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The Greatness of the New Testament

Updated: Jan 2

By Randy Nettles


In 605 BC, during the first year of his reign as King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and pillaged Judah. This was the first of three invasions of Judah by Babylon. Many of the Jewish people were carried away to serve the king in Babylon during this time. Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among those taken into exile. God gave these four children knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams according to Daniel 2:17.

In 604 BC Nebuchadnezzar had a fantastic dream, but couldn’t remember the details. All he knew was that is was very impressive and important. “Dreams were considered messages from the gods by the Babylonians, and the wise men were expected to interpret them. Usually, they could give some sort of interpretation as long as they knew what it was about. This time, however, Nebuchadnezzar demanded his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, astrologers, and wise men to tell him the dream because he could not remember it. God sent a series of dreams to Nebuchadnezzar with prophetic messages which could be revealed and understood only by a servant of God.”{1}


Of course, none of the pagan servants could tell the king what he dreamed. “The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asks such things of any magician, or astrologer, of Chaldean. And it is a rare thing that the king requires, and there is no other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain” (Daniel 2:10-13).


Then Daniel went to his house, and told his companions about the king’s dream and subsequent decree. They determined to pray and petition the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not die with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.


“Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: and he changes the times and the seasons: he removes kings, and sets up kings: he gives wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.: he reveals the deep and secret things: he knows what is in the darkness, and the light that dwells with him. I thank you, and praise you, O my God of my fathers, who has given me wisdom and might, and has made known unto me now what we desired of you: for you have now made known unto us the king’s matter” (Daniel 2:19-23).

The next day Daniel told Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, not to destroy the “wise” men of Babylon and to bring him before the king so he can interpret the dream. Here is this rather lengthy but revealing account of the encounter between Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar: “ The king spoke to Daniel, whose Babylonian name was Belteshazzar, Are you able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation, thereof?


Daniel answered the king, and said, The secret which the king has demanded cannot the wise men show unto the king; but there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and makes known to the king what shall be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, are these; as for you, O king, your thoughts came into your mind upon your bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that reveals secrets makes known to you what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes shall the interpretation to the king be made known, and that you might know the thoughts of your heart.


You, O king, saw and beheld a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before you: and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. You saw it until a stone that was cut without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces. Then was the iron, clay, brass, silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer the threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.


You, O king, are a king of kings: for the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, and strength ,and glory. You are this head of gold. And after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours, and another kingdom after this of brass, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: for as much as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things: and as iron that breaks all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.


And whereas you saw the feet and toes, part of potter’s clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it the strength of the iron, for as much as you saw the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas you saw the iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men : but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.


And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:25-44). Of course, this is the Kingdom of God/Jesus Christ as I discussed in my previous article: In the Midst: Part V


When Nebuchadnezzar heard Daniel’s words he remembered the dream and was so impressed with Daniel that he made him chief of the governors over all of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar got a glimpse of the greatness of Daniel’s God and told him: “If the truth be known, your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets as He has given you the revelation of this secret” (Daniel 2:47). Then Daniel requested that his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (otherwise known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego) be made counselors over the affairs of the province of Babylon.


In hindsight, we know the four kingdoms mentioned in the dream/prophecy were Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. At the time of this prophecy, Babylon was the major world power after defeating Assyria in 609 BC. Babylon represented the head of gold in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The silver chest and two arms represented the Medo-Persian Empire which eventually conquered Babylon in 539 BC. The belly and thighs of bronze was the nation of Greece under Alexander the Great who conquered Persia in 334-330 BC. The legs of iron represented Rome, which conquered the Greeks in 63 BC. The feet and toes of clay and iron represented the revived Roman Empire in the latter days to come (including the Antichrist’s 3.5 year reign). This end-time kingdom will be a mixture of strong and weak nations. The type of metal in each subsequent part indicated the strength of the political and military power that each nation/nations represent.


In this study, we are mostly concerned with the third kingdom of brass, Greece, under the leadership of their greatest king, Alexander the Great. His political and military triumphs spread a great influence over the Near East that would last for a millennia. It is because of Alexander the Great, and his God-given genius and military skills, that the New Testament was written in Greek. Of course, God was truly the power behind the scenes and it was His divine plan and will that was implemented. Alexander was the movable and most prized piece, the king, in God’s game of chess known as human history. Alexander isn’t truly the “great” one however; it is the Lord Himself, the true King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ!


Alexander III, aka Alexander the Great, was born in 356 BC. His father, Philip, was a mighty warrior king from Macedonia; one of the five tribal states of Greece. Persia was the dominant world power at this time after defeating Babylon in 539 BC. Greece was only a regional power during Alexander’s youth, as the five tribes were always fighting among themselves and couldn’t come together as a cohesive nation. They even spoke different dialects and couldn’t understand one another very well.

