In God’s Land: Lazarus’ Tomb, Mount of Temptation and Masada

8 09 2019


We had early breakfast, by 6.30am to be precise, so we can leave on time for Bethany. Bethany is in the Palestinian territory. So we had to take our passports again. As we left the great city of Jerusalem, we began descending into the rift valley towards Bethany, soon on both sides huge expanse of desert and Sand Mountains, the mere sight of which is sufficient to make you thirsty. We could see Bedouins living in tents and very primitive conditions. Soon we caught sight of the Dead Sea

Dead Sea is 80km long and 400 meters, it is considered concentrated salt. What this means is that if you take a cupful of Dead Sea water and put a spoon of salt in and stir, the salt cannot dissolve, because water is already saturated.

 Sodom and Gomorrah is on South end of the Dead Sea. Along the coast of the Dead Sea, we could see Israeli Kibbutz (farming communities) with stretches of green house farms and miles and miles of date palms, a testament to the industrious people who can make even the desert fertile.

Bethany: Church of St. Lazarus

We arrived at the West bank town of al-Eizariya, and drove to the St. Lazarus Catholic Church, built on the home of Maria, Lazarus and Martha. The Lord Jesus Christ came here many times, friends of Martha, Mary and Lazarus.

Luke 10:38-42 Jesus Visits Martha and Mary

“Now, as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.  She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.  But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.[a] Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Entering Church of St. Lazarus in Bethany

During Mass at side chapel beside the St. Lazarus Catholic Church: Bethany

After Mass we entered the main Church to view the interior

Tomb of Lazarus

The Tomb of Lazarus

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have … to Jesus, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died…John 11:21

Climbing a little hill from the St. Lazarus Church is the tomb of Lazarus

And Jesus Wept

Jesus wept where when heard that his friend was dead. Jesus gave life to Lazarus to foreshadow our resurrection. We ask him to give us the love he gave to Lazarus and Mary and Martha


Fortress of Masada

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling!  Behold, your house will be abandoned, desolate.” Matthew 23

Jesus left the Temple, and as he was going away his disciples came up to draw his attention to the Temple buildings. He said to them in reply, ‘You see all these? In truth I tell you, not a single stone here will be left on another: everything will be pulled down.’

Matthew 24:2

This prophesy of Christ was fulfilled in the year 70 AD when the city of Jerusalem was completely destroyed and The Temple burnt by the Romans

As the story goes, in 66 Ad there was a great Jewish revolt against the Roman, resulting in the destruction of the city and the temple in 70 Ad by Roman army

After the destruction of Jerusalem, some surviving Jews (about 900 men, women and children) took shelter in Masada, a fortress built by Herod. There spent two years training and arming to defeat Roman but in 72AD, the Roman army laid siege on Masada, breached the walls and entered and found that the 900 Jewish survivors all committed suicide.

“As Judaism prohibits suicide, Josephus, a Jewish historian, who recorded the incident, reported that the defenders had drawn lots and killed each other in turn, down to the last man, who would be the only one to actually take his own life.

 Josephus says that Eleazar ordered his men to destroy everything except the foodstuffs to show that the defenders retained the ability to live, and so had chosen death over slavery.” (Source Wikipedia)

Today, Israel regards Masada as a symbol of courage.

From Bethany, it was a short bus ride to Masada. Below are pictures of us arriving at Masada

The Israelis have built cable cars that take tourist and visitors up the mountain fortress.

We rode a cable car to reach the fortress of Masada

Walking among the ruins of Masada


When we left Masada, our next stop was at Qumran

Besides the Dead Sea, Qumran is best known as the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by a young shepherd boy who was looking for one of his sheep that got missing. Reaching one of the caves in the hill, while calling his sheep, he threw stones to check if the cave was flooded. Surprised to hear potteries shattering, he investigated and discovered plenty of clay jars, when he opened one, he saw that they contained ancient manuscripts.

He sold of it to antique dealers and after changing hands several times they reached scholars who could accurately evaluate the age and value of the parchments. Further exploration uncovered a total of 972 texts including the oldest known existing copy of the Old Testament. The texts are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Nabataen. The scrolls are believed to have belonged to the Essenes sect. St. John the Baptist was an Essene

 The Dead Sea Scrolls are 1,200 years B.C. These range from small fragments to a complete scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and every book of the Hebrew Bible except Esther and Nehemiah.


Our next stop was in the town of Jericho. It is the oldest city in the world.

The children of Israel where praising the lord and the wall of Jericho came tumbling down… Joshua 6:2-5

Joshua, crossing River Jordan, achieved his first victory at Jericho. The children of Israel blew trumpets, and the walls came down.

Jericho is also the town of Zacchaeus, the tax collector who climbed a Sycamore Tree in other to see Jesus

Jesus said to him, “Zacchaeus’, come down for I shall stay in your house today. “

Most important is that in Jericho, Jesus was tempted by the devil . a mountain approximately 366 metres (1,201 ft) high, towering from the northwest over the town of Jericho in the West Bank .

