Mark Rathel is professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
Latest Articles by MARK A. RATHEL
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.
May 11, 2014
The Hebrew language lacked comparative superlatives, a means to express comparisons like good, better and best. An example of a Hebraic way to express the superlative is “Holy of Holies,” the most Holy location. “Song of Songs” literally means “the best song.” Solomon receives fame for his proverbs, but the King also wrote 1,005 songs (1 Kings 4.32). His greatest song celebrates the romantic love between a husband and wife. The Bible views the godly love of a husband and wife as a mirror reflection of divine love (Eph. 5:22-23). A famous Jewish rabbi claimed that the entire world lacked the value of the worth of the day God gave the Song of Songs.
May 4, 2014
Headline News had an interesting piece the morning I wrote this commentary. A company advertised for a position labeled Director of Operations. The requirements for the job included degrees in finance and culinary arts. The job required a minimum of one 135 hours of work a week with no vacations, and no breaks. During holiday seasons, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, the workload actually increased. Furthermore, the job paid zero. The Director of Operations opening was for a mother. Indeed, a godly wife and mother are more valuable than jewels (Prov. 31:10).