Have you ever wondered why God brought Abraham from Ur in Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan? Mesopotamia was far more developed culturally and economically than Canaan, so why did God bring Abraham and his descendants there? Or why Samuel after making his circuit around Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah judging Israel, he always returned to Ramah, his hometown, to judge Israel (1 Sam. 7:16-17)? Or why did Paul choose to reside in Ephesus for over two years?
All of these locations—Canaan, Ramah, and Ephesus—share the same common feature: they sit at a crossroads. The land of Canaan sits along the eastern Mediterranean coast wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and the desert. It provides the natural land bridge that connected the continents of Asia and Africa. It was also located between the major superpowers of the ancient world, Egypt in the south and the Mesopotamian powers to the north. If you wanted to travel within the ancient world, you had to pass through the land of Canaan; it was the crossroads of the known world.
Ramah sits at the juncture of the major north-south and east-west roadways through the hill country of Israel, where the majority of the Israelites lived. The easiest way for Samuel to judge the majority of the people was to place himself at the crossroads and the people would come to him.
Ephesus served as the major east-west gateway of the Roman Empire. Traders and travelers journeying from east or west passed through Ephesus. It was also a major pilgrimage site as it boasted one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis (see Acts 19:24-34), so pilgrims throughout the Roman world journeyed to Ephesus to worship the goddess.
The selection of these locations was strategic. They served as significant crossroads, places where God and His message could impact the most people. These crossroads became platforms for God to get His message out to the world. At the same time, He demanded that His people live in obedience to Him at the crossroads to demonstrate to the world His kingship. Even in the midst of a pagan city like Ephesus, Paul did not isolate himself; rather, he lived at this crossroads, and his life and message impacted the paganism of the city (see Acts 19:24-34).
Where are the crossroads of our world today? Where are your crossroads? God still desires to place people at the crossroads of our world to affect the world for His glory and to display His kingship.
Father, today make me mindful of the crossroads in my sphere of influence. Help me to be strategic in my actions to bring glory to Your holy name. Help me to live obediently at the crossroads of my world, so that many may see You in me and glorify You. Amen.
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, February 20, 2019, and reposted with permission.