Burning Bush

The local churches have been slow to recognize their vulnerabilities. The Word of God, from the inception of the church, has warned us against those who would deceive us. Even those within our own ranks:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits”. Matthew 7:15, 16a NKJV.
The leaders whom the Lord has prepared for us are tasked with preaching truth and, guarding us from false teachers:
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables”. 2 Tim. 4:3, 4 NKJV.

Yet, for the better part of the last century, people have been leaving the local churches in droves. Why? Maybe we need to read Matthew 7:15, 16 again.
I understand that there are some, even those who call themselves Christians, who question the veracity of the Bible. So, let’s start with reasons the bible can be trusted:

1. God used people who were not conscious of Him to advance His purposes:

For approximately 300 years, leading up to the birth of Jesus, God was preparing for the advancement of His Word around the world. During the time when there was no prophet in the land, God used Gentiles (Non-Jews) to lay the ground work for the gospel to be preached to all people.
In the year 356 B.C Philip II, king of Macedon, had a son, and named him Alexander. He would become known as Alexander the Great. One of the greatest conquerors in human history.
I’m sure you are probably wondering what did Alexander the Great have to do with Christianity? I’m glad you asked that question.
Alexander the Great is not mentioned by name in the bible, but, both Daniel and Zechariah prophesied about the Macedonian empire rising to greatness out of Greece.  Daniel wrote hundreds of years before Alexander lived; and Zechariah wrote between 520 and 470 BC., more than a hundred years before Alexander was born.

In the second chapter of the book of Daniel the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, had a dream that disturbed him greatly. He wanted to know what it meant. He summoned all of his wise men, magicians, astrologers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell him what his dream was and what it meant. None could tell him. The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore, no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. For this reason, the king was angry and very furious, and gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So, the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them”. Daniel 2:10-13 NKJV

Daniel was brought to the king to tell him what his dream meant. The interpretation of the dream is found in Daniel 8:20-22:
“The ram which you saw, having the two horns-they are the kings of Media and Persia. And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power”. Daniel 8:20-23 NKJV
After defeating the Persians Alexander set his sights on Jerusalem. But after he got there he went to the temple and made a sacrifice to the Lord, sparing the city. At the Temple he told them the reason they were being spared:
“one night several years ago when I couldn’t sleep for thinking about how I might defeat the Persians I had a vision in which I saw this man (pointing to Jeduah) and all his priests dressed and gathered before me just as I saw them today. In my vision Jeduah told me the Lord would guide my armies and would lead me to victory against all my enemies including the Persians. He told me not to delay but to proceed immediately. A short time later I defeated the Persians and today outside Jerusalem the vision became reality.”

According to Flavius Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, Jeduah and all of Jerusalem sought the LORD in terror, with prayer and sacrifice. The Lord told Jeduah not to worry, but for him and the priests to get dressed in all their finery, open the gates and go out to greet Alexander when he arrived.
They did exactly as the Lord had instructed them, in all their white linen and, purple robes and gold headdresses the priests all gathered behind Jeduah, opened the gates to the city, and went out to greet Alexander. He was stunned by this greeting and, as such dismounted and bowed down before Jeduah. The Jews couldn’t believe their eyes! When he was asked about it, Alexander replied, “I didn’t pay homage to him (Jeduah), but to the God who made him His High Priest”.

Then Jeduah brought out the scroll of Daniel written 200 years earlier and pointed to the portion we would call chapter 8 in which Daniel’s vision of a one-horned goat defeating a ram represents a king from Greece defeating the Persians.

Alexander became a defender of the Jews when he was confronted with the prophecy concerning him in the book of Daniel.
The angel Gabriel had personally explained this to Daniel (Daniel 8:20-21), and Alexander understood that he was that king. From that time forward Alexander gave the Jews great privilege in his kingdom often appointing them as administrators over cities he conquered. As for these cities, many of them flung open their gates just as the LORD had commanded Jeduah, hoping for similar favor. And so, Alexander conquered many of them without a fight.
The Bible Can Be Trusted

Alexander the Great conquered the entire Persian Empire. So, his territory extended from the Indus River in the east to the Mediterranean in the west and included Macedonia and Greece, Asia Minor, and Egypt. The distance across it was more than 3,000 miles, equivalent to the distance across the continental United States.

“The ram which you saw, having the two horns-they are the kings of Media and Persia. And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power”. Daniel 8:20-23 NKJV
Alexander the Great (r. 336-323 BCE) of Macedon led his army on a series of campaigns which successfully conquered the then-known world from Macedon, through Greece, down to Egypt, across Persia, to India. Alexander’s tutor was the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BCE) who impressed upon him the value of Greek culture and philosophy. As Alexander campaigned, he spread Greek thought and culture in his wake, thus “hellenizing” (to make `Greek’ in culture and civilization) those he conquered.

After Alexander’s death his Empire was divided among his four generals (known in Latin as the Diadochi, the name by which they are still referenced, from the Greek, Diadokhoi, meaning “successors”):
• Lysimachus – who took Thrace and much of Asia Minor.
• Cassander – controlled Macedonia and Greece.
• Ptolemy I – ruled Egypt, Palestine, Cilicia, Petra and Cyprus. He founded the Ptolemaic Dynasty which lasted until the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BCE.
• Seleucos I- ruled the remainder of Asia and founded the Seleucid Empire which was comprised of Mesopotamia, the Levant, Persia, and part of India.
by Joshua J. Mark
published on 01 November 2018

An important aspect of Alexander’s organization of the empire was his urban strategy. He founded a number of cities that later became urban centers for their districts – places where Greek culture could be maintained and disseminated. These centers grew to be important economically, politically, and militarily – and as centers for the maintenance of imperial power. But they also contributed to the development and spread of Greek culture. Alexander established about a dozen or so cities, of which Alexandria in Egypt is the best known and the most significant. He could not have imagined how important these cities would become in the creation of a Hellenistic culture. His successors – and later the Romans – continued the practice of urbanizing the Mediterranean world. And the apostle Paul, as a Roman citizen, followed an urban strategy for his conquest of his world for Christ.
“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Acts 16:9 NKJV