David Reagan - Pilgrimage 6 - Mount of Olives
For the past few weeks we have been taking you on a pilgrimage through the Holy Land. In this program, we are going to visit the fascinating sites on the Mount of Olives, including the Garden of Gethsemane, stay tuned.
Dr. Reagan: Well Gary, here we are on the fifth day of our pilgrimage. Last night we arrived here in the beautiful city of Jerusalem, got a little bit of a view of it from Mount Scopus. But today is going to be the day of all days. This is my favorite day of a pilgrimage because we spend this day folks, in the Old City seeing the city of Jerusalem, the city that Jesus knew. And what we are going to do today is we are going to drive over to the top of the Mount of Olives and get a panoramic view looking down on the Temple Mount, and boy that is always exciting. You know I always get the feeling I’m right at the center of earth. Don’t you?
Gary Fisher: Hallelujah.
Dr. Reagan: Yeah. I mean you know Ezekiel says this is the center of the earth, and spiritually speaking it really is. This is where Jesus gave His life for the atonement for our sins. It’s where He is going to return. And I can hardly wait.
Gary Fisher: Amen.
Dr. Reagan: He’s going to return to that Mount of Olives where we are going to be standing.
Gary Fisher: He certainly is.
Dr. Reagan: It says in Zechariah 14 when His foot touches the ground, what happens? Bang.
Gary Fisher: Today would be a good day.
Dr. Reagan: Today would be a good day. Well folks, we are going to start there and then we are going to start walking down the Mount of Olives and we’ll go over into the Jewish cemetery and talk a little bit about it. And then across the way to Dominus Flevit which means our Lord wept. It’s the traditional site where Jesus taught His disciples. And we’ll have a devotional service there. It’s a beautiful chapel. We’ll head on down to the bottom of the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane and that’s where Gary is going to lead us in a devotional about what happened there at Gethsemane.
Gary Fisher: Yes.
Dr. Reagan: And from there we’ll come across the Kidron Valley to the Old City of Jerusalem and we are going to walk across the Old City of Jerusalem from the Lion’s Gate all the way over to the Jaffa Gate. In other words we’ll be going from the east side of the city to the west side of the city. And in the process we’re going to have a devotional at the Pool of Bethesda. And we are going to visit Saint Anne’s Church where I love to sing. Don’t you?
Gary Fisher: Oh, yeah. Absolutely, looking forward to that.
Dr. Reagan: You can sing and you can hear yourself sing because it just echoes back to you. And we are going to walk the Via Dolorosa which is the Way of the Cross and we’ll end up at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. And then from there we’ll go through the Christian Quarter over to the Jaffa Gate and go for lunch. I know that is always a highlight for you, at lunch.
Gary Fisher: It’s a highlight.
Dr. Reagan: We’ll come back we’ll do the Jewish Quarter, the Mount Zion where David’s tomb is located and other items. And then we’ll go into the Old City again and go through the Jewish Quarter and end up over at the Western Wall. So it’s going to be quite a day. In fact I always tell the folks that on this day when they get through they will understand why the most commonly seen shirt in the Old City t-shirt is one that says, “I walked my feet off in Jerusalem,” because that’s what we are going to do today folks. I mean it all up and its down and it is a long walk, but it is absolutely thrilling. Especially to walk through those tight corridors in the Old City and get the smell of it and the feel of it, it’s just fantastic. Well of all these things that we are going to visit which one are you looking forward to the most?
Gary Fisher: Without hesitation the Mount of Olives, the center point of all of Christianity is the promise that Jesus would return. And that mountain represents that return. “Men of Galilee why do you stand here gazing up here into the sky? This same Jesus taken up from you will return in like manner.” And it was from that mountain that He went to Heaven and He is going to return to that mountain. Today would be a good day. Although we have some things to go through there prophetically before we get to that point. But when we stand on that mountain we are visiting the story that Jesus is going to return there. He is going to come in a glorified body, on a glorified horse. We are going to follow Him on white horses according to Revelation 19. We’ll ride down that mountain across the Kidron Valley up through the Eastern Gate, go up on the Temple Mount, crown Him King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. And I cannot wait.
Dr. Reagan: We’ll I’m ready. Oh, boy I tell you Gary if you ever get a little passion, a little excitement you might be a good preacher, you know.
