Mark Rathel is professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
Latest Articles by MARK A. RATHEL
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).
Jun 5, 2014
The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel described the religious practices that led to the destruction of the southern kingdom of Judah. God’s people practiced idolatry. The religious leaders and people thought the worship of the nations surrounding Judah more attractive. They continued worship of Yahweh God, albeit in an impure form. False worship existed in two forms. First, the worshipers incorporated worldly, ungodly worship practices in the temple. Second, the religious leaders and people practiced idolatry in secret.
Jun 5, 2014
Clarence Darrow, one of the most famous criminal defense attorneys, addressed prisoners in the Cook County Jail (Chicago) in 1902. His haunting words expressed a naturalistic determinism. “The people here can no more help being here than the people outside can avoid being outside. I do not believe that people are in jail because they deserve to be.
May 27, 2014
The name Ezekiel means, “God strengthens.” The prophet-priest ministered during a time of crisis for God’s people. The Babylonians forcibly deported 10,000 Jews to Babylon in 597 B.C. While Ezekiel was in exile, God called him to be a prophet. His earliest messages foretold of God’s judgment against His sinful people. After the burning of Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C., the prophet proclaimed a message of “God’s strength” centered on a message of hope. A repeated refrain throughout the book is God acts in judgment and redemption for the sake of His name.
May 25, 2014
Love stories are one of most popular genres of movies. The Song of Songs celebrates through lyrical poetry the romantic love story of a lowly Shulammite and King Solomon. Although I am not aware of a movie or theatrical version, I am confident the people would enjoy a cinematic/theatrical portrayal of the plot of Song of Songs. The love story develops from initial physical attraction, to the thrill of courtship, to the beauty of marriage, and the development of a treasured friendship.