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Greece--a Christian Nation

Jan 08, 2007

Having shown how King Nebuchadnezzar came to recognize the Most High God as sovereign over Babylon and over himself; and having shown how Medo-Persia went further by declaring that men fear the God of Daniel; one might then ask how the Macedonian-Grecian Empire of Alexander fared, and Rome after it.

The record of Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, has some very interesting things to say about Alexander the Great. Alexander's father was assassinated in 336 B.C. and was succeeded by his son, Alexander.

In the same year, Arses, king of Persia, was assassinated and was succeeded by Darius III. This Darius ruled about two centuries after Darius the Mede that conquered Babylon in Daniel 5. Anyway, Alexander defeated Darius III in a battle at Issus after just three years, and a year later (332 B.C.) Alexander came to Jerusalem.

The first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, tells us about Alexander's experience in Jerusalem in Antiquities of the Jews, XI, viii,

"5. Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste to go up to Jerusalem; and Jaddua the high priest, when he heard that, was in an agony, and under terror, as not knowing how he should meet the Macedonians, since the king was displeased at his foregoing disobedience. He therefore ordained that the people should make supplications, and should join with him in offering sacrifices to God, whom he sought to protect that nation, and to deliver them from the perils that were coming upon them; whereupon God warned him in a dream, which came upon him after he had offered sacrifice, that he should take courage and adorn the city, and open the gates; that the rest should appear in white garments, but that he and the priests should meet the king in the habits proper to their order, without the dread of any ill-consequences, which the providence of God would prevent. Upon which, he rose from his sleep, he greatly rejoiced, and declared to all the warning he had received from God. According to which dream he acted entirely, and so waited for the coming of the king."

COMMENT: God spoke to Jaddua the high priest in a dream, telling him to do what Jeremiah had instructed three centuries earlier, when the Babylonians came to conquer Jerusalem--"open the gates" and submit to God's judgment. Alexander was the one that God had raised up to overthrow the Persian empire, the "arms of silver," because its kings had usurped power and had forgotten the decree of Darius in Daniel 6. In other words, the Persian kings had usurped power, even as the Babylonian kings had done earlier.

Since such instructions were not according to the normal mindset of the people, it is apparent that this was truly a divinely-inspired dream. Because it was given to the high priest himself, this certainly explains why the people actually submitted to Alexander. The priests dressed in their fine white linen and went out in procession to meet Alexander, showing us, incidentally, the meaning of the Greek word apantesis, "to meet" the Lord in the air. Even as Cyrus the Persian was a type of Christ (Isaiah 45:1), so also here was Alexander a type of Christ, with the saints going out "to meet" him.

We continue now with the story as related by Josephus in paragraph 6,

"6. And when he [the high priest] understood that he [Alexander] was not far from the city, he went out in procession with the priests and the multitude of citizens. . . . Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his mitre on his head, having the golden plate whereon the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name, and first saluted the high priest. The Jews also did all together, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about; whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done and supposed him disordered in his mind."

COMMENT: The foreign armies with Alexander thought they were going to be able to plunder Jerusalem, but found instead that Alexander treated them with great respect. What was to account for this strange behavior? Josephus' account tells us Alexander's explanation:

"I did not adore him [the high priest], but the God who hath honoured him with his high priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army and would give me the dominion over the Persians; whence it is, that having seen no other person in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision, and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under the divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind."

COMMENT: So Alexander the Great was given a dream while still in Macedonia, wherein he saw the high priest of Jerusalem. By this he knew that God was on his side, giving him the authority to conquer Persia. He had no knowledge of Daniel's prophecy, of course. That is, until the high priest showed him the prophecy. Josephus continues:

"And when he had said this to Parmenio, and had given the high priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city; and when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest's direction, and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests. And when the book of Daniel was showed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present."

COMMENT: We see here that Alexander the Great recognized the God of Daniel and made sacrifices to Him in the Old Testament manner. This is the equivalent of what Nebuchadnezzar and Darius had done in the first two beast empires prophesied by Daniel. Thus, we find a third empire's king paying homage to the God of Daniel, fully recognizing that he was divinely called to overthrow the second empire (Persia).

In other words, Greece became a Christian Nation, recognizing the God of the Bible, whom we know in His incarnation as Jesus Christ.

Of course, Alexander was no better than either Nebuchadnezzar or Darius, in that they all thought that being divinely called ("chosen") meant that they could do as they pleased and rule by their own laws. None of them seem to have recognized that they were responsible and accountable to God to enforce HIS laws, rather than legislate their own that were often contrary to the morality and justice of the divine law.

And so just ten years later, Alexander died drunk in Babylon, having conquered all that could be conquered. His kingdom was divided among his four generals to await the rise of the fourth beast empire--Rome. Two of those four generals figure prominently in the prophecies of Daniel 11, under the figure of the "king of the north" [Seleucid of Syria] and the "king of the south" [Ptolemy of Egypt].

These kings fought over the Holy Land for centuries, desecrating the land and the temple itself. Because of this, God empowered the Judean Maccabees to revolt from Syria and establish an independent Judean state in 163 B.C. This lasted 100 years until the Roman general, Pompey, conquered Jerusalem in 63 B.C. This began the era of the fourth beast empire.


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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