He reined in his horses and stood in his chariot, gazing at an ancient bridge over a small river. It was a Saturday near Rimini in northern Italy. The river was little more than a muddy creek and Rimini only an obscure village. But the history of the whole western world hung in the balances that January day.
The year was 49 BC. The river the Rubicon. The man Julius Caesar. With his 13th Legion, Caesar had conquered all of Gaul (modern France). Jealous of his success and fearful of his popularity, his archrival Pompey and the Roman Senate ordered him to disband the Legion and come home. Now with his troops he stood on the banks of the Rubicon. Roman law strictly forbade any commander to lead a standing army across this stream. If Caesar crossed the Rubicon, it was an act of treason. Both he and his men became outlaws and would be hunted down and executed.
Caesar paused only a moment, then made his decision. Crying “The die is cast,” he laid his whip to the team, plunged his chariot across the bridge and led his men on to Rome. They seized control of the government and the rest, is history.
Since that day “to cross the Rubicon” means to make a huge decision that affects all of life, a decision from which there is no retreat. It is to pass a point of no return. There is no going back.
Centuries before Caesar, Joshua crossed a Rubicon of his own on the map of his life. In this speech at Shechem he recounted God’s mercies to Israel. Then he ended with a passionate appeal to the nation to choose once and for all whom they would serve. “You have wavered off and on, off and on, off and on long enough. But now, today, right here, once and for all, decide whom you will serve.” ...
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