Prepping when prepping wasn’t cool.
But Judas, also known as the Maccabee, and about ten men with him, fled into the highlands where he (along with those accompanying him) managed to avoid defiling themselves by living like wild animals: they ate grass for food.2 Maccabees 5:27
Persecution increased in Jerusalem and surrounding Greek communities. The next great miracle was that of great strength and determination.
Let’s look at the level of Gentile persecution on Jews.
- Jews were ordered to turn away from customs and Torah.
- The temple and the mount were renamed for Zeus.
- Gentiles filled the temple with wild and sinful parties.
- God’s altar was covered with forbidden objects.
- Sabbath, festivals, and even identifying as Jewish was not allowed.
- All were forced to celebrate Antiochus’ birthday and eat the organs of the sacrificed animals.
- They were ordered to partake in the parade for the bearded and jolly deity known as Dionysus with ivy and wreaths.
- Death sentence was pronounced for disobedience.
- Circumcision was not allowed on the babies.
Bloodshed was normal.
Two mothers were brutally executed for having circumcised their babies.
A group of secret sabbath keepers was betrayed by a fellow Jew and failed to defend themselves on a Sabbath.
As we mentioned previously, God’s protection had been withdrawn because the sins of his people were so great. Pagan nations did not have this type of correction, as they did not have His protection either. God’s guiding hand was drawing them back to see that He was the only hope. Assimilation was becoming humiliation.
Imagine the strength given to a 90 year old scribe.
Eleazar was forced to put unclean meat into his mouth. He spit it out. The very men who were in charge of the pagan sacrifices showed mercy on him and privately coached him how to get through this alive.
They urged him to go and bring back clean meat and they would let him pretend to eat unclean sacrificial meat and no one would know the secret. Eleazar refused. He chose not to let it even appear that he would profane his body with the unclean substance.
They were insulted. The compassion of the temple workers turned to rage.
“It’s not worthy of our old age to act out such a role. Otherwise, many of the young would assume wrongly that Eleazar the 90-year-old had changed to a foreign way of life. If I acted out this charade for the sake of living a moment longer, I would mislead them, and I would be defiled and dishonored in my old age. Even if I escaped the punishment of human beings for the moment, I would certainly not escape the hands of the almighty—whether alive or dead. So I give up my life courageously now to show myself worthy of my old age, and to leave a fine example for the young people of how to die a good death with eagerness and dignity for the revered and sacred laws.” After he spoke he immediately approached the torture instrument.2 Maccabees 6:24-28
Would you be able to take this stand? Most Christians today see no reason to do so, as many have abandoned most of the points listed above – without a fight, without a struggle.
Even if you believe those standards have been changed, where is your authority coming from?
How strongly would you object to a vile substance mandated into your mouth, or perhaps your bloodstream?
Is your body a sacred space? Have we forgotten that our body belongs to God? Even in the new covenant Word we are told to abstain from food offered to idols. Would you stand up, or would you pretend to comply?