The following is an account of Alexander the Great’s short life and military career written by Hal Lindsey in his 1997 book entitled “Apocalypse Code”. If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it as it is still relevant today, twenty-three years later.

“Alexander was educated personally by the great Greek philosopher Aristotle. Alexander was a child prodigy and genius, and the brilliant Aristotle took him to his full potential. On the spiritual side, Alexander’s devoutly occultic mother taught him to believe as a child that he was more than a mere man. She planted the idea in him that he was destined for greatness, glory and divinity. She knew that her husband Philip did not like her and that her own survival was linked to the success of her son. This vision of personal greatness became the driving force of his life.


Even in Alexander’s early teens, he would sneak away from Aristotle and study his father’s army as they practiced various battle tactic and formations. During these times he began to develop battle tactics and strategy that he knew would be better than his father’s. At eighteen years old he was already very restless to take over from his aging father, who suffered from multiple battle wounds, one of which was a crippled leg. But Alexander’s ambition and certainty that he was destined for greatness annoyed his father.


Then suddenly fate struck. The knife of a half-crazed assassin killed Philip on the steps of the Temple of Zeus and made Alexander an instant king. No one knew at the time that this assassin had just thrust onto the stage of history an eighteen-year-old boy who would forever alter its course. Though Alexander leaped to his father’s aid and killed the assassin himself, a few believed that he had engineered the whole incident.


Legend has it that Alexander entered the Temple of Zeus right after his father’s assassination. He took an oath and vowed he would bring more glory to Zeus and the gods of Greece than anyone in all history. He then made a strange request – he said, “I do not ask for a long life, but a short one. My only request is that it will be filled with victory in battle, wisdom with the conquered, and my name covered with immortal glory.” Whether this actually happened or not, no one really knows. But it’s certainly like something this larger-than-life personality would do. No one in human history so naturally fits the title of “The Great”.


History shows that this ingenious young king invented a revolutionary new battle formation called the “phalanx.” He also devised radical new tactics. His ability to quickly grasp a changing battle situation and instantly improvise a brilliant solution also kept the enemy generals off balance.


But most of all, it was Alexander’s almost superhuman courage and bravery – and his daring, almost reckless audacity – that inspired his men to fight above their ability. He never ordered his men to go into battle. He always ordered, “Follow me.” Alexander literally believed he could not be killed until his destiny was accomplished. He was at the forefront of virtually every battle. During his fighting career, thousands of arrows, lances, knives and swords were aimed at him, yet he was not killed in battle. Note: This reminds us of the career of Israel’s great king, David. It appears they were both supernaturally protected by the Lord.


Why was Alexander protected as such. Because he was under the providence of the almighty God of the Bible. God’s prophet Daniel had predicted that Alexander wouldn’t die in battle. Though Daniel predicted he would die prematurely at a young age, he also predicted that this Greek king would conquer most of the known world before he died.


Upon assuming command of his father’s army, he immediately began to train them in his new tactics. He prepared them quickly to launch a campaign to defeat and take over the other four tribes of Greece. In a shockingly quick time, Alexander did what no other Greek had ben able to do. He not only conquered all of the other tribes, but convinced them to unite together into one nation. He was able to inspire them to see the potential of such a union.


Since they spoke in five dialects, Alexander, knowing that exact communication was essential in battle, fused together the best of the dialects and made one common language. This he did himself. His natural genius – plus the teaching of Aristotle, who above all was a brilliant linguist – enabled him to create a precise language for communicating exact thought. This dialect was named Koine Greek, which means “common Greek.” Alexander commanded all the tribes to learn “the common language.”


In less than two years as king, Alexander had Greece united and ready for conquest. Psychologically, the army was not ready to accept his lofty idea of conquering mighty Persia. So he took a popular cause and mobilized them for that. Alexander led his army across the Hellespont of the Aegean Sea, supposedly for a limited rescue operation of the oppressed Greeks living under Persian rule in what is now Turkey’s western coastal regions. One of the first cities he ‘liberated” was ancient Troy. With lightning-like attacks, Alexander destroyed the Persian frontier military forces one after another. At this ;point, he had two secret purposes in mind. First, to give his men the confidence that comes with victory. Second, Alexander knew that he was provoking the proud King Darius to bring out his whole army. And he had positioned his forced in such a way as to allow no easy escape. They would have to fight.


He was absolutely confident his army would win. To us looking back in history, it was a reckless all-or-nothing gamble. To Alexander, there was no risk. He was certain they would win – it was his destiny. His bravery and confidence became contagious.


Darius took the bait and with fatal overconfidence brought out his whole army with no real plan of attack, nor any attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the Greek army. The haughty Persians were sure this would be mostly a training exercise for them. They intended to teach the Greeks such a lesson that they would never dare to set foot in Persia again.


