Alexander the (not-so) Great

by Jefferson David Tant

If you have ever studied world history, you have probably become acquainted with the world conqueror named Alexander the Great. Alexander was born in Pella, Macedon in 356 B.C. His parents were King Philip II and Queen Olympias. He was well educated under the tutelage of one of the best-known philosophers of the Greek world, who was Aristotle.

He spent most of his ruling years conquering the surrounding territories and was unsurpassed in his military skills and conquests. You may wonder why he was called “The Great.” Between the ages of 21 and 32, he conquered the world. His large empire stretched from Greece to India and thus became an empire on three continents — Europe, Asia, and Africa. He never lost a battle.
In October of 331 B.C. Alexander entered Babylon, the old capital of the ancient Near East. He died there in 323 at the age of 33. Babylon was a great world empire and was a part of Daniel's vision of four kingdoms in Daniel chapter 2. The kingdoms were Babylon (605-539 B.C.), Persia (539-331 B.C.), Greece (331-168 B.C.), and Rome 168 B.C.-476 A.D.)

So, how did this great warrior and ruler die at such a young age? The truth is that while Alexander conquered the world, he did not conquer himself. History tells us that he was subject to frequent fits of rage, drunkenness, and lack of emotional control. In fact, during a banquet honoring his close friend and army commander, he got into an argument with Cleitus, who had once saved Alexander’s life. Fueled by alcohol, Alexander, in a rage, took a spear and killed Cleitus. He was remorseful after that but obviously could not bring Cleitus back to life.

Alexander not only could not control his temper but also had little control over his alcohol consumption at the celebration parties following his conquests. They would drink well into the night. If Alexander had given heed to the wise words of Solomon written hundreds of years earlier, his life would have been quite different. “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (Proverbs 16:32).

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper” (Proverbs 23:29-32).

Truthfully, I have never known anyone who is addicted to alcohol who intended to become an alcoholic. Satan is very subtle in his enticements. But there is an absolute and sure way to avoid becoming an alcoholic — don't take the first drink!

Young people will face some important decisions in their lives. Day by day, they must choose whether to control their actions or give in to unwise and sinful pursuits. Some think they will enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season and then turn to God when they get older. There are two things wrong with such reasoning.

  1. Some never get older, as they die in their youth.
  2. Some become so entangled in sin that they never break the bonds to become free.

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, 'I have no delight in them'" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

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