Wednesday, May 3, 2017

7 days in Israel, my journey to the Holy Land, part 6

Visiting the Garden Tomb: a very strong and emotional exploration of the site ( I handled it opposite the usual touristic path- I started with the inside of the Tomb!)

From Tel Aviv to Damacus Gate, Jerusalem

My awakening time is 6:am again. I am preparing myself to take bus 480 heading towards Jerusalem from Savidor Mercaz ( which is a train and bus station in Tel Aviv). The ride takes one hour approximately. Once in Jerusalem main bus station, I know I have to seach for bus line number 1, the same bus line that goes to the Kotel. My next bus stop to Damascus Gate is Sar Suleyman, prince Suleyman. I am descending here. The walk to the Garden Tomb represents less than a 5 minutes walk, a quite easy destination.

However, the environment is hostile, and much more hostile than in Nazareth ( some older Arabs were quite friendly and talkative; I was greeted politely in Nazareth). The Arab population is clearly showing that it doesn't like us non Arab "intruders" in Damascus Gate, especially the women have bad looks in their eyes. I am not exaggerating here, and I'd advise anybody traveling on their own to extreme prudence in this area. As much easy it is to enter, it is very difficult to get out if you are not familiar with the place. Note that there is an Arab and a Jewish train station. Both lead to different destinations. Be well informed for a safe return trip!
Damascus Gate

April the 24th, Yom hazikaron ( day of remembrance in Israel; 2 minutes of silence at 10 am for all Holocaust victims).

In front and inside of Yeshua's Garden Tomb ( Gan hakever in Hebrew)

In order to be able to acceed the Garden Tomb, one must go through the hostile Arab market at Damascus Gate; I didn't feel comfortable there and was very happy when I reached my destination that seemed to even raise curiosity among some Jewish people...

The person on the picture entered just a few minutes before me. 

Here I am standing, before the Garden Tomb. I have no idea of what is expecting me inside.
This visit will be an emotional rollercoaster for me. I didn't expect to experience so much of Yeshua our Lord here. As I am entering the holy site, I am going to the reception to kindly ask if I am allowed to visit the beautiful garden where Yeshua was laid to rest 2000 years ago, and if I will be granted to enter the tomb and spend a few minutes in prayer.

The man I am speaking to acquiesces. He wishes me to find silence, because some tourists are currently visiting the site and are laughing very loudly.

It is hard to understand such behaviors when you truly realize where you are stepping into.

Yeshua's tomb, outside and inside

This being said, the first place I wanted to see was Yeshua's tomb. When you look at the Garden Tomb, you immediately notice that it corresponds to the description of the Gospels ( a tomb that had never been used before, newly cut into the rock.)

In order to get inside, I approached and lowered my head, knowing how ancient Jewish tombs are built. 
Then I saw the place where Yeshua had been laid to rest. Within a few seconds, I had a vision of Yeshua's bruised body. I was overwhelmed by the immense Suffering I saw with my spiritual eye. It was like being plunged intensely intensely into our Lord's Passion and realizing the amount of pain. I saw His lifeless body lying there ( I know it is hard to explain, but this is what I saw in less than a minute). I was overwhelmed by high emotions. I envisioned all the goodness in Yeshua, the dimension of His Sacrifice...I closed my eyes and said: "Thank you, Yeshua, for your immense goodness". I prayed for the Salvation of many, especially that Jewish people be able to recognize the Messiah in Him. I prayed for the Salvation of my family too. I understood that there were still a lot of people out in this world in tremendous need of our Savior.
Yeshua was very consoling, but I felt like crying. I was moved to a level I never experienced before.

Yeshua...may His Sacrifice never be considered as vain. May more people be drawn to our holy rabbi!

I then contemplated the shield: " He is not here, for He is risen".

I knew that my King had risen 2000 years ago, but i was pale and unable to smile ( as you can see on the picture).

The Garden Tomb is a very powerful place. Prepare yourself before you step into it!

I then sat tranquil in some resting places of the Garden Tomb.

Too much moved to cheer up here

I sat here alone, in Yeshua's loving presence
I was really impressed with the surroundings of the Garden Tomb. I realize that many beautiful and peaceful places are the very places where Yeshua suffered very much ( like Gat Shimney, Gethsemane). 
When looking at this place, we can notice that this place actually belonged to a very rich man. This man is designed as Yosef of Ramatayim ( Yosef of Arimathea). From this person Yosef, who was a member of the Sanhedrin, we also know that he probably purchased the very expensive piece of linen known today as the "Shroud of Turin" at Damascus door. 
Samples of the soil and vegetation from the Garden Tomb have been found on the Shroud, which, in my opinion, speaks in favor of the authenticity of the Garden Tomb.
 ( nobody will make me believe that the church of the holy sepulcher is Yeshua's tomb, especially after what I experienced there-there was no peace, I felt no love in the holy sepulcher church. I just felt that it was a common tourist trap, like so many others in the world. In addition it was built by the mother of Constantine, one of the biggest enemies of the Jews, who replaced Shabbat with Sun-day, in the 4th century: one more reason to deeply dislike it!)
We must also consider that, archeologically the Garden Tomb has all requirement for an authentic Jewish tomb, which is a very important detail to mention. Scriptures and archeology corroborate here.

The Garden Tomb contains a cystern of water and a wine press.

Every space in here is so beautifully taken care of. Yeshua's peace transcends the Garden Tomb. I experienced it, as I went on with my exploration.

I ended my visit with the skull hill ( Golgotha). This site is very impressing as well.

I was about to visit the Souvenir shop at the Garden Tomb, when I heard the commemoration siren. It was 10 am. I stood still for 2 minutes, then I bought a few souvenirs, like this beautiful wooden mezuzah with the name Yerushalayim graven into it.

Go visit this place for yourself. It will make of you a powerful witness of the Resurrection. The Garden Tomb is a must-see for true believers in Yeshua rabbenu, regardless of their background.

Yeshua is risen! Halleluyah!

Departing from Damascus Gate

I am not going to lie to you: I felt fear while being outside of the Garden Tomb. Even crossing the Arab market wasn't a nice experience, because people have such unfriendly looks.
The Israeli soldiers I addressed to were very willing to help, but many of them didn't know directions either.
In the end, I was lucky to find an old Jewish man, who helped me get into the tram. He traveled with me for a little while and we had time to exchange in English and in Hebrew. The old man stopped at a market ( a Jewish one) and I descended safely ( thank you Lord) two stops later.

Copyright© by Isabelle Esling

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