As I sit on my bed I can see the Citadel of David peeking out between some very ordinary rooftops. The Citadel of David has nothing to do with King David, you should know. The tower does have something to do with Herod the Great. His palace was destroyed and, in the centuries which followed, three of the towers were eventually rebuilt. Herod would be horrified by what it has become.
There are many things here in Israel which have a name that has nothing to do with the building which remains. There’s a tomb in the Kidron Valley called Absalom’s Tomb. It is supposedly where David’s son was buried. But the architecture of the tomb itself argues clearly against it being from the days of Absalom.
And then there is the tomb of David. There is no David inside, for sure. It’s not close to where the Bible said David was buried. But facts don’t interfere with names.
And then there is the Upper Room, located on the hill currently carrying the title of Mt. Zion. Don’t get me started on the term “Mt. Zion.” The Upper Room that tourists visit is definitely a Crusader structure. That means it was built after 1100. That makes it a little difficult for it to be “the” Upper Room. So, guides say it is on the same location as Jesus served the Last Supper. Maybe. But maybe not. But people have an emotional connection to that place.
Sometimes facts and archeology rebut a common assumption. That’s really not all that surprising. But it did get me thinking — what does my life really say about the reality of my faith? Do the facts about me support or repudiate my faith? Now, don’t get me wrong, salvation is by faith. And faith alone. But as I wander through Israel, I hear the name “Christian” used rather freely. And I wonder, does that really mean someone is a believer in the Gospel Jesus preached? I’m not so sure. Why not?
Because I think too often, we turn Israel into a relic. A talisman. I learned today that people used to go inside the Garden Tomb, close the door, and chisel pieces of stone away to take home. To do what? Bring God’s blessing home. Are you serious? Last year they removed the door. And added a security camera. No more chiseling in the tomb.
To many, Israel has become a means to spirituality, not a tool for spiritual growth. They assume that walking in the land and visiting Capernaum or Absalom’s tomb is going to make God like them more. That’s not what a trip like this is all about. That’s not what church is all about. None of that prepares you for eternity. That only happens as we let the Word transform our minds. Oh, we get so many things wrong. But don’t get this wrong: our hope is built on nothing less than the righteousness of Jesus. And Him alone. Worship Jesus this morning.
Do you have a name which has nothing to do with who you are? That’s a penetrating question, Christian.