The most disturbing place we visited in Israel was Masada located in the desert area near the dead sea. A fortress built by Herod about 30 BC, it was taken over in 68 AD by Jewish zealots fleeing the Romans after the fall of Jerusalem. Masada is built on the flat top of a mountain with steep sides. The zealots were able to live there safely for three years when they were discovered by the Romans who proceeded to build a rampart that could reach the top. Anticipating the attack, the zealots devised a plan of mass murder and suicide. When the Roman finally arrived at the top of the mountain, they discovered what had happened.
I was devastated by depth of such hopelessness. I could imagine God weeping through the night as men killed their wives and children and then one another. By lot, a man was chosen to be the last who would then fall on his own sword. I even imagined God weeping when the Romans came upon the sight, soldiers seeing dead children the ages of their own lying along side their mothers the ages of wives. I thought of our own modern day soldiers coming upon scenes where bombs have been dropped by their own forces. Put in those situations by order of their leaders, they are left to live with the scars for the rest of their lives. Those around us, go on living as though all is well. We expect them to do the same.
Masada was not a good experience for me. We had yet to travel the road to Calvary. Perhaps, I thought, there might be an answer to such hopelessness when we get to the resurrection of Jesus.