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Allison Althoff
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Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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March 12, 2010

Israel: Day 5

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In visiting Jerusalem, it’s easy to see the significance of the Mount of Olives on the landscape. It’s a mountain near the Old City, outside the wall but within view. It hosts a large and very visible Jewish cemetery, in use since ancient times.

In reviewing biblical history, it’s easy to see the significance of this place in the lives of God’s people. In preparation for visiting the site, when I looked to see how many biblical events took place at the Mount of Olives, I was surprised at how significant this location is in Scripture. Here are a few:

• Solomon built altars to the gods of his wives on this mountain—and they worshiped them here, in what Scripture refers to as “high places) (1 Kings 11:7-8).
• After the Book of Law was rediscovered during King Josiah’s reign, he destroyed the altars Solomon had built here, which was then called The Hill of Corruption (2 Kings 23:13).
• King David ascended the Mount of Olives as he ran away from Absalom (2 Samuel 15:30).
• Ezekiel refers to the glory of the Lord ascending the Mount of Olives when prophesying of the Jews’ return to Israel from Babylonian exile (Ezekiel 11:23).
• Jesus and his disciples hung out here (Matthew 26:30).

• This is where Jesus taught his disciples about the signs of the end of the age (Matthew 24).
• This is where Jesus and his disciples were when he sent two of them ahead to find the donkey on which he rode into Jerusalem in what we know as the Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1).
•And this is where, on his way into Jerusalem, Jesus wept over the city and prophesied its destruction (Luke 19:41-44).
• Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-12).
• Some believe this is the spot where Jesus will return (Acts 1:11).
• Jesus used this as a place to rest after teaching in Jerusalem (Luke 21:37).

The last is the one that really caught my eye today—not because it’s the deepest or most significant, but for three other reasons. First, our December issue of the Kyria digizine challenged me to think a lot about the theology of rest in recent months. Second, as I sit here typing this in Jerusalem, the city is becoming a place of quiet rest as observant Jews prepare to honor Shabbat, or the Sabbath. And third, after a week of long days touring the Holy Land, I’m tired. I have rest on my mind.

As people called to ministry in Jesus’ name, we always see more that we could be doing. And yet if we neglect our need for rest, we disregard our human limitations. Such disregard has serious spiritual consequences. Never mind the obvious consequences to our health and effectiveness.

As followers of Jesus, we have so much to learn from him. He is, of course, our ultimate example. If Jesus, who was both God and human, needed to rest in a peaceful place, how much more do we need to rest, acknowledging our human limitations and our dependence on God.

Like Adam and Eve, and everyone since, we’re so easily tempted with the lie that we can be like God, and that therefore we don’t need him. Resting is one way to acknowledge that we are human, we do have limitations, and we can’t do everything—we are dependent on God.

This afternoon, I’m going to take a few moments to follow Jesus’ example and rest. Why don’t you find a few minutes today to do the same?

Comments

I found that reading about your trip to Israel reminded me of the one we took many years ago. With 3 children my husband and I traveled the roads there and stopped to see the sites. Afterwards when we reached our destination in Africa, I was thankful for the way my visit had changed how I look at the New Testament and the life of Christ. Walking the same roads and standing in the same areas Jesus once did had brought new meaning and touched my heart in new ways, making it more real and not an imaginary place any more. It was truly a life changing experience! How thankful I was and still am for that opportunity.

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