Kingdom Treasures

The amazing thing about the land of Israel is its long history. For instance Jericho is believed to be the oldest city in the world with some evidence of settlement dating back to 9600 B.C. This of course provides many ruins to check out which leads to my eighth most important insight: Even the greatest of man’s glory can be reduced to rubble in a matter of seconds.
Many of the ruins we saw were the efforts of King Herod. Herod had a goal to build a kingdom greater than any other person ever had before. We first visited Caesarea where we sat in a massive outdoor area which is built right on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Closely connected was his palace that extended into the sea. Because there was no natural port for the city, Herod had one built. As we looked to the north of the city, we could see the remains of a massive water aqueduct system that brought in water from the mountains nine miles away—an aqueduct that sloped one inch per 300 feet.
We then traveled to Beit Shean. Again, in an attempt to create the most elaborate and luxurious life possible, Herod included rows of massive columns that were made and imported from Egypt. We sat in the double tiered stadium which had room for seven thousand spectators. There was an outdoor swimming pool and an indoor sauna. And if that wasn’t spectacular enough, we sat in a forty stall co-ed bathroom complete with a running water flush system. Oh that’s nothing! Also inside the restroom was an open area where musicians would play while a person relieved themselves. (I know it seems weird, but maybe the music was beneficial for those who had stage fright). One can only imagine the beauty of that city, however what struck me was that it was all destroyed in 50 seconds by a massive earthquake.
And then a final stop at Masada, one of Herod’s greatest getaway fortresses. Located in the Judean Desert, the fortress sits atop a mesa-shaped rock that towers 1300ft. above the western shore of the Dead Sea. Between 37-31 BC King Herod built two beautiful palaces on it along with a huge swimming pool, several large cisterns, one of which was a million gallons. (Imagine if it was your job to crawl up a 1300 foot embankment with drums of water attached to a donkey in order to fill that million gallon tank). Mesada is now Israel’s most visited tourist site.
The Herodian Dynasty included many other great building achievements and yet they’ve all been dismantled; they’re nothing more than popular tourist sites. As I reflect on my own God given desire to make a difference in this world, I thought of I Peter 1:24, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.” This verse is a reminder that much of what we work for will have no lasting value.
I understand we all need homes to live in, vehicles to move about in, and shops and buildings to work in.  We also enjoy church buildings to worship in and stadiums for pleasure, but my prayer for each one of us as we fulfill our created purpose in life is that “…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” My prayer is that you and I would be investing our time and energy into the kind of kingdom work that has eternal value; into kingdom treasures where moth and rust do not destroy.
Grace and peace from your fellow sojourner, Mike

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