An ancient Pony Express? Absolutely! 1,677 miles in nine days is quite a feat–on horseback.
4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.’ Exodus 19:4
We have been studying the “fuse” leading up to the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. On the world stage, God was working events to ready the world for His Coming. Even though most world leaders were not worshipers of YAHWEH, God still worked through world events to “prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3).
An interesting aspect to the spreading of the Gospel is the building of roads. There were three main roads across Europe and Asia: The Royal Road, the Appian Way, and the Silk Road. From “Person of Interest,” pages 17-19,
- The Royal Road- The Persians were among the first to build significant roads. Darius the Great refurbished an existing roadway and created the “Royal Road” in 500 BC, connecting regions as far apart as Susa to Sardis (1,677 miles). This reduced travel from ninety days on foot to nine days on horseback.
- Construction of probably the most famous of Roman roads, the Appian Way, was started in 312 BC. Called by Romans the “Queen of Roads,” it set the standard for the many famous roads Romans would build leading up to the lifetime of Jesus. From Wikipedia: The Appian Way (Latin and Italian: Via Appia) was one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of ancient Rome. It connected Rome to Brindisi in southeast Italy (400 miles).
- By 130 BC, the Silk Road was formally opened for travel by the Han dynasty of China. This ancient network of connected trade routes would be used to facilitate trade between the East and the West for many centuries.
As the Romans built the infrastructure of secondary roads and perfected the engineering of bridges and tunnels by 100 BC, the stage was set for the peacetime expansion of the Roman highway system that occurred as Jesus’ followers began to share his message and ministry. As this point in history, early in the first century, the Roman Empire had unified and refurbished the road systems of conquered nations, connecting the various systems into a network of roads that spanned the empire from Britain to Syria. This network provided a new opportunity to trade and share ideas, even ideas about Jesus.
The Egyptians had a postal service (of sorts) as early as 2000 BC, but the Persians are typically credited with the first true mail carriers. China had a system for delivering mail as early as 1122 BC, and the Greeks had a system, although they relied heavily on private couriers. The Romans advanced the concept greatly. 47,000 miles of new roads were built by Augustus and his successors. “Using the Persian system of ‘relays,’ the Romans built forts and stations on their exceptional roads, each positioned about one day’s ride apart.” The Pony Express was built on this very model.
As we can see, the stage was being set for the spread of the Gospel. An integral part of its success was the toleration of the Romans and even encouragement concerning the religions of the nations. We will look at that aspect tomorrow.
Abba, the forethought and planning on Your part for the success of the Gospel is amazing. I marvel at the wonder of it all. As I look at all that transpired to make the world ready for Your coming, I see Your loving hand in everything. You truly do love the world–You love us! Thank You!!! Amen.