Gethsemane & The Holocaust - Israel Day 10
Today's blog post was written by Judi Dunham, wife of Kyle Dunham (Associate Professor of Old Testament at VBTS).
We began this day going up to the Mount of Olives and overlooking the Kidron Valley and the Temple Mount. The area is aptly named due to the abundance of olive trees on the mount. Leaving this vantage point, we walked down part way to the Garden of Gethsemane. Gith Shemen means oil press in Hebrew. It is quite possible that there was an oil press (like the one pictured below) in this garden due to the olives growing on the mount. We have had several opportunities to see how an oil press works while traveling around Israel; the olives are crushed, grinded and put through the pressing process more than once to extract every last bit of oil. Thinking about the process of crushing olives and considering that this garden is where Jesus came to pray before his arrest, it gives some perspective on Isaiah 53:5 where it says that, "He was crushed for our iniquities," and again in Isaiah 53:10 it says, "But the LORD was pleased to crush Him." The evening that Jesus spent in the garden was a time of agonizing prayer, absolute betrayal and ultimate desertion. And that was only the beginning of the crushing of Christ.
In the afternoon, we arrived at Yad Vashem, which is the Jewish Holocaust Museum. Yad Vashem is translated, "A Place and a Name." The six million plus Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust of WWII are remembered here. We first visited the Children's Memorial, which honors over one million Jewish children who died. Upon entering the memorial, we were greeted by the photographs of children who lost their lives. Continuing, we entered a darkened chamber that had only five lit candles. However, the room is covered in mirrors, and the reflection of those five fragile flames created countless dots of light that surrounded us. The name, age, and country of each child is read continuously. It takes over a year to get through the list of names and the realization of all those lives lost was overwhelming.
Thus, our day began on the mount where Jesus wept over the people of Jerusalem and in the garden where He was deeply grieved, distressed and betrayed, and ended in a place where we somberly reflected over the killing of millions. But, our day did not end without hope, for at the end of our walk through Yad Vashem, we found ourselves on a platform overlooking the bustling city of Jerusalem. And while there are many who have found hope in the nation of Israel that was reborn after the Holocaust, we have our hope in our Savior, who was crushed for our iniquities, and yet did not stay crushed. As Peter wrote in I Peter 1:3, " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."