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Mar 16, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 75

Sarah Christmyer

Just Getting Started? Read what you’ve missed and check out Bible reading resources

Bible Time Period: Maccabean Revolt

Mattathias and his sons stood up against the threats of Hellenization: Help me resist worldliness in the culture and follow only you.


The fight to establish political and religious independence for Judah continues in today’s readings.  Don’t worry about getting all the detail, rather read to get the main outlines of the ongoing struggle noting in particular the death of Antiochus IV, the wane of Greece’s influence, and the treaties that are made.

Today’s Reading

I Maccabees 5-8

Today’s Question

Two questions today:
1.  To what does Antiochus attribute his end (chapter 6)?
2.  Why do the Jews make an alliance of friendship with Rome (chapter 8)?

Join the discussion below!

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  • 1, Antiochus seems to have believed he was invincible and the twofold defeats he suffered caused him grief and despair. Not only did Judah prevail on the physical battlefields but also spiritually by destroying the abomination he built on the altar in Jerusalem. Antiochus’ plans and dreams were utterly destroyed by a righteous army. In his dismay and shock, he believed that “Yet I was kindly and beloved in my rule.” (1 Maccabees 6: 11) however, he recalled the evils he did in Jerusalem and that his actions had no just cause.

    There have been a number of Antiochus’ throughout history and we still have them in positions of power today. They believe in themselves and their own vision, arrogantly believing that they are greater than God. Their belief in their kindliness, rationality and praise given to them, blinds them to their evil and wrongful persecution of God’s children. Some Antiochus’ attack physically, others use laws, verbal attacks or even attack from within. As Judah prevailed, so must we.

    2. I see Judah’s alliance with Rome as a loss of trust in God, ingratitude for what He was doing for them e.g. a bit like slapping God in the face. True they were having a very rough time but whenever the turned to God, He provided for them. The only losses happened when people sought to make a name for themselves, instead of turning to God. It seems to me that they did not pray and discern, maybe had they done so, they would have discovered the putrid, filthy cesspit of Roman culture, the false idols and immoral practices. With hindsight it is easy to judge and Judah paid a very long and heavy price.

    It reminds me that no matter how good or nice things seem to be, one should always dig deeper, investigate, pray long and hard and even more importantly, listen for God’s answer. I also must take care to ensure that I keep close to God, keep loving and trusting in Him, ensuring my faith is put in God and not a bunch of fancy words and false promises.

  • Antiochus seems to have realize he crossed God and did evil against His people and he was thus judged and defeated for his destruction of Jerusalem.

    Thank you, Avila, on your insight of Judah’s lack of trust in God…I didn’t go there initially. I was caught up in the history events and was focused on the many battles the Jewish armies had to fight to keep their people safe. I was understanding the need for a strong ally but I agree completely with your thoughts, especially because I think we all know how well this alliance turned out for the Jewish people….it is under Rome’s rule that God sends his Son to save all, but the Jewish people cannot see him as their Savior so are still fighting battles to save themselves to this day! This is such a great example of how hard it is to totally trust our Lord when times are tough even though He has provided so many blessings. How quickly we forget our blessings when a challenge is faced! I pray that we all grow in our strength to love and trust God at all times to deliver ourselves and others to Him.

    • There can be no stronger that the LORD. However it is hard to trust the LORD No matter how much we love him.

      • Barbara, I discovered an article that most probably would answer to this query: “Why is it hard to trust the Lord no matter how much we love Him?” It’s based on Maxims 27 of Sayings of Light and Love by St. John of the Cross.

        “Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in anything less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father’s table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.” – Saint John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love, 27

