The Hebrew word for ‘fortress’ comes from a root which means ‘to be high’, and by extension, ‘to be safe’. From it we get the word ‘Masada’, which was the desert fortress of Herod the Great. Built at a height of 1,300ft, the fortress transformed this rugged flat-topped mountain into a palatial hideaway. It was built as a retreat, but served as a refuge. It was virtually impregnable. Our intimacy with the Lord is our ‘Masada’.
Intimacy with the Father is our place of refuge, our source of strength, and that very present help in time of trouble. But, and this is very important, Masadas are not built in times of trouble. They are peace-time projects, built and fortified in times of peace and stability. If we wait until upheavals occur in our lives (and very few of us ever escape them), before we begin building, then there won’t be a fortress to run to when we need it. I’m not saying that God won’t be there for us, of course He will. But, if we haven’t established that intimacy beforehand, it will be a real struggle to create it when problems occur.
We can see this happening with the disciples, in the upheaval that led to Christ’s crucifixion. Did you notice that they fell away from Him in the reverse order of their intimacy with Him? First was Judas, who had the least intimate relationship with Him. Then the rest scattered, apart from Peter and John, who had the closest relationship. Peter made it as far as the courtyard of the high priest, before, under pressure, he too fell away.
It was only John who followed Jesus all the way to the cross. During the three and a half years of Jesus’ ministry, John developed an intimacy with Jesus. He built his ‘Masada’ during the times of relative peace. It was John’s love for Jesus that drew him close, and kept him close. It’s also what became his strength, and his very present help in time of trouble.
How is your ‘Masada’ developing? Have you got the foundations of intimacy in place? Are you building the walls? Is it ready and waiting, and already a place you visit daily and spend time there? Then you have a place of safety, a stronghold that can never be breached.
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