The Ides of March

About a month ago I received my sample ballot for the upcoming primary. I knew who the candidates were, but I still looked through the ballot, glancing at the names within.  As I perused the document, a date stood out to me.  The date was March 15, 2016.  This was the date of the upcoming primary election, in Florida where I live.  This is the official date Floridians could vote for the Republican or Democratic nominee in the presidential elections.  I kept staring at the date.  What was it about that date?  I thought and I thought.  The only date in March that came to mind was St. Patrick’s Day and that wasn’t it.  But I couldn’t shake the feeling.  So, as I am accustomed to doing when I’m stumped on something, I looked up the March 15 date.

After a few minutes of searching I came to a very notable event indeed.  The event was known as the Ides of March, and it occurred on March 15, 44 BC.  Unless you are pretty familiar with world history you probably don’t know what the Ides of March is.  Don’t worry, I didn’t either.  That’s why I did a thorough investigation into the event.

On this day in 44 BC something quite “world changing” happened.  Julius Caesar, the ruler of the Roman Republic, was murdered by Roman Senators.  These Senators were members of his own government and the murder was an act of conspiracy.  Julius Caesar was stabbed to death 23 times in a vicious, brutal attack.  Why you ask?  To understand the reason, you have to understand the man.

Julius Caesar was a brilliant, assertive military leader.  He was not only a General, but a statesman, a historian, and an excellent speaker.  Caesar is best known for his military genius.  He expanded the territory of the Roman Republic through a series of well-coordinated attacks and battles.   Some say without his leadership, Rome would have never become the great empire it is known for.

Though Caesar was a great military leader, his government wasn’t always happy about his conquests.  One particular conquest infuriated them. Caesar deliberately disobeyed the orders of the Senate (his government) and instead led troops across the Rubicon River on January 10, 49 BC.  Doing this was an illegal action and against Roman law.  This one gutsy action threw Rome into a very bloody, very messy Civil War.  At the end of the war, Caesar was victorious and he then declared himself a dictator.  It would seem power went to Caesar’s head as he thrust himself on stage as a would-be “king.”   This is what would lead to his ultimate demise, as members of the government became enraged.  They, in turn, formed a conspiracy, bent on Caesar’s murder.

Caesar’s death on the Ides of March (March 15) most certainly became a turning point for Rome.  They went from a Republic to an Empire in a short period of time.  All along, the members of the Senate had wanted to restore the Republic, but what ended up happening was the opposite.  After Caesar’s death, Rome became one big mess.  Another Civil War began called the Liberator’s War.  In addition, Caesar bequeathed his position and wealth to his grandnephew, who became known as Caesar Augustus.  Though he was very young, he was able to throw the entire government for a loop.  Caesar Augustus became the first emperor of Rome, thus officially ending the republic.  Of course, there are a few details to add to the above outline of events, but it would be a long list and I don’t know if you want to know that much history.  But here’s what you should take away from this-  Caesar’s government wanted to keep the Republic intact and they were so desperate to do this they assassinated their own leader.  This action made things worse and ended up ushering in what they were trying to avoid- the Roman Empire and the rise of an Emperor. It was the end of their Roman democracy!  Now here’s the thing- don’t just assume Caesar was the only bad guy in the whole historical situation.  Oh no- the government probably had their own agenda.  It’s possible the Senators liked keeping things a certain way.  They liked their social class and they liked keeping that class heads above the rest.  According to some historical accounts, Caesar was a man of the people.  He had a way with the “lower classes.”  He had instituted many reforms for the people and they were not always popular with his governmental peers.  Surely, Caesar was not legitimately concerned about the “lower classes”, but he knew how to “talk the talk” and occasionally “walk the walk.”  He knew how to “work the people” and gain their trust.

