By Rob F.
Caesar Augustus was the Roman Emperor at the time of the birth of Jesus. He was the first Roman Emperor after Rome ceased to be a Republic. His Great uncle was Julius Caesar and became his adopted son. He called himself the ‘Son of the divine Julius’ sometimes referred to as ‘the son of god’. He was credited with the ‘Pax Romana’, a relative peace within the empire. However Imperial wars continued along the borders of the empire.
He ordered a census that was the reason that Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth. Some Jewish people at the time were looking for the long prophesied Messiah to come and defeat the Romans with a violent revolution or war. The hope was a renewed Jewish independent nation as in the time of David.
The role of Caesar Augustus and the Roman Empire in the Christmas story made me think of a strange story in the book of Daniel chapter 2. Daniel was one of the Jewish exiles to Babylon about 600 years before Jesus. King Nebuchanezzar had a dream which troubled him and he sought an interpretation.
God revealed the dream and it’s meaning to Daniel. The dream was a of a great statue made of different materials and the feet were made of iron and clay. The different materials in the statue represented different empires/kingdoms the would come after King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. The key part was a rock ‘not made by human hands ‘came and smashed the statue and became a great mountain that filled the whole earth. ‘In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed.
It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end,and it shall stand forever.’
So 600 years before Jesus we a have a prediction that could be interpreted as, at the time of the Romans a kingdom would be set up that outlives all others. The Romans at the time of Jesus must have seemed all powerful and invincible. However human history and this prophecy shows that all empires eventually fall, apart from that kingdom represented by the rock not cut by human hands.
However, the kingdom that Jesus established overcomes and endures not by violence but by love. So, today, whatever seemingly invincible oppressive empires we see dominating the world, whether it be governments or something less concrete, like consumerism, they will not last.
May the hope brought by Jesus’ birth and the start of this new creation, and everlasting kingdom built on love, keep us going in these difficult times. Light and Life to all he brings. In the baby Jesus we see the start of ‘the rock made not out of human hands’ which takes over the whole world.