“But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” ~ Genesis 8:1
Joseph to his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” ~Genesis 50:20
“David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.” ~ 1 Samuel 23:14
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ~ Psalm 73:26
“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” ~ Acts 2:24
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8
Every sizable moment in history is a “but God…” moment. Things would have gone one way, but God intervened.
And of all the sizable moments and men throughout history, no one quite creates a shadow like Alexander the Great of Macedonia. Those before him pale in comparison, and those after him strive to be as great as he was.
I know Alexander the Great is not a myth, however he is what myths are made of. Even in his lifetime, he tried to make people believe he was one of the demi-gods of old. By the time he was 32, Alexander had conquered the known world, including the greatest power of his time: Persia. His empire spread from Greece to the borders of India. Despite the fracturing of his empire upon his death, he effectively and efficiently united the known world under one language, one culture, and one way of thinking.
He’s one of those persons historians look at and say, “He shouldn’t have been able to do that. But he did.”
And a Christian’s reverent response to such a statement should be “But God…”
Alexander’s Role in God’s Story
It is safe to say that God had a special role for Alexander to play in His divine history, even though Alexander never knew it. Because of Alexander, for 300 years the Greek myths seeped into the culture, saturating the known world with their beliefs. Because of Alexander, the Greek language spread throughout the world, giving everyone the means for common understanding.
And because of this, the Greek thirst for knowledge became universal. Great libraries were built, the most famous of which was in Alexandria, Egypt. In those libraries, they collected all the known works and translated them into Greek.
This included the Hebrew Bible.
The world could have been stayed in darkness, the gentiles never hearing the truth…
…made a way for the gentiles to hear in their own language of the God of grace. They knew of Aeschylus’ Prometheus who could not truly save, of Pandora’s hope that deceived, and of the faulty demi-gods who couldn’t quite defeat death. They could read the original hopeless myths…And they could read the Truth.
…allowed the Romans to embrace the Greek culture so that the Greek language would spread farther northwards and eastwards and westwards.
The Bigger Picture
There is more that can be said of how Alexander shaped the world Jesus lived in, how he influenced the way people thought of the coming Messiah. But when it comes to Alexander, there is always more to say.
So this shall suffice for now:
The gentiles were careening toward blind destruction, content in their sin, but God allowed Alexander his greatness. He allowed it only to magnify His own, and to prepare the world for the coming Messiah.
As we draw closer to Christmas, I pray you rejoice in the magnificence of the “but God…” moments. The story itself is filled with them. Zechariah and Elizabeth had no children, but God allowed Elizabeth to conceive. Mary was going to be just another Jewish girl in the Roman empire, but God made her the mother of Jesus. Joseph was going to divorce Mary in secret, but God told him in a dream that Mary was telling the truth. Jesus was going to be born in Nazareth, but God had Caesar Augustus demand a census just as Jesus was about to be born. Herod was going to kill the babe, but God warned Joseph in a dream, and they escaped…
The whole world was ignorant of the Truth, but God united them under one language and one culture, and thus prepared the gentiles for their Savior.