After a week of touring in Jordan and in the northern region of Israel, we entered into Jerusalem on 28 December 2008, late in the evening.
Our entry into Jerusalem was delayed because of a huge traffic jam on the road leading into the Holy City. The crisis in the Gaza strip was escalating. As a result, security checks on vehicles entering Jerusalem was stepped up.
At 5.55pm, while our bus was slowly making its way toward the entrance of the Holy City, we prayed for the peace of Jerusalem, and declared "Grace, grace!" and "Shalom, shalom!"
On 29 December 2008, the eastern part of Jerusalem was closed to tourists by the police because some protests were taking place in the area. Thankfully, our itinerary was not affected, as the museums we were scheduled to visit were not located in the affected area.
On 30 December 2008, to our delight, the closure of eastern Jerusalem was lifted. It was a beautiful sunny day with a clear blue sky, and we gladly proceeded with our itinerary as planned.
After visiting the Mount of Olive and the various sites (including the Garden of Gethsemane) on and around the Mount, singing in the Church of St Anne, walking through the Via Dolorosa (The Way of Suffering) in the Old City of Jerusalem in the morning, we proceeded next to Mount Zion just outside the walls of the Old City.
When we reached the entrance of the Upper Room on Mount Zion, because of the large number of visitors at the site, we had to wait for the crowd in the Upper room to clear, before we made our entry.
The area where we waited was an un-shelthered space just outside the Upper Room entrance. It was a relatively small area and had just enough space to hold our group of about 50 people. The other groups before us and those after us were in the roofed areas of the Upper Room or the staircases, and they had no view of the sky.
As ours was a relatively big group, it took several minutes before everyone made it through the covered stairway and was gathered in the open space under the sky. After a couple of minutes of standing and waiting, Natasha, a young girl in our group suddenly pointed to the sky and shouted, "Look!" We all looked up, and saw this beautiful inverted rainbow hanging over our heads.
It was as if God was smiling at us and telling us, "Dear beloved children, take heart, I hear you. I heard your prayers for the peace of Jerusalem. Look now and see the sure sign of My convenant of peace. Remember my love for my people. Remember my love for you. And let your heart and mind be at peace."
"I set My Rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth." (Genesis 9:13)
"For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you...My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My convenant of peace be removed." (Isaiah 54:9-10)
As many among the group started to pull out their cameras and took pictures of the rainbow, I just felt so loved by God. I believe many of us in the group who were from New Creation Church felt the same way too, because just about a month ago, our Senior Pastor preached a message about rainbow. (read blog entry here: http://lipkee.multiply.com/journal/item/103). On the day our Senior Pastor preached the rainbow message, a double rainbow appeared in the sky outside Suntec City Tower Four, where our church services are held every Sunday.
I also found out subsequently that quite a number of the NewCre people in the group had in fact prayed before embarking on the trip that they would get to see a rainbow in Israel.
What made our experience in Jerusalem more amazing was that the "smiling rainbow" did not remain in the sky for too long. Within a minute or so (within a few clicks of the camera), it faded away, even while the crowd in the Upper Room was clearing away and it was time for us to enter into the room.
It was as if God had specially prepared the rainbow just for our group to see. God knew we would be spending a few minutes waiting outside the Upper Room, so He used that few minutes to show us His love, with a beautiful sign in the sky. If we had arrived at the entrance of the Upper Room just a couple minutes earlier or later, we would have missed the rainbow.
He made us feel so special.
We are so loved. He is so good!