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Alexander Submits to Christ

Jan 31, 2011

The book of Daniel tells us that the third empire to arise in that part of the world would come from Greece. This empire is pictured in Daniel 2 as the bronze belly of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. In Daniel 7 it is pictured as the third "beast" that had the appearance of a leopard (Dan. 7:6).

In Daniel 8:5-8, Greece is pictured as a fierce goat with "a conspicuous horn between his eyes." The horn was Alexander the Great, the king who led the army in its conquest of Persia all the way to the northern part of India. It is prophesied that the horn would be broken at the peak of its power, and so we find that Alexander himself died suddenly in Babylon at a young age.

Alexander became king in 336 B.C. after his father Philip of Macedon was assassinated. He conquered Persia, Damascus, Tyre, and then took Jerusalem in 332. He died in 323 just nine years after taking Jerusalem.

But this third kingdom in the prophesied succession of empires also submitted to Jesus Christ, as the previous kingdoms had done. Here is the story...

When Alexander was laying siege to Tyre (to fulfill other prophecies in Ezekiel), he sent messengers to Jerusalem, asking for supplies for his troops. The high priest, Jaddua, sent word that he had taken an oath of fidelity to Darius the Persian and could therefore not break his vow as long as Darius was alive. This was Darius III (335-331 B.C.). Alexander had already defeated him in battle (332) and had taken his mother, wife, and children captive; but Darius himself had escaped.

So when Alexander had succeeded in taking Tyre, he then came south to Jerusalem. Josephus tells us the story:

"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." [Antiquities of the Jews, XI, viii, 4]

In other words, God told the high priest to submit to Alexander, the king of this third beast nation, rather than attempt to fight the divine plan. This was essentially the same revelation given to Jeremiah, where he says in 27:12, "Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people, and live."

Jaddua did what God had told him in the dream. They had a National Day of Prayer, decorated the city, dressed in white, and opened the gates of the city to Alexander.

"According to which dream he acted entirely, and so waited for the coming of the king."

Keep in mind that God had raised up Alexander and had anointed him for this very purpose. So in that sense, like Cyrus the Persian, Alexander too was a type of Christ without his knowledge. Can we not see in this scene a prophetic picture of the coming of the Messiah? Their National Day of Prayer points to the Day of Atonement (or Jubilee) which prepares the people for the Feast of Tabernacles. Christ comes in the midst of Tabernacles (John 7:14).

Hence, the people of Jerusalem went out by faith to meet the coming king, dressed in white.

"... 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 [probably bowed, gave reverence], 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.

"However, Parmenio alone went up to him and asked him how it came to pass, when all others adored him, he should adore the high priest of the Jews? To whom he replied, 'I did not adore him, but that God who hath honoured him with his high priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit [clothing], when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, [this priest] 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 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 therefore conquer Darius...

In other words, Alexander had had a dream while yet in Macedonia. In this dream a man dressed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, with a breastplate on his chest appeared to him and told him to make no delay but to cross the sea and conquer Darius, king of Persia. It was not until he arrived in Jerusalem that he recognized who he had seen in the dream. It was Jaddua the high priest who had prophesied to him.

For this reason, Alexander bowed, not to the high priest but to the God and His Name (YHVH) inscribed on the breastplate. Alexander therefore recognized the God of Daniel and bowed before Him, indicating by his actions that he considered this God to be above him. He did precisely what Nebuchadnezzar and Darius the Mede had done in earlier centuries.

"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."

In other words, Alexander worshiped the God of the Bible. He was largely ignorant, of course, and had to be given instructions about sacrifice, but in NT terms, he became a believer in Jesus Christ, who is the YHVH of the Old Testament.

"And when the book of Daniel was shown him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended."

This tells us that the high priest himself understood the divine plan from the book of Daniel. Thus he submitted to Alexander, recognizing him as the anointed one of God to rule after overthrowing the kingdom of Persia. For Alexander's part, he too was brought to the place of submitting to the God of Daniel (and Jaddua), whom we know as Jesus Christ. God had to apply much pressure on the king of Babylon to turn his heart. Less pressure came on the king of Persia. Still less on the king of Greece. Is there a pattern here?


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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