I could hardly process everything I had just seen and heard from Megiddo before we were already arriving at our next destination, Caesarea. I later realized this would become a common theme. As Willy Wonka likes to say “So much time and so little to see, … strike that, reverse it”.
Our traveling church family had our first worship service and bible study here at Caesarea, along the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. And what a place to have it! It was here at Caesarea that the first gentiles were saved and eventually where the gospel spread to the ends of the earth.
Acts 10: 44-45
While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.
It was also in this very place that Paul was held on trial before the Roman official Festus and King Agrippa in Acts 25 & 26.
Acts 25: 1-12
Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, asking as a favor against Paul that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. “So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.” After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.”
But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”
Some other interesting things about Caesarea is that it was built by Herod the Great around 10 bc. It quickly became the Romans headquarters in Israel to govern the Jews. King Herod built Caesarea as a luxurious city, carefully planned. With streets and monuments such as temples, a Palace and entertainment sites. The wealth of Rome is reflected through this amazing ancient city. It was also where an aqueduct runs for over 10 miles at a perfect downhill pitch to bring spring water to Herod’s fresh water pool there on the shores of the Mediterranean. Because you know kings don’t like that salt water on there skin, it makes them feel icky. Talk about living the good life. One thing to know about Herod the Great is that they didn’t call him great for nothing. I believe he was the first person to coin the phrases “go big or go home” and “just do it”. The grandness and precision of this guys architecture is beyond words, especially considering what time period he lived in.
So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in.
This is the very auditorium Paul was held in Acts 25:23
These stone columns were brought from all over the Mediterranean and Eastern coasts. Especially from the famous quarries of Greece, Asia Minor (Turkey) and Egypt.
Some sixty lead scroll fragments were found in this well. The Romans would write names of the cites they defeated then throw them in this well as a symbolic ritual.
I don’t think I ever enjoyed history class so much, I guess its all the difference between reading history and walking in it. I probably always connected the Romans to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Now the realism was starting to sink in that these were real people and real civilizations. It was again a humbling perspective shift. At times I can think I’m the center of universe, always have been, always will be, but standing in places like this you cant help but take a step back and see how big Gods plan for mankind has really been and will be.
As we entered the bus I think my mind was already hitting overload levels, just from the surrealness of the day. But I couldn’t help but look forward to the next Bible story come to life…