8 Minute Read + Scripture readings
Today’s Bible Reading:
Today’s Bible Verse(s):
Acts 10:1 (CSB): “There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment.”
Acts 10:5-6 (CSB): “Now send men to Joppa and call for Simon, who is also named Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):
Let’s have a little fun. Instead of interpreting and applying a verse or two from Today’s Bible Verses, let’s familiarize ourselves with what it might have looked like.
After all, we have two very different locations mentioned in our text: Caesarea and Joppa. So, let’s talk about where the two places are and what they look like … at least as of last summer (2018) when my wife and I visited Israel.
Let’s begin by looking at a map.
Caesarea is currently called Caesarea-by-the-Sea (Maritima) to distinguish it from the other “Caesareas.” When Cornelius, who lived in Caesarea, sent his servants to Joppa to find the Apostle Peter, they would have had to walk (or ride a camel or donkey) for about 38 miles. If they walked, it would have taken them (according to Google) twelve and a half hours but that would be at a leisurely pace.
Let’s now focus in on Caesarea-by-the-Sea (Maritima). Since there was no natural harbor between Sidon and Egypt, one was created in the fourth century. It exchanged hands a few times but ended up being named for Caesar.
It became an extravagant, breathtaking place where ships came and ships went. A temple was built, large statutes of Roman rulers were erected, a hippodrome was built for chariot races, an amphitheater was constructed, and so much more. This was a very impressive place in its time.
So, what does Caesarea look like now? It’s a hodge-podge of Roman ruins, Crusader ruins, and many other ruins scattered throughout. But, rather than try to describe it, let me simply show you some pictures and videos that I took of Caesarea Maritima, where Cornelius lived.
I took the following video while in the stands above the Hippodrome. It is noteworthy that I mistakenly said that Caesarea was the place where Peter had his vision. It was actually in Joppa where that took place.
So, the preceding pictures and videos are what Cesarea-by-the-Sea (Maritima) looks like now. It would have been breathtaking when Cornelius lived here.
Now, let’s look at Joppa, where Peter was staying. It says in Acts 10:6 that Peter was “lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” Peter was staying with a guy who had oceanfront property and we are also told that “Peter went up to pray on the roof about noon” (Acts 10:9).
He would have had an incredible view during his prayer time!
Present day Joppa isn’t a bunch of ruins. It is a southern section of the metro Tel Aviv area. So, the following picture and video aren’t really helpful in understanding what it looked like when Peter was there. But, I’ll share them anyway, at least to give you a feel for what Peter’s view of the Mediterranean might have looked like during his prayer time.
So, there you have it. Some pictures and video of the two locations in our story from Acts 10.
If you have followed my blog since last summer, you know that I frequently find reasons to post pictures and videos from our trip to Israel. Friend, it was the trip of a lifetime and that is no exaggeration! If you ever get the chance to go to Israel, you really need to! Many of the Bible stories will come alive when you visit the places where they took place.
* * * * * * * * * *
Lord Jesus, help me to not simply look at Your Word as a bunch of stories. Help me, instead, to see it as history that took place in time, space, and with real people. Help me to be studious so that I can glean the most out of my time in Your Word. Amen.