Alexander, on the other hand, knew the strengths and weaknesses of the Persians and had carefully planned to exploit them. He analyzed the approaching army and devised a plan that would quickly demoralize them and minimize their great numerical advantage. He picked out the battle flag of Persis’s most elite battalion. He stalked them until just the right conditions of terrain partially isolated them. Moving with the speed and stealth of a leopard, he led his army in a daring attack against them. The Greeks destroyed them so quickly with their new phalanx maneuver that the rest of the Persian army was stunned. None of the Persian soldiers had ever seen anything like this. They were traumatized and never really regained their confidence and composure. In other words, Alexander had psyched them out!


Keeping the initiative, Alexander decoyed them to follow. He carefully picked the time and place for each attack. Sensing when the situation was right, he moved in for the decisive battle at Isis and Arbela. There the Greeks utterly decimated the remaining Persian army. The survivors panicked and fled in total disarray, leaving King Darius alone and unprotected. Two Persian deserters assassinated the defenseless Darius, thinking it would win them favor with Alexander.


To their dismay, Alexander took pity on Darius and his dishonorable end. He was angry at the two deserters for their treachery and cowardice. He told them, “Only a king can execute a king.” He drew his sword and killed them.


Almost before his army had full grasped what was really happening, they had completely defeated the vaunted Persian army. Alexander realized that the kingdom of Persia was as helpless as their lifeless king. He savored the moment as he looked over his deliriously happy army. He had led them to do the impossible – they had conquered the leading power in the world.


The news of the incredible victory was quickly relayed to Athens. The Greek nation was stunned at the news. Their daring young king not only had liberated “the oppressed Greeks,” but had conquered the seemingly invincible Persian empire, with all of its riches.


And once again, in an extraordinary way, Alexander had unknowingly fulfilled another part of Daniel’s 200-year-old prophecy about his sudden conquest and takeover of Persia, the second world empire. The year was 331 BC.


The Persian empire fell at Alexander’s feet. Instead of making them slaves and treating them cruelly, he required them only to embrace the Greek culture and language. For the most part, he made friends of them. This too was a fulfillment of God’s providential use of him. Unwittingly, Alexander was bein used to accomplish God’s purpose by making Line Greek the lingua franca of the known world.

Even Rome (the fourth empire) would not be able to change the universal language. When the remains of the Greek empire were taken over by the Romans, everyone continued to use Greek as the language of business, trade and international communication.


So when Jesus the Messiah came and purchased a pardon for the sin of all mankind by his death, the infinitely valuable message about it was entrusted to none other than Alexander’s creation – Koine Greek. The original manuscript of the New Testament was written in this Common Greek and could be rapidly spread among the Gentiles. Why? Because in the providential working of God, Alexander had made it possible for them to understand.


Another amazing footnote of history that is enormously important: when Alexander began his conquest southward toward Egypt, he conquered most of Israel and besieged Jerusalem. The High Priest requested an audience and showed Alexander that his whole life and career had been foreknown and predicted by Israel’s God more than two hundred years before. He taught Alexander from the 2nd, 7th, and 8th chapters of Daniel.


It is said that Alexander fell down and declared Yahweh, the LORD of Israel, the God of gods. Also, he spared Jerusalem and took with him many of the royal family of Judah and made them royal administrators of his conquered kingdoms. Jews were spread throughout the empire. Because of this, it later became necessary for the Hellenized Jews to have a Greek translation of their Hebrew Bible. The translation, known as the Septuagint (or LXX) for the 70 translators, was completed in 165 BC in a city founded by and named for Alexander -Alexandria, Egypt. Thus, long before Jesus’ birth, there were now available for the Gentile world the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah’s coming as a humble servant who would provide a way to God for all peoples.” {2}


Impressed with his own success and the teaching of his occultic mother, Alexander thought it necessary for his Greek subjects to worship him as a god. However, he didn’t live long enough to enjoy the accolades. Alexander the Great died in Babylon on June 10, 323 BC, at the young age of 33. In just 13 years, he had conquered most of the known world and spread the Greek culture, language, and influence over the Near East that would last for a thousand years. After Alexander’s death, his four Greek generals broke up the vast kingdom into four parts as was also prophesied in Daniel 8:8.


The 27 books of the New Testament were written in a 50-year span between the years' AD 45-95. The 39 books of the Old Testament were written in a 1000 year span (approximately) between the years 1430-430 BC. There are a total of 66 books in the Bible written by approximately 40 authors. 6 is the number of man, so the number 66 accentuates the meaning. The Bible is God’s revelation about Himself to mankind, written by His Holy prophets and disciples under the inspired guidance of the Holy Spirit.


This is what the author of Hebrews has to say about the word of God, which includes both the Old and New Testament: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13).


Randy Nettles

nettlesr@suddenlink.net

Endnotes:

{1} Life Application Study Bible pg.1608

{2} Apocalypse Code – by Hal Lindsey, Western Front Ltd., 1997 – pgs. 55-61

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