        How many of us have had the experience of the loss of a beloved pet. An animal that has been such a big part of our lives that when they die we surprise ourselves at how we are affected and how hard we cry. As we’re crying we might think to ourselves “But he was only a dog (cat etc). Why is my heart so broken?”
        We say “but he’s only a dog” because a dog and a human live at different levels. A dog’s life is mostly instinctual, with some ability to think, and with some ability to emote. A human’s life is a lot less instinctual, with lots of ability to think and great ability to love. We love our pets intensely and they return that love but we still lived on different levels – the canine and the human. It is a vertical love.
        This is similar to our relationship with God. God loves us intensely and we love God intensely, but still we live on different levels – God on the divine level while we live on the human level. It is a vertical love. But there is a big difference! Our relationship with God may start vertically, but we are invited and being led to make that relationship horizontal!
        Although we can share great love between animals and humans, it’s still a vertical love. A human’s strongest relationships must be with other humans (a horizontal human-to-human love). God, too, desires horizontal love. That is the relationship between Father and Son. Perfectly horizontal and therefore perfectly sharing in the fullness of love. God wants my love to be less and less vertical and more and more horizontal. To do this, God is inviting me to be God so God can completely share love with me on the same level.
        Saint Mary Magdalene d’Pazzi, who was a Carmelite mystic in Florence, Italy, in the late 1500s writes in Revelations and Enlightenments, “There is no longer one God, but a thousand-thousand gods; one God in essence and in Three Persons, but a thousand-thousand gods by participation, communion and union.” Wow! And this is exactly what Saint John of the Cross is saying in Maxim 27 of his Sayings of Light and Love. This is mega-mysticism and this is what we are all invited to. The word ‘wow!’ doesn’t begin to describe it.

        • Thank you so much for your links. I have not thought about Love as being horizontal and vertical. I had always thought of myself being one of God’s favored Pets. A God-like love between God and Mankind sort of bends the mind. Of course St John of the Cross was a great mystic.

          • My great pleasure, Barbara…I am not different from you….I am still working on that horizontal level love with God. God will help us if we desire it. 🙂

  • The Jewish people had many great heros such as Joshua, David and Judas Maccabees. Great warriors who brought the people back from oblivion time and again. Great warriors who defended their people with force and faith. It is not surprising that Jesus, who broke the Sabbath to heal, ate with the outcasts, and chatted to Samaritan WOMEN (!) and then died on the cross at the hands of their oppressors, was irreconcilable with the messiah many of the Jews were looking for. Some could accept and see God in Jesus but many couldn’t. I hope my eyes are open, and open to see Christ in others.

    By the way I love the elephants! No one said we would get battling elephants in the Old Testament!

    • Sad that so many others besides the Jewish people then and today cannot recognize Jesus as the true Messiah.

  • I read and reread Chapter 6 of 1 Maccabees and came to the conclusion that Antiochus died of a guilty conscience. There could have been underlying health issues that were present, but with this person being such an antichrist during that time, I will bet his despair overwhelmed him because he knew Judas was stronger and better than his army. Antiochus showed no real remorse. He was unhappy that things didn’t go his way. I was surprised that there was a statement that he died. It is not mentioned where he was buried. Perhaps his own people and/or “friends” could really care less about this individual.
    Judas chose to go with the Roman Empire. The Greek Empire wanted to enslave the Jews. The Roman Empire seemed to be fair with the nations that chose alliance with them.
    These events are part of God’s scheme for our eternal happiness. Our Savior, Jesus Christ was crucified by the Jews and Romans. Our Lord knew what He was doing. His Chosen People did not follow His commandments and laws. Thus, God, in His infinite mercy and love, sent His only Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ into battle for our souls. My head is bowed and my knee is bent with respect and honor for such unrequited love.

    • I agree with you about guilt! Guilt and grief and despair based on our actions are deadly, especially in the eyes of the Lord! Although not directly parallel, I liken this to anything that weighs on our conscience be it grief, anger, guilt, what have you. We are taught to forgive, no matter how difficult, and not harbor anger and resentment for that very reason, to keep our conscious free and our hearts open to the love and ways of the Lord. Well said p4b!

      • mg, When I mentioned that I reread Chapter 6, I first thought that this king was so sorry for what he did to the Jewish people. After reading it again, I realized that he was so upset that his plans went awry. He was a terrible person. He let that guilt overcome his every waking minute of every day.

        • Strange I read it as he believed he was somehow cursed. And psychologically the curse was fulfulled. Perhaps is was God’s way of punishing him

          • Barbara, You might be right in his thinking that he was cursed, but the one comment that this devil made while he was infirmed set me off. He said, “I said to myself, ‘To what distress I have come! And into what a great flood I am now plunged! For I was kind and beloved in my power.’ ” 1 Maccabees 6: 11
            He really believed evil and treachery was good! May his soul not rest as I know he is with Satan in hell.

