Psalm 119:133 – Establish my footsteps in Your word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. (NASB)
Psalm 18:36 – You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped. (NASB)
In November of last year, I had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land, along with my daughter and several others from my church. It was an amazing experience to walk the same ancient paths that Jesus walked and to see a number of interesting archaeological parks and museums throughout our ten-day pilgrimage. At the end of our journey, we had the chance to express our thoughts and to share what we found most meaningful.
Personally, it was overwhelming to see places associated with Jesus' suffering, such as the Garden of Gethsemane and the Via Dolorosa. Still, every site had a specific impact on my understanding of the Scriptures, in particular, the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount. There we sat on the original stairs, across from the Mount of Olives, listening to our pastor preach a mini-sermon.
Yet, it wasn't until I returned home and did some research that I began to appreciate the significance of the Southern Steps. They are also called the "Teaching Steps" because rabbis, including Jesus, may have used this area as a platform for preaching to the crowds.
Additionally, these steps were intentionally rough and uneven, with an alternating layout of narrow and wide steps. So, what was the purpose for an irregular stairway? Some believe that Jewish pilgrims sang the fifteen Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) on the fifteen wide steps on their way up to the house of God. Others have suggested that this design forced the multitudes to pay attention to where they were going, thus preventing a hurried approach to the temple. This idea makes sense, but more importantly, it illustrates a great spiritual lesson for us today. Therefore, what insights can we glean for our own lives? What do the Teaching Steps teach us?
Questions to ponder may include:
- How can we apply this teaching to our personal relationship with the Lord?
- In what ways should we watch our step in approaching God's throne of grace?
- How does prayer, Bible study, and Sunday worship lead us a step closer to Christ?
Prayer: Lord, according to Your Word, guide our steps and lead us in the way that we should go. In Jesus' holy name, we pray. Amen.