The Roman Province of Asia Minor

Tucked away in a small part of the Roman Empire was the Roman Province of Asia Minor…

In this seemingly insignificantly sized province, during the  late 1st century AD, I have set the Apostle John series of books.

But to the Romans, no part of their Empire was insignificant. They ruled each part with determination, and on occasion, ruthlessness.

Roman empire at its greatest

The military engineering of Ancient Rome’s armed forces was of a scale and frequency far beyond that of any of its contemporaries. Indeed, military engineering was in many ways institutionally endemic in Roman military culture, as demonstrated by the fact that each Roman legionary had as part of his equipment a shovel, alongside his gladius (sword) and pila (spears). “Learning to build, and build quickly, was a standard element of training
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_ancient_Rome

I wonder how many others have been like me, read over the names of towns and cities in the Bible, with little understanding of the place, the people, or the cultures.

In my research for this book series I discovered many interesting, and previously unknown facts.

Some things were obvious… the apostle John and the Christian brethren of that time walked. They had none of what is pictured below 🙂

modern devices, phones, gps, intternet

                      • No phones
                      • No mobile/cell phones
                      • No bus service
                      • No GPS system to guide them
                      • No computers
                      • No internet

It is not only that they had to walk everywhere, like Christ, our Saviour, there are other differences which I discovered when I set myself to walk in their shoes and discover how they lived, what they ate, how they dressed…feet walking in sand

And more!

But to focus first on how the gospel was spread.

Well, those Roman conquerors, who made life so difficult for our first Christian forefathers… in other ways made it easy for the ‘Good News’ to be spread.

Roman road in Britain

Wherever the Romans went, they made roads. They needed to move their armies around their Empire.

I well remember the road in the image to the side. It led from London to Edinburgh. When it came to the hills in the north of England, it went up one side, down the other and up the next… and so one. It was a bit like driving on a ‘scenic railway’.

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But they were not the only ones who built roads. The Persian empire built the Royal road… for trade, and of course there was the famous Silk road linking Chang’an in China all the way to Rome. There were other branches, as can be seen from the image below…

Route of the 'silk road'

All the road building did make it easier for the spread of the gospel – but there were dangers. Robbers were a common threat, so too were wild animals. In Hold the Faith, Benjamin is attacked by a bear.

There were also dangers from human beings…

      • The Jewish people hated them because they had abandoned the true faith.
      • The pagans hated them, Christianity had ruined their trade
      • The Romans hated them, calling them subversives, because they would not perform the yearly sacrifice of worship to the Emperor. Domitian, emperor at the time in which this book series was set, styled himself as ‘master and god’.

When the Hold the Faith  commences in 92 AD, the apostle John is the only living link with the Saviour, Jesus Christ.

So, in a short series of posts, I will share some of the details about the ‘churches’ in the Roman province of Asia… the churches which John addressed in the book of Revelation.

How did he know about them?

I believe that as well as writing to them, he would have visited them…  and I am not ignoring the fact that the letters to the churches were dictated by Christ Himself. But John mentioned his ‘dear friend’ Antipas. In my mind, he would likely have visited and shared fellowship with the brethren… that is part of what Hold the Faith is about.

Stay tuned for more about the seven churches of Revelation.

Shalom

Susan

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Wild weather delay

My apologies for the interruption to the weekly post on this blog.

wind stormWe have had two days of storms, wild winds, and what our news described tonight as the worst storm this year.

I knew it was bad because I lay listening to it

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After sleeping for 10 minutes early in the night, I was awake for the rest of the night. Although we always unplug the TV and the computers during storms, we could not unplug the fridge and freezer. So, when the light we leave on, and the alarm clock, showed several power disruptions, all I could do was pray for protection on the electrical goods we could not unplug.

I listened to the storm, I prayed for protection when the winds were at their height, as well as thinking that the rain sounded as though someone had turned a tap on full bore!.

Since we had to be up at 4.00 am (ended up rising at 3.30 am because it was too late to sleep then) I prayed for a break in the weather so that we could drive to the bus station and catch the first bus… without being drenched.

We drove to the bus station, dodging broken branches and ‘wheelie bins’  that had been blown into the road.

Wheelie bins blown by the storm
Photo credit, West Australian newspaper

God was merciful. More merciful than we knew.

When we returned home after a day at the hospital, we saw that a neighbour’s super six fencing was lying flat on the verge. (This type of fencing is usually sunk several feet into the ground.

The only damage we sustained was a tear in the seam of a  mesh cover of our backyard pavilion.

Now, I am so tired I can barely think straight 🙂 and shall be heading off to bed soon.

Praise God for His mercy… and that I was able to function all day on 10 minutes sleep and a lot of prayer.

This site will resume soon, just wanted to let you know why there was no post earlier.

Shalom

Susan

Here is a link to some of the damage.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/local/wa/a/-/local/18029659/furious-winds-batter-south/

The heavens declare…

Starry sky

The heavens declare the glory of God Psalm 19: 1a

So starts one of my favourite psalms.

In our metropolitan areas, it is almost impossible to fully take in the expanse of the heavens, and the awesome majesty of the stars. City lights obscure the view. If you live in a country area, then you are blessed indeed.

Not long after coming to live in Australia, I had the opportunity to make a car trip across the Nullarbor Plain from Perth to Adelaide. The first time I saw this vast Australian sky at night was an awe-inspiring experience. In fact I could use all the superlative words I know, and still not come close to describing the experience.

