Don’t underestimate what God can use. Sometimes, those things we think are a hindrance or threat to moving forward are the very things God can use extraordinarily and mightily.
For example, with the Roman Emipire in the first century, tension existed between the local people and their Roman occupiers. Jesus’ followers wanted his kingdom to rule, not the Romans.
On my visit to Israel, I went to Caesarea.
Facing the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea are the remains of this large and important Roman port. The most intact feature of this town is the amphitheater, still in usable condition. A semicircle of stone seats rises up impressively against the blue sky. Equally impressive are the ruins of a horseshoe-shaped stadium, now partially covered by encroaching sand. I imagined the excitement of the crowds as they watched Olympic games, and chariot races.
The Roman Empire was a formidable force. No one imagined that would change.
And visible on the edge of the Mediterranean, lapped by seawater, is the outline of a decorative freshwater pool built for Herod, a Roman ruler who enjoyed an opulent lifestyle. An aqueduct nearby is a reminder of the outstanding quality of Roman engineering. It carried water from Mount Carmel thirteen miles away to a busy city, and no doubt to Herod’s sea-edge freshwater pool.
The coastline does not have the natural features suitable for a harbor. Instead, Herod constructed huge breakwaters like arms stretching into the sea. These safely held ships bearing goods coming from Egypt, Rome, and elsewhere in the Empire.
Large Egyptian marble columns for Herod’s palace lie toppled and strewn on the ground. An example of a collapsed Empire that once thrived.
Jesus, bringing God’s Kingdom to earth must have seemed like a failure too when he was crucified on a Roman cross. But, this did not stop the spread of faith in him.
Caesarea served as an important port for the Roman administration during the time of Jesus. Life in Caesarea seemed a world away from the fisherman’s life in Capernaum even though it is only a distance of thirty miles.
There is no record of Jesus having visited Caesarea, but his ministry certainly did. The New Testament records Caesarea playing an important part in the spread of the Gospel. In Caesarea, Cornelius, to whom Peter witnessed, became the first Gentile follower of Jesus. Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea for two years, and I’m sure he talked about Jesus to those who guarded him.
The port of Caesarea, built for the passageway of goods around the Empire, allowed the movement of people too, to places such as Corinth and Rome.
Humans created a commercial port and metropolitan city for their own purposes, but God used it as a gateway for the spread of his message to the rest of the world.
Let’s not underestimate what God can do through empires of today, large organizations, technology, or any things that seem a threat or stopping the good news about Jesus from moving forward.
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