Mountain of temptation of Jesus

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”…Matthew 4:8, Luke 4:5

Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights praying and fasting, after he was tempted, and the devil came to him and said, if you are the sin of God, order these stones to turn into bread, and Jesus said to him, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God

Standing by the rock on which Jesus was tempted by Satan

Standing by The rock of Temptation( The rock on which Jesus was tempted

River Jordan

Still in Jericho, our next stop was by the river Jordan where John the Baptist Babtized Jesus

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am pleased, listen to him.”….Matthew 3:17

It is also at the Mount Nebo in Jordan, that Moses ascended to heaven, and Elijah ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire.

 Across the river Jordan is the border between Palestinian and Jordan with armed guards

How a young girl whose arm was bitten off by a shark surfs again

18 06 2013

hamilton 3

By the time Bethany Hamilton was 8 years old, she was competing in surfing contests, taking on gigantic waves and her parents, both surfers, would encourage her.until one day she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark that tore off her left arm.Bethany and some friends had gone to Tunnels Beach, one of her favorite surfing spots off Kauai‘s North Shore. She was lying on her surfboard when she suddenly felt pressure on her arm and then a back-and-forth tugging — “you know, like how you eat a piece of steak,” she says — before noticing that the turquoise water around her was quickly turning red from her own blood. “I just had a sense of peace throughout it all,” says Bethany, whose friends fashioned a tourniquet from a surfboard leash once they paddled her to shore. “I think that was one of the key factors that helped me — if I had panicked I would have lost more blood.”
When Cheri finally saw her daughter at the local hospital, “I was just thankful she was alive,” she says. “That was my whole focus — we’ll deal with whatever we have to deal with, but at least she’s alive.” Bethany’s left arm was now a small knob of skin held together with stitches. As the wound healed her focus returned to the water. Not only would she continue to ride waves, but she also decided she would retrain herself. “To me it was like never getting in a car again because you’re afraid of having another collision,” Bethany says. “Not surfing just didn’t work for me.” About a month after the attack, around the time her doctor gave her the go-ahead to surf, Bethany stood up on a board as her mother, her father, Tom, and her two older brothers, Noah and Timmy, cheered her on.
In Soul Surfer, it’s clear how much Bethany’s family played a part in her comeback success. One scene shows her brothers helping her rebuild her strength through vigorous weight training and long runs on the beach. Another has her father (played by Dennis Quaid) installing a handle on the upper end of her board so she could catch her balance. “Our goal was to help her be at the top of her game,” says Cheri, who nevertheless had reservations about her daughter’s return to competitive surfing. Cheri knew surfing is traditionally a two-armed sport: You need both arms to paddle, grab the sides of the board and raise yourself from a prone position. Instead of cheering her on, she wondered, should they be encouraging her to slow down? “I wasn’t sure she should do contests. At one point I told her, ‘Just go and support your friends,'” says Cheri. “I didn’t want to set her up for failure.”
Cheri couldn’t bring herself to go with Bethany to her first comeback competition on Hawaii’s Big Island two months after the attack (“too painful,” she says, wincing). But when her daughter returned home with fifth place, she shifted gears. “If you can get fifth place, you can get fourth place,” Cheri told her. Six months later Bethany won her division in a bigger contest in Waikiki. At the time of her attack she was considered an amateur with signs of promise. Today she is ranked among the top 25 female surfers in the world.
There have been moments when Bethany and her mother are haunted by that October 2003 morning. Out on the water, Bethany might think, Was that a shark in the distance? Will it happen again? But “I hardly ever get worried,” she says, and she has ways of calming herself down. “I’ll pray,” she says, “or I’ll sing a song, like, ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough‘ or ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.'”
Cheri struggles with post-traumatic stress. “If I’m sleeping and I hear a noise, I’ll wake up and feel adrenaline running through my body,” she says. “It’s diminished over the years, but it still happens.”
Mostly, though, Bethany uses her story to inspire people. She gives motivational talks and, through her nonprofit foundation, Friends of Bethany, she works with other amputees and shark-attack survivors. “I met one boy in Australia who was born with no limbs and I took him surfing with me,” she says. “We all have different challenges, but his attitude was so positive it was infectious.” The rest of the time she’s traveling around the world, catching waves — and trophies — on the competitive surfing circuit. “People ask me if I’m excited about the movie,” says Bethany, who was on the Oahu set with her family and did most of the one-armed surfing scenes in the film. “I am. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But I’m way more excited about surfing. Surfing is what I do.” Bethany’s courage will shame many hard muscled men. She is a living proof that every disability can be overcome and all odds can be beaten. Thank you Bethany for teaching us what it means to never give up.

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