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Have you ever marveled at Roman glass jewelry? A few shops in the Jerusalem's Old City sell beautiful jewelry made from glass from the Roman period in the holy land. If you are lucky, when you visit certain sites in the holy land you might find a piece of genuine Roman glass for yourself. I was walking at a site once near Jerusalem and found several fragments of Roman glass. My best guess is that someone dropped a vessel in ancient times and it shattered there.

Roman glass vase from JerusalemWhen I look at the multi colored pieces of glass in the shops in the old city it always moves me to meditation. Now the pieces of glass are often set in silver or gold and are designed to be worn as jewelry, like earrings or a necklace. But what was it before? Sometimes you can tell from the thickness or the shape what the original vessel might have been but usually you cannot.

Mighty Rome came crashing into the land and imposed their laws and gods on the followers of the true God. In many cases they persecuted those who believed in God. They destroyed God's House, the Temple in Jerusalem and exiled His followers. They forbade the teaching of His Word and many who defied this edict suffered horribly. Most famously though, they escorted the wrongly convicted Son of God outside the city and nailed Him to a cross, where He died. Anyone who saw all of that would have assumed that Rome would dominate the land forever.

Yet today, pilgrims flock to the same old city where this all happened to follow in the footsteps of their Messiah, Jesus. Beyond a few notables such as Pontius Pilate, the names of the Romans involved are lost to history. The Romans thought they could extinguish the light of Jesus with His death, but instead He lives on while Rome is dead and gone. What remains to us of Rome is fragmentary.

These plates, bowls and pitchers at one time held the food and drink of the ancient Romans who occupied the holy land, now the fragments are surprisingly inexpensive gifts that visitors often take home to loved ones. I smile when I see them being purchased by a Christian pilgrim in Jerusalem. It is a nice reminder that empires come and go but the kingdom of God lives on.

“My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36

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