Gary Fisher: Thank you, Brother. I’m working on it.
Dr. Reagan: Ok, ok. Well I’m going to read this Scripture to our pilgrims later on and I think I’ll just read it right here. This is our Scripture for the day it is taken from Psalm 48 it says, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. In the City of our God, in His Holy Mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” And it ends with this, “Walk about Zion.” That’s what we’re going to do. “Walk about Zion, go about her. Count her towers, mark well her bulwarks. Consider her palaces; that you may tell it to the generation following for this is God our God for ever, and ever He will be our guide even to death.”
Dr. Reagan: Here we are on the top of the Mount of Olives, zooming back from the Eastern Gate, and as you can see, this vantage point provides us with a fantastic panoramic view of the Temple Mount that is enclosed within the ancient walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The gold dome building is a Muslim shrine called the Dome of the Rock. This is Mount Zion where Jesus conducted His last supper with His disciples before walking over here to the Mount of Olives where He prayed in agony and was arrested. The deep gorge below is called the Kidron Valley.
We are standing here on the slope of the Mount of Olives and across from us is the Kidron Valley and the Temple Mount. On this slope are tens of thousands of Jewish graves, mainly the graves of Orthodox Jews. And the reason this is such a huge Jewish cemetery is because of something that is said in Zechariah chapter 14 where it says that when the Messiah returns that He will return right here to the Mount of Olives. That when His foot touches the ground the mountain will split in half. And so Orthodox Jews who believe the Word of God want to be buried on this mountain because they believe that the people who are buried here will be the first to be resurrected.
I have a friend who was to come over here with me in the 1990’s, very close friend, he and his wife. And about a month before they were to come he drowned in a tragic fishing accident. His wife came ahead with their daughter and brought his ashes, and there is the ashes of at least one Gentile on this Mount of Olives who is going to be resurrected on the day that the Messiah returns.
But anyway this is a couple of things I wanted to tell you about this, the bodies are not in these boxes, the bodies are down in the ground. The boxes just simply note the location of the body. When the War of Independence ended the Jordanian forces and the Arab forces had conquered all the Old City and this area. They went into the Old City and they burned the Jewish Quarter to the ground, they dynamited all the synagogues, destroyed the whole Jewish Quarter. And they came over here and began to desecrate these graves. They took these big flat stones on the top here, and they took them to their army camps, and they used these as stepping stones to the latrines. That’s the kind of attitude they had toward the Jewish people. So many of these graves were desecrated and many have been put back together since 1967 when the Jews reoccupied this particular area.
You see these stones on the top. Over here in this particular arid climate in the summer time in particular when things are so hot, flowers wouldn’t last more than a few hours. So what people do is when they visit the grave they take what’s called a stone of remembrance and they put the stone on the grave. And that is a reminder that someone loved this person enough to come and visit them and honor them. Sometimes you see graves with a lot of stones on them, sometimes those are important Rabbis who have died.
There is one Prime Minister of Israel who is buried on the slope of this mount and that is Menachem Begin who was an Observant Jew. He died in Tel Aviv but according to Jewish customs he must be buried before sundown on that day, and he was. But the word spread so quickly there were 300,000 people here when his body was put into the ground.
I like to shoot there when I make videos. The first time we ever tried to find it we had great difficulty. We had a guide who did not know where it was. And we looked everywhere for hours and couldn’t find it, it was a hot day, the staff was about to pass out from the heat. Finally he said, “Why don’t you just do like Hollywood, just shoot it at any grave, nobody will ever know the difference.” And I said, “Well I would know the difference.” So the next morning we prayed earnestly that the Lord would lead us to that grave. We came up here on the Mount of Olives, first thing we did as we were driving up we met a police car. That should be a one way drive up here but somebody has to pull aside, so we backed into a driveway but our guide jumped out and he said to the police man, “Do you know where the grave of Menachem Begin is?” And our guide came back shaking his head and wondering he said, “I just can’t believe this.” But he said, “You know you all prayed this morning to find the grave.” I said, “That’s right.” He said, “Well I asked him where the grave was and he said, ‘My father is buried right next to Menachem Begin I will give you a police escort.” So we had a police escort over to Menachem Begin’s grave.
