Bruges, Belgium

May 8, 2011

We are continuing to enjoy our association with our friends in Houthalen, Belgium, including folks traveling from some distance away. It is a joy to have such opportunities to teach the Bible. This photo was made following worship services this afternoon.

Group photo following Sunday services at Houthalen, Belgium.

Earlier last week we had the occasion to visit the unique town of Bruges, dominated by 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th century houses and buildings. Our photo shows the market square, dominated by the Belfry and the Government Palace.

Market Square at Bruges, Belgium. Photo by Leon Mauldin

In the square one may see the monument to Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, heroes of the Battle of the Golden Spurs (July 11, 1302). In this battle the French were defeated.

Monument to Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

For those interested, Wikipedia has the following info re: Bruges:

Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country.

The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is oval-shaped and about 430 hectaresin size. The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares, including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge(meaning “Brugge aan Zee” or “Bruges on Sea”). The city’s total population is 117,073 (1 January 2008), of which around 20,000 live in the historic centre. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 616 km² and has a total of 255,844 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008.

Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, it is sometimes referred to as “The Venice of the North”.

Bruges has a significant economic importance thanks to its port. At one time, it was the “chief commercial city” of the world.

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Roman Tongeren

May 5, 2011

We are looking forward to the lectureship which begins tomorrow evening in Houthalen, Belgium.This study will survey the biblical text of Acts through Revelation, with emphasis on the geographical setting of these events as we narrate the biblical record. I am thankful to God for every opportunity to teach His word.

Near Genk, where we are currently situated, is the Roman settlement of Tongeren. Tongeren (Atuatuca Tungrorum) is the oldest city in this region, established by the Romans in 10 BC. It is strategically located on the road between Boulogne (France) and Cologne (Germany).

The Gallo-Roman Museum in their very informative booklet observes:

The Romans do not build their cities at random. Tongeren lies on a navigable stream, in the middle of fertile loamy farmland. The city is well connected with the Roman road system. For the Romans it is of crucial importance that the Rhine border can be reached quickly.

In places the ancient walls can still be seen.

Remnants of Roman Wall at Tongeren. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Many interesting Roman artifacts are featured in the museum, among which is this lead bar with the inscription of Caesar Augustus.

Lead Bar with Caesar Augustus Inscription, Tongeren. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Again, from the museum booklet:

Lead is an important metal for the construction of, for example, water pipes and drains. Traders ship the metal in the form of bars that are further worked in their place of destination. This bar probably comes from the Eifel region. The inscription IMP(ERATORIS) TI(BERII) CAESARIS AUG(USTI) GERM(ANICUM) TEC(-) means “Property of Emperor Tiberius Caesar Augustus, lead from Germania.” The term TEC probably refers to the person who managed the mine in the name of the Emperor. Of all the objects ever found in Tongeren, this bar is the only object to be marked with the name of a Roman Emperor.

Relation to Scripture: Caesar August was the emperor when in the biblical fullness of time (Galatians 4:4) Jesus was born. Luke writes, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” (2:1). Contextually, this is how it came about that Joseph and Mary, who resided in Nazareth of Galilee, made their way to Bethlehem of Judea, because Bethlehem was their ancestral home. Of course Caesar had no idea he was helping to fulfill the 8th century BC prophecy that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

Notice in the above text that Caesar could command that all the world be enrolled. This of course does not mean the whole globe, but the Roman world, the far-flung Roman Empire.

Remember to click on images for larger view.

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