Month 2:18, Week 3:3 (Shleshi/Bikkurim), Year 5935:045 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 21 May 2011
Alfred the Great as a Rôle Model
Few believers, who know the scriptures, dispute that all who claim to be owned by Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) are called to be "kings" and "priests", that is, rulers and ministers. This emet (truth) is parrotted by Christians as though confessing Messiah will automatically make them these things. And naturally most make no distinction between those of the first and second resurrection, assuming that thre entire population of the millennial earth or heaven will be populated by countless rulers and ministers. However, there can be no rulers or ministers without someone to rule and minister. Who do they suppose they will be ruling or ministering to?
"To Him (Yah'shua/Jesus) who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever...For You were slain, and have redeemed us to Elohim (God) by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our Elohim (God); and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev.1:5-6; 5:9-10, NKJV).
I don't intend to answer that today because in many ways it is a less important question than asking the question: What does it mean to be noble?
I could cite many examples from history, and indeed from the Bible itself, but today I want to share one from my own band of personal heroes - not the Hollywoodised versions, which totally distort the true character, but the actual one: I speak of Alfred the Great of England, founder of the College I studied in at Oxford.
Over a thousand years ago, after the Roman evacuation, England consisted of a number of separate, independent Kingdoms. It had since been converted to Christianity and was, compared to pagan nations at least, a comparatively peaceful one. Then an invader came in longboats from across the North Sea and struck terror in the inhabitants, whose daily prayer was:
They had every reason to fear these heathen vikings. The Danes had struck in force in southern England and the Norwegians in the north. Their dragon-prowed boats, glittering with spears and axes, crept along coats and up rivers. Then, seizing the horses from the neighbouring countryside, they rode out to plunder and slay, showing no mercy. If the bewildered farmers combined against them, they formed a ring and, with their massed battle-axes, swinging over the wall of shields, hacked their way back to their ships. Wherever they went they deliberately spread terror, raping and abducting women and slaughtering young and old alike. One Dane slaughtered 84 monks with his own hand and another cut out the ribs of an English prince, ripped out his lungs, and threw salt into his wounds. Breaking open tombs and coffins, and stoning obdurate Christians, they marched inland with wagon loads of plunder. When those who refused to pay a ransome had been massacred, they moved on to the next district until they controlled the whole of England north of the Thames. Those who paid them enough to go away they left alone for a year, until they returned for more.
"From the fury of the Norsemen, good Lord, deliver us!"
These pirate ravages were so systematic that from the Humber to the Solent hardly a Saxon church was left standing. They burned London and Canterbury to the ground. The famous library at York was destroyed. In 20 years they destroyed the kingdoms of Northumbria, East Anglia and Mercia, leaving only Wessex - the kingdom south of the Thames standing - which they also meant to conquer and so secure for themselves the whole island, along with some minor remaining principalities here and there.
To cut a long and bloody story short, Alfred, the youngest son of Saxon (German) King Ethelwulf, was stirred with compassion for his people for all the suffering they had endured at the hands of the Danes. He faced dynastic quarrels amongst his own people too which had to be resolved, but which he refused to get embroiled in, as his one thought was of serving his country and not seeking personal gain. He loyally supported each of his three brothers who wore the crown until, after their deaths, it passed without dissent to himself.
His courage, boldness and daring became legendary as he took the fight back to the Danes and after a long and bloody struggle, during which Wessex was nearly obliterated, he finally prevailed against all the odds, and defeated the pagan Danes. The vanquished Danes, terrified by hunger, cold and fear, put themselves at his mercy. And it was here - at this point in time - that Alfred's Christianity and nobility shone brightly. Undiscouraged by the Danes' past treachery and cruelty, he took pity on his enemies. He fed them and offered then peace. Having shown heroism in adversity, in triumph he practiced the greatest of Christian virtues: forgiveness. He made his cruel foes, who had learned to respect his valour, realise his nobility. The Danish king, at his invitation, accepted baptism, and became the first of his country to do so. King Arthur stood as his spiritual father and raised him in the faith personally!
Like his victories, Alfred's peace-making marked the turning point in English history and came to define a national temperament of our people for a Millennium. It made possible
for Danes and Englishmen - the injurers and the injured - to live together in peace in a single island, and opened the way to the former's conversion and civilisation. Alfred sought no revenge. He did not try to enslave the Danes. The English king had the wisdom to realise that the sword, though powerful and necessary to defend, could settle nothing permanently, and that only a conquest of the heart could endure. And though he and his people had suffered terribly from the invaders, he was too magnanimous to seek revenge and too wise to suppose he could expell them altogether. Christianity and the legacy of Roman order might transform the Danes as it had transformed the Saxons. No greater act of statesmanship has ever been performed by an English king.
To this day, the English have always been good at assimilating foreigners and treating them as equals. When you think about it, that is exactly what Yah'shua (Jesus) expects of believers - to win the hearts of our enemies and assimilate them into His Kingdom, Messianic Israel. And Israel, like every nation, has its nobles and its less-than-noble. Believers face their own challenges to rise into the stature of Messiah, just as good Englishmen rose into the stature of Alfred, rightly called 'The Great'. A noble, in the fullest sense of the world, is also a minister - a king and a priest - and it is his job to not only vanquish his enemy but to also win his heart and raise him as a spiritual son.
"For you are all sons of Elohim (God) through emunah (faith) in Yah'shua the Messiah (Christ Jesus)" (Gal.3:26, NKJV).