The next year I came I wanted to film there and I couldn’t find it. I knew generally where it was but I couldn’t find it. I kept on looking for the grave with the most stones. I didn’t know that once a month they come and they knock all the stones off and start over again, and they had just knocked them all off. So those are some of the experiences that we’ve had over here. And I guess the one that meant the most to me was when I wandering down through the cemetery there and I came to the most ornate grave that I’ve ever seen here with tremendous walls around it of decorative iron. And guess what? It was the grave of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the man who revived the Hebrew language from the dead.
Well we are going to go next to Dominus Flevit, that means where the Lord wept, a beautiful tear drop chapel and talk there about Jesus some more.
This is the small chapel on the slope of the Mount of Olives that is called Dominus Flevit. It is shaped in the form of a tear drop because this is the traditional site where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. This is a view from inside the chapel, looking through a beautifully decorated window toward the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. From the vantage point of this chapel you can get a very good view of the ancient Easter Gate, the only gate of the city that is closed.
I want to talk to you for a few minutes about the Eastern Gate. I call it the Gate to Prophecy. And the reason for that is this in 1967 when the Six Day War broke out I was a Professor of International Law and Politics at a university. And I was following very carefully what was going on over here in the Middle East, I was fascinated by it. I was born into a Christian family, grew up in the Church I was there every time the door was open. I was there Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, Vacation Bible School, you name it gospel meetings but we never heard Bible prophecy, never. We were an Amillennial Church we were taught that Jesus is never returning to this earth again, never. He’ll never put His foot on this earth again. That the Millennium is going right now.
The Tribulation is going simultaneously. And everything is just going to come to a screaming halt when Jesus returns, but He’ll never return to this earth. He’ll just appear in the sky we’ll go up to Heaven and that’s it, all over with. So I didn’t know anything about Bible prophecy.
And I’m reading the newspaper every day about the Six Day War and one day probably about three or four days, maybe a week after the war was over, I read this news article and it just didn’t make any sense to me. It said that when the Israeli Defense Forces were trying to figure out how to take the Old City it occurred to them that the Jordanians would think that they would attack from the west on the other side at the Jaffa Gate, there is only one gate on the west side of the city, they would attack there. So they decided, as the Jews always do, that they would go around and hit them from the other side and catch them by surprise. In the middle of the night move their forces around and catch them. And this article actually said that in the process of all of these discussions that somebody actually mentioned the possibility of putting satchel charges on the Eastern Gate and blowing it open so that would really catch them by surprise. They said there was a Rabbi there, and this is an article that I am reading in the newspaper and the Rabbi said, “You will do that over my dead body. Nobody is going to blow open that Eastern Gate because the Word says that the Eastern Gate will be sealed and it will remain sealed until the Messiah comes.”
And I thought, “What in the world is that all about?” So I got out a concordance that was before the days of computers. And I got out a concordance and I looked up the word gate, and I started looking up every Scripture in the Bible that had to do with gate. Until I got to Ezekiel 44 and there’s the prophecy, the Eastern Gate will be closed. And that gate’s not going to be reopened until the Messiah comes. And I couldn’t believe my eyes.
So then I went to the “Encyclopedia Britannica,” and I wondered, “Why is that gate closed? Has it always been closed? What’s the deal?” So I started studying on that and I discovered according to the Encyclopedia Britannica nobody knows for sure why the gate was closed. But the story is, the story that has been passed down is that while they were in the process of rebuilding the city walls that a rumor swept Jerusalem that the Messiah was coming. And the Turkish officials called the Rabbis in and said, “Who is this Messiah?” And they said, “Well, He is going to come, and He is going to deliver us from you and the Messiah is going to reign here in Jerusalem over all the world.” And he said, “Thank you very much and dismissed them.” Called in his engineers and said, “We are going to take care of that Messiah. Brick up the Eastern Gate, he can’t go through it.” Put a Muslim cemetery in it, no Jewish holy man would ever step foot there. So they bricked it up. They put a Muslim cemetery in front of it to block the Messiah. Whether that is true or not, I don’t know but that is the story I run across in every source I find, something of that nature.