Either way you look at it, Caesar and his government had some major issues.  The ones who bore the brunt of the situation were ultimately the people.  And what ended up happening to Rome anyway?  Oh yeah, IT FELL!  In 410 A.D. the Visgoths were able to BREACH THE WALLS of the capital of the Roman Empire. Within three days Rome fell.  The Romans had ruled the Earth for over 500 years and now it was at its demise.  There were many things which led to this event, but many historians mark this breach as the end of the empire.

So why do I even bring up the Ides of March?  What’s the big deal?  Well, there are a few things that really stand out to me when I read about the history of Caesar and the fall of Rome.  Firstly, I see there was great contention within the government. The leader of Rome was no longer connected to his government. He was “doing his own thing”, in spite of what the Senate wanted.   Caesar became so powerful he was able to declare himself a dictator.  This is quite shocking since he started out as a leader of the Republic.

As Caesar continued with his agenda, the government became more and more disenchanted, and disillusioned. Caesar did what he wanted and over time, this created great fear in the government.  This fear led to conspiracy and massive dissention among the Senate. They feared the fall of the republic- the fall of democracyInstead of uniting and figuring out a sane and level headed plan, they formed a conspiracy ring.  This ultimately led to the assassination of Caesar.  The assassination of Caesar led to the final end of the Republic!  Hmm, was this what they wanted?

Does any of this sound familiar to you?  I’m not talking about the assassination part.  Luckily, nothing like that has happened recently.  But what about the other stuff?  Are you feeling a little de ja vu?  I am!!!   I see some very scary things going on with our government right now.  It’s one big “civil war” amongst our leaders.  The presidential race is one big mockery.  Sometimes I feel like I’m watching an episode of Saturday Night Live.  Other times, I see a frightening stage being set that could be a scene in a horror movie.

The people of America want things to change.  Caesar wanted things to change too. In fact, did you know he was responsible for changing the calendar? In 45 BC Caesar replaced the old Roman calendar with a more standardized calendar known as the Julian calendar.  It was based entirely on the revolutions of Earth around the Sun.  In this calendar were leap years, though they were not calculated into the calendar properly.   This calendar continued to be used during the Roman Empire, and in some cases up through the early 1900’s.  The Julian calendar was eventually replaced by the calendar we use today, called the Gregorian calendar.   If only the calendar was all that Caesar changed.

When you look at the leaders running for office, and the direction of the election, you must notice some problems.  As you decide who you will vote for, what matters most to you?  Are you looking for an honest person?  Are you looking for someone humble?  Are you looking for someone who says whatever they think?  Are you looking for a King?   Wait!  Why did I write, “Are you looking for a King?”  There are several reasons……………

Firstly, let’s think about what ancient Israel wanted.  For many years the Israelites had Judges who were appointed to settle their problems and keep things running smoothly.  They had no official king to lead them.  That’s the way God wanted it.  But over time they grew restless.  They became dissatisfied with their Judges. They asked for a King.  The Prophet Samuel advised them that they didn’t need a King.  Truly their King would come one day, and he would save them from their sins.  That King was Jesus.  He would be the only King who would rule them perfectly and justly.  Yet, they didn’t want to wait. They wanted their King now.  They asked and asked, much like a child who wears their mother down after hours of begging.   God basically told Samuel, “Let them have their King.”  That’s when they got King Saul as a King.  Hmm, how did that turn out?  Well, not so good as Saul was disobedient and crazy!   But, it did lead to King David, who was a man after God’s own heart.  David wasn’t perfect, but he did a good job overall.  Later, Solomon entered in and he did a pretty good job, but he had some serious issues. King after King came along and many of them were just not good at all. Some of them were horrendous. Over time, the Kingdom of Israel bore the consequences.  The Northern Kingdom (Israel) went into captivity, followed by Judah (Southern Kingdom).  Their kingdom was overrun- their sacred temple destroyed.

