Read Acts 10:1-2
Hippodrome at Caesarea
I’ve never been to Las Vegas, NV – the Gaming Capital of the World – except to have a short lay over at the airport on the way to California. However, I’ve been to another Las Vegas type place, a place that you probably would never think of.
Okay, Stan, you’re talking about Atlantic City or Rio or Monte Carlo or St. Louis right? Nope. I’m talking about the Las Vegas of Israel. Uh what? There was a Las Vegas in Israel. Well, not exactly but pretty similar.
The place? Caesarea. Yes, the place that formed the backdrop of last week’s blog about a Jew and an Italian. Let’s do like TV shows or movies often do when a tragic or explosive scene is taking place and all of a sudden on the screen it says, “Thirteen hours earlier”. CSI NY just did this the other night.
Digging around the rich soil of the ancient writings and land.
Caesarea was THE place. Caesarea served as the Roman capital of Israel. Pilate was there. Herod built a palace there. But, further than that, it was the key entry point for the Roman Soldiers as they came for their temporary duty assignment to Israel in the first century. Yup, thousands of troops came there on TDY!
Herod built all kinds of things to entertain the troops, things like a hippodrome where chariot races, etc. took place. He also built a number of other establishments that will go unnamed in this blog post but you can imagine.
The place was a “sin magnet”. Even devout Jews who lived in the area tended to settle north of town to be just far enough away from the sin but close enough to the necessary activities of the day like commerce, going to the market, etc.
I find it fascinating that in the midst of this sin and rampantly ill behavior, we find one named Cornelius who was “a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household and gave alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.”
Yikes! Can you imagine such a testimony? One who lived in the midst of the sin magnet and yet maintained a God-focused perspective!!
According to Roman history, Centurions were military men who formed groups of 100. They were men who rose up in the ranks and were recognized for their bravery and leadership abilities. Cornelius was a highly ranked Centurion of the Italian cohort.
However God did it, Cornelius’ heart was soft and prepared for Peter’s message about the gospel. That’s why he and his family were ready to respond so quickly to Peter’s proclamation in Acts 10.
So, how can these truths apply to our lives today?
- God has called many of us into the “thick” of the marketplace, whether it’s on Wall Street, Main Street, Bourbon Street, Christian bands going into mainstream venues, folks reaching into urban areas. How are we maintaining our testimony in the midst of “sin magnets”?
- Is the culture impacting us more than we are impacting the culture?
- Like Cornelius, are our hearts fertile soil for God’s leadership in our lives?
- Finally, like Peter, are your spiritual antennae up as you live in the “thick” of the marketplace, daily asking God how you should live and who He wants you to impact today?
Remember – light dispels the dark but too much darkness can overtake the light!