Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Valleys of El Shaddai

Our first stop yesterday was the Israel Museum--home of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Second Temple Model--a 1:50  scale model of Jersulam (66 A.D.). The model, which is about an acre in size, provides a remarkable visuual experience of the times of Jesus Christ.

In the above photo, I am standing outside the Beautiful or East Gate of the city--the gate through which the Lord Jesus Christ will one-day make His triumphal re-entry into the city.

The most fascinating thing I learned while examining the Second Temple Model was that the name of God, "El Shaddai" ("God Almighty"), is literally written on the City of Jerusalem.

The letter "Shin" is the twenty-first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And it looks like this:

You will find this letter, quite literally, all over Israel--on door posts, windows, and the sides of buildings. There is a Shin on the door post of my hotel room, from where I am writing this post.

The letter "Shin" is used by the Jewish people to represent God--"Shaddai." And what does this have to do with the City of Jerusalem?

In Ezra 6:12, we read:
May the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem. I Darius make a decree; let it be done with all diligence.
And in the opening of the Book of Nehemiah, we read:
Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the capital, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, "The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire."

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, "O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.
The place where the name of El Shaddai would dwell would be Jerusalem.

Here's a picture of the Second Temple Model. The view is from the south end of the city, looking north.

Look closely at the photo. There are three primary valleys in Jerusalem--two surrounding the city, and one running north to south. The three valleys intersect at the southern-most point of the city.

The Kidron Valley (or the Valley of Jehoshaphat) runs along the east wall of the city. The Ben Hinnom Valley (or the Valley of Gehenna) runs northwest along the south end of the city. And the Tyropoeon Valley runs from north to south, from the area of the Second Temple, and just to the east of the original City of David, which is a small, banana-shaped section in the southeast portion of the city, just south of the Second Temple.

Here's a topographical map of the city. The three valleys are shaded light brown to make them easier to see.

The three valleys form the letter "Shin!"

The Lord of all Creation--of water, earth, and sky--the One who made the dry land, seas, and that is in them--and who, from eternity past knew where He would cause His name to dwell; created three valleys to form a Hebrew letter that would one day represent His name, in the exact location where His people would build His holy city.

El Shaddai, God Almighty did this to bring Himself glory and to allow His people to see with their own eyes a beautiful manifestation of His power and glory.