But the point is it got me hooked on Bible prophecy. I never knew anything about Bible prophecy. I thought, “I’m seeing this fulfilled before my very eyes.” So I started studying Bible prophecy in 1967 intensely, and the more I studied it the more amazed I was. As I saw prophecies about the regathering of the Jewish people, the reestablishment of the State, the reclamation of the land, the revival of the language, the reoccupation of the City of Jerusalem, the growth of Israeli military power. All of that is prophesied, and that all the nations of the world would come together against Israel over the issue of Jerusalem, which is where we are right now. So I call it my Gate to Prophecy because it’s what got me interested in studying God’s Prophetic Word. And finally brought me to the point where I gave up my academic career to spend the rest of my life talking about Bible Prophecy.
When I was 12 years old I discovered something in Bible prophecy that relates to this place that I’ll never forget. The only sermons we ever heard about Bible prophecy it was just one sermon that was passed among all our preachers. And that sermon was this, there is not one verse in the Bible that even implies that Jesus Christ will ever put His foot on this earth again. I heard that over, and over, and over and over. And Gary grew up in the same denomination I did and he heard the same sermon over, and over and over. Not one verse in the Bible even implies Jesus will ever put His foot on this earth again. And we called ourselves a New Testament Church and we meant that. If the preacher said, “Bring you Bible tonight.” We all brought our New Testament. The Old Testament had been nailed to the cross. The Old Testament was irrelevant. The Old Testament was something that you taught stories like Noah and the Ark to children but that’s all you did. No wonder we didn’t understand the New Testament, we didn’t even know the Old Testament.
So, when I was 12 years old I was flipping through the Bible one day, just flipping through, came to Zechariah 14. I started reading Zechariah 14 and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Zechariah 14 says that in the end times Jerusalem will be surrounded by enemies. We now know that’s the enemies of the Antichrist. And it says that just as Jerusalem is about half of it will fall and just as the other half is about to fall the Messiah will come. He will come to the Mount of Olives. His foot will touch the ground, the mountain will split open. The remaining people in Jerusalem will come out and hide in the cleavage of the mountain and it says, He will speak a supernatural word, a supernatural word. And it says that when He does so the Antichrist and his forces will be destroyed in an instant. And it says verse 9, on that day He will become King over all the earth. So not only does it say He is going to put His foot on this earth, but He’s going to reign. He’s coming back to reign. He’ll be King over all the earth, what a day that will be. I can hardly wait.
So I discovered that, so here’s what happened I was so amazed by that discovery because I grew up in a church that said boy we believe the Bible every word of it just exactly what it says beginning to end, except for all prophecies concerning the Second Coming because they don’t mean what they say. So I went to my preacher in fear and trembling and I said, “Sir,” I’m only 12 I said, “Sir, you say there’s not one verse in the Bible that even implies Jesus will ever put His foot back on the earth again.” “Yes, sir, Brother that’s right.” I said, “Ok. Well what about this? And I gave him Zechariah 14 read the first nine verses.” He sat there and read them and it was like an eternity, he just kept on reading them, and reading them, and reading. Finally he turned to me and he stuck his finger in my face and he said, “Son, I’m going to tell you something, I don’t know what this means but I will guarantee you one thing it does not mean what it says.” OK.
So I am stubborn and persistent after all my name is Reagan, I’m Irish and so every time a preacher would come to town and say, “There is not one verse in the Bible that even…” I’d go, “What about Zechariah 14?” Well he didn’t know about that. Didn’t mean what it said. Until finally when I was about 19 we had a seminary graduate come. Now in our denomination seminary graduates were very rare because they believed seminaries were repositories of the Devil. Well today some of them are but anyway. So he came and he got up and said the same thing and I went up to him and I said, “What about Zechariah 14?” And he didn’t even hesitate, I mean he knew it. He said, “Apocalyptic.” Scared me to death. I turned around and ran off. I didn’t know what that was but when I started preaching people would come up and say, “What about Zechariah 14?” I would say, “Apocalyptic.” They would run. I didn’t know whether that was a disease or what, but it worked. I mean they would run off and I would grin and I thought man, all is right with the world.
Until one day a man confronted me and said, “Let me tell you something David, are you familiar with the First Coming prophecies of Jesus?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Were they literally fulfilled?” I said, “Yes, every one of them.” Then he said, “Why wouldn’t the Second Coming prophecies be the same?” And suddenly something clicked. And I thought, you know, yeah, if the First Coming prophecies meant what they said and were literally fulfilled, the Second Coming prophecies mean what they say and they are going to be literally fulfilled. And I began to study prophecy like I never studied before. And I discovered the golden rule of prophetic interpretation and that is if the plain sense makes sense, don’t look for any other sense or you will end up with nonsense. Take it for its plain sense meaning.
