Who were the Maccabees? Let me give a short synopsis - they were a family that
lived around 170-160 B.C. that resisted the Syrian dictator Anitochus as he took
over the Jewish temple. In 171-164 B.C. Soldiers came from the village of Modiin
with a statue of Antiochus and took over the temple and erected a statue inside
the temple. Antiochus Epiphanus made a royal law that the Jews are to bow down
and to offer sacrifices to another god. Jews were forbidden to observe the
Sabbath, nor study the Torah (therefore it is considered that Antiochus changed
the times and law). Antiochus put to death any Jew who dared to observe the Laws
A family named the Maccabees with their father Mattitias gathered a small army to fight against the Syrians who were occupying the Temple. Maccabee in Hebrew means Hammer-a symbol of Judah's might or as an acronym for, “Mi khamokha ba-elim Adonai,” the words meaning, “Who is like You, O God!” Mattatias with his 5 sons John, Simon, Judah, Eliazer, and Jonathan began to fight. 1 Macabees 2:27 he says: “whosoever is zealous of the law and maintianeth the covenant, let him follow me” (the Apocrypha is used for historical reference only).
The Lord says is not my word as a hammer. A hammer is used as synonym for power; a hammer is used to drive nails in or to break something apart. God’s word can break apart a heart of stone, which He says we have (Ez.36:26) and is willing to give us a new heart- by His Spirit coming into us.
When Mattatias fell ill and died, the leadership went to his son Judah who would lead the army. The Maccabees with Judah as their leader led and unskilled commando army with only a few thousand who were easily outnumbered to a decided victory over the superior Syrian forces. The Jews fought in the hills and defeated 20,000 Syrians. News of the defeat preceded them so when they came to the temple it was vacated, left empty and ransacked. Antiochus sacrificed a pig on the altar and so the temple had to be cleansed.
Prophesy oftentimes has patterns and we see it in this event. Upon entering Jerusalem they cleansed the Temple and rededicated it, they made a new menorah and restored it to its proper use (made holy). Because of their courage in fighting, the temple was liberated by the occupiers that desecrated it and could now be used for worship to the true God of Israel again in the correct way.
Judah Maccabee had become a popular hero, a symbol of religious freedom and Israel’s national liberation. The hero of Hanukkah is considered a symbol of a military victory over great odds. You can liken the son, Judah, as a type of Jesus who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah who fights to cleanse out false worship and evil of his day. Likewise in the future Jesus will come back and fight against Israel’s enemies and cleanse the temple that the antichrist will have desecrated and made desolate. It is also significant to note that for one to enter the tabernacle in the Old Testament they had to go through the only way, which was through the tribe of Judah that camped on the east.
The Festival of Lights commemorates a miracle, the only one celebrated in the inter-testament period. They used oil for lighting the menorah at that time (The Menorah did not use candles). The Maccabee’s having only one day cruse of oil, but they saw it burn for eight days. Oil is one of the symbols used for the Holy Spirit that gives light. The church is called to be a virgin- pure, dedicated to the Son of God and told to be filled with oil, the Holy Spirit.
The festival of Hanukkah is mentioned only once in Scripture, Jesus acknowledged it as a true historical event:“At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon” (John 10:22-23). Today, Hanukkah is called the Festival of lights. Jesus is our light.
Far from glory days that people have pronounced us to be in we have entered a time of darkness much like the middle ages. This darkness has covered so many that they are unable to see what is taking place. We are watching the temple be taken over and defiled by foreigners.
Mt.6:22: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! In Luke 11:35-36 he adds, “Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. “If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives”
What we focus on is mostly what we dedicate ourselves to, they go hand in hand. Jesus not only makes a distinction of light to darkness but the infringement of darkness. How much we dedicate ourselves to the Lord will result in how much light we are to others. How we see the world and the things going on around us is a result of what we are inside. Following the Lord has got to be our #1 priority in these last days. Darkness can come in when we get our eyes off Him and on man, especially men who mislead us into darkness by their own ideas, concepts and methods. So we are to keep walking in the light and help others that are in darkness come to that light. We have the assurance that if we believe in Jesus and follow “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46).
“I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house” (Isa 42:6-7). That is what God called Israel to do, and that is what God called Paul to do- as he was sent to the gentiles (Acts 13:47).
“I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,'to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:17-18). And that is what God has called us to do…
God will make a distinction in the end of covenant keepers and those who reject it. The covenant involves the gospel of salvation (the new covenant). Daniel 11:32-35: “Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. “And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. “Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. “And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.”
In the latter times there are two camps of people Daniel speaks of: those who rebel against God’s covenant (2 Tim. 3:1-9) and those who understand and instruct the people so they will not also be corrupted by flattery. Certainly Daniel is speaking of the tribulation period but in principle this is applicable. The word wickedly is rasha` a primitive root; to be (causatively, do or declare) wrong; by implication, to disturb, violate: the word for flatteries means smooth words with false promises. Those who think they are commissioned to take the world over for Jesus are denying His covenant, flattered by the spirit of the age. Those who tell others not to deny self but self with all its fallen nature is promoted (i.e. claim that we deserve riches from God on earth) also deny his covenant (2 Pt.2:1). Part of the covenantal agreement with Jesus is that we share in his sufferings, His trials before we receive the rewards for our work on earth (Mt.24:9; Lk.22:28-30; Eph.3:13; 2 Thess. 1:4-6; Heb.10; 32-33; 1 Pt.1:6-8).
On the other hand, those who know the truth will be strong and accomplish God’s tasks despite the trials and opposition. Like the Macabee’s, though they are few they will overcome the enemy. When you know God by His word you are not going to be deceived, you will fight the deception and free other people from it. We are seeing this begin to happen in our day (though it will be in full force in the tribulation period as the darkness becomes darker and the light becomes brighter in contrast). We are to stand and fight with the sword of the Spirit and faith to rescue those who have been taken captive by lies and liars. Jesus said we are the light- we are the salt. Salt needs to be used, light needs to be seen. The word of truth is called a light; the word of truth is our sword to engage with the enemy. We must make up our mind to stand on the side of truth- Ps. 119:128: “Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.” We must see things the way God does, not by own opinions, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).
The sides have been drawn- in today’s war if you are not identifying the darkness of deception and freeing people from it you may possibly become a candidate of it. Some who were deceived and rescued will join with those who have begun the fight and this underground movement will become God’s rescue army that carries truth and love for the people. They will have a little help- enough to keep going on their mission.
2 Tim. 2:2-4: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.’ Gr- stratiotes- 1) a (common) soldier 2) metaphorically, a champion of the cause of Christ
When Paul foretold the Ephesian church and us today that hungry predators would rise from within the church (Acts 20:26-31), within our own ranks- we had no idea how this would escalate. The apostles expected the shepherds to chase them away from the sheep not put out a welcome mat and support them.
Wolves eat sheep. “But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them” (John 10:12). This is how you tell the difference, when people are being caught