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Emperor Constantine I Sees A Vision and Hears a Voice - 312 AD, Oct 28th




                                                                                  A Bust of Emperor Constantine


              An internal political struggle in Rome pits Constantine I (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus) with about 50,000 troops against Maxentius, a rival for power who commands around 100,000 troops, in the Battle of Milvian Ridge.  The armies are gathered close, and battle is imminant.  Either man may end up leading Rome, victory depending. 

              A sleeping Constantine ( who may or may not have been a convinced Christian himself, but who's mother was a believer in Jesus)  receives a powerful dreaming vision in which a voice says "In this sign you shall conquer".  Then he saw a symbol now called a labarum.  (A simple labarum is composed of two Greek letters, a Chi and a Rho, overlaid on top of each other.  It looks to an English speaker like a letter 'p' whose vertical stroke passes down through the center of a letter 'x'.  These are the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ.)  Constantine had his soldiers place this symbol on their shields, etc., and he won the battle against Maxentius.  Later, as Emperor of Rome, Constantine was very instrumental in mandating some key changes favoring Christianity. 

              He legalized Christianity, in 313 AD.  He organized the Council of Nicaea, for better or worse, in 325 AD.  He moved the Roman capitol to Byzantium, calling it Nova Roma. After his death it became Constantinople.  It is said to have been the first officially Christian city, idols of other religions not being allowed there in his time.

              It would appear that God intervened in history here to accomplish some of his purposes.  Constantine I is sometimes maligned as someone who would ally with anyone who would help his cause, but his impact on Christianity cannot really be questioned, even if his motivations sometimes are.  Constantine accepted baptism as a Christian on his death bed.

              A legend of Britain says that his mother, Flavia Helena, was a daughter of a King Coel of Cloechester in Britain (Yes, he is thought by many historians to be the same 'old king Coel that was a merry old soul' from the popular ancient nursery rhyme), and Helena was offered to a Roman senator named Constantius Chlorus as an alliance wife when Britain had somewhat uneasy relations with powerful Rome. But Helena was later divorced by this man.  

              Just for fun, find a bust of Constantine on the net or in a book, and ask yourself if he doesn't look quite a lot more British than most other Roman Emperors. I think he does! He has a longer sort of nose, and a longer distance from his lower lip to the bottom of his chin, I think.    

              Further legend relates that in her old age Helena was sent willingly to the Holy Lands by Constantine to find Christian relics that might still exist there.  She was led divinely to find three crosses buried beneath a temple floor, one of which was the true cross, with the nails.  She had one nail placed into her son Constantine's war helmet for divine protection.

              How authentic is any of this?  Hard to say.  God does remarkable things, but men sometime make up remarkable stories.  But it's put forth as a deed of God and as such it is passed on to you.  Let's each one pray for discernment from God about the truth of all such things that we read.                            


Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate Tries to Rebuild Jerusalem's Walls - Forgets to Get Landlord Permission  (A.D. 363):

              Called Julian the Apostate by some Christians, and sometimes referred to as Julian II, Flavius Claudius Julianus was the last pagan Roman Emperor.  He felt the decline Rome was facing in his day was in part due to the neglect of the ancient gods of Rome, much ignored in his day in favor of Christianity.  He was therefore not a friend of Christianity in his politics, and actively tried to refoster the worship of false gods that he did not believe were false.

              Ammianus Marcelinus was his most famous biographer and chronicler.  A surviving writing of Amianus's describes an odd event.  Julian felt that whenever a non-Christian religeon was strengthened that Christianity was thereby weakened - which was one of his goals.  So he commisioned a man named Alypius of Antioch to lead an effort to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem so that the Jewish faith could be properly practiced again.  The city was still rubble from the its destruction in 70 A.D. by the Romans.  But God had allowed - rather designated - that destruction upon the Jews for their corrupt behavior and their rejection of Jesus.  And He had His own date in mind for the regathering of the Jewish people:  May 14, 1948.  (though that was probably unknown to all at that point in history). Julian was trying to wreck God's timeline, though he didn't know it.

              Consequently, when workers went to Jerusalem and tried to work on moving the rubble and restoring the foundations, balls of flame issued outwards from the rock piles, shooting forth onto the workers, scorching them.  (I could not find out if the workers actually died, or just received burns from these flames.)  Soon the workers refused to continue, and the project was dropped.  Julias never tried this particular undertaking again.

              God was facing a delared enemy in Julian, it would seem.   Christianity was God's new path for man's salvation, and Julian was trying to weaken it and then drive it out of power and influence in the Roman government.  And also, he was rebuilding Jerusalem hoping that would be to the detriment of Jesus.  All bad choices, as God attested with this mighty act of discouragement.

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