Posts Tagged With: Caesarea

Questions–Then and Now

The Theater in Caesarea

Did you know that Adolph Hitler survived at least six—SIX!—assassination attempts?

As you will hear in this PODCAST, these six assassination attempts occurred in 1921, 1938, 1939, two in 1943, and the final attempt on July 20, 1944.

Get this: Any one of which, if successful, would have either prevented World War II—as well as the wholesale slaughter of six million of our precious Jewish friends—or brought both the war and the Holocaust to a screeching halt.

The older I get, the more questions I have.

As but two examples:

First: Why did God allow each of these six assassination attempts to fail?

I’m not now going to debate the ethics or lack thereof of political assassination in a time of war. Whether or not as Committed Christ-Followers we should support or condemn such actions is way beyond the scope of tonight’s discussion.

I’m simply asking: Would not our world have been a better place if just 1 of those attempts had succeeded?

What possible purpose could have been served by God allowing the likes of Hitler to live and to continue to torment the human race?

The failure of the final attempt on Hitler’s life is to me especially curious given the facts that A) Just 9 months and 10 days later—on April 30, 1945—Hitler killed himself in his bunker in Berlin.

And B) Tried and executed as a conspirator to that final, failed attempt on Hitler’s life? A man of far greater and more positive influence than I could ever hope to have, a man—to quote Hebrews—“of whom our world is not worthy.” I’m talking about the German pastor, theologian, and prolific writer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A precious, priceless servant of the Lord summarily executed by hanging a mere three weeks before Hitler bit into a cyanide tablet and shot himself in the head.

Had Hitler killed himself just three weeks earlier, would not Bonhoeffer’s life had been spared? Could not Bonhoeffer have then continued—perhaps for many, many years—to instruct and inspire the lives of countless Christ-followers the world over with his positive influence?

Why did God spare the life of a servant of Hell named Adolph Hitler just long enough to cost the life of a servant of Heaven named Dietrich Bonhoeffer?

God does not owe an explanation. But He does allow me to ask the question. So ask it, I will and I do.

That’s my first question.

My second question is this: Why did God allow a King named Herod Agrippa—a Jew who sold his soul and sold out his own people to the Romans in a cynical quest for power, position, and popularity—to live just long enough to destroy countless lives of Jewish Christ-followers in Jerusalem, as well as kill someone as stellar as the Apostle James?

James–brother to the Apostle John. Member of Apostolic trio—Jesus’ inner circle—Peter, James, and John? A man—to quote Hebrews—“of whom our world is not worthy.”

God does not owe an explanation. But He does allow me to ask the question. So ask it, I will and I do.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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“Seeker-Sensitive”? (Or Not!)

Embedded deep within the pages of the Old Testament we find one of God’s most precious promises.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, this bright ray of hope-filled sunshine was written to Jewish exiles in Babylon who were at the time experiencing their darkest hour.

It was written by the weeping prophet Jeremiah, who himself desperately needed a stabilizing reassurance from God that He had not, did not, and would not ever, no matter what, abandon His people.

Even though they had dramatically abandoned Him.

This unbreakable promise is found in Jeremiah 29:13, and is as true today as it was then, as true for us as it was them.

Hear it in the NIV, words worthy of memorization:

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

What’s the key word? Seek. בָּקַשׁ ḇâqaš. A rather intensive word that means “to seek or pursue earnestly.”

This word goes way beyond idle curiosity or a casual pursuit. Bâqaš speaks of a wholehearted desire.

Bâqaš The exact same word David used in Psalm 40:16,

“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who—Listen!!!—long, long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!’”

This is the very same image that Jesus invoked in the Sermon on the Mount when He said,

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

This is Hebrews 11:6, that reads, “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently (earnestly, sincerely) seek Him.”

I can assure you—and as you are about to see—one Cornelius, a centurion from Caesarea, was in every sense of the word a diligent, earnest, sincere seeker.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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You Want Me to Go WHERE? You Want Me to Do WHAT?

