17 June 2008

Alexander the Great

Christ and Alexander

In the year of 356 B.C. a beautiful baby boy was born, his name was Alexander. We now know him as Alexander the great because of what he accomplished in his short life of 32 years. It is interesting to see the contrast between this Macedonian mans life and that of a certain Jew named Jesus Christ. Jesus also lived 32 years, but his kingdom is a heavenly one which cannot be taken away. Whereas Alexander’s vast empire and wealth fell apart after his death.

Alexander’s father was Philip of Macedonia and his mother was a priestess called Olympia. Although he would be far outshone by his son, Philip began what Alexander later finished; building an empire. Philip had a drive for power and he set about putting his own kingdom in order, all the while waiting, waiting for the opportunity to conquer his Greek neighbors. Alexander must have inherited his fathers conquering spirit because at an early age he tamed a wild horse- which later became his famous steed Bucephalus.

Philip accomplished much in his lifetime and died around 336 B.C., it is probable he was murdered. This left 20 year old Alexander king of Macedonia and although young he was fully prepared for the responsibility of running a kingdom. Besides, his father had already done all the groundwork of training an army and securing a kingdom. So Alexander turned his eyes towards Persia, the old enemy of the Greeks. He began dreaming of defeating them in battle and spreading Greek supremacy to the entire known world.

While Alexander was planning to bring himself glory and fame, Jehovah was bringing all His purposes to pass. Daniel prophesied 300 years before Alexander’s birth that he would come and defeat Persia. In Daniel 8: 7-8 Alexander is described as a goat and Persia as a ram, and the ram was defeated by the goat. The Jewish people were under heavy oppression from Persia at that time, and in God’s providence He decreed that Alexander would come lift their burden. Indeed it is amazing that Alexander had mercy on the Jewish people after destroying so many other nations.

Determined and resolute Alexander marched his forces against Persia. Within several months Darius, king of Persia, must have been quaking in his kingly robes as Greece’s new ruler proved his power. Alexander won the battles of Issus, Granicus, and Gaugemala… and kept marching on.

Persopolis, the capitol city of Persia’s empire finally fell into Alexander’s hands in 331 B.C. Triumphant at last; Alexander sat in Persia’s great gilded throne and exclaimed “So this is what it feels like to be an Emperor”. But with victory came a price, Alexander grew vain and imagined himself a god. This led to discontentment among his soldiers who were free Greeks and valued independence. Still, Alexander held a strong sway over them, and the East had captivated him.

So once again Alexander called hi vast army together and prepared to campaign in India. Somehow Persopolis was burned to the ground soon after; some say it was Alexander’s final revenge on Persia, others believe it was an accident. India was an unknown challenge to the Greeks, its climate and terrain soon began to wear them down. Their leader urged them to press on, realizing more and more India’s wealth in jewels, gold and spices. But when Alexander himself became ill with a putrid fever which nearly claimed his life, he ordered a retreat.

Death loomed over Alexander now, he was weak and yet proud. His actions further separated him from his Greek generals as he spent long nights reveling. Once while in his drunken state, he ordered the death of a close friend who had once saved his life! It was now, at the height of his power and corruption that Daniel had prophesied his reign would end. “Daniel 8:8”

Unexpectedly in 323 B.C. Alexander the Great died. It came as a shock to his Kingdom, as the man was young and in comparatively good health. Worse, the Emperor left no capable heir. His only child was not yet born; the people knew not whether the baby would be male or female; and Alexander had made no provision for administration until the child should come of age. Apparently he had not thought to die so suddenly or so young. This left the door open for his four generals to seize power. They murdered all of Alexander’s family members and divided the kingdom among themselves. Ptolemy ruled Egypt; Lysimachus took Thrace and Asia Minor; Selucucus took Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia; leaving Cassander Macedonia and Greece.

What began with Alexander, ended with Alexander. His vision of a great united empire died with him and instead was divided into four manageable pieces. Yet God was at work building His kingdom which would last for all eternity. Through Alexander a new culture was born, the “Hellenistic Period”. Because of Alexander the Great, Greek language was spread to most of the known world. The New Testament was first written in Greek and many people were able to read it and join the kingdom of Christ. God’s sovereign hand on His-story has and always will be perfect!

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot hope to keep, in order to gain what he cannot loose.”
Jim Elliot

“The days go by, they quickly pass,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

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