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Old 09 March 2015, 05:37 PM
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Icon215 Christopher Columbus

Comment: In the twelfth century, before the Reformation began, a famous
missionary by the name of Ramon Lull preached Christ in northern Africa.
Although once Christian, that territory had forsaken the gospel many
generations before and became Islamic. Ramon had come to that land to win
its people back to Christ. While he was preaching in Bougie, a port city
in what is now Algiers, the natives carried him to the beach where they
stoned him and left him to die. Two merchants from Genoa, Italy happened
to be in the same city on business. Having concluded it, they were walking
on the beach while waiting to board their ship. They found Ramon still
alive. Because he was known throughout the Christian world, these
merchants recognized him and took him on board. On their way back to
Italy, a storm drove the ship off course until it came near the island of
Ramon's birth. Thinking that the sight of his homeland might encourage
him, for Ramon was miraculously still alive, they carried him on deck and
raised him so that he could see over the rail. After viewing his native
terrain, he lifted his arm, pointing it westward, and with the last breath
of his mouth said, "Beyond the seas that wash this land is another land
whose natives know not God. Send men there." Then he died. When the
merchants returned to Genoa, one of them told the story of Ramon Lull and
his prophecy over and over to his children and grandchildren. That man was
Stephen Columbus, grandfather of Christopher Columbus.

Christopher means "Christ-bearer." Ramon's prophecy underpinned what
Columbus became. Even his name bore his divine mission. His goal was to
take the name of Christ to a people across the sea. He envisioned the
possibility of sailing westward from the coasts of Europe to another land,
where he would find remnants of the lost tribes of Israel (Simon
Wiesenthal, Sails of Hope, p 61) He conceived this thought during the time
his culture taught that the earth was flat. A westward trip was thought to
bring a ship and its occupants to the edge of the world, where they would
suddenly meet death as they fell off. But Christopher believed the
prophecy of Ramon Lull. He believed the Scriptures, too. He quoted Isaiah
in his journal, particularly that which said, "Listen O isles, unto me;
and hearken, ye people, from far; The Lord hath called me from the womb;
unto the end of the earth." (Is 49:1,6). Columbus felt these words were
directed at him. He believed the Lord had designated him to take the
message of Christ to the ends of the earth . God had even created a way
for him to go to them. Isaiah records, "Thus saith the Lord, which maketh
a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters" (Is 43:16). Claiming
inspiration from the Almighty, Christopher Columbus maintained that there
was a route through the ocean leading to natives who needed to learn of
Christ. He recorded these thoughts in his journal, writing, "It was the
Lord who put into my mind (I could feel his hand upon me) the fact that it
would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my
project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question
that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because He comforted me
with rays of marvelous inspiration from the Holy Scriptures."

Columbus took his plan for sailing across the western ocean to the
European kings. In return for financing his expedition, he promised a
shorter route to the Indies than what was then available. The nation
underwriting his discovery would have a big advantage in the race to
provide Europe with goods from the East. The resulting wealth they could
accumulate would be staggering. No one seemed seriously interested,
although the project was widely discussed. In the end only King Ferdinand
and Queen Isabella of Spain agreed to help him, and that was only at the
insistence of Isabella. She had been engaged in converting the Jews
throughout Spain to Christ, often under the threat of torture. At the same
time their army had been pushing the Moslem Moors back out of Spain into
Africa. With these two religious goals almost accomplished, a mission to
the Indies appealed more to her than a quest for gold and trade. Her
interest caused the king to supply the necessary funds. On August 3, 1492,
Columbus led three small ships out of their Spanish port on a mission to
discover and convert lost Israel to Christ.

As the weeks passed into a second month and the vast size of the ocean
already traversed increased, the restlessness of the crews on all three
ships grew. They had heard how others had failed in their attempt to sail
westward, fighting head winds and being forced back to their ports. Some
of these ships had wrecked. Columbus assured his men their trip was
different. Previous explorers had tried to cross below the Tropic of
Cancer, but the winds in that region blew from west to east, making a long
western voyage impossible. God had shown him a path through the sea, north
of the Tropic of Cancer, where the winds blew from east to west. He wrote
in his journal, "For the execution of the journey to the Indies, I did not
make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. It is simply the
fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied."

The spiritual assurance uplifting and directing Columbus did not quiet the
crew. The presence of an eastern wind did not mean land was ahead. They
began to grumble. At first they joked about throwing their captain
overboard and returning home, but as time lengthened the mood became more
somber. They were ready to make demands. The captains of the other two
ships met on the night of October 9. Columbus persuaded them to give him
three more days. If at the end of that time they had not found land, he
would allow them to turn back. In his prayers that night he must have
fervently pled with the God that had not only inspired him to undertake
the trip, but who had brought him so far toward its completion, by asking
divine assistance in helping him finish the journey within the few days he
had left. His prayer was heard. The next day the ships made an amazing 59
leagues, almost doubling the previous day's output. On the second day they
sighted a small twig with roses on it and at night saw a tiny light in the
far distance. On the third day before sunrise, the crew of the Pinta
sighted land, a low white cliff shining in the moonlight. They turned
toward it. On the morning of the third day, October 12, 1492, Columbus
landed on San Salvador.

While Spain, in its thirst for gold, along with other nations, quickly
began to overrun the land Columbus found, and although Columbus himself
was too strongly motivated by the wealth he uncovered, his discovery of
the American continents was, from beginning to end, a religious event. God
revealed their existence, inspired the thought of their discovery and,
even, propelled the ships so that the New World could be found. The
revelation given through Ramon Lull had found fulfillment with Christopher
Columbus. The missionary's words had been the foundation for the
explorer's life. Of Jewish descent, he was chosen and used by God to
discover the way for the Gentiles to bring the gospel of Christ to America
and spread it among the people scattered on its land, so that at the
proper time they could be gathered to their Savior. His dedication to this
purpose and the extent of his devotion is revealed in his journal. He
wrote, "No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our
Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy
service. The working out of all things has been assigned to each person by
our Lord, but it all happens according to His sovereign will, even though
He gives advice. He lacks nothing that it is in the power of men to give
Him. Oh, what a gracious Lord, who desires that people should perform for
Him those things for which He holds Himself responsible!"
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