From these descendants sprouted a sinful root—Antiochus Epiphanes. He was a son of King Antiochus, and he had been brought up in Rome as a hostage. Antiochus Epiphanes began to rule in the year 137 according to the calendar of the Greek kingdom.
At that time, some renegade Israelites emerged. These people went against their ancestral laws and encouraged many other Jews to join them. They spoke up, saying, “Let’s make an agreement with the Gentiles around us, because many horrible things have happened to us since we separated ourselves from them.”
– 1Maccabees1:10-11 CEB
The people of God have tried to assimilate with the pagans (gentiles) throughout the ages. As we journey through the story of the Maccabees, we will see both the wages of doing so, and the power of standing up for God’s truth. There is a power that derives from the Creator. This power becomes the tool of His children.
Why Do We Celebrate?
In Second Maccabees we see the reason for the celebration of Dedication (Hanukkah). In the same way Nehemiah reinstated the Feast of Booths, Israel was instructed to celebrate Booths and Fire. Most resources don’t point this out. The Feasts had been outlawed. Now, a couple months after the Tabernacles/Booths celebration of 7 days plus one, the dedication of the temple will be celebrated, with the sacrifices of that accompany that Feast.
“Since we are about to celebrate the cleansing of the temple on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, we thought it right to notify you so that you yourselves might also celebrate the Festival of Booths and Fire, when Nehemiah offered sacrifices after he had built the temple and the altar.” – 2 Maccabees 1:17
What great miracle happened?
Though they were few in number, they took back the whole country, chased off the barbaric hordes, regained the temple renowned throughout the whole inhabited world, freed the city, and restored the laws that were almost abolished—because YHWH with all kindness was merciful to them.2 Maccabees 2:21-22
There is much that happened which has not been related. It’s hard to edit it all down.
For those of us who engage in the strenuous task of abbreviation, it isn’t easy but involves sweat and loss of sleep,2 Maccabees 2:26 CEB
True, so true.
It started with a greedy and needy priest. Simon didn’t get his way and decided to betray the good priest named Onias. He decided to get all teacher’s pet and reveal to the Syrian governor that there was treasure in that there Temple mount.
Heliodorus was sent to snatch up the goods, even though Simon had exaggerated. The people prayed and there was a great miracle.
Heliodorus got body slammed by an angelic rider and horse. Then he received several blows from another two angels.
The bodyguards who were useless in this case, pleaded with Onias. Onias prayed that Heliodorus would recover so the Syrian king should not show wrath on the people.
The same two angels who gave H. the beat-down, ministered to him and brought him healing.
Heliodorus went back to the Syrian king to report the struggle and the miracle in the Temple. The king asked an interesting question. He basically asked what kind of person should he send to get the job done.
Heliodorus’ response to the king was epic.
“If you have an enemy or someone plotting against your government, send him, and he will come back badly beaten if he should come back at all, because some divine power truly surrounds the temple. The one who lives in heaven watches over that place and will strike and destroy anyone coming with evil intent.”2 Maccabees 3:38-39
But Simon Continued His Treachery
He slandered Onias and even sent a goon to try to assassinate him.
We will visit the next miracle of Hanukkah tomorrow.
Happy Hanukkah 1