The Holy Land Experience: The Next Best Thing to Being There
- Tuesday, October 19, 2004
At the end of the tour, we stepped into a Byzantine rotunda. The room is dark and cool. Once we were all situated, velvet curtains were slowly raised—one at a time—over impressive paintings of biblical characters such as Moses, Joshua, Mary, and Paul. As the Ten Commandments are recited by our narrator, we watched the “finger of God” etching them in tablets of stone. Finally, as we looked heavenward, we saw the bridge by which all men come to God: the Cross of Jesus.
The Shofar Auditorium, Jerusalem Model, and the Temple of the Great King
From the Scriptorium we stepped into the bright sunlight, crossed a path leading to the Shofar Auditorium, and entered a large room where an informative lecture on the Feasts & Festivals was being given. Through the humor and knowledge of one of the HLE’s over 200 employees, we came to a greater understanding of God’s holy days, of His detailed timing, and of the importance in understanding the days, months, and years described in the books of Moses.
Afterward, we went back outside and to the courtyard (Plaza of the Nations) of the beyond-impressive Temple of the Great King. For the next hour we watched, spellbound, as dancers and singers in full costume presented “The Ancient Festivals of the Biblical World,” with a grand finale of “Days of Elijah” that drew us and others to our feet in song and celebration.
The show itself was rivaled only by a second presentation later in the day (and back in the Shofar Auditorium). “Praise Through the Ages,” began with Miriam singing “Kadesh…” (Holy) as she made her way down the center aisle. We listened, breathless, as men and women throughout time lifted era-appropriate songs of adoration to the Lord of lords and King of kings. The show’s finale—a contemporary medley—was so impacting and powerful the roomful of guests stood, singing, clapping, adoring…and praising. “You are good, all the time…all the time…you are good!”
Outside the auditorium itself (but inside, none-the-less) is the world’s largest model of 1st Century Jerusalem. Here, guests are able to understand the sheer grandeur of size of Herod’s Temple, the place where Jesus slipped away as a boy and where He overturned the tables of the merchants and later declared, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)
On staff artists of the HLE built the model. “We have some incredibly talented people,” Rosenthal rightfully brags. “Everything you see—everything—from the buildings to the men and women of the city were made by our people.”
Calvary’s Garden Tomb
Outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem is a place called The Garden Tomb, discovered in the 1800’s and near a hillside called Gordon’s Calvary.
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