BETHLEHEM, SHEPHERDS FIELD & TOMB OF LAZARUS, ISRAEL
Today was such an amazing day! The places we visited were some of my top favorite. We started off viewing the Jerusalem Archaeological Park and then headed out to Bethlehem. It is crazy to the see the conflict between the Palestinians and the Jews firsthand. There is this huge dividing wall between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It is sad to see that because the two cities are run by different groups and have conflict. So they put up a giant concrete wall! In Bethlehem we viewed the Church of the Nativity, the believed location of Christ's birth. This church was really different than the other church because you went down a spiral staircase to see the cave stable and manger. After we visited the Shepherd's Field - my favorite!!! Here our tour guide gave an incredible devotional and insight about what it is like to be a shepherd. Here are my notes:
Psalms 23 - "The Lord is my Shepherd"
Sheep have awful vision and rely mostly on their ability to hear. Every morning when the shepherd calls to his sheep, he whistles... "By my voice ye shall know me"
A shepherd knows each sheep by name
When the sheep are disobedient the good shepherd does 1-3 things out of love,
He will tap his staff on the ground to tell the sheep to obey and get in line
If they continue to disobey the shepherd will take the hook of his staff and grab the sheep by the neck and pull them back into the fold
If the sheep are being very disobedient, the shepherd will take his staff and hit the fee to the sheep often breaking the hoof duo to his fragility. However this action is done out of love to teach the sheep. When the sheep's hoof is broke, the shepherd will bind the hurt hoof and care for the sheep, carrying the sheep on his shoulders and nursing the sheep back to health. The shepherd truly loves each sheep but knows what is best because he has more knowledge and can see the greater picture. This reminds me how God allows trials in our lives but they are there to help us grow. With every trial we have we also have the strength to overcome it. God does not want us to fail.
When the night comes, the good shepherd will take all his sheep into a cave. He will stand at the opening of the cave and count his sheep one by one as they go in. Christ is our shepherd and the cave is Heaven.
Obviously the Shepherds Field is one of my favorite places. You could really feel the Spirit there. After we went to the Tomb of Lazarus. This was always my favorite miracle to learn about in the bible when growing up. I've always loved it because it was a story of true friendship. Christ's friend Lazarus dies and when he does, Christ cries. I would cry if I lost Madie! I'd cry a lot! But Christ calls upon the Father for guidance and is permitted to raise Lazarus from the dead. I know if Madie died she would not be raised from the dead but I know God would help raise me from my sorrow. The tomb was miraculous. I loved it! I was so touched by today and my testimony has been strengthened. Today's experiences are indescribable and really hit home. xx, m.