The name has always intrigued me – Masada. In Hebrew it is translated as “the stronghold,” which it was in ancient days and its footprint withstood the test of time. I know. We walked there.
Herod the Great is a man of many faces. We know him as the tyrant who ordered all Jewish male babies to be killed due to his paranoia regarding his rule at the time of Christ’s birth. Herod the Great was raised as a Jew, but his ego always kept one foot in the Roman Empire. Herod seemed to have very little interest in God or being godly. He was more concerned with political power and financial gain.
Herod the Great was a mighty leader, ambitious, talented, forward thinking, and creative. He made major strides in the world of architecture, designed numerous civic advances, and utilized the earth’s natural resources; namely copper and asphalt. One of his many architectural wonders was a kingdom built on Masada.
Masada is a mesa on the western shores of the Dead Sea. Our tour group scaled the mountain in cable cars. It was amazing to think that men, women and children climbed unaided in 70 A.D. to invade and occupy Masada after Jerusalem fell to the Romans. If you get the chance to watch the mini-series, “The Dovekeepers,” by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, you will get a modernized version (with some love stories mixed in) about Masada. Besides using fictitious names and characters, the movie is actually pretty good at telling the true story. I’m sure they threw in the love stories to appeal to a broader audience.
As we moved along the top of the magnificent mesa, I realized that Herod the Great was a smart man without spiritual interests or human compassion. He did many great things. While walking among the remnants of a forgotten kingdom, the verse “For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest,” kept swirling in my mind. Herod built a kingdom and changed his world, but he sacrificed his soul in the process.
The more I think about people like Herod the Great and places like Masada, the more I realize that I really do not know much about Christ at all. Christ wasn’t born to build an earthly kingdom. He wasn’t interested in financial gain. Christ was and is all about spiritual need. When I attempt to hoard wealth or possessions, I fail to recognize the purpose of Christ. If our goal is power and prosperity, we fall in line with men like Herod the Great. In doing so, we fall out of line with Christ.
Success isn’t a sin. Trampling over the lives of those in need in order to get it is.