' THE GREATEST ' LESSON OF ALL Muhammad Ali ... in Prophecy ?!?

June 5, 2016

 

 

Muhammad Ali in Bible Prophecy ?  

 

Well , not quite !!    But consider his remarkable life  . . . .

 

The recent death of heavy weight boxing champion Muhammad Ali has brought a universal pall of sadness the world over.  For over 50 years , Muhammad Ali was a ' giant ' on the world stage.  A towering figure ' beloved by billions ' for his boxing prowess , his showmanship , his charisma , his philanthropy , his commitment to humanitarian causes  &  his love of the common people.  Perhaps most tragically , he was admired for his tenacity over more than 32 years fighting his most brutal opponent Parkinson's Disease , which would ultimately claim his life.  At his inevitable passing , the global out-pouring of grief has been both impassioned & immense , the tributes & superlatives used to describe this extraordinary man stand ' almost unsurpassed ' in modern times.

 

Arguably the most recognisable & famous person on the planet , Muhammad Ali was a global icon.  Admired & revered among global elites & celebrities alike , his name being idolised even among children in the back streets of remote third world countries , Muhammad Ali  was a household name world-wide & the equal of any 20th century ' icon ' . . . whether  Elvis , the Queen of England  or  John F. Kennedy.  Always comfortable & frequently in the presence of kings , presidents & other dignitaries around the globe , this likeable and enigmatic superstar was fawned over by politicians , celebrities and elites around the world , with even the most notable of these luminaries clamoring to be photographed or seen with the legendary boxer.  Yet Muhammad Ali was also renown for his personal touch & connection with the poor & down-trodden , often abruptly stopping his entourage to meet or play ball with children & adolescents in the most under-privileged neigbourhoods.  He was a ' champion of the people ' . . . universally loved by all !!!

 

 

So how is Muhammad Ali's passing related to the Bible ?!? . . . And what lesson is there for us ??

 

Here is a man who rose to the very ' apex ' of humanity for fame , achievement & popularity.  Over the many years of his public life , Muhammad Ali's personal impact was truly global . . . & extended far beyond the theatre of sport.  His influence & personal impact often transcended race , religion , civil rights , politics , economics  &  even international relations.  Staggering !!

 

Coming from humble beginnings , Cassius Clay burst onto the global stage in the 1960 Rome Olympics when he won the Gold Medal in the Light Heavyweight division.  Within four years this fresh-faced youngster upstaged the seemingly ' undefeatable ' reigning World Heavy-weight Champion Sonny Liston to claim the title.  Ali captured the world's imagination like no-one ever before him ,  with his electrifying flurry of punches ,  his penchant for ' braggadocially ' prognosticating the outcomes of his fights  &  his pre-fight habit of ' antagonising ' his opponents with colorful poetic verses.

 

On winning his first world title this young brash fighter in his youthful exuberance famously declared himself as " The King of the World "  &  the man " who shook the world ".  In time - somewhat audaciously - he would go on to bestow upon himself more titles with strong ' Messianic ' overtones , such as " The People's Champion " , exhorting people to " pick up their garments & follow me "  &  claiming that unto him " every knee would bow ".  Famously though , it would be his own self-bestowed title " THE GREATEST "  for which he became universally known.  

 

 

He was indeed a masterclass , both as a boxer  &  also as a showman.  In his 15 year career he would go on to win a stunning 56 of his 61 fights & achieve an unprecedented  ' 3 World Heavy-weight '  titles  &  in the process he transformed not just the boxing industry , but completely revolutionised many aspects of world sport.  As a sportsman, celebrity & personality he was indisputably ' one-of-a-kind ' !!  Having a sense of his own unique place in history , he once lyrically asked :

 

" Will they  EVER  have another fighter ... who writes poems ,  predicts rounds ,  beats everybody ,

makes people laugh ,  makes people cry ,  and is tall and extra pretty as me  ?? "

 

 

Yet he was not always a popular figure.  Early in his career , he became a highly controversial figure for his brash, indomitable spirit ; his conversion to Islam ;  his principled stand on civil rights  &  his heavily publicised refusal ( as a conscientious objector ) to be drafted into the military & fight in the Vietnam War which saw him ultimately stripped of his World Title.  Despite these controversies , over time Muhammad Ali would break-down many social & ideological barriers by standing for what he believed in.  The passing of years would largely bring vindication of his past preparedness to ' challenge oppression & injustice '.   

