Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Tale of Two Hammers - Part 2 of 3

In the second century B.C., the ruler of the Seleucid Empire Antiochus Epiphanes was driven out of Egypt by the up and coming Romans. Furious over this, Antiochus turned his wrath on nearby Jerusalem. Antiochus invaded Jerusalem with his army and brutalized the Jews. Antiochus forced Hellenistic culture on the Jews, which to many Jews was nothing more than paganism and idolatry.

Antiochus’ desire for the Jews to be more “open-minded” and not only respect, but also worship other gods materialized in a violent and zealous manner. Antiochus had all sacrifices to Yahweh stopped, outlawed circumcision, disallowed observance of the Sabbath and all other Jewish festivals, and banned the reading and studying of the Torah. But worst of all, like it could get much worse, Antiochus had a pig slaughtered on the altar of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem as a sacrifice to the god Zeus. Not only were the Jews not allowed to practice their faith in public, but they were forced (cutting out of tongues, being burned alive, etc.) to accept things opposed to that faith.

One day in the village of Modin, a pagan altar was built and the elder priest of the village, Mattathias, was commanded by one of Antiochus’ envoys to offer the first sacrifice. When the old priest refused, another man nearby offered to make the sacrifice in order to save the village from Antiochus’ wrath. Furious over this willingness to offend God, Mattathias killed this man along with the envoy, and a war was born.

Mattathias had five sons, and when he died shortly after the Modin incident his oldest son Judas took over. Furious, Antiochus sent some of his trained forces to deal with the rag-tag band of rebellious Jews. But Judas and his rag-tag band of untrained men crushed Antiochus’ forces. So Antiochus sent more soldiers, and Judas did more crushing. This went on and on until finally, Antiochus offered the Jews a deal. The Jews accepted the deal and were given religious autonomy, freedom to worship the one true God without any interference by the secular government.

After leading the Jews against the superior forces of Antiochus, and dealing them blow after blow, Judas and his brothers were no longer known as the sons of Jaarib (their family name), but as the Maccabees which means “The Hammerers”.

We have seen the removal of God from our schools and public places over the years. A slow but deadly case of atheism on a national level can be easily diagnosed. But removing God will not make all happy. They are determined to force Christians to accept what is directly opposed to what we believe. Homosexuality, abortion, forcing pharmacists to distribute birth control, etc, the list goes on and on.

Our “Modin” incident is here. But will it trigger in Christians not only a refusal to accept what is wrong, but an effective struggle against it?

1 comment:

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Just start calling me Laura The Hammerer. When do we start the rebellion?