Jay Blogs- God of the Romans

Recently, there was a kind of social media phenomenon going around where women would ask their boyfriends, husbands, or male friends how often they thought about (of all things) the Roman Empire. Despite the fact the Empire reached its peak of power 2,000 years ago, people were surprised at how often men, particularly, think about it. Many men think about the Romans on a weekly basis, often daily, to the amusement and confusion of their loved ones.

Apparently, I’m one of those Rome-obsessed males, because I’m reading a book right now called Pax, by Tom Holland (a decidedly non-hunky historian, not Spider Man). Pax recounts the glory days of the Roman Empire, known as the Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, an era of harmony and prosperity that was both unprecedented and probably only truly peaceful if you weren’t one of the many, many nations occupied by Roman soldiers. In its heyday, Rome represented advances in the arts, architecture, science, military power, technology, and government that were unrivaled.

Rome’s people lived at a level of prosperity not seen again until the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Rome gave us many inventions, but perhaps its most famous (or infamous) was the Cross.  The Romans perfected the Cross as an instrument of punishment. Without the Roman Empire, there would be no Cross.

As unrivaled as Rome’s power was, it paled in comparison to the greatest force of its time, or any time: the sovereignty of God. Without God, there would be no Roman Empire. God was the true God of the Romans, and he brought forth the Roman Empire to help usher in the Kingdom of Heaven.  

As Paul David Tripp says, “In order for Jesus to be born as promised, to live as was necessary, and to die and rise on our behalf as he said he would, God had to exercise absolute rule over the forces of nature and complete control over human history so that, at just the right moment, Jesus would be born, live, die, and rise again for our redemption.”

God spent centuries arranging the Roman Empire, working through the affairs of men, so that he could create the perfect political context to orchestrate Jesus’ arrest and trial by the Sanhedrin, his presentation to and trial before Pilate, and his execution on the Cross– perfected by that same empire as a device of torture, humiliation, shame, and warning, but that would thereafter be known as a symbol of freedom, hope, faith, joy, and above all, love.

God’s sovereignty is overwhelming. He has absolute control over the affairs of world governments, even in the midst of their corruption and oppression. He gives words to prophets, moves the stars into alignment, designs the space and time continuum, and withholds all these things from both heavenly beings and demonic ones, those most powerful in his creation, until he’s ready to reveal it.

With all this in mind, do you think you can hide from him? Slip one past him? Go a direction he hasn’t already foreseen, or dream up a scenario he hasn’t thought of? Do you really think your sin is so great no one else in human history has not been washed clean of it, or something much, much worse? Or, do you think yourself so great in the inner recesses of your heart, so not in need of grace, so reliant on your own meritorious devices, that there’s no one greater than you in hell right now?

God’s sovereignty manipulated the universe, space and time, the governments of earth and heaven, the institutions of sin, death, redemption, and life, to bring about our freedom and the restoration of humanity and the creation in which we dwell.

And, now he calls you to surrender to that same sovereignty, to stop believing your plan is greater than his, that you know how to achieve your happiness better than the author of joy, the designer of your soul, the one who breathed life into you. It’s time to surrender to the one who holds in his hands all the galaxies and all you ever wanted and didn’t actually know you needed, to the one who asks everything of you, but gives ten million times everything in return.

Surrender to the God of the Romans is not really sacrifice, when you think about it. It’s just good math, the smart play. The Easter story, the Cross, and the empty tomb, all make a claim on all of us. Who is sovereign? Who is Lord?