1/12/11

An Unexpected Lesson at Masada

The story of Masada is gut-wrenching to most people, but inspiring to the Jews and the nation of Israel. Masada is a rocky hilltop fortress south of Jerusalem on the Dead Sea. Fortified and supplied by Herod the Great around 36 BC as an escape site, Masada was occupied by some 900 Jewish resistance fighters (Zealots) including their families between 66 and 73 AD after Titus captured Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. As the Romans laid siege to the fortress of Masada, they built a ramp to scale the walls. The zealots' own relatives were forced to build the ramp so those within the walls would not pellet the Romans with stones to stop the construction.

The Jews, realizing the Romans would soon conquer Masada, choose to kill themselves and their families rather than become Roman slaves. Since Jewish law forbids suicide, the men cast lots to determine what 10 men would remain to the end; then these 10 men killed each other. The last man fell on his own sword ~ the only suicide. The zealots did not destroy their provisions, to make it clear to the Romans and others that they did not end their lives due to lack of food and water.

Two women and some children who hid in a deep cistern lived to tell the story, which was recorded by Titus Flavius Josephus in The Jewish War (c. 75 AD). Josephus recorded that the Romans could "take no pleasure" in their conquest, but rather wondered at the courage of the zealots' resolution.

For years, new IDF soldiers repeated a passionate rally cry after their swearing in: "Masada shall not fall again."

One cannot hear the story and see the majesty of the mountain without admiring the courage of the zealots.

But that is not the message that God gave to me at Masada. You see, all around the stonework of the area, there is a black painted line. Everything under the black line is original ~ thousands of years old. Most of the foundation is intact. Everything above the line, however, is reconstructed to give visitors a truer picture of what the site looked like in 70 AD.

As I stared at the walls, I thought, This reminds me of much of the organized church today. The foundations are there, but the "walls" of the church have crumbled through false doctrine, lack of biblical knowledge, or unwillingness to abide by the Word of God.

It was as though the Lord infused me with the "courage" of Masada, but with a different mission ~ to help rebuild the crumbling church so that my children and grandchildren will get a truer picture of what God intended for His people today and for future generations before His return. God will build His church; that is not my job. But I do have a part in restoring the walls, cracked and broken by the foolish ideas of modern man.

I'll never forget that black line. And no matter what else I do, I will share the doctrines of scripture, the Gospel of Christ, and the Christian worldview.

Note: A few years ago, I wrote a pamphlet for Revive Our Hearts Ministries (available in pdf form) titled "Learn to Discern: How to Recognize and Respond to Error in the Culture." It will help you stand against Satan's lies and not fall prey to the teachings of the new false teachers. It is also available in booklet form at Revive Our Hearts' bookstore.

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