Overlooking the Dead Sea is an ancient stronghold known as Masada. It is one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions. The cliffs on the east edge are about 1,300 feet high and the cliffs on the west are about 300 feet high. Herod the Great built and fortified a palace for himself there between 37 and 31 BC. Engineers constructed a 12 foot high casemate wall around the top, towers, storehouses, barracks, an armory, and cisterns filled by rainwater.
In AD 66, the Sicarii, a group of Jewish rebels, used a ruse to take over the Roman garrison. Their numbers swelled after the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70. Lucius Flavius Silva, the Roman governor of Judaea, led Fretensis—the Tenth Roman legion with as many as 15,000 troops to retake Masada. By utilizing a bedrock spur during their siege, they constructed a 375 foot ramp which allowed them to move a battering ram into place on the western side. On April 16th, AD 73, they breached the wall. According to Josephus, when they entered the fortress, they found 960 people had set most of the buildings and supplies ablaze and committed mass suicide or killed each other. Only two women and five children were found alive.
Masada is the quintessential symbol in Israel for resistance. Soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) climb the long winding snake trail from the base of the cliff to the top to hold solemn ceremonies and declare that it shall not fall again.
2 Samuel 22:1-3—David spoke the words of this song to the LORD on the day the LORD rescued him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge. My shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold, my refuge, and my Savior, You save me from violence.
What a contrast exists between Eleazar ben Ya'ir, the Sicarii commander and David ben Jesse, Israel’s king. Somehow Ya’ir convinced all his forces to take their own lives. Yet by killing themselves, their terminal statement was “we are our best hope.” David was also surrounded by enemies intent on killing him, yet he looked to a better Rock for his salvation. Suicide was not an option.
On my mantle sits a stone from Masada. It reminds me to pay attention to where I place my faith. Adversity reveals in what rock we ultimately believe.
Faith perfectly responds to abandon when abandon is submitted to faith.—Jeanne Guyon in Final Steps in Christian Maturity
©2013 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)