I want you to imagine for a moment this scenario. (As you will hear in this PODCAST, a potentially familiar biblical story to you.)

That being said, see if you can guess the name of its principle player.

His people were ravaged by a barbarically blood-thirsty Empire, the armies of which decimated his land, desecrated his holy places, and butchered his people.

His hatred for these pagan barbarians flamed in his guts with the white-hot fury of volcanic rage. A smoldering-just-beneath-the-surface-anger that could have understandably erupted into a deadly confrontation at the slightest provocation.

But God is a God of mercy, isn’t he?

So He asked this man to set aside his prejudices, to extinguish the fiery rage that blazed within him. And in the face of the mountain of abuses he and his people suffered at the hands of these hedonistic heathens, these merciless marauders, to travel into the very power-center of this occupying power in order to share with the people there the Good News of God’s redemptive love.

The notion that he would engage these interlopers on any level was utterly repugnant to him. Not to mention his absolute inability even to entertain the slightest possibility that some such as these might spend an eternity with him in Heaven.

He didn’t want God to save them; He wanted God to obliterate them.

So down to the seaport city of Joppa he went (that’s your clue to this mystery man’s identity) where he confronted a personal crisis of faith unlike he had ever experienced before.

Does he walk away in rebellion against God? Does he get into a boat and sail away, in direct defiance of God’s revealed will?

Or does he submit himself to the task to which God called him, knowing full-well that in doing so he may-well place himself squarely in the crosshairs of his sworn enemy?

To whom am I referring? Who was this singularly-selected servant of God, forced to face such a potentially life-threatening, history-altering choice?

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Jesus on Trial (Part 2)

blp398239His name is Pilate, as in Pontius Pilate — P-i-l-a-t-e, not p-i-l-o-t — even though Pilate did manage to fly himself right into middle of a maelstrom of religious and political corruption and compromise with devastating consequences.

In this PODCAST, as we now approach Jesus’ impending crucifixion, the greatest irony of this entire sad saga is that the whole thing is motivated by one thing: self-interest.

As we learned in last week’s podcast, on the Jewish side of things, the entire motivation behind the High Priest Caiaphas and the 70-member Sanhedrin in wanting to kill Jesus was the realization that He posed an existential threat to their power, position, prestige, and possessions, all of them paid for with their obscene wealth and ill-gotten gains — the chief thieves, these religious leaders were, in a den of thieves. Which is what, on their watch, the Temple, The House, God’s House, “My Father’s House” (as Jesus called it), had become.

As we will learn this week, on Roman side of things, the spineless Pilate will collapse like the house of cards that he was because he feared losing his title and power as the Roman Governor of the province of Judea. All of this while killing a man who was utterly, totally, completely and absolutely selfless. Somoen who had not one strand of the DNA of self-interest woven anywhere in the fabric of His sizable soul.

We’re talking their willingness to murder a gentle, peaceable, innocent man — not to mention their Messiah — if that’s what it took to maintain their coveted positions.

Make no mistake about this — Pilate KNEW that Jesus was absolutely innocent, and yet sentenced Him to die anyway, in the most unimaginably barbaric, brazenly humiliating, excruciatingly torturous death ever devised by man.

You talk about Jesus looking out over a vast multitude of precious people with overwhelming compassion in His heart, while lamenting that they were like sheep without a shepherd? Well, these were their shepherds.

Shepherds both religious (Caiphas) and political (Pilate). Unprincipled men who unconscionably used and abused their helpless little lambs for their own personal gain.

Just like they do today. Religiously and Politically. It is today as it was then.

Well, last week we met their religious shepherds.

The time has now come for us to meet their political shepherds. Most specifically, Pontius Pilate, the man who has lived long in infamy as the man who caved to political pressure and who, against own convictions, sentenced Jesus to death.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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