So I’m back to my question.  “America, do you want a King?  Do you want someone to radically change our country and make things great again? Or, do you want the REAL KING, JESUS CHRIST to radically change our nation- to make our nation great?”   Here’s the thing- if you are looking to a human, or a person to change this nation, you are looking in the wrong place.   If you read your Bible, you will see there’s only one way to produce change. It has to take place in the heart.  You have to turn your heart to God- to Jesus-the true King.  You have to get on your knees and pray for discernment about who to vote for.  I’m not going to tell you who to vote for- ask God.  But I can assure you that if every Christian in this nation got on their knees and truly asked for discernment, they would know the answer. You can’t listen to your emotions, or rhetoric, or the media.  You have to listen to God.  You will only hear him if you seek him.

I’m sure the Roman Senate came up with a lot of ideas about what to do about Caesar before they came to their final conclusion (to kill him).   Caesar himself, took his life into his own hands.  He consulted his own will- his own desires.  He turned himself into a dictator.  Of course, Caesar had no reverence for the one true God did he? He did not know God personally.

I found another interesting and notable event for March 15.  Want to know what it is?  Ok, I’ll tell you.  On March 15, 1783, George Washington gave a heartfelt, emotionally entrenched speech in Newburgh, New York.  This was of course during the American Revolution.  In this speech he begs his officers/soldiers not to support the Newburgh Conspiracy.  What is the Newburgh Conspiracy you ask?  I’ll lay it out for you and perhaps you will see a parallel to Rome. The Newburgh Conspiracy was a plan that called for the Continental Army to revolt against the government.  The soldiers were disgruntled because they had not been paid as promised.  The debts of the war had become a burden on the government, but the officers still expected to be paid for their sacrifice and service.  Washington heard about the uprising and conspiracy that was surfacing so he took action. He knew it could threaten the plans of the nation they had all fought so hard to create. He delivered an emotional speech to his men, asking them to put their full trust in the government they were fighting for.  He promised them they would be paid, and their government would take care of them.  Washington’s speech was so heartfelt, it moved the officers to tears.  One account says that Washington’s words and humble manner made the officers realize how much he had done for their country. Washington had led honestly and courageously, and put his own life on the line.

The situation was resolved, and the country would go on to win the war and become a great nation.  The Treaty of Paris, which signified the coming end of the war, would be signed September 3, 1783, just six months after this incident.  Washington wrote a letter on March 18, 1783, after the conspiracy was resolved.  He said, “The result of the proceedings of the grand convention of the officers, which I have the honor of enclosing to your Excellency for the inspection of Congress, will, I flatter myself, be considered as the last glorious proof of patriotism which could have been given by men who aspired to the distinction of a Patriot army; and will not only confirm their claim to justice, but will increase their title to the gratitude of their country.”

Do we have leaders like Washington today, who can resolve the conspiracies entrenching our country?  Perhaps not.  Do we have leaders we can really trust?  That’s a loaded question.  The truth is  they don’t make them like Washington anymore.  But we have something much better.  We will always have Jesus.  As Isaiah 9:6 states, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

You see America, you already have the King you’re looking for.  He’s been here all along.  He helped found our nation- our Christian values point to him.  He died on the cross for you.  He will counsel you and bring you peace.  Yes, the world is spinning out of control.  Yet, we know the ending.  The PRINCE OF PEACE will bring final, everlasting peace.  One day we won’t ever have to worry about the mud- slinging of elections.  They sure do make a person feel dirty!  Don’t worry, our King washes us white– no mud- slinging to worry about- just peace, justice and love.   Come soon King Jesus, come soon!!!!!  Until then, we need your counsel………………..

Note:  The picture that goes with this blog was drawn by my son a few years ago.  I asked him to illustrate the verse, “In my father’s house there are many rooms……….I go there to prepare a place for you.”   He drew this picture and it touched my heart.  Notice the hole in the hand opening the “treasure chest” with life written on it.  I asked him why he drew that and he said, “Because Jesus holds the key to life.  He went to the cross and got that hole in his hand.”  He said the throne was there because Jesus is our King.   And there you have it America- from the mouth of a child- Jesus is our King!!!!

 

 

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