Gene Ort's Blog

Castles, Warriors and The Promised Land

by on Apr.11, 2010, under Egypt

After leaving Petra, we traveled The Kings Highway, our final destination was Amman Jordan. On the way we stopped at Shobak Crusader Castle ( Mons Regalis ) ruins, built in 1112 by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem to guard the road between Egypt and Damascus. The castle fell to Saladin in 1189.

IMG_3870 Shoubak Castle distant

Now this was fun ! I am not what I would call an overly militaristic kinda guy but exploring Crusader Castle ruins… way cool..

These round objects.. yup..  these are chiseled rocks for catapults. Imagine getting smacked with one of these babies.

IMG_3875 cannon ball one

The ruins were not in great shape. It seems that locals would come by every now and then and cart off blocks of limestone to build their homes.

IMG_3879 shoubak doorway

Every window was designed to defend the castle with bow and arrow. The grates on the ground  are covering window holes from rooms below.

IMG_3892 arch 1

Attacking a castle like this would not have been easy. You have to climb a very steep hill in plain sight.. they would catapult rocks at you, throw burning tar on you and then shoot you with arrows. I am pretty sure I would not have made it up the hill even without the barrage .
IMG_3904 shoubak high walls

Visual images in TV and movies has anesthetized us and distorted our view of violence. In our culture, it is quite normal to gather round the tube or big screen and watch a good blood bath in the name of entertainment. I am not sure how I feel about all that but I am sure in the Kingdom of God.. that wont be so..

Much of the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” was focused on the Crusades and this region, even this very castle.

(Pardon my slight rabbit trail…)  Which brings me to a topic that comes up often.

Matthew 11:12 “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

I am thankful to the courageous men and woman who for the cause of justice and righteousness take up arms against wickedness. I am also thankful for those who push back the spiritual wickedness in this world by taking the Gospel where it has never been before and or for retaking long lost ground where believers forgot they were in a battle. These people are indeed warriors for God.

Modern day versions of the Godly warrior are probably what the bible refers to as Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists. There are two other offices, Shepherd and Teacher. Without all five offices in place, tyranny and arrogance or ignorance and slavery follow.

When working together as a team, wickedness is driven back into it’s slimy little hole, lives are saved, slaves set free, healing and comfort dispensed and ignorance irradiated.

This is the day I am longing for:

Micah 4:3 He will judge between many peoples 
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. 
They will beat their swords into plowshares 
and their spears into pruning hooks. 
Nation will not take up sword against nation, 
nor will they train for war anymore.

Ok… back to the castle… An archer would stand in this position and rain arrows down on the attacking forces.

IMG_3910 shoubakshooter slot 1

Ron would offer helpful historical background commentary along the way.

IMG_3919 Ron V talks..

The road to our next stop, Kerak was marked by stunningly beautiful valley’s

IMG_3934 valley on kings Highway

Kerak Crusader Castle

Dan B. looks dashing here sporting a green polo and Wayfayers. What a man !

IMG_3939 Kerak Dan vista

Kerak castle was huge..

IMG_3945 Kerak long corridorFront door..

IMG_3951 Kerak front door

“Abandon hope all ye who enter here” .. Dante Alighieri 1306

Ever wonder what it looks like to be carried off to a dungeon ?  This is it..

IMG_3964 Kerak abandon hope

Your last view of the outside world.

IMG_3974 Kerak last view

Mark pauses and takes a moment to reflect. Thankful he is not living in a dungeon I expect..

IMG_3982 Kerak Mark in dungeun

Kerak was built and replaced Shobak as the center of importance. Kerak fell to Saladin in 1189.

Interesting note, the crusader castles were all built a days travel apart. Every night a fire was lit at each castle to let Jerusalem know all was well.

When Moses and the Israelites passed this way they must have begun to sense that God was taking them someplace wonderful. This is along ways from the wilderness of sin.

IMG_3987 Kerak overview

Not far from Kerak, The Dead Sea.. One dip in this and you itch for days…

I have been hearing about the Dead Sea forever.  It’s nearly 34 % salt.. and 100% mysterious. It’s a lake.. with no life.. Somehow that seems odd to me.

The West bank of Israel is directly on the other side.

IMG_4008 dead sea

The Promised Land!    From the top of Mount Nebo

IMG_4027 The Promised Land

For the Christ follower, “The Promised Land” evokes all kinds of thoughts and emotions.  This exodus trip was something I will never forget. But this moment for me was very powerful. For me the promised land means Heaven and the life with Jesus I have been longing for. I want it all. The no more pain part, the no more tears part, the no more death part and restoration of the living life as we were intended to live part, with God, our Father, walking in the cool of the day. My heart seems to know how wonderful it will be.

It is said that Moses did not enter the promised land, but I believe he did… but not the one on earth. I believe it happened the very moment he died. I think this was all very much on purpose.

This is not “teaching” but Gene.. thinking out loud… If God let Moses enter the “earthly promised land”, it sets up human thinking again to  believe that this world is the goal, the most important destination. The “earthly promised land” the Israelites inherited was and is fraught with war and destruction even to this day !!  By God refusing to allow Moses to enter the “earthly promised land” and taking him to the”real / heavenly promised land” it correctly identifies where our affections should be, to our true destination and reward.

As I stood there and looked across this valley that Moses saw just before he died I had an overwhelming sense of the Father telling me that “my” promised land is waiting for me.


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