The Book of Zechariah
ALEXANDER THE GREAT IN BIBLE PROPHECY - Part 1
1. We are now entering the third and final section of the book of Zechariah. The first part covered chapters 1—6; then the second part, chapters 7 & 8.
2. Tonight we are going to look at Alexander the Great, a man that many consider the greatest general the world has ever seen.
3. Though Alexander is never mentioned by name, there are several OT prophecies concerning him, including the one we will look at tonight in Zechariah 9.
4. Alexander the Great is considered by many to be the most brilliant political and military leader the world has ever seen; yet after conquering the entire known civilized world, he drank himself to death at the age of 33. He died in Babylon.
5. Alexander was born in 356 BC in Macedonia, and his father, Philip, was the king. From the age of 13 to 16, Alexander was tutored by the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle. When Philip was assassinated in 336 BC, Alexander, at the age of 20, became king.
6. Alexander immediately executed those he thought were responsible for the murder of his father, along with all possible rivals.
7. He overthrew the mighty Persian Empire, and stretched his kingdom all the way to India (cf. Daniel 8:3-8, 20-22; 11:1-4).
8. Here in Zechariah 9, the Holy Spirit, through the prophet Zechariah, draws a contrast between the great human conqueror and warrior Alexander the Great, and the righteous Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.
9. In contrast to Alexander, our Lord appeared in meekness and humility at His first advent (cf. Zech. 9:9).
10. Later, the Lord will return to establish His kingdom of peace and righteousness. This is the theme of the book of Zechariah (cf. 14:1-4, 9).
11. Alexander’s kingdom was broken up right after his death. But concerning our Lord, the Bible says, “and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33).
I. GOD USED ALEXANDER TO PUNISH ISRAEL’S ENEMIES
1. The prediction of the rise of Alexander the Great is couched in the form of a prophetic “burden,” an oracle of woe and judgment concerning “the land of Hadrach, and Damascus” (9:1).
2. Hadrach is an obscure name for the region of Phoenicia, north of Damascus. The “rest” (9:1) refers to the place (i.e., Damascus) where God’s judgment rests.
3. For several centuries (900 – 721 BC), Damascus was one of Israel’s most terrifying and formidable foes. Damascus was the capital city of Syria and still is today.
4. After Alexander’s victory over the Persians at Issus in October of 333 BC, his armies swept into Syria and Palestine. Zechariah envisioned these conquests and the defeat of Israel’s historic enemies 150 years beforehand.
5. The key towns of Damascus and Hamath are both mentioned as doomed. “The eyes of man, as all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD” (9:1).
6. When Alexander would be conquering one nation after another, and everyone would be watching, Zechariah points out that they would actually be watching the hand of God at work. Alexander was God’s instrument of wrath and judgment.
II. THE DESTRUCTION OF TYRE (ZECH. 9:2-4).
1. In Zech. 9:4, God is said to have destroyed the city of Tyre but historically Alexander the Great is known to have done so. Alexander was, unwittingly, God’s servant, just as Nebuchadnezzar had been, and just as Cyrus had been, and just as Caesar Augustus had been, etc. (cf. Jer. 25:9; Isa. 44:28; 45:1; Luke 2:1-4).
2. Tyre was an ancient city of the Phoenicians, located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, about 20 miles from Sidon.
3. In fact, the two cities are often mentioned together. Our Lord referred to the judgment of Tyre and Zidon several times in the Gospels.
4. Our Lord said, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Matt. 11:21).
5. Tyre is usually described by scholars as a “city of pleasure-lovers.”
6. Tyre is mentioned for the first time in the Bible in Joshua 19:29 where it is referred to as “the strong city of Tyre.”
7. Isaiah referred to Tyre as “the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honorable of the earth” (Isa. 23:8).
8. Tyre was a great commercial city in OT times. It was the commercial center of the Mediterranean world. During their reigns, both David and Solomon were friendly with Hiram, the king of Tyre. In fact, Hiram helped them with the construction of the temple and other building projects. He supplied lumber – cedar trees and fir trees (I Kings 5).