          • I was thinking more about the superstitious element. We know that superstition is evil. What came to my mind were VooDoo curses. You are right this man has so turned himself over the Satan he was completely evil

          • That is how I read Chapter 6 also, he really believed he was kind and beloved. I think we too become “delusional” in our thinking and we become numb to all the evil in the world and just shrug our shoulders and think “oh well, it is what it is”! Let us not fall prey to Satan and his evil.

        • I should have reread that chapter, as well. I took it to mean that Antiochus’ heart softened toward the Jewish people, but in reading these posts I can see the others’ deeper insights (of lost pride?).

  • Antiochus seemed to have a deathbed conversion experience. Isn’t it a shame that his political advisors and his son did not heed his confession of guilt and remorse? Things could have been so different!
    As for Judas and the Romans – I am of two minds here. I initially agreed with Avila’s assessment of a loss of trust, and as an application for us today, a reminder to turn to God first in every situation. But PB4’s response also resonates: at this point in the Roman Empire’s development, they seem to be dealing fairly with other nations who desire peaceful alliances. It is easy for me to second-guess Judas’ decision to ally with this emerging world power knowing the eventual outcome, but it did give Israel some respite for a time. Judas, whether he consulted God in this decision or not (and Scripture does not say that he didn’t, nor that his motives were impure), could simply have been exhausted at this point and wanted peace for himself and his people. How is this really all that different than when Joseph brought his father, Jacob, and his brothers into Egypt for respite from famine? Were they not offered peace and equal footing with the Egyptians for a time? Yet, just like in this Maccabean period, the stage is set for the next period of Salvation History.
    As God does not desire separateness for us today, but that we reveal the kingdom of heaven to those in darkness around us, He did not desire separateness of His people in the OT. According to what I have learned through the Bible Timeline series, God met His people where they were and knew that they needed to be held separate because as stated before, their level of holiness could not withstand the level of unholiness surrounding them.
    Lord, may you give your faithful today the strength and courage, fortified by all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to: turn to You first in all we do with open hearts to discern Your will; to be steadfast in faith when we encounter darkness; to recognize that when persecuted for our faith we have the tools to stand firm; and may we understand that the war has been won, we must just persevere in our daily battles that salvation you desire for all souls can be achieved.

  • Antiochus attributes his end to the evils he did to Israel and Judas Macabee.

    Judas makes a deal with the Romans in hopes of lightening the oppression of the Greeks. I note that he did not pray before this decision. As with all diplomatic decisions they seem good at the time

  • I too believe that Antiochus’s death was due to his conscience getting the best of him. He was unable to sleep without restlessness not allowing his body the rest needed to think clearly. He realized his evilness overtook him. That is why it is so important to know that we have to make that extra effort to live life through God. This is where “Karma” or what goes around comes full circle is witnessed to those who continue working against God (choices and consequences.

    On a different note, Judas mad alliance with Rome to avoid subjecting them toward slavery. Together the numbers multiple when seeking those who follow the Law of God.

  • Antiochus had previously desecrated the temple in Jerusalem and built a pagan temple or altar over it. When he learns now that the Israelites have retaken the city, he is grief-stricken and fearful. He realizes at last that he had destroyed the Inhabitants of Judah “for no cause.” He recognizes his evil and is dying in grief and shame.

  • I agree with Elaine. I honestly think Antiochus was overcome with guilt because he seemed to reminisce about how he treated Jerusalem. Was he sincere? I often wonder if the fear of death brings these thoughts to mind. Is repentance too late? Only God and Antiochus know that answer.
    Judas was quite impressed with the aggressive war like style of the Romans. During the Roman’s heyday, they planned and conquered nations and it seemed it was done with such ease! Judas decided to generate a treaty with Rome.

  • Antiochus as a great leader was heart-broken that his greatness was only a temporary “crown” … his armies were destroyed, his conquered land was retaken, his purposeful desecration of the Israelites’ temple was overturned and he was shamed; and, Antiochus finally understood what he had brought onto the Israelites and that he was wrong in doing so – he had systematically set out to ruin a people that was clearly protected by their God.

    As for Judas’ alliance with Rome: as a great warrior, Judas, was quite taken with the professionalism and effectiveness of the Roman war machine and he was in awe of their military might as well as their social civility as demonstrated in their senate chambers. Judas’ also say the Romans as the next world power; he looked to align his people with the Romans as a force to help them against the Syrians and the Greeks who were currently working to overthrow the Israelites and take their lands. Judas is very wise in his dealings with Rome and, from his perspective was working to protect his people . . . if he only could have known that was going to happen.

