Today was a day that went to the “ends of the earth” where the gospel at some point in time would make an impact on societies, communities and eventually the world. Seeing places where others came looking to connect with the Divine and life-giving source(s), often pagan and man-created deities, but prime teaching moments given by Jesus for His disciples. The command of you ought to not want any other gods before Me and the statement by God that He is a jealous God kept creeping into the forefront of my mind as I saw these temples on the outskirts. Here Roma was attempting to make One Empire and yet have many gods to worship, one would think that they would fully accept One God for One Empire.

The similarities to the temple/synagogue constructions were captivating. How widely received and distributed were the “standards” of Rome of what constitutes a temple or other worship structure shows the persistence with which the many rulers chose to place One stamp on their territory. I liken this to brand development. I’ve been privileged to present seminars on the topic of having consistency be the key when launching and retaining brand life. Herod and his sons and grandson did that remarkably well in order to cater to Rome and their egos. There seemed to be little distinction between the reconstruction of Ba’ram synagogue and the structures uncovered in Kedesh and Omrit. Their connection may be the path and ridge that is followed and so, therefore, would be seen and used by those pilgrims on their journey.

The site at Caesarea Philippi with is many gods as well as the palace of Herod constructed across from the places of worship showed me that maybe Herod considered himself a god. Caesar Augustus was the first Emperor that titled himself as the divine (son of God) and thought that if he pronounced that upon himself, Herod may have had his eyes set to rule the entire Roman world at some point in time. At this juncture, I have noticed in my own interpretation of the Bible that I place Jesus at a location when clearly states that he is in the vicinity of a town or location. He may not have stopped there and he may have known the events that took place at Caesarea Philippi and other locales and he sets himself apart from them directly and yet speaks to them without warning without conditions. All throughout the day, I kept reflecting that I have to pay attention to the words not remember in my head what they supposedly say, but what they actually say. The location makes a difference.

Hiking to the outskirts showed me to the extent that the Hellenistic views of Rome were willing to go to put a stamp on the territory and make the kingdom united and it compelled me to think about the extent the church is willing to take up and go to press against man-made idols with the gospel. It is a hard life, one of sacrifice and denial — am I willing to recognize the call that God has on my life to to places on the outskirts of my town in order to bring the love of God there? Am I willing to stand up for the truth and not assimilate into the world’s thinking? I know I am probably not strong enough, but through Jesus the Messiah I am more than a conqueror to defeat the idols I may still have in my life