Masada
Have you ever felt as though you were under siege?  Ever had an adversary or adversaries who simply will not leave you alone?  Here are a few examples of the foes who put us under siege today:

  • A disease that simply won’t stay in remission.
  • A friend or family member who has hurt you deeply and insists on adding insult to injury.
  • Overwhelming feelings of doubt or depression that won’t go away.
  • Spiritual attack from our ultimate adversary – Satan himself.

When you find yourself under siege, where do you run?  Some run to a trusted friend — others to solitude.  Some run to distraction, while others take refuge in an addiction.  Where do you tend to run when times get tough?  While you are thinking about that, let me introduce you to a mighty fortress from the first century — the Herodian fortress of Masada.

On our first full day in Israel, we visited this architectural marvel glued to the side of a 1,300 foot high cliff on the western shores of the Dead Sea.  Masada (the Hebrew word for fortress) was built by King Herod about 30 years before Jesus was born.  This fortress was designed by Herod to be an impenetrable escape against heavy attack.  Not only was Masada protected by its physical location on the rocky cliffs, it was also designed to be fully self-sustaining for indefinite periods of time.  In a land that saw only .25 inches of rain ANNUALLY, Herod had a series of water capturing aquifers bringing water from the wetter highlands and storing it in the enormous cisterns beneath Masada.  One million gallons of water could be stored in Masada’s storehouses — enough water to provide plenty to drink and to irrigate crops that grew in the fortress’s gardens.

In the first century, Masada probably felt like the most secure place in all of Israel.  Because of that, it should be no surprise that 1,000 Jewish rebels holed up in Masada’s fortress in 70 CE after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans.  For 3 years, the rebels held out behind Masada’s walls, but the Romans would not give up.  They built their own ramp up Masada’s hill and battered their way inside.  Rather than be captured by the Romans, nearly 1,000 rebels committed suicide on the night before the Romans took the compound.

Seeing Masada’s ruins reminded me of the temporary nature of all man-made protections.  No matter how perfect the refuges of man look, their walls will eventually be breached.  Sure, your friend might encourage you one day, but might let your call go to voicemail the next.  The addiction may give you a high one moment but leave you hollow later on.  Like the people of Masada, finding refuge in most things ultimately leads to death.

However, there is a better protection . . . a place where we can run when we are under siege to find ultimate comfort, hope, and protection.  King David wrote of this refuge in Psalm 61:1-3:

“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint.  Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I, for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.”

Though our man made walls cannot withstand the battering ram of our adversaries, the strong tower of the Lord is a refuge that never fails.

Where do you run when you are under siege?  Together, let us run to the Rock that is higher than us.  In prayer, cry out to God for His help.  Read Scripture to hear of His promises and His presence.  Locate yourself among the people of God that they might provide perspective you cannot have because of your proximity to your situation.  He is the fortress whose walls will never fail.  Together let us run to Him when we are under siege.

 

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4 thoughts on “Under Siege (Israel part 2)

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