Keep in mind, I did not ask, how do we prove that we love God. Are these ways that we know that we love God?
You have a bumper sticker.
You sing in the praise team.
You have #blessed on your profile.
You listen to positive, encouraging music in the car.
You recite the apostles’ creed.
You even know what the apostles’ creed is.
They call John “the beloved disciple.” Theologians say that he had a special bond with Jesus. Evidenced in several verses, but especially at the cross where Jesus asked him to take care of Miriam, his mother. So this beloved disciple tells us the evidence for showing that God is our beloved.
Obey God if you love Him.
The Fruit of Loving God
Fruit Is A Testimony
Fruit is pleasant, and it has great effects. People of the world see the good deeds that are described in the Torah and glorify God because it has shown them that He is real.
Fruit Is Not A Burden
If Paul was adamant about us rejecting God’s laws, why did he want us to miss this opportunity to bless the world? Was he calling the law a yoke? Why did John say that it’s not a burden? Why did Jesus call us to take His yoke and why did He say that it is easy?
Seeing our obedience to God (following His Torah) can be a conquering force. John says that our faith is the victory that overcomes the world. Does the world need to be overcome today?
Don’t Just Say It, Live It.
Do you have faith enough to conquer? Then you must have faith enough to obey.
Show me some faith without action. I’ve never seen it. But I can point you to some people who have actions that speak louder than words. The mouth of faith is an arm. The hand of God is in the works of His servants. The eyes of the world take notice, and they have no gripe in the court of heaven.
This is just one way that the Torah brings victory over the enemy. If you have faith, you will seek to follow the Jesus example. Like Him, you will overcome.
The world will give God the glory for our good deeds. The enemy will lose more of his grip.
Bring YHWH glory on earth, as if it were the very throne of God.
Give Torah A Try
Open up your heart to the possibility that man has largely gotten it wrong about Torah for more than 2,000 years. From Genesis to Revelation, we now know, Jesus (Yeshua) is present. People used to think He was a “New Testament” invention. A closer look shows that He has been here from the beginning.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Now, as He is the alpha and Omega, and the living Word. Let’s consider that He has been here as the Living Torah for All Time.
I John 3:16-24 is about love in action. In the past few decades people have rightfully noted that love is a verb.
Simply saying, or writing it on a greeting card is not enough.
It gets complicated
It’s certainly safe to say that live is a noun but the evidence of it is full out verb-a-rific.
In this we know his love toward us, for he gave himself for us. And it is also right for us to give ourselves for our brothers.
I John 3:16
Laying down our lives, helping a brother in need? This is how we love in deed, and in truth. We all know when we are loved. We can tell in our hearts. Sadly, we there is a deception in our hearts which can draw us to affectionate counterfeits. The world tells us that romance is love, and often goes further to saying that love is romance. This leads to abuse and confusion. I John 3:20 explains a truth that can’t be denied.
If you believe, as I used to, that Torah is done away with, there are two hard sayings in this paragraph of I John 3.
When we do what pleases God and keep His commands (Torah), we can receive whatever we ask from Him.
Keeping His commands let’s us remain in Yeshua and Him in us.
Have you heard it said, that you can’t do anything to win God’s favor? Why do we say that?
I guess it has to do with our understanding of favor. Scripture often repeats that The Father is “pleased” with us when we obey His commandments. We could make a distinction between favor and God’s being pleased with us. However, I get the sense that sermons and songs often blend them in the same Vitamix.
Is God Ever Mad?
We all agree on the title of the song and movies, “God’s Not Dead.” But can we all sing a song that affirms God’s not mad? What’s the opposite of “pleased?” Is being not pleased notably different from being mad?
Just ponder it a little. But we have to realize that we can be His children and live outside His will for us as well as being outside His pleasure and favor.
I would say an essential benefit, and function of the Torah is obedience. Have you ever frustrated your child when you had expectations that were not met, but they were not communicated to the child? Imagine being angry that your daughter stayed up until 1 AM before needing to wake up early. Now, imagine if you didn’t tell her that bed time was 10 PM. Imagine that you didn’t tell her that she needed to wake up at 6 AM. If this was the case, you would have zero grounds for being displeased.
Very simply, God has given us instructions for righteousness. Obeying doesn’t make us righteous – well, if we were perfect, we would show it by our righteous living. But since we have dropped that ball more than once, we rest on the righteousness of the perfect one – Messiah.
We imitate His righteous living in order to please the One we love. Don’t you want to please your Father? Don’t you see it worthwhile to please your King? Ask Him. What would He want you to do, to lay down your life?
