Mark Rathel is professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
Latest Articles by MARK A. RATHEL
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.
Jul 22, 2014
Living for God sometimes brings Christians into conflict with others. While believers do not instigate the conflict, the clear demarcation between the values and lifestyles of believers in comparison to many nonbelievers creates issues. The manner in which believers respond to conflict bears testimony either to faithfulness or fickleness.
Jul 3, 2014
Many skeptics and unbelievers scoff at the concept of hope and view hope as futile. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of men.” The character of God provides proper grounds for hope.
Jul 3, 2014
A leading theologian described the importance of worship. “Christian worship is the most momentous, the most urgent, the most glorious action that can take place in human life.” Does the terms momentous, urgent and glorious describe the worship services at your church?
Worship is momentous, urgent and glorious. The Bible sets forth a pattern of God judging His people for faulty worship. Ezekiel the priest served a people experiencing God’s judgment for their worship practices. Because of idolatrous worship of the worship leaders and people, God used the Babylonians to destroy the temple and carry many of the people into exile.
Jun 26, 2014
The prophets of Israel and Judah preached God’s Word to the people of God; they also preached the message of God to the surrounding Gentile nations. Although the nations failed to receive the revelation of God’s Word, God held the nations accountable for moral principles understood by all people. For example, the prophet Amos pronounce God’s judgment against the nations surrounding Israel due to military brutality, forced enslavement, genocide, and infanticide (killing mothers and the infants in the womb). God reveals a basic understanding of morality through the human conscience (Rom. 2:14); therefore, God holds all people accountable.
Jun 26, 2014
People rise no higher than leadership. The people of God suffered from failed spiritual and political leadership. Earlier, Ezekiel criticized the false prophets that proclaimed messages that did not come from the Lord (Ezekiel 13). Now, the true prophet focused on the misdeeds of the political leaders. In response to failed leadership, God promised to intervene, rescue His people and provide leadership. Jesus used the imagery of shepherd leadership from Ezekiel 34 to describe His role as the “good shepherd” (John 10).