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Wednesday, May 4 2011
In the time of imperial Rome (from "imperial" came the words emperor and empire - see Emperor and Ancient Empires - Rome in the Fact Finder question below), a legion was the largest unit in the Roman army, composed of infantry and cavalry ("legion" is from the Latin words legio and lego which meant to collect). At full strength, particularly when the Roman Empire reached its peak of military power during the time of The Prophet Of Galilee, such a division of an army could consist of more than 6,000 soldiers. Each legion was divided into "cohorts" of 600 men; each cohort was further divided into "centuries" of 100 men. A century (from the Latin word centum i.e. a century has 100 years, and a dollar has 100 cents) was commanded by an officer known as a centurion.
As recorded in Bible History, the centurions, like all military commanders, were men who carried out the orders of their political governors. They did however think for themselves while off duty, including in matters of the true God (rather than the Roman "divine" emperor) - as in this example of a Christian-believing centurion who asked the Messiah for a miraculous healing for his servant. His faith actually exceeded many of the Christ's fellow Israelites, as the Messiah Himself stated with "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel" (Christ Himself is now an army Commander - see Christ The Conqueror For Peace and The Coming World Dictator).
"8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 8:6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
"Truly this was the Son of God"
Centurions were men who carried out orders, including the one to Crucify a prisoner named Jesus of Nazareth. Like the centurion who was a believer before the Crucifixion, some other centurions became believers after witnessing the ordeal that they themselves inflicted upon Him i.e. "Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God."
"27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour [i.e. from about noon to 3:00 on a present-day clock; see Hours Of The Day].
Under the orders of Pontius Pilate, a centurion released the dead body of the Christ to Joseph of Arimathaea for burial.
"15:42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath [i.e. the High Day of Passover, not the regular weekly Sabbath that came later in the same week; see Why Observe The True Sabbath?], 15:43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 15:44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.
Cornelius was another believing centurion. The LORD brought about his meeting with Peter, in a lesson to Peter that salvation was not limited to Jews (Acts 10:1-48; see Peter's Ministry; also The Gospel By The Gentile and To Jews And Gentiles).
"10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 10:3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
As an occupying force, Roman troops were the police of Jerusalem. When the apostle Paul was attacked by a mob of unbelievers, the "chief captain" ordered him taken to the local governor by "two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea."
"21:30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. 21:31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 21:32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.
Paul was placed in the custody of another centurion, "named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band," for his voyage to Rome (see Paul's Crash Landing).
"27:1 And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band. 27:2 And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.
Fact Finder: What were the succession of empires that ruled the land of Israel after Israel itself ceased to become an imperial power in the time of King David (see Israelite Monarchy - The United Kingdom)?
This Day In History, May 4
1471: The Yorkists defeated the Lancastrians in the Battle of Tewkesbury during the Wars of the Roses.
1493: Pope Alexander VI, a Spaniard (at the time, Christopher Columbus was exploring and claiming the "new world" for Ferdinand, the king of Spain who started the murderous "Spanish Inquisition" against non-Catholics in Europe), decreed that all new lands discovered west of the Azores were Spanish, in effect dividing the world between Spain and Portugal.
1639: The St. Joseph and 2 other ships left Dieppe, France, for Canada; its travelers would eventually found a Jesuit College, a Hospitaliers house, and an Ursuline convent in "New France."
1814: The Bourbon reign was restored in France.
1886: The Haymarket Square Riot in Chicago by anarchist organized labour; 7 Chicago policemen were killed.
1919: The "May The Fourth" movement began in China when 3,000 students at Peking University launched a national protest.
1945: British Field Marshal Montgomery announced that all enemy forces in the Netherlands, northwest Germany and Denmark had surrendered unconditionally. on the same day, the U.S. 7th Army captured Hitler's country retreat of Berchtesgaden.
1947: The Etzel (a self-proclaimed "zionist" group - true Zionism is about Jesus Christ, not those who deny and reject Him - see Zionism; also Anti-Zion Is Anti-Christ) launched a deadly assault on the British prison at Acre, several weeks after 4 of their gang were hanged there for murders that they committed. By dynamiting its walls, 251 convicted criminals were able to escape, although several of the condemned felons were later recaptured and hung (2 days after the executions, 2 British soldiers were taken hostage and hanged by the Etzel in "retaliation"). By the present-day definition, the Etzel were a terrorist group who ignored (or were just plain ignorant of the fact) that it was the British that liberated the land of Judah, and much of the rest of the Middle East, from centuries of rule and occupation by the Ottoman Empire (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) and that it was the British Balfour Declaration (listen to our Sermon The Balfour Declaration) that enabled the independence of the modern-day state of Israel. The Etzel were killing the people that were freeing them.
1970: Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine others.
1982: During the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina, the destroyer HMCS Sheffield was struck by a French-made Exocet missile. 20 British seamen were killed and 24 others injured. The missile plowed through the very center of the ship, causing so much damage that it later had to be scuttled.