We began our day with a challenge to pray for the ministry of Messianic believers in Arad, a small town outside of Beersheba. There is a small group led by Yakim Figueras. Please pray for his continued ministry and for strength and wisdom as this small community of believers suffers persecution from Orthodox groups. Pray for God to give this community of Messianic believers the courage to continue with their bold witness for the Gospel.
Worship Service At The Dead Sea
Our trip today began with a worship service at the Dead Sea. We had worship and shared from God’s Word from Psalm 24 and 42. We prepared our hearts for the day as we read about “having clean hands and pure heart”, and “panting for the LORD like a deer pants for water”.
We began our educational time by journeying up to the top of the Mountain Fortress of Masada, built by Herod the Great. This is where Herod would come spend time outside Jerusalem, and also where the Jewish Revolt Survivors staged a last stand against the Romans. We focused on God being our “Fortress” this morning. The Hebrew Word Masada means “Fortress”. This is an incredible place with some powerful history.
MASADA – “fortress”; A nearly impregnable wilderness fortress near the west shore of the Dead Sea ca. 33 km. (21 mi.) southeast of Hebron. The rock of Masada rises with sheer cliffs some 180 to 250 m. (600 to 820 ft.) above the surrounding low ground to an irregularly shaped flat top some 600 m. (656 yds.) long north to south and 316 m. (346 yds.) at the widest point.
Masada was used as a fortress as early as the midsecond century B.C., but Herod the Great was the earliest known builder on the site. He constructed most of the buildings and defensive walls, including his main residence, the large western palace. An even larger complex of buildings at the northern end of the rock features extensive storerooms and a palace built on three terraces descending ca. 35 m. (115 ft.) from the top of the rock. These structures and other buildings constructed during the time of Herod required extensive waterworks, which included huge cisterns cut into solid rock. Herod surrounded the whole of the top of the rock, except for the northern end, by a double wall with thirty towers.
After Herod’s death Masada was used as a Roman border fortress. In the summer of A.D. 66, as the great Jewish revolt was beginning, the fortress was taken by rebel forces. Even after the Romans had taken all the rest of Judea, including Jerusalem (A.D. 70) and the fortresses of Machaerus (71) and Herodium (72), Masada held on. Masada fell before an elaborate Roman assault in April of 73 or 74. But before the Roman soldiers entered, all but seven of the 960 Jews on Masada had committed mass suicide rather than be killed by Romans (Josephus BJ vii.8.1–9.2 [252–406]). For about forty years Roman forces occupied the rock, which was not again inhabited until Byzantine times. -Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 697-98.
“Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. ” (Psalm 31:2–4, ESV)
“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. ” (Psalm 18:1–3, ESV)
“Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. ” (Psalm 71:3, ESV)
“When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’ ” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way. Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ ” (1 Samuel 24:1–10, ESV)
Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls)
We ended our day by driving into Jerusalem from Jericho. We spent much of the ride reading from the Psalm of Ascents (120-134) as we experienced the vivid imagery of the pilgrims who would be heading to Jerusalem during the biblical feasts as they journeyed UP to Jerusalem.
“A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. ” (Psalm 121, ESV)