughter Cynthia, were on the Mount of Olives sitting on a bench under a shade tree. Also known as Mount Olivet, this is a mountain ridge east of and adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City. It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. That day, the olive trees were in full bloom and we were impressed by the realization that many of these trees were descendants from earlier trees that existed thousands of years before. The Mount of Olives is frequently mentioned in the New Testament as part of the route from Jerusalem to Bethany and the place where Jesus stood when he wept over Jerusalem.
As we took in the scenery and relished the moment, we all looked over the Kidron Valley toward the Old City of Jerusalem. Our guide, Eli, pointed out a gate enshrouded in a wall of bricks that was directly in our line of sight.
“It’s called the Golden Gate,” he said. “It was built during the Ottomon Empire.”
As was our usual fashion we talked about our geographical location and began to discuss what we knew about the location.
“Just think,” Cynthia said, “Jesus walked on this very mountain—and when He returns, Messiah will come down on this same mountain and touch His foot upon it before entering the city.”
I recalled what Scripture said about that prophetic time as I stared at the remnants of the gate in front of us and exclaimed, “That’s right! And look, there is the Eastern Gate—the gate He will pass through!”
“Not exactly,” Eli responded. “This gate isn’t the original. The gate Yeshua passed through while riding on a donkey is below the surface, buried under centuries of soil and history.”
We learned that the gate in front of us was built in the 1500’s and was later walled up by the Muslims. As added insurance to keep the “Jewish Messiah” from entering in, they built a Muslim cemetery in front of it. We chuckled at the thought of “preventing” God, the Creator of all things, from doing anything!
“Cynthia, will you read from Zechariah fourteen?” Eli asked.
We all listened intently as we looked from the mountain, over the valley and at the gate as she read the powerful passage. “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies to the east of Yerushalayim; and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, to make a huge valley. Half of the mountain will move toward the north and half of it to the south.”
Suddenly, it felt like I entered a vacuum as bells went off in my head.
I felt myself being transported to the future when this very mountain will be split in two and the place where we are now sitting will be a valley between the two parts of the mountain.
We were sitting on a fault line!
I looked at the gate directly in front of me, when I heard Cynthia read more from the Complete Jewish Bible.
“Yerushalayim will be raised up and inhabited where she is, from Binyamin’s Gate to the place where the earlier gate stood, and on to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hanan’el to the king’s winepresses.”
The gates and locations mentioned in this Scripture are ancient names, places now located deep beneath the eastern wall we were looking at, and suddenly the Truth of God’s Word touched my spirit as I cried out.
“Cynthia, read that again!” And I stopped her to zero in on five key words…
“…where the earlier gate stood.”
Unable to contain my excitement, I stood up and almost shouted.
“When the mountain splits, the valley will not only push away the cemetery but it will also expose the earlier gate!”
At that moment, we all understood that something miraculous had just happened. We were sitting in the present on the very land where Jesus once walked, reading God’s prophetic Word from the past, and envisioning what would come in the future. A beautiful collision of faith where past, present and future merged as one—as The One. With tears in our eyes and chills down our spines, the power of God’s Word exploded in our hearts as we gratefully received the rich oil of the Spirit that poured down upon us that day on the Mount of Olives.