The Two Thieves
In 2010, I was in the midst of a personal crisis, and seeking the Lord. I had not really prayed for or ministered to people for 10 years. I had felt I had done my part in training others. So going to Israel was going to be my answer. This was to be my Elijah moment.
On the plane ride a young Jewish boy was seated next to me. He did not speak to me but just stared at my Bible on the bench seat between us. Eventually, he decided to lie down and use my Bible as a pillow. I prayed silently for him as he slept. At one point, both his arms went straight up and he began holding a one-sided conversation with someone in Hebrew. This seemed like a good beginning and surely God was going to show up and give me my answers.
This was not exactly what was happened. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9.
I stared at the night sky over Jerusalem from my hotel balcony. There was a cold breeze blowing over the city and I thought this was probably similar to when Jesus looked over Jerusalem and wept. This was my first night here and I heard not even a quiet whisper.
I went on the tour with a Biblical archeologist named Jacob. He spoke nine ancient languages and worked on the excavation of Capernaum.
We only had 20 minutes at the Jordan River. I asked Jacob about being baptized there.
He said, “Normally, that is a short stop, but for you we will make time.”
I re-baptized myself in this beautiful place but nothing out of the ordinary happened.
On the spur of the moment on the last day I decided to go to the church which housed the Garden of Gethsemane. It was the Sabbath and not really a time for a gentile tourist to be sightseeing. I asked the front desk person about cabs, knowing the cabs at the hotel were okay. I had done my research and knew you had to be careful. I had learned if the cab had a radio on the dash, it was probably okay. The front desk clerk assured me the cabs at the Church of the Gethsemane were okay.
This was not exactly true.
The cab ride to the church was uneventful. I spent about an hour praying over the area where Jesus had prayed. I had my bag with anointing oil nearby on the stone. Several people who came in and I left to make room for them to pray. I had planned on a quiet trip back to the hotel and a chance to rest before leaving Israel the next day. Again, this was not exactly what happened.
As I was leaving I was approached by a young man who introduced himself as Jacob. He asked if there was anything I wanted to see in the area and I told him I had not seen the Upper Room. He said it was nearby and he could show me King David’s tomb as well.
We went to a yellow cab very similar to the one I had arrived in. When I saw the cab another man was behind the wheel to do the driving. It had a radio on the dashboard which the clerk said usually meant the cabs were safe.
We drove to the building where the Upper Room had been. The original had been replaced with another building. I went inside and saw a replica of the Upper Room. We then proceeded to King David’s Tomb, Absalom’s Tomb, and the gate walled up by The Moslems to keep Jesus from entering Jerusalem when He returns. Jacob asked me if there was anything else I wanted to see and said no and was ready to go back to the hotel.
As we were driving Jacob informed me I owed them close to $800 in American money.
There was no fear and my blood pressure didn’t rise. I told them I needed to use an ATM. They drove me to a deserted part of Jerusalem with no one is sight for blocks. I took my bag with the anointing oils with me. I withdrew money and gave Jacob $100.00.
He looked at me and said, “This is not what we asked for.”
I said “That is a fair price.”
He just looked at me. Then, he explained to the driver what had happened. The driver went ballistic and started yelling in Arabic. He tried to get out of the cab but his door would not open. He started pounding his steering wheel and screaming. Jacob looked puzzled. Jacob’s door would not work either.
He looked at me, pointed and said, “Your hotel is that way.” I walked away and when about a block separated us their car pulled away.
It was about 90 degrees and humid. I used what little Modern Hebrew I knew at a restaurant I found open and kept walking through Jerusalem on the Sabbath. I passed through two military checkpoints with twenty-something men and women holding AK-47s. After about an hour I made it back to The King David Hotel where I was staying.
They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. Luke 4:29. Apparently, God was with me in all circumstances. A quiet whisper would have sufficed.
The lesson Jesus taught me was the same one He taught to Elijah on Mount Horeb. It is not over, get back to living out your purpose. Since that day I have prayed for several-hundred people. There is no plan for tomorrow, other than waiting on God and running the race He has designed for me. There is peace in not needing anything other than that. A prophet once said, “Whether God tells you to go fishing or raise the dead, the reward is the same.” I have heard that prophet did both.
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