Yes, there are rewards. He answers our prayers, and He blesses us with His presence.
and everything that we ask, we will receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do pleasing [things] before him.
I John 3:22
And he who keeps his commandments is kept by him and he lives in him.
I John 3:24
Father in Heaven, be blessed in our hearts and blessed in our deeds. Keep us in your Son by your Spirit. We live you and want to please you. Show us the way. Show us the way. Let our foot stay stable as we walk, as we run the path of life. Amen.
This is my eighth and final post for Hanukkah this year. Hanukkah is over for most people but the fight goes on. We can learn so much from history. The relationship between God’s people and the nations is worthy of visiting on a regular basis.
Until that final victory of Messiah and His kingdom, the battle remains. You may see echoes of the past in your current country, or your current community. How will you react? Will you cower in fear? Or will you stand with your weapons and fight? Is God calling you to protect or to flee into the mountains and regroup?
Antiochus Epiphanes’ son was a hooligan too. Antiochus Eupator was his name. For a short time he hired Ptolemy Macron, who was gracious to the people of God. But he was soon slandered and removed.
Gorgias was not gorgeous in his handling of Judea. He took up arms against the people of Judea.
Don’t just stand there.
Judah Maccabee and his men moved forward in battle to the Idumean fortress.
The battle was going well and Judah and some of his men left to attend to other matters while his captains carried on at the fortress.
There was a little bribery involved and some of these Israelites allowed some of these Idumeans to escape.
When Judah came back, they finished the job on the city and eliminated the traitors. Judah, by the grace of God, was successful in all war related efforts.
An officer named Timothy brought many horses from Asia and many troops in an effort to punish the people of Israel.
Prayer is a weapon
The people of God humbled themselves on the ground with ashes and prayer.
and falling down opposite the foundation of the altar, they begged God to be gracious to them, to be hostile to those hostile to them, and to be an opponent of their opponents, just as the Law promises.
2 Maccabees 10:26
The Israelites went to battle trusting in God while the Greeks were driven by rage.
Soon, five hosts of heaven, mounted on horses, joined in the fight. Two of them surrounded Judah Maccabees, completely shielding him from harm. They shot arrows and thunder bolts into the enemy army. The wicked warriors were thrown into blindness and confusion. They soon attempted to flee in terror.
They were defeated. Over 21,000 were cut down. Timothy fled to the town which was held by his brother Chaerea.
They held off the Maccabees for four days and began to get cocky. They shouted profane words at the soldiers of Israel. Ten of the Maccabees reached their boiling point and they charged. While they attacked the tower, the rest of them crashed the gate.
the gates of Sheol will not subdue it.
Timothy, Chareas, and another fellow were found crouched and hiding in a cistern.
There were more battles to win. The temple of God was safe as long as it was kept Holy. The warfare was real. It took more than just cleaning it out. God’s people had to fortify it and advance to charge to clean out the surrounding strongholds of the enemy.
Where are those strongholds in your life? Has your Temple been defiled? If so, have you cleansed it. It’s not enough to simply invite Jesus in and leave it at that. The victory is more detailed. You are to fulfill your destiny. You are a warrior in the Kingdom of Almighty YHWH.
God’s presence is with you and his angels do surround you. But not if you are taking the bribe of the enemy.
Keep the walls firm. Take care of the widows and orphans as you keep your guard up at all times. The battle is not yours to fight alone and the battle will be won, but not by you alone.
With divine guidance, Judah and his companions advanced on Jerusalem and the Temple. They gained control back from the Greeks.
They cleansed the Temple by getting rid of all the unclean and profane items. What have you eaten, or watched, or listened to that is unclean? Have you tried a detox? Have you fasted? Have you deleted that app or channel on your Roku player?
They replaced the altars and the utensils and anointed them for use in the Temple. They started animal sacrifices and incense offerings. The sacred loaves of bread were added. I like to remember that the bread of life, the Messiah himself, identified as the Messiah and great shepherd in this very temple, during this very time of year, over 150 years later.
The people all prayed that God would have mercy on them and never allow that depth of punishment again.
On the anniversary of the temple’s defilement, Kislev 25, they rededicated the Temple of God. They celebrated for 8 days in the tradition of Sukkot.
On the anniversary of the temple’s defilement by foreigners, on that very day, the sanctuary was purified, on the 25th of the month, which is Kislev.
2 Maccabees 10:5
During the previous Sukkot, they were dwelling in caves in the mountains. Now, they were celebrating with wands made of Ivy, branches, and palm fronds.
Today, we do as they did and celebrate with singing and dancing.
