Where and how is Masada mentioned in the Bible? Was/is there any significance to it?

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Where and how is Masada mentioned in the Bible? Was/is there any significance to it?

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:01 am

Masada is an ancient fortification in the Judean desert. It is situated on top of an isolated rock plateau. The site of Masada lies 66 miles southeast of Jerusalem, overlooking the Dead Sea. It is one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions. Virtually all the information we have about Masada regarding what happened there comes from the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus. Herod the Great included it among his many building projects, fortifying Masada approximately 30 years before the life of Christ. Following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Roman forces in about 70 AD during the First Jewish-Roman War, a group or rebels called the Sicarii (Latin, “daggermen”) took over the fortress area of Masada, having first taken over the area some four years earlier. The Sicarii were considered an extremist splinter group of the Zealots, who were the main group rebelling against Roman rule and occupation. The Sicarii would sometimes resort to drastic measures to get the general population to fight against Rome, such as destroying food supplies to force the people to attack Roman supplies, and going even so far as to massacre fellow Jews (killing over 700 women and children in the nearby town of Ein Gedi—anything to stir the population against Rome. Following the destruction of the Temple and the fall of Jerusalem, succeeding Roman military efforts were focused on “mopping up” the remaining pockets of resistance in the area, one of which included the rebels at Masada. The Romans besieged Masada for 2-3 months in the year 73 AD. When they finally breached the walls of the fortifications, according to Josephus, only two women and five children were found alive. The rest—960 according to Josephus—had committed mass suicide. Modern archaeology has some skepticism for the figures Josephus mentions. The remains of only about 28 bodies have been found at the site. Josephus also tells us that approximately 1.1 million Jews died in this war; there is no way to accurately access his estimates.
Although Masada is not mentioned in the Bible, the destruction of the Temple that history tells us occurred is something to which Christ referred prophetically: Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down”—Matthew 24:1-2. That coming destruction of the temple would occur only about 40 years after that conversation.
Is there any significance to Masada? Not really. The Sicarii, like the Zealots, saw only force as a means of dealing with Rome—force fueled by hate. Christ dealt with Roman very differently; remember that he healed the Roman centurion’s servant when he asked for Christ’s help (Matthew 8:5-13). Later scriptures in the New Testament instruct Christians in how to approach those who rule over them. Paul, ironically in writing to the church at Rome, said, Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves—Paul, Romans 13:1-2. Later, the apostle Peter echoed similar thoughts: Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king—I Peter 2:17. Interestingly, both Paul and Peter were martyred by the authorities they urged fellow believers to honor. The “king” at the time of Peter and Paul was Nero, who many historians consider to have been insane. Yet they urged submission to authority as a way of reflecting our submission to Christ, and Christ’s submission to God. That is why Paul, through Timothy, urges us, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness—Paul, I Timothy 2:1-2. It pleases God that we pray for all those in leadership over us. Whether Democrat or Republican doesn’t matter. What matters to God is that we seek to please Him in all respects, including our attitudes and responsibilities towards our leaders.
Now of course, when it comes to matters of conscience, Christians must, as the apostles declared, obey God rather than men—Peter, Acts 5:29b. But civil disobedience still carries with it the command to also reflect God rather than men. No matter what is occurring, no matter what our culture is becoming, we are still called to engage the culture with the gospel. Jesus Himself said, Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation—Jesus Christ, Mark 16:15. Jesus Christ is the only effective counter to the world in which we live. And Jesus Christ is the only way by which people will genuinely be changed. Political action won’t do it; only the spiritual action of Christ can. We need to reflect the fact that, as Christians, our citizenship is in heaven—Paul, Philippians 3:20a.

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