 

After his retirement from boxing , Ali's strong commitment to public service & humanitarian causes further endeared him to the masses.  For many years & despite his rapidly deteriorating health , he was a beacon of hope & encouragement , as he continued to motivate & inspire people , seeking to see & bring out the best in humanity.  Standing up & fighting against social injustices , raising ' hundreds of millions ' of dollars for charities , on multiple occasions an international ' ambassador for peace '  &  at times , even a ' mediator ' in world conflicts.  He kept fighting for humanitarian causes , an enduring legacy that many would suggest elevated the boxing legend into the same celestial status as Martin Luther King & Nelson Mandela.

 

 

So what are we to make of Muhammad Ali's life ?? 

 

The most recognisable name , face  &  personality on the planet.  A stunning life of breathtaking achievements  &  bewildering contrasts.  A legendary athlete , an over-sized ego , yet a humble man in private , whose desire in his latter years was to serve out his days helping his fellow man.  In his boxing days , he had been the very essence of youthfulness , strength , power , skill , beauty & charm.  A man who reached the ' absolute zenith ' of all that any man could ever hope to attain.  The pinnacle of fame , fortune  &  achievement.  

 

Yet in his prime , mortally struck down with a crippling , unassailable disease.  For decades to come , he would be a haunting , fading shadow of his former glory , resigned to the sad inevitability of his condition.  His powerful , athletic body transformed into a gaunt , lifeless shell.   An intelligent , dynamic & entertaining mind , forever dulled  &  unable to communicate with the world around him.  He would become a sad , living testament to the truth of the Apostle Peter's words & echoed by the Psalmist :

 

 

" For  all flesh  is as grass . . .  &  ' all the glory of man '  as the flower of grass.

The grass withereth  &  the flower thereof falleth away "  --  1 Peter 1 v 24

 

" Man is  like to vanity :  his days are  as a shadow  that passeth away "  --  Psalm 144 v 4

 

 

 

Was it simply a tragic  ' CO-INCIDENCE '  that  THE MOST  famous , successful , charismatic & inspiring person ' the world has seen ' in modern times  -  who himself had ' billions ' of devotees  -  was touched as it were by the Hand of God ??  Cut down at  ' the peak '  of his powers to demonstrate the ' inherent weakness ' of mankind's condition  &  the utter futility of all man's pursuits , achievements  &  endeavours  . . .  if he is  without Christ in his life. 

 

Consider ' the sad irony '  of Cassius Clay , a man who ' turned his back on Christby becoming a follower of the Prophet Muhammad & Islam ,  yet  throughout his career shamelessly  ( & even ' blasphemously ' )  likened himself to ' the Son of God '  for his own self-promotion  &  aggrandisement ,  knowingly using titles & phrases ' unique '  to the Lord Jesus Christ  ( " The King of the World ... King of kings ...  The Greatest  ...  " etc. )  Is it at all surprising , God should use such a global icon as a  tragic ' standard-bearer '  to the abject pointlessness of all man's achievements  . . .  if he does not have the ' saving power ' of the Lord Jesus Christ in his life ??

 

 

 

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow ...

For  what is your life

It is even a vapour ,  that appeareth for a little time 

. . .  &  then vanisheth away  --  James 4 v 14

 

 

 

Despite all his former glory , his unparalleled achievements , his fame , his wealth  &  even the enduring ' Messianic ' titles attributed to Muhammad Ali , nevertheless for most of his life , he became a haunting and heart-breaking reminder of the true nature of man. 

 

Finally , we know among Muhammad Ali's many talents , he was famous  &  loved for his illustrious array of quips & motivational quotes.  We would do well to consider two of these :

 

 

"  Live everyday as if it were your last . . . because someday YOU'RE GOING TO BE RIGHT !!!  "

 

"  Don't count the days  . . .  MAKE THE DAYS COUNT !!!  "

 

 

As we pause & remember the truly extraordinary life & legacy of Muhammad Ali ,

let us also consider  ( before it's too late )  the tragic spiritual lesson from his life . . .

&  then thoughtfully reflect on what should be  ' THE GREATEST '  pursuit in our life.

 

 

 

 

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