Hanukkah was a gift and not a statute. It was proclaimed for a remembrance each year.
David said that he would not glory in the defeat of his enemies but would glorify God because His justice has prevailed.
It is hard to hold back. It’s just impossible not to chuckle when we read the layers of retribution that Antiochus would finally experience. It’s graphic. It’s smelly. And everyone is glad it’s not them.
This is where the words of the seven brothers come true. Their prophecy is noted, and the lesson is learned.
Antiochus attempted to raid a temple in Persepolis. In this town, the people took up arms and pulled a Maccabean style stand. The big man was humiliated.
He heard about the major defeat of Nicanor and he became enraged. He got a notion to go beat up some Jews. “Drive,” he said to his charioteer. He told him not to stop until they reach Jerusalem.
He had said in his arrogance, “When I get to Jerusalem, I will turn it into a mass grave for the Jews.”
2 Maccabees 9:4
As soon as he said this God struck him with sickness to his stomach and intestines. This just made him more urgent to get to Jerusalem.
He ordered the driver to speed up. This didn’t help the situation, because Antiochus flopped out of the chariot. He was now confined to a stretcher.
As he got more sickly, worms made their way out of his eyes. His body began to literally rot and the smell was so bad, the whole camp smelled like, well… him.
Here he was, the man who had once said he could touch the stars, could not even get close enough to actually touch anyone due to his ripe and nasty stench.
He was losing his arrogance. He was devastated and quite aware of the punishing hand of God upon his body. By this time, he could not even stand his own stink.
“It is fair to submit to God and for humans to stop thinking that they are God’s equals.”
2 Maccabees 9:12
Repulsive & Remorseful
This repulsive man, on his way to destroy Jerusalem, began to be Repentant. He made promises to God to make things better. He would:
He would declare Jews as equal to Athenian Greeks (even though he had considered them worthy of birdseed and the babies as wild animal food.)
He would restore the Temple to better than he found it when he ransacked it.
He would provide the necessary funds for all the sacrifices.
He would become a Jew.
He would go on a tent revival tour and proclaim that God is powerful.
An appeal to the people.
His next act would be a letter to soften the people of Israel.To the worthy Jewish citizens, from the king and governor Antiochus. Greetings and health and prosperity.If you are in good health and your children and affairs are prospering, I give thanks to God with great joy, having hope in heaven,remembering with affection your honor and goodwill. After returning from Persia and falling ill, which created a serious situation, I regarded it as necessary to think of the common safety of all the people.I haven’t abandoned my situation as hopeless but rather hold on to hope that I might recover from the illness.I have also considered, however, that my father (on the occasions when he fought in the upper regions) used to appoint a successor to rule.He did this so that if anything should happen contrary to expectation or even if there should be some unwelcome news, people throughout the country would know that someone was left behind to govern and wouldn’t be deprived of their peace of mind.Moreover, observing how neighboring dynasties and kingdoms wait for the right moment and look forward with anticipation to what might happen next, I appoint my son Antiochus as king. Many times when I had to hurry to the upper provinces, I entrusted and commended him to most of you. I have written these orders to him as well.I call on you then, and request each one of you—remembering my benefits both public and private—to be faithful toward me and my son.I firmly believe he will follow my example closely, acting with kindness and generosity, with the intention of accommodating himself to you.
2 Maccabees 9:19-27
He died. Alone, in the mountains, with his own stench.
Judah and his men were living in the wilderness. It was time to take back the country.
6,000 Against The World
They began to recruit more followers of YHWH. They found 6,000 who were still faithful.
Once organized, Judah and his army were unstoppable. The hand of God was with them as He began to show mercy on them.
Often at night, they would raid the cities. Their courage became known throughout the land.
Nicanor and 20,000 men were sent to wipe out all of Judea. Word was sent out that one could join him and receive 90 Jewish servants for 57 lbs of silver.
Judah told his warriors, “They rely on weapons and daring, but we trust in the almighty God, who is able to strike down with a single nod, those who are coming against us.”
He divided his army into 4 parts. He led his group of 1,500 on an attack of Nicanor and slayed 9,000 men, and injured more. They even confiscated the very funds that were intended for their sale into slavery. They distributed to the ones who had endured torture, as well as the widows and orphans.
Then they defeated and killed 20,000. Nicanor lost all his men. Stripped of his armor, he returned to Antioch, humiliated.
His report to Antiochus was that the Jews could not be defeated because they follow God’s laws.
How do you think the Anti-christ took that statement?
Faithful followers of YHWH defeated an army 6 times larger. Then they were outnumbered again and defeated 20,000 troops.