I never forget when I started studying the book of Revelation the first commentary I ever read was by Henry Morris the Founder of the Institute for Creation Research. And he said at the very beginning, “I am writing this book because people tell me the book of Revelation is hard to understand. It is not hard to understand, it is hard to believe. If you will believe it you will understand it.
Dr. Reagan: Our next stop was at the Garden of Gethsemane, located at the base of the Mount of Olives. The garden is situated next to a beautiful church known as the Church of All Nations or the Church of the Agony. It is built over an outcropping of stone which marks the traditional site where Jesus prayed before His arrest.
Gary Fisher: Follow along with me in John 18, “When Jesus had spoken these words,” verse 1, “He went out with the disciples over the brook Kidron, where there was a garden which He and His disciples entered. And Judas who betrayed Him also knew the place for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas having received a detachment of troops.” Now that word in your Bible, some of you may have a New American Standard, I believe that word is cohort in your Bible. In Greek it is the Greek word cohort. Do you know what a Roman cohort is? This is one of the things I was going to show you in case you’ve ever missed it or not thought about it. A Roman cohort is 600 men. Let that sink in for a moment. Six-hundred men? Come over here to break up a prayer session with 12 guys and a leader? Something’s going on here that we may have missed in the past. Let’s proceed. “The detachment or cohort of troops and the officers of the Chief Priest and the Pharisees they came with lanterns, torches, and weapons.” Guys we’re only breaking up a prayer session. We’ve got a Jewish Rabbi his name is Yeshua, his 12 followers, they are not armed. What do you need all these clubs, and weapons? They had the M16’s of the day too boy, I mean they had spears and so forth and so on. They are coming over here ready for some kind of battle it looks like. To break up a prayer session?
I think the Scripture answers why in just a moment if you’ll follow along. Verse 4, “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him went forward.” He saw that crowd coming here. Let me ask you a question just to pause here. Now 12 of us, or there are 30 something of us and we are over here and it is night and we are going to pray in this garden. And all of a sudden 600 men start coming over here to break up our prayer session. Are we going to go the opposite direction? Or are we going to go to them and confront them? Here’s what Jesus did. Look at verse 4, “He went forward and said to them,” the leader of the group is out in front of these 600 men and He says, “‘Who are you seeking?’ And they answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to him,” now I want to pause here and remind you of something. You remember the day that Moses encountered God in the burning bush? And Moses thereafter learned that God’s name was, tell them who I am. And what did He tell them to tell? I AM. Now the word he here is in italics which means that it is implied in the text, so here is what Jesus told them. “They answered Him and said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas who betrayed Him stood with them and when He said to them, ‘I am He,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” Hello. Six hundred men, all of them armed, all the Pharisees, all of the Temple guard comes out here and all of a sudden a grand surprise meets them face to face. They didn’t plan on Him encountering anything like this. But all of a sudden something knocks them to the ground. When He said, “I am He,” all of them fell to the ground. Jesus could have snapped His fingers at that moment, sucked all the air out of all their lungs and they would have all died right here. He could have called a couple of angels and beat them up before they ever got here. Why did He not do that? You know the answer to that. Jesus didn’t come here folks to get a good job, a good wife, and kids and have a nice life. Jesus came here to die, for you and I.
Dr. Reagan: Well, folks, that’s our program for this week. I hope it has been a blessing to you. Next week, the Lord willing, we will continue our pilgrimage as I lead you on a walk thru the Old City of Jerusalem. We will go from the Lion’s Gate on the east side of the city all the way over to the Jaffa Gate on the west side of the city, and then we will head over to the Jewish Quarter. Incidentally, if you have missed any of our programs in this series, you can watch them on our website at lamblion.com. They are also available on many other Internet sites outlets like LightSource.com. Also, if you would like to go on one of our pilgrimages to the Holy Land, give us a call, and we will let you know when the next one is scheduled. Well, I hope you’ll be back with us next week, until then this is Dave Reagan speaking for Lamb & Lion Ministries, saying, “Look up, be watchful, for our Redemption is drawing near.”