February 20: We went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem today. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, and it’s hard to express in words what we experienced. The enormity of the genocide – the insidiously deceptive way that it was carried out – the numbers of children that were exterminated…it’s just unbelievable what humans are capable of doing to each other. It was a reminder for us all how important the grace of forgiveness is.
It can be so easy to fan the flame of hate in our hearts, against a ‘group’ that we often have very little contact with and/or understanding of. We thought of how polarizing things can be at home with religion, and politics, and racial disparities. Jerusalem, for all of its multi-nation synergy, sometimes feels like a kettle ready to boil over with religious tension. The amount of armed policeman and gate scanners can be a reminder of that. But we’re all God’s children (Genesis 9:6). He’s made us all, and he loves us all – whatever our religious faith may be. We pray that the Holocaust never ever happens again.
We also had a chance to visit the Israel Museum’s “Shrine of the Book” to see the Dead Sea Scrolls up close and personal. A few days ago, we got to visit Qumran where they were discovered, and now got to look at the scrolls in person. One thing that was striking – the penmanship. Impeccable. Right to left with nary an ink stain. The full scroll of Isaiah laid out prophesying the suffering servant Messiah who was to come…
Today, although it was our last real full day, was the first day we had the afternoon ‘off’. We all did various things – shopping, sleeping, relaxing, studying at the coffeeshop…whatever we wanted. It was nice to relax in the city of Jerusalem, and just enjoy our time here.
Dinner was unique because we were guided through a Messianic Seder dinner. Seder customs include telling the story, discussing the story, drinking four cups of wine or grape juice, eating matza, partaking of symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate, and reclining in celebration of freedom. The seder dinner from Jesus’s time and beyond has so many references to Jesus, it’s almost unbelievable. Now, Messianic Jews acknowledge that the middle matza bread being broken is symbolic of Jesus, and the other sacrificial elements of this Passover diner point to Christ and always have. It was fun to be lead through the dinner by a Jewish man who lives in Jerusalem and came to believe that Jesus is the Messiah when he was 20 years old. He was able to give the perspective of a Seder dinner from a strictly Jewish perspective, and also as one who came to faith in Jesus Christ.
Tonight we had some free time, and many of us spent some quality moments together laughing, and sharing memories from the past week. We joked about the role each of us would have if we all decided to stay here and start our own Baltimore Kibbutz in Israel. We’ve had good times, and we’re all a little sad that we’ll be boarding a plane tomorrow night. We have one last morning journey tomorrow to the Garden of Gethsemane, before we come back and pack. It’s been a profound trip for many of us, and a special time in the presence of our Lord. We know that we carry Him with us as we travel home to see the loved ones we all have missed so much. Thank you for following along as we’ve blogged about our adventures. See you all soon.