dead places

A steep descent to below sea level from Jerusalem, we are in the Judean wilderness.

The sun burned the back of my neck even in the warm dry breeze. This is where Jesus faced temptation for forty days.

judean desert

The Dead Sea and Masada are our destinations. You don’t expect to find much living in these locations. Yet life can be found in surprising places.

dead sea from Masada

Not a single creature exists in the salty, murky waters of the Dead Sea. Yet, the waters are rich in life-giving and healing minerals. Digging my fingers into the bottom I scoop up black slimy mud and smear it on my arms and legs. My skin feels smooth and soft when I rinse it off later in the showers on the beach.

Then, it was onto Masada.

Masada with Roman fort

Built as a fortress for King Herod, it bears the remains of a remarkable feat of Roman engineering and design. Perched on a flat-topped mountain eight hundred feet above the Dead Sea we found a 25 BC palace with a beautiful mosaic in near perfect condition preserved by the dry desert air and a magnificent sauna—luxury in an inhospitable and isolated location for a paranoid King.

Roman mosaic 25bc

roman sauna


Yet, Masada has another story. Long after Herod’s time, a group of Jewish nationalists flee to Masada to escape the tyranny of the Roman Empire. In 73AD a ten thousand manned Roman army laid siege to the hilltop community.

Camping around the base of the mountain they decided to build an assault ramp out of rocks and dirt to the top to take the men, women and children captive. To their surprise, when they reached the settlement they found only one woman and three children alive. The Jewish people had committed mass suicide.

It is a sad ending for a people who had their backs against the wall. However, for these brave souls death brought freedom.

It is a reminder of the freedom we receive through the death of Jesus not far away in Jerusalem.  In our dead hearts, our dead relationships, our dead dreams, Jesus offers life in surprising places.

[tagline_box link=”http://rachelbritton.wpengine.com/holy-land-adventure/” button=”Holy Land Adventure” title=”My Holy Land Adventure” description=”This post is part of a series written as I travel with Lysa TerKeurst and Proverbs 31 Ministries in the Holy Land.  Click here to see all of the posts in this series”][/tagline_box]

Linking up with Susannah Kellogg at #FaithandFellowship

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