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The Days of Caesar

Shane Willard

Page 3 of 9
Julius Caesar was on to this, Julius tried to do this, so he said he was god. The problem with all the Caesars saying they were god is: eventually they all died, which made them lose their credibility - and the Roman Empire fell.

Julius Caesar said he was god; and he also invented salad!

Julius Caesar died in 17BC, and so there's this funeral for him; and when Julius Caesar died, his son Octavius changed his name to Augustus Caesar, and became Caesar.

Augustus Caesar, which is ‘the days of Caesar Augustus’ - this is when Jesus was born. Augustus Caesar was the first guy to really unite the whole world under one leadership.

Augustus Caesar said that: since Julius was god, then he was the son of god.

So in 17BC, there was a guy who started making claims that god became flesh - and he was in fact the son of god. There were no Christians back then, but Christians everywhere would have been reacting to this. The church notoriously overreacts to everything - we just do!

Like there was this movie out about a year ago, and I don't even remember what it's called, but people were saying to me: You've got to tell people - don't go see the movie, Shane. Shane, we need to hear your voice from the stage - you've got to tell people: don't go and see this movie!

I'm going: what's wrong with the movie? This movie, it's trying to make a case that there is no God; and I'm going: aah, like God has never heard that before - and as if He can't handle it! Plus, you don't know anything about me. If I tell people: don't go do something - the first thing they do is: go do what I told them not to do!

So we overreact; and in this situation, this worked out good. God let the Roman Empire finance the propaganda throughout the known world, that it was possible for God to have flesh on. He said: we'll let the Romans do all the advertising, and then we'll show up with the real deal - because their guy is going to die... but we'll let them give the idea.

After Augustus Caesar, then you had a Caesar named Tiberius, and he was the guy that ruled during Jesus' ministry. In Josephus, it talks about Tiberius being the Caesar who was in charge of Pilot, who ordered Jesus' crucifixion.

Then you had Caligula - who was known for his debauchery and terror, extortion, and exposure of women. That was Caligula's claim to fame.

Nero was a particularly great one - he tortured Christians. One of his claims to fame was: he never wanted the light in his garden to go out, so he would use Christians to light his garden.

He would kidnap Christians, and have them in a line around his house. He would take a wooden stake, and stick it into their rectum, and he would plant them alive in his garden. Then he would douse them with fuel, and set them on fire, so that the light in his garden would never go out. When one burned up, the next one was then taken, so that the light would continually go.

The Bible was not written in a political vacuum. This is the stuff that was going on, when Peter wrote things like: respect and honour those who have the rule over you - for they are put there by God, for God's purposes.

Vespasian was another Roman emperor - who said he was god, and then he died by falling down and hitting his head. Titus, he's the guy that conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Then of course you had Domitian.

Domitian was emperor between 75AD to 95AD, somewhere around there, and Domitian said he was god - just like everybody else. But he took it one step further, and said: since I'm god, I should be worshipped. People should not be allowed to live, until they worship me.

So he set up ecclesiae or churches. He set them up all around with monikers to himself, and he demanded that people come and give him an offering, before they could go buy and sell. So before you could go buy your weekly groceries, you had to go make an offering to Domitian as god.

The problem was, in an empire that big, how would you know who made the offering and who wouldn't? So they set up these ecclesiae, and then when people came in and made their offering to Domitian, in order to determine who gave the offering and who didn't, the people in charge of these worship centres would give you... a mark in your forehead or in your forehand.