Another miracle of God’s might and His grace over his beloved.
The strength of Eleazar inspired the entire population of Jerusalem and beyond.
When his life was about to end from the beating, he groaned, “It is clear to the Lord with his sacred knowledge that, although I could have been saved from death, I endure in my body harsh pain from this beating, yet in my soul I cheerfully suffer these things because I respect him.”
2 Maccabees 6:30
The tortuous treatment is hard to listen to. We want to turn our heads and tune it out. Many people did. The next miracle that we visit is, again, an account of the wickedness of the Anti-christ Antiochus.
He was brought to judge 7 brothers and their mom. These brothers are not even named, but they will always be remembered.
I hesitate to list the tortures that were ordered and fulfilled. But, we often need to be shaken. If we don’t acknowledge the evil among us, we give it shelter and food. Eventually this beast will overtake the house, so to speak. If we avoid naming the beast, it is too easy to let it sneak up.
If you are reading this out loud to minors, you may want to skip or so your own special editing to these following terms.
7 sons, 7 deaths
Keep in mind each son endured these things.
Tongue cut out.
Hands cut off.
Feet cut off.
Keep in mind, these quotes are from the young men, AFTER the torture was enacted upon each one. Each was forced to see the others suffer. The youngest brother was also offered great wealth and prominence.
“The Lord God truly watches over us and will come to our aid. Moses testified to this in his song against them, saying, ‘God will have compassion on his servants.'”
2 Maccabees 7:6
“You, who are marked out for vengeance, may take our present life, but the king of the universe, for whose laws we die, will resurrect us again to eternal life.”
2 Maccabees 7:9
“I have received these limbs from heaven, and I give them up for the sake of God’s laws. But I hope to recover them from God again.”
2 Maccabees 7:11
“Death at the hands of humans is preferable, since we look forward to the hope that God gives of being raised by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life.”
2 Maccabees 7:14
“You, though human, have power among human beings and do what you want. But don’t think that God has abandoned our people.Just wait and observe his great strength, when God will torture you and your children.”
2 Maccabees 7:16-17
“Don’t deceive yourself in vain. We suffer these things because of our own sins against our God. Things worthy of wonder have happened. But don’t think you will escape unpunished after trying to fight against God.”
2 Maccabees 7:18-19
There was a little break, as Antiochus appealed to the mother to save her one remaining son. At first, it appeared that she was just so tired that she was giving in. She leaned over to “convince” her youngest son to take the bargain of riches rather than torture. She whispered in his ear:
“…look at heaven and earth. See everything that is in them and know that God made these things from nothing, and created humankind in the same way. Don’t fear this killer… Accept death, so that in God’s mercy, I should recover you with your brothers.”
2 Maccabees 7:28-29
By this time, we see that the King is powerless over these common people. Brother seven makes such an inspired sermon to the most powerful man in the world. If you fast forward the story, you would discover that Brother Seven’s words were likely a deciding factor in the final humbling of Antiochus. His prophecy would come true. The miracle of bravery and endurance is aided by the strong faith and assurance that God brings eternal life to His children.
You have been blessed in this way
As you read this proclamation, I encourage you to use it as a tool. Speak to your enemies. Take the authority given in the name of Yeshua Messiah and boldly proclaim your victory over your present mess. Reject and rebuke seeing yourself as a victim and see yourself with the signet ring of the King. The words of the real King reign and rule over the false kings and judges of this world. Just as the brothers were comforted in the truth of the resurrection, you can be equally confident. Here the words. Speak the words in shalom as you also know the end of the book.
“What are you all waiting for? I don’t intend to obey the king’s order, but I hear the command of the Law given to our ancestors through Moses. But you, King, who have invented all sorts of evil against the Hebrews, will by no means escape God’s power. We are suffering because of our own sins. If our living Lord is angry for a short time in order to rebuke and discipline us, he will again be reconciled with his own servants. But you, unholy man, the most bloodstained of all people, don’t be so proud without having cause. Bloated by futile hope, you raise up your hand against the children of heaven. You haven’t at all escaped the judgment of the almighty God, who oversees all. Now our brothers, who endured pain for a short time, have been given eternal life under God’s covenant, but you will suffer the penalty of your arrogance by the righteous judgment of God. Just like my brothers, I give up both body and life for the ancestral laws. I call upon God to be merciful to the nation without delay, and to make you confess, after you suffer trials and diseases, that only he is God. Also I hope through me and my brothers to stop the anger of the almighty, who is justly punishing our entire nation.”
2 Maccabees 7:30-38
Brother Seven, as you know, your death was not in vain. You inspired the run-around.