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Thursday, November 24 2011
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, more commonly known simply as Nero, was the Roman emperor from 54 to 68 AD. Although he is perhaps most-famous for his connection to the great fire of Rome (Nero didn't really "fiddle" while Rome burned - violins weren't invented yet; see Did Nero Really Fiddle While Rome Burned?), it was what Nero did after the fire that made him one of the most sadistic and evil persecutors of Christians that ever lived.
Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (56-117 AD) was a Roman Senator (in what remained of the Roman Senate in Imperial Rome; see The Politics Of Rome) and historian of the Roman Empire (see Pax Romana: The Birth Of The Roman Empire). His Annals and Histories provide eyewitness accounts of the events of the reigns of the Roman emperors through the first century, including Tiberius (who was Emperor at the time of the Crucifixion of Christ; see Whatever Happened To Those Romans? and Through The Eyes Of Josephus), Claudius (who was poisoned to death by Nero's mother Agrippina so that her son could become emperor) and Nero (who later murdered Agrippina).
Tacitus, a non-believer, simply recorded the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as a matter of fact (i.e. an independent eyewitness account that verifies the Holy Bible) and the horrendous atrocities committed on Christians by Nero - including martyring Christians by crucifixion, covering their bodies with flammable material and using their burning bodies on crosses as night-lighting torches in his gardens and arenas (see the illustrations below - which also accurately show the actual crosses used by the Romans which were shaped like a capital "T" - not like a "crucifix"; see Crossing The T). Most of Nero's persecution of Christians began after the great fire of Rome to divert public suspicion that Nero himself had started the fire (to make room for building projects that he had planned).
"But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.
"Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire"
The Romans were however not the first to kill and persecute Christians. The first Christians (see also The First Christian Church), most of whom were Jews, were persecuted by their fellow Jews who regarded them as heretics. The apostle Paul became one of the greatest Christians that ever lived. But prior to his conversion, when he was known as Saul the Pharisee, he persecuted Christians to their deaths (see Was Paul Among Them?). By the time that Nero began persecuting Christians, the people that he persecuted were either people who had already been persecuted by their fellow Jews, or were Jews, such as Paul, who had been persecutors of their fellow Jews but then themselves became the persecuted.
"22:3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. 22:4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women." (Acts 22:3-4 KJV)
While many, such as Stephen, subjected themselves to their martyrdom because it was their time, others, who had been assigned some task of ministry, were given to defend themselves until such time that, when their work was done, they too were martyred. Notice that Paul "fought with beasts at Ephesus" - an apparent reference to "being thrown to the lions" in the arena during the time of his ministry. Just like the prophet Daniel centuries before, Paul survived the beasts (Daniel was protected by angels, while Paul was handed a sword).
"15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die." (1 Corinthians 15:32 KJV)
The same principle will be the basis of the ministry of the end-time "two witnesses" - the LORD will permit their martyrdom after their time of service has been completed. Until then, those who seek to silence them will get a taste of fire and brimstone i.e. "if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed."
"11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 11:5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 11:6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
Hebrews 11 has been called "the faith chapter" of the Holy Bible - and well so. It records, in Bible History and Prophecy, how the people of God were and will be empowered by faith to withstand anything that opposes God. Faith was the means that all of those murdered by Nero "Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." Their victory did not come from surviving their physical lives, but rather by standing strong as they were being delivered unto eternal life. They were able to walk into "hell" because they could see clearly to the other side.
"11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
Fact Finder: (a) When will those who have been called, prior to Christ's return, be "saved"? (b) When will all of the rest of humanity be "saved"?
This Day In History, November 24
166 BC: The beginning of the Maccabees era. The Maccabees fought the Greek-Syrian occupiers of Israel in the period prior to the rise of the Roman empire (see Antiochus And The Maccabees and Christ's Hanukkah).
1542: English forces clashed with the Scots at the Battle of Solway Moss, in England.
1572: Scottish Protestant reformer John Knox died. He was the founder of Scottish Presbyterianism and was author of the History of the Reformation in Scotland.
1639: The first recorded transit (passing across the Sun as seen from space) of Venus was made, by English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks.
1642: Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered Van Diemen's Land, later named after him - Tasmania.
1859: Charles Darwin published his famous On the Origin of Species. Darwin did not actually believe many of the ideas of evolution that later "scientists" claim that he did (listen to our Sermon Darwin's Theory of Evolution; also The First Scientist and No 'Flat Earth' In The Bible).
1963: Accused John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, 24, was fatally shot at Dallas Police headquarters by Jacob Rubenstein (who changed his name to "Jack Ruby"). Rubenstein grew up in Chicago (as a boy, he ran errands for Al Capone) with his Polish-immigrant Jewish parents.
1976: An earthquake struck Turkey, killed nearly 5,300 and injured over 5,000 others.
1977: The tomb of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, was found. Alexander the Great was referred-to extensively in Bible Prophecy, especially in the book of Daniel (e.g. see Daniel's Statue). Alexander's four successors were prominent in the affairs of Israel in the time between the Old and New Testaments (see The Ptolemies and The Seleucids).
1979: After years of denials to medical and veteran's groups, the U.S. government admitted that thousands of U.S. troops in Vietnam (and many more thousands of civilian men, women and children in Vietnam) were exposed to the toxic chemical "Agent Orange."