by Henry T. Vriesen
It was in the time of the fourth great world kingdom, foretold by Daniel, that the Roman Empire flourished with Caesar Augustus as its ruler. Many countries were subject to this empire, even the land of Israel. At that time this land was divided into five provinces. The provinces east of the Jordan river were Perea and Decapolis; west of the Jordan were Galilee, Samaria and Judea. Judea was ruled by a king named Herod. He was a wicked, cruel man, but he tried to obtain the favor of the Jews by making important material improvements. One of his chief improvements was the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem. The house of the Lord on mount Moriah was about 500 years old, and no doubt showed marks of decay, which required repairs. It is said that 10,000 workmen were employed in preparing the material and putting up the building; a number of priests, skilled in architecture, supervised the work. It took about ten years until the magnificent structure was ready for dedication and divine service. After that construction on mount Moriah continued for a number of years, so the remarks of the Jews were justified: “fortysix years was this temple in building.”
Besides Jerusalem there were at that time other important cities in the land of Israel. South of Jerusalem was Hebron, where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had found their resting place. On the shore of the great Sea were Caesarea, Joppa, and Gaza. On the shore of the sea of Galilee there were Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Tiberius. Centrally located were Shechem and Samaria. In the northern portion there were Nazareth, Cana and Caesarea Philippi.
At that time a number of believers at Jerusalem and other places were waiting for the “consolation of Israel.” They were familiar with the great promises of God, spoken by the prophets during the course of the centuries. In the fullness of time the Savior of the world came. “That was the true light,” so the gospel of John reports it, “which lighteth every man that cometh into the world … He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth … And of his fullness have all we received grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”For further information on this resource, click here.