In those days, the road was not so busy, and because of the long  time needed to travel, sometimes we drove at night. The little image at the top of this post could not possibly compare to what we saw in that vast expanse of the heavens.

The other day I was remembering that experience and thinking that would have been what the Apostle John and his great-grandson Benjamin as they slept outdoors.(In Hold the Faith, the novel that is.)

They would have seen the skies, undiluted by street lights, city traffic… and in peace.

(I am thinking of the time in the book that the pair travelled around all the fellowship groups in the Roman province of Asia Minor.)

Before that…

Jesus would have slept under those skies.

I wonder what He thought when He looked up at His creation.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. John 1: 1 – 3

Have you ever noticed sunrise or sunset skies?

When it was safe to walk early in the morning where I live in Western Australia, I used to go out for a walk a little before dawn. The awesome colours of those sunrise skies greeted me each morning. But it seemed to me that no two were exactly the same.

Before the sun rose, and the first colours pushed the darkness aside, I would smile, and wonder what sunrise gift God would bless me with that day.

The background of this blog is one of those sunrise skies. I chose it because it toned in beautifully with the cover my special friend gave me for the cover of Hold the Faith, the novel. I also love the photo of the sunrise sky 🙂

Talking about my ‘lovely Lena’, here is a picture she took recently of the aurora in Tasmania.

Aurora in Tasmania
Courtesy Lena’s Lens Photography

Who would believe such colours existed in our skies. .. and it is not Photo-shopped.

Another night the colours were different…

lena's aurora 2
Courtesy Lena’s Lens Photography

Strange as it might be to believe, these are un-retouched and accurate photos.

God’s glory, and variety is awesome

Lena  really is a most gifted and humble photographer, and I thank God for our meeting and continuing friendship.

Enjoy her photographs… and enjoy our God’s wonderful creation.

I wish you peace, blessings , awe and wonder.

Shalom

Susan

Links:

Lena’s Lens Photography

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lenas-Lens-Photography/130094623737287?fref=ts

Reviews of Hold the Faith

http://www.amazon.com/Hold-Faith-Apostle-Series-ebook/product-reviews/B009636HSG/ref=sr_cr_hist_all?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

P.S. A  note from Lena….

The blog stated the pics are untouched but in post process all that is done is saturation bought up to highlight the colours.

The camera brings out what the naked eye cannot see. That which God provides can’t always be seen but it  is there.

It is the only editing done with these pics on a 30 sec exposure that captures what naked eye can’t see.

 

Thanks Lena, I do not understand it, but I guess other photographers will. I am happy to add your comment to the post 🙂

Hold the Faith, and life in Christ

Having finished the Ten Commandments series, I thought it was time to pause and look at some aspects of the book Hold the Faith. It was after all, what this blog was originally created to do. However, I cannot resist making some analogies to our relationship with God.

Hold the Faith cover image

Hold the Faith, is book 1 in the Apostle John series. Writing this series has given me a huge appreciation for the way the people lived… has kept my nose in the Bible and my computer on the internet, researching.

The novel starts with Benjamin, one of the main characters, at a Jewish wedding week celebration. Having attended the rabbi’s school with him, Benjamin knows the groom. But Benjamin is a Christian, he is not a guest and is there to work. Before he can start filling up the oil lamps and changing the wicks, he is seen by another former pupil at the rabbi’s school. This one is the rabbi’s son and he has already had too much to drink…And yes, there was some difficulty for Benjamin.

Looking at the ancient custom of the wedding week

This was the time for the bride and groom to be alone… consummate the marriage obviously, but also time to come to know each other. In those days and in that culture marriages were usually arranged by the parents and the couple may only have met once before.

An illustration of this appears later in Hold the Faith, when Deborah’s parents have arranged a marriage for their daughter, and her acceptance of the wedding cup, is her agreement.

According to tradition, when a young Hebrew man and woman were to be betrothed, the groom poured wine into his cup and invited the woman to drink of it. It was up to her. If she drank from it, she was considered betrothed to him. If she did not, no marriage would take place. There was a slight problem between Deborah and her parents – but I will not write more about that here.

drink of the cupWhen the couple drank from the cup, they were betrothed. In those days and that culture, they were married, although not yet living together.

Christians are in a ‘marriage contract’ with Christ.

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At Jesus’ last Passover when He changes the symbols, He tells His disciples

For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:28

As we drink of His cup, we accept His invitation to be betrothed to Him.

We are living in this betrothal time with Him.

The wedding week was the last stage of the marriage, the time of the wedding feast. To continue with the analogies, this could be likened to the ‘marriage supper of the Lamb’. Rev 19:9

Ending the relationship

In those days, and in that culture – after the betrothal, although the marriage had not been consummated…it took a certificate of divorce to end the marriage

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; The Joseph her husband, being a just man and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away quietly. Matt 1: 18, 19

The RSV renders that last phrase as ‘resolved to divorce her quietly’

If we have drunk from the cup of Christ, are we living in the manner of His betrothed bride?

Something to think about…

Shalom

Susan

By the way…

Hold the Faith is available on both Amazon Kindle http://tinyurl.com/cm8efvy  and Smashwords http://tinyurl.com/c3pgfgg