Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Saturday, July 16, 2016


The kings of Lydia are buried in these big hills that dotted the landscape on our way to Sardis.

Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, one of the important cities in the Persian Empire and the seat of a proconsul under the Roman Empire.  It was important for its military strength and because oit was situated on an important highway.

We are walking on the Ignatian way road system; an east-west Roman road that intersects with the Appian way similar to I-70 and I-35.  Paul would have traveled on these important Roman roads.

Crosses on a basin in a shop along the main Roman road.  These shops were built in the Byzantine era, after Paul's time.

This was the first place that coins were made ~ around 600 BC.  
There was a temptation to shave the precious metal off the coins for its value; a capital offense.

The Romans had figured out plumging.  Pipes brought water 
into the stores which would then connect to a spicket.
 On the other side of the shops was a synagogue.  Normally built on the periphery of the city, this one is located in the center of the urban city.  It is one of the largest of its size and shows the strength and wealth of the Jewish community.
beautiful mosaic floors

An early Christian symbol with Greek letters depicted in the four lines within a circle, that translate as "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour."

Pretty mosaics on the wall


 A gymnasium next to the synagogue.  Rooms in the synagogue were used as changing rooms.  Evidence that Jews were integrated into the Roman culture.
Gymnasium with bath houses.
(We were told that the University of Wisconsin is paying 5 million to reconstruct this.)
 The Roman soldiers would wrestle and practice battles on this grassy area.

It was all so impressive and magnificent!

a pool in the gymnasium for the soldiers 
Situated in the middle of the Hermus valley at the foot of Mount Tmolus.

The church at Sardis was described as being "dead"  Rev. 3:1  It appeared to be alive - had a "reputation of being alive" - it looked spiritually vibrant, but was spiritually lifeless.  The church was Christian in name only.   They ran the risk of having their name blotted out because of their deadness. There was great history in the blotting out of names - chiseling out of stone people's names so that they wouldn't be remembered.  In that culture, your name being remembered was important.

Jesus promises us "He who overcomes will be dressed in white.  I will never blot out his name from the book of life."  Rev. 3:5

Temple of Artemis

Artemis, known as Diana by the Romans, was the main goddess of the city of Sardis and the temple dedicated to her was the 4th largest in ancient times.

 base of column - many columns have fallen down due to earthquakes

These columns are huge!

These 2 columns have stood the test of time and have not been restored.

Adjacent to the temple a little Byzantine church was built. (400-700 AD)

I loved what Beth wrote about this:

"It is very striking, this little Byzantine church built in the corner of this gigantic Temple of Artemis.  It is very touching to me.  We may be small, but we will worship the true God, even in the shadow of the old gods, of the gods of culture that loom over us.  Kind of a metaphor for the small light of God's people being enough to bring the true light for all.  We live in the shadow of many false gods of this world today, and sometimes it seems like the church is geting smaller.  But God's Church is His bride - it will always endure, always survive, always thrive within those who truly call on His name and seek Him.

Do not despise littleness, being small.  This is kind of a message of the whole trip.  Paul and Barnabbas, were just two guys with the boldness - audacity - to show up in a city and believe that they could convince anyone about Jesus and even start a church.  They were small indeed.  A daunting task, seemingly impossible.  Unlikely.  It is true for us as well - it often seems unlikely, even impossible today to make a difference in our culture, to be a light amidst all the different gods of our time.  Yet, this did not stop Paul and Barnabbas, and this did not stop the believers that built this little Byzantine church next to the temple in the 5th century.

We may not ever be big, but we worship a big God whose will will be done.  We just need to be faithful witnesses for Him.  And we may die, or be ridiculed, or considered irrelevant, but that doesn't matter.  We plant and we water but it is God who makes it grow.  So we build our little Byzantine church and worship Him and serve Him and spread the Word.

However, like Paul, we have to be convinced of the absolute truth of what we represent, and the incredible power of God to change lives.  This has to be the burning passion of our lives, the urgency that there are 'more out there' who need to know.  This work can only be done through God's enabling power through His Holy Spirit.  Yes, Lord!"  - Elizabeth Graham, Journeys of Paul


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