Suffice it to say that it makes for an awful long night when you are unable to sleep and staring at the ceiling half the night! However, after a couple of days spent adjusting to the jet lag, we are now back on task.
Speaking of long nights, I read recently that the longest night in history was September 2, 1752. This was the night the Gregorian (or modern) calendar was adopted in England. It replaced the Julian calendar that had been in place for more than eighteen centuries. The reason was that the Julian calendar did not make sufficient allowance for Leap Year. As a result, the English calendar had grown to be eleven days behind the right time.
Those eleven days were simply omitted after September 2, 1752; and the next day was reckoned to be September 14, 1752. Now, most any way you look at it, that is one long night!
More to the point, that is one big statement! The Roman Empire, lasting a thousand years, is considered by many to be the greatest in human history. And among its leaders, none is more well-known than Julius Caesar. The terms “Kaiser” and Czar” both derive from Caesar. Famous quotations such as “I came, I saw, I conquered” and “The die is cast” are attributed to him. His written works, such as The Gallic Wars, are still studied in university Classics departments and military institutions around the world.
He even has a play named after him, one personally penned by William Shakespeare. That work launched a very common phrase associated with this death: “Beware the ides of March.” Indeed, countless books and movies have since showcased his life and death.
And yet, Julius Caesar, worshipped by many in his day as a god, was just a man. As a result, his arduous attempts to achieve divine status and eternal recognition all proved futile in the end. And even what was arguably his most lasting achievement, the ordering of the cosmos into structured time in the form of a calendar, was not destined to last. Like so many of the buildings he inhabited and the statues that captured his likeness, it, too, ultimately crumbled.
As I stood overlooking the spot where he was assassinated in the Roman Forum in 44 B.C., I thought of these words by the famed English dramatist (and contemporary of William Shakespeare), John Webster:
Vain the ambition of kings
Who seek by trophies and dead things
To leave a living name behind,
And weave but nets to catch the wind.
Of course, today, we operate by the Gregorian calendar, named for another man (Gregory) who claimed, not to be divine himself, but to follow One who was divine: Jesus Christ. And we number our days from the time of Jesus Christ’s birth, dividing them into B.C., “Before Christ”, and A.D., not “After Death”, but “Anno Domini”, Latin for “in the year of our Lord”.
In the twelfth verse of Psalm 90, the Bible admonishes us to number our days. The Hebrew word for “number” is “lim·nō·wṯ”, and it means “to count, or to number”, but also to “reckon”. I take this to mean that we would all do well to remember that our days in this world are numbered. We will not live forever.
But I also take that to mean that one day, whether you, me, or even the famed Julius Caesar, we will each stand before our Creator and Redeemer and give an account of how we spent the precious days allotted to us. In light of this, I would rather spend mine drawing attention to and glorifying the name of my Lord and Savior than of myself. I challenge you to do the same.