Let Judas Maccabee Be Your Guide
A small remnant army can defeat a great occupying empire with God's help
“Before he had done speaking, a Jew came to offer the false gods sacrifice, there in full view of all, before the altar at Modin, as the king bade. Mattathias took fire at the sight of it; one heave of anger his heart gave, and his zeal for the law could contain itself no longer; there on the altar the sacrificer was slain.” (II Maccabees 2:23-25)
“Maccabee” means “The Hammer.” Remember that.
The festival of Chanukah comes from the Book of Maccabees. The book of the hammer. The hammer of God. The hammer that expelled an occupying army and restored the sanctity of the Temple just 164 before the birth of Christ.
If you want to know what it means to live a life of faith, read 2 Maccabees this week, the week before Christmas. If you can’t read 2 Maccabees this week, read this short history, which we will excerpt here.
When Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, his empire was divided among three generals. About 176 B.C., the Antiochus IV launched a Hellenization program to force the Jews to abandon the God of the Torah and accept Greek paganism. From History and Overview of the Maccabees:
A brief Jewish rebellion only hardened his views and led him to outlaw central tenets of Judaism such as the Sabbath and circumcision, and defile the holy Temple by erecting an altar to the god Zeus, allowing the sacrifice of pigs, and opening the shrine to non-Jews.
From the Book of 2 Maccabees, we learn that Antiochus went further than animal sacrifice. Temple prostitutes used the altar of the Great Temple as their bed. The Temple was thoroughly defiled, and most Jews simply went along with it.
Those who accepted Hellenization did well. They had money, goods-a-plenty, bread and circuses. Freed from the constraints of Mosaic law, they enjoyed the fruits of this world, living for the moment, growing richer and richer by the day.
Then along came the Maccabees.
Though many Jews had been seduced by the virtues of Hellenism, the extreme measures adopted by Antiochus helped unite the people. When a Greek official tried to force a priest named Mattathias to make a sacrifice to a pagan god, the Jew murdered the man. Predictably, Antiochus began reprisals, but in 167 BCE the Jews rose up behind Mattathias and his five sons and fought for their liberation. (From History and Overview of the Maccabees)
The Mattathias family became known as “The Maccabees” because they dealt hammer-blows to the Greeks. Though small in number compared to their invaders, the Maccabean forces prevailed.
Like other rulers before him, Antiochus underestimated the will and strength of his Jewish adversaries and sent a small force to put down the rebellion. When that was annihilated, he led a more powerful army into battle only to be defeated. In 164 BCE, Jerusalem was recaptured by the Maccabees and the Temple purified, an event that gave birth to the holiday of Chanukah.
Interestingly, the purification of the Temple took place on 25th day of the Jewish month of Casleu. From II Maccabees (Knox Bible):
They made a fresh altar, struck from flint, and offered sacrifice again after two years’ intermission; rose incense, burned lamp, loaves were set out on the sacred table once more. Then, bowing down to earth, they made petition to the Lord, never again such calamity might overtake them; sin if they did, himself in his great mercy should chastise them, not hand them over into the cruel power of blasphemous enemies. It so fell out, that the temple was purified on the twenty-fifth day of Casleu, the very time of its profanation by the Gentiles. Eight days of rejoicing they kept, with such ceremonies as belong to the feast of Tent-dwelling; it was a feast of tent-dwelling indeed they had kept a while back, when they lodged like beasts among the hill-side caverns! Now that God had made the way clear for his temple’s cleansing, what wonder if they set up in his honor branches, and green boughs, and arbors of palm? What wonder if a decree was passed, by common consent, all Jewry should keep the festival year by year? (II Maccabees 10:3-9)
Whether you’re a traditional Catholic under the occupying tyranny of the present pontiff and his New World Order paganism, or an American conservative under the thumb of medical apartheid (or both), you and I know what to do thanks to the Maccabees.
God will give us the strength we need to expel the invaders, but we must act. God did not kill all the Greeks so the Maccabees could restore the Temple unmolested; God assisted Judas Maccabee when the Maccabees decided enough was enough and moved to action in His holy name and for His greater glory.
But there’s still the matter of timing. When do we move? As Jefferson pointed out in the Declaration,
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” —The Declaration of Independence
Likewise, the Jews tolerated their occupation for centuries before the Maccabean uprising.
But there’s always some trigger event. In the case of the American revolution, it was The Intolerable Acts that the British government instituted in revenge for the Boston Tea Party. For the Maccabees, it was the murder of Judas’s father, murdered in revenge for refusing to sacrifice to a pagan god.
At some point, the flint will be struck, and going forth for the greater glory of God, we will throw off the occupiers and rededicate ourselves and our land to His greatness.
Until then, we confess our sins, repent from our own worldliness, fast, and pray to know His will so that none of our works are done for our own interests but only for His.
This isn’t an easy task, but no one ever said it would be. “Pick up your cross every day,” Our Lord told us. His yoke is light, but the world is a cruel master.