17th December 2013

A New World Order 

“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered…Joseph also went up…to the city of David…to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife…So it was, that while they were there…she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger…”
Luke 2:1-7 (NKJV) 

In 42BC, following the deification of Julius Caesar, his adopted son Octavian (later known as Caesar Augustus) added Divi Filius (Son of the Divine) to his name. In 27 BC, following his victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra in the final civil war of the Roman Republic, the Roman Senate voted new titles for Octavian:  he officially became Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus (which has been translated to mean; Commander Caesar, Son of the Divine, the Emperor). After the civil war Augustus was able to unite the empire and, through the army, impose the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) which was maintained at the point of a sword. 

In 9BC the Senate consecrated the Altar to Augustan Peace that can still be seen in Rome today, although not in its original position. An inscription in honour of Augustus, discovered at Priene (an ancient Greek city situated in modern Turkey), that has also been dated to about 9BC, reveals more about the beliefs of the growing Ruler Cult, “—-providence—-giving us Augustus—-sending him as a savior, both for us and our descendants——and since the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good tidings for the world that came by reason of him” The original Greek translated as “good tidings” in the Priene inscription is the plural form of “euangelion” which, in the New Testament, is usually translated as “gospel” or “good news.” 

To the Greco-Roman world, the new world order instigated by Augustus, son of god and savior, was portrayed as good tidings. It was against this background that an angel announced, to a group of lowly shepherds in an obscure corner of Augustus’ empire, a different set of good tidings intended for everyone (“all people”) about a different Saviour and Lord of a different kingdom. As Luke records, “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2:10-11)  

Luke continues his account by telling how a heavenly host announced God’s peace which was different from the Pax Romana; a peace that was possible only under the rulership of Jesus Christ, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” (Luke 2:13-14) 

The exact date when these events occurred is currently obscured by the mists of time, but the Christmas period is the traditional time when Christians reflect upon and commemorate these events, and can agree with the sentiment expressed by the angel.  God was penetrating into a fallen world to bring about salvation and a new world order. This was and still is good news of great joy for everyone. 

Father, we thank you that your Son willingly gave up his power and glory to become a human being that, by grace through him, we can have peace with God and salvation.

Study by Eddie Marsh


eddiemarshAbout the Author:
Eddie Marsh attends the Sheffield congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK, Grace Communion, Sheffield.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion, Sheffield
Please email for Meeting Place

Meeting time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Email: sheffield@gracecom.org.uk

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One Response to “17th December 2013”

  1. John Magowan on December 17th, 2013 9:54 am

    Some interesting snippets of history surrounding the period of Christ’s birth, Eddie. It’s hard to believe how these emperors could be so presumptuous as to assume the title of God, or Son of the Divine. Is it any wonder that they persecuted Christians who worshiped the true Son of God–Jesus!? Thanks for your contribution this morning.

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