  • Antiochus had guilt grief, despair after this battle loses. This seemed to cause his death. The Jews made an alliance with Rome as they saw Rome as strong and thought it would be to their advantage to have their help against their enemies instead of relying on God. Mankind looking for control of a situation instead of relying on God. What seems prudent to man is foolishness to God.

  • The realization of sin for Antiochus was a rude awakening for him, and knew that his grief for the guilt was killing him. It didn’t really help his son who he may have hoped would be trained to be a good King and redeem his sins because his son was later killed because of his evil Uncle. Judas was growing tired and afraid of losing the total of Israel over to the Greeks. His only resolve in the matter was to seek alliance with Rome. By relying on their strong army and resources for Israel to succumb the ravages of war, Judas felt Rome was his only hope. It was interesting for me to learn this part about history, which led up to the crucifixion of Jesus by the Romans, and why it was said Jesus was killed by the Jews. For it was those Jews who were brought into Rome because of the decision of Judas. Judas…. a name we will later hear about in anticipation.

    • This brought to mind a second thought. It’s strange how we often make choices in our lives which seem innocently logic at the time, yet often times we look back and ask ourselves why did I do that? Why did I go that way? Maybe we hope that our decisions are made with the help of God, but if it later proves to be a wrong decision, do we blame God, or ask ourselves why did I do that? God gave us free will to make choices. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are bad, but the lesson lies in the innocence of that choice. And, God will still be with us in the end.

      • Wow! As a grandparent watching my kids raise their kids without a strong faith I can look back on my choices when I was a young mom with 2 kids and hubby gone in military a lot…I grieve for the choices I made to stay home from Mass cause I was just too tired and it seemed like the right thing to do. But it is a choice and we often see the effects years later. I believe we instinctively want an excuse for our poor choices just like Adam in the Garden of Eden had the excuse that ‘Eve gave it to me,’ but deep down we know who is guilty. I thank the Lord every day that he has forgiven me and pray for my kids & grandkids… they believe just don’t practice it.

        • I know what you mean Marjorie. Now that I look back at the choices I made in my 20’s & 30’s, seemed OK at the time, but now, like I said before I want to hit my forehead and say “why did I do that?” I believe now, that God has forgiven me, when I finally learned how to forgive myself. I don’t have children, but I also see my nieces and nephews were not brought up in a strong faith either. I’m glad my Mom made sure we went to Sunday mass and received our childhood sacraments. Maybe those were the graces that finally brought me back to my God today.

  • He attributes his end to “the evils (he) did in Jerusalem (see vs 12-13). he is very sickened by the news of what has happened against his armies and attributes it to God.

    The Jews then made an alliance with Rome because “Judas had heard of the reputation of the Romans. They were valiant fighters and acted amiably to all who took their side.” This may be worthy but can also look as lost faith in the Lord. But God directs all of us to our ends one way or another, and he is always in charge.

  • After suffering defeat at the end of his life, Antiochus seemed to be looking back upon his life. He saw the evils he committed toward the Israelites and tried to right his wrongs. Could it be that the Lord was trying to soften his heart before his death? It goes to show that the hardest of hearts can soften when brought to their knees in defeat.

    I believe the jews made an alliance with Rome to have the added strength and might. The Romans were anilating everyone they considered to be their enemy, so the jews, who were probably very weary of battle, allied themselves with Roman to ensure that they wouldn’t be considered an enemy, but instead a friend of this super powerhouse.

  • Antiochus was struck with fear and very shaken and recalled the evils he did in Jerusalem carrying away the vessels of gold and silver that were in it, and for no cause gave that the inhabitants of. Judah be destroyed. In other words his conscious of wrongdoings got the best of him.

    The reason the Jews make alliance with Rome to get rid of the yoke, where the. Kingdom of Greeks was subjecting Israel to slavery. Thereafter,they made a peaceful alliance and recorded the peace of alliance for both parties to adhere to and/or know the consequences of breaking such an alliance.

    Tough struggles continue about either believing in God or working against him. This is tough to wrap my brain around only because this is a forever battle, which brings true reality to this entire world.

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