Sunday, March 30, 2014

Caesarea Maritima-- Four-The Hippodrome and Theater

The hippodrome here 
 held up to 10,000 spectators in 12 rows 
 cheering for chariot races.

A section on the south side 
was possibly rebuilt for gladiator fights.

Original theater built by Herod
with reconstruction
This theater could seat about 3,500.

According to Josephus, 
this is where King Herod Agrippa I,
 grandson of Herod the Great,
was struck by God for not giving glory to God.
He was eaten by worms and died,
  as recorded in Acts 12.

The Theater stage

A group from the LCMS-Council of President's wives-
 getting ready to sing a hymn
 in front of the theater stage in Caesarea.

Tour leader, Tom, reading a piece of the
 bold faith statements of Paul in his trial here.

 Paul often used this harbor in his missionary journeys. 
Later, Paul finds himself on trial in Jerusalem.
He is brought to Caesarea under heavy guard.
 Acts 23:23-35
Ananias, the High Priest, and Tertullus, a lawyer, 
had brought charges of misconduct against Paul
 before Felix, the governor.
Acts 24:1.
Paul is kept in prison for 2 years. 
Festus becomes the new procurator.

Agrippa II and his sister, Berniece, 
come to visit Festus,
 and state they would like
 to here the man (Paul) themselves. 
In a dramatic scene, 
Herod Agrippa II and his wife Berenice, 
listen to Paul's case. 
Called insane and mocked,
Paul boldly testifies about his faith in Christ.
In a place and culture that viewed the "emperor" as god,
Paul prayed that they would all become believers in Jesus.

Agrippa tells Paul,
 "You almost persuade me to become a Christian."
 Acts 26:28

Yet, in these two years-
Felix and his wife Drusilla,
 Agrippa II and Berniece,
(older sister to Drusilla)
and those gathered here in Caesarea-
heard and yet did not believe.

Repentance is such a grace-filled place
 for us to live out our days. 
These birds flew overhead in our time of Casearea. 
For me- birds flying in formation has
always been a time of calling forth-
 to listen to the sound-
calling to FOLLOW.

And following has never been easy for Christians.

Later, Caesarea became an important center
 of religious study and training.
The great early Christian scholar and apologist, Origen, visited Caesarea in 231 CE and turned the city into a center of Christian learning.
Origen built a huge library that became a magnet for scholarly study. When the Emperor Diocletian unleashed the Great Persecution (303-313 CE), Caesarea became the site for the death of a number of Christian martyrs, whose fates are described in the work of Eusebius, On the Martyrs of Palestine.

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