I can’t resist sharing a very curious observation about the Apostle Paul, his evangelistic efforts, church history, as well as world history. If one looks at a world globe, we see north and south are divided by lines called meridians, while east and west lines are called parallels. The equator is the 50th parallel, the middle mark between north and south. North of the equator lies the 38th parallel. A Gospel phenomenon surrounds the history of this parallel. If we were to turn that one into an arrow, Divine purpose would have it pointing westward.
We note that all key events of Gospel movements followed in very close proximity westward along the 38th parallel. For instance, Paul’s birthplace, Tarsus, lies close to it. Paul’s evangelism ranged westward. Ephesus, Athens, and Corinth lie almost on the 38th parallel. Paul was martyred at Rome, not that far north of the 38th parallel. He spoke strongly of going to Spain with the Gospel, and probably did. Southern Spain is divided by the 38th parallel.
Christopher Columbus, explorer extraordinaire and great Christian launched his ships from close proximity to the 38th parallel. The Mayflower and it’s Pilgrims, with Bibles and Christian heritage in tow, made landfall and began evangelistic efforts among the Indians near the 38th parallel. Came then the wagon trains westward with the settlers, virtually Christians all to some extent, bringing their Bibles with them along the 38th parallel. Saint Lewis, Missouri, with it’s giant arch symbolizing “The Gateway to the West” and the “Jumping Off Place” to the west sits not far from the 38th parallel.
By far the busiest port of America’s west coast is the great San Francisco Bay, spanned by the mighty Golden Gate Bridge, lying just south of the 38th parallel. From here multitudes of ships and aircraft were launched in war and peace, blazing trails, opening closed doors to the Gospel in the Pacific islands and the vast Orient, until today the greatest voice of Christianity in the entire Orient radiates from South Korea, home of possibly the largest Pentecostal church in the world, located in the city of Soul, very close to the line of demarcation between North and South Korea which closely follows the 38th parallel.
West, it seems, is God’s favored direction over north, east, and south, because movement of humanity toward reuniting with our Creator has gravitated westward, including the travels of ancient Abraham. God’s earth rotates eastward causing the sunlight for humanity to travel westward. The Scripture declaring the removal of our transgression “As far as the east is from the west…” (Psalm 103:12) plants the west as the reference point in describing how far east is from it, not the other way around. Prophesying of His coming again (Matt. 24:27) Jesus likens it to the lightening coming out of the east, traveling westward. In fact, we might humorously ask, Is Heaven west?
The east has always had reference to beginnings, with west as future hope and excitement, a welcome of something better. Indeed, the prophet Malachi said, “The sun of righteousness [shall] arise with healing in his wings” (Mal. 4:2), and so the Wisemen saw His star in the east which led them westward toward hope.
We might well ask, does all of this curiosity have meaning? Perhaps. For now, though, the real meaning appears to be hidden in the folds of God’s eternal purpose and pleasure, to be revealed in his own good time. –DA