Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Wailing Wall

We continued on the Via Dolorosa and made a stop at the Wailing Wall, the western wall of the Temple Mount.
The Western Wall refers to the only remnant of the Holy Temple, constructed by Herod the Great around 19 B.C.   The name "Wailing Wall" describes the site because it is a Jewish practice to come to the site, mourn the destruction of the Temple, and lift up prayers as close as you can get to the Holy of Holies.  The lower half the wall is from the Herodian period, but the Byzantines and Umayyads added more layers on top of the existing Temple wall. (notice the different layers in the picture below)  This has become a place of pilgrimage for Jews as the closest accessible site to the holiest spot in Judaism.  King David built the Western Wall and the one here today was built on top of his foundation.  

Heartfelt prayers on crumpled paper filled every crack of the wall and spilled onto the tile below.  Jewish people believe that all of God's bounty and blessing comes from the Holy of Holies and this wall is the closest to that spot... so they believe praying by the Wall is particularly beneficial.  A wave of sadness came over me as I watched women cling to the wall with heavy hearts, little girls hovered over crying, head in their hands.  Men walked through to their section of the wall repetitively bowing in meditation as they recited prayers to God.  
The sense of hopelessness and despair overwhelmed me.  I could not pray for the requests I previously had on my heart.  I do not believe that a prayer by this wall is any more powerful than one to the Lord from my home in Cincinnati.  My God promises to hear my cries and prayers, no matter where I am.  But still, I prayed.  Leaning against the wall, I prayed through my tears... for the teenager rocking back and forth in meditation to my right... for the beautifully aged Jewish woman to my left who, trembling, tucked a tear-stained prayer into the wall... that they would find hope in their despair, the only true Hope, the Messiah. 
As I backed away from the Wailing Wall out of reverence, my sadness was overcome by thankfulness.  Thankful for Jesus who saved us by grace and gives believers the hope of eternal life.

 1 John 5:9-15

"We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.  Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.  Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 

"And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.  This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us- whatever we ask- we know that we have what we asked of him."

Wailing Wall Video on my Dad's Blog: {Here}

Next stop: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

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