9. Later on, King Ahab married Jezebel, a daughter of Ethbaal, the king of Tyre. This wicked Queen Jezebel promoted Baal worship in Israel.
10.Tyre and Sidon thought they were “very wise” (Zech. 9:2b), but in reality they were very corrupt and proud. So devilish was the city of Tyre, that God links together the king of Tyre and Satan (cf. Ezek. 28:1-19).
11.The people in Tyre were known for their worldly wisdom, but it was devilish wisdom. James 3:15 says, “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.”
12.Ezekiel 26 describes in detail the destruction of Tyre. It is one of the most amazing prophecies in the Bible. The statistician Peter Stoner, using the principle of probability, assigns this prophecy a 1 in 75 million chance of fulfillment!
13.Zechariah’s prophecy is also amazing.
III. THE DESTRUCTION OF TYRE WAS IN TWO PHASES
1. “And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold (a fortress)” (9:3). The island city of Tyre was constructed 700 paces from the mainland. The word Tyrus means “rock.”
2. The source of her power was her great wealth (9:3). We are reminded of NYC – financially very wealthy, but spiritually bankrupt. Of course, Manhattan is also built on an island.
3. The roads were not paved back then and so there was plenty of dust in the dry season, and plenty of muck and mire during the rainy season (9:3b).
4. We must remember that it was God who cast Tyre out. “He will smite her power in the sea” (9:4; cf. Ezek. 26:1-5). “And she shall be devoured with fire” (9:4b; cf. Ezek. 28:18).
5. Alexander the Great was used by God to effect His purposes, so that through these conquests the earth would be prepared for the first coming of Christ (9:9).
6. Even the unregenerate understand this. For example, the Encyclopedia Britannica says, “It is not untrue to say that the Roman Empire (and) the spread of Christianity as a world religion…were all in some degree the fruits of Alexander’s achievement (Fifteenth edition, 1990).
7. For 13 years, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, tried to take the city of Tyre, and he finally did reduce the mainland fortress, but the island city remained free, protected by a large fleet of ships.
8. For over 200 years it looked like Ezekiel’s prophecy would not be completely fulfilled, until 332 BC when Alexander the Great totally destroyed the island city of Tyre.
9. This is what I mean by “two phases.”
10. It was Alexander who took the island city (and fulfilled Ezekiel’s prophecy) by constructing a road from the mainland to the island. He used rubble from the mainland to construct his causeway.
11. When Tyre resisted Alexander, he scraped the ruins of the old city into the sea and built his causeway, a bridge, out to the island. Then he besieged the city for seven months. He finally captured the city, slew thousands of the people, enslaved many others, and then set the city on fire (cf. Ezek. 26:4-12; 27:27).
12. Liberals try and dismiss this prophecy by insisting that Ezekiel wrote it after the invasion by King Nebuchadnezzar. But it is impossible for them to claim that Ezekiel wrote this after Alexander the Great.
13. God said Tyre would be completely destroyed and never rebuilt and it never has been rebuilt (26:19-21).
14. “This sentence of the divine judgment stands as a challenge to all time. It has been unanswered, save by the silence of generations. It is unanswered still” (from The Wonders of Prophecy by John Urquhart, cited by David Cloud, Way of Life Encyclopedia of the Bible & Christianity).
15. The Encyclopedia Britannica says, “The storming of Tyre in July, 332 BC was Alexander’s greatest military achievement; it was attended with great carnage and the sale of women and children into slavery.”
16. Tyre was a proud city with 150-foot-high walls. They had held off the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar for 13 years, but after seven months they were destroyed by Alexander the Great. This was the judgment of God, and he used a heathen general to do it.
1. After Alexander destroyed Tyre, he moved southward and attacked the Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod (9:5, 6).
2. Lord willing, we will look at that next week.
3. We will see that the Bible has several other amazing prophecies about Alexander the Great.