Mark Rathel is professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
Latest Articles by MARK A. RATHEL
Sep 29, 2014
In the ancient world, protocol was important. Failure to follow the correct procedures of approaching a king was dangerous. Likewise, sinful humans approach God only through the proper protocol established by God. Hebrews 9 describes the design of the tabernacle as an illustration of the seriousness of approaching God. What God the King requires for sinful humans to approach Him, He provided through Christ. The biblical revelation condemns the attitude that God is our “homeboy.”
Sep 23, 2014
Rest! Despite living in a culture with a major emphasis upon the leisure industry, our culture knows little about rest. Yet, rest is a major emphasis in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. In the HCSB, “rest” occurs 392 times. The first reference to rest in the Bible occurs in Gen. 2:2 in reference to God’s rest on the seventh day. The last reference to rest in application to God’s people occurs in Rev. 14:13 as a description of the condition of dead believers. Jesus provided the most significant description of rest: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary an burdened, and I will give you rest.” True rest is found only in Christ. People experience rest as they come to Christ and grow in Christ.
Because of the arrested spiritual development of his readers, the author of Hebrews focused on a warning from Psalm 95. Psalm 95 highlighted themes of worship (vv. 1-7) and obedience (vv. 7b-11). Jews read Psalm 95 in the opening portion of every synagogue service on the Sabbath day of rest. Psalm 95 connects worship and obedience. In Hebrew thought, a disobedient person has not heard.
Sep 15, 2014
Medieval theologian Anselm wrote the first theology exploring the reason that Jesus became God incarnate—the God-Man. Anselm wrote that humans owed a debt to God that they were incapable of paying. The debt was so great only God could pay the debt, yet as the debtors, by necessity, humans must pay the debt. The Son of God became a man for two reasons. As God, He possessed the ability to pay the debt. As Man, He could rightfully pay the debt. Approximately 1,000 years before Anselm, the author of Hebrews set forth a biblical answer to the question, “Why did the Son of God become a human being?” Hebrews 2:9-18 details six answers to the question, “Why did the Son of God become a man?
Sep 9, 2014
My wife can attest to my problems related to hearing. I admit I have three hearing problems. First, I likely experience difficulty hearing because I listened to loud music earlier in my life. Second, I possess great skills at selective hearing. I hear what I choose to hear. Third, at times, I have difficulty remembering what I hear.
Sep 1, 2014
Other than the short letters of 2 Peter and 2-3 John, Hebrews likely is the most neglected New Testament book. The 21st century American church desperately needs to hear and obey the message of Hebrews. As one commentator wrote, “It is a tonic for the spiritually debilitated. … We neglect such a book to our own impoverishment.”
Aug 26, 2014
Church historians affirm that more Christians experienced martyrdom in the 20th century than the previous 19 centuries of the Christian faith. The 21st century evidences harsh persecution by many Christians throughout the world in places like China, Iraq and Sudan. An ancient church leader referred to bloody persecution as the “seed of the church.” As the Roman Empire increased persecution of Christians, the church grew. Recently, a major British newspaper —The Daily Telegraph—reported that China might become the world’s most Christian nation within 15 years. The blood of the martyrs is becoming the seed of the growth of the church throughout the world. American Christians, in contrast, consider mere ridicule persecution.
Aug 18, 2014
We live in tumultuous, albeit interesting, times. Daily news provides mind-boggling accounts of horrific evil, wars, atrocities and persecution. Daniel and his contemporaries lived in a transitional era of world history. In this confusing time, God revealed to Daniel the prophet that God, His Kingdom and His people win.
Aug 12, 2014
A person rises no higher than his or her prayer life. The opposite is also true. Failure in prayer often leads to failure in actions and character. Prayer focuses upon God and His Kingdom, yet the Kingdom-building God builds Kingdom servants through prayer. The elderly Daniel was a prayer warrior. Prayer was a daily habit of the administrator. Even though the book of Daniel does not mention prayer frequently, prayer undergirded every aspect of Daniel’s life and ministry. Prayer gave him strength in the test about food (chap. 1). He no doubt prayed as his friends experienced the fiery furnace (chap. 2). Daniel must have prayed before interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (chap. 4) and the writing on the wall (chap. 5).
Aug 5, 2014
Archaeology and historical records provide support for the accuracy of the biblical text of Daniel 5. Critics formerly debunked Daniel because the last king of Babylon was Nabodinus rather than Belshazzar. In the 19th century, archaeologists discovered Babylonian records that support the Bible. Nabodinus rejected the traditional Babylonian gods in favor of the moon god “Sin.” He left Babylon and devoted himself to worshiping the moon god in ancient Haran and turned over functioning authority to his son Belshazzar.
Jul 22, 2014
Daniel was a statesman forcibly removed from Jerusalem and taken to Babylon. Despite the pressures he encountered to compromise his faith, Daniel resolutely remained faithful to God. Perhaps the meaning of his name, “God is Judge,” motivated him to faithfulness. The book named for the main character divides into two sections. Daniel 1-6 provides an autobiographical description of the pressure to compromise in a pagan culture. Daniel 7-12 portrays God’s directing history toward its climatic, victorious conclusion. The book of Daniel, therefore, offers both challenge and encouragement on an individual level and on the big cosmic drama. Humans build godless kingdoms, yet God builds an eternal Kingdom. The primary message of Daniel is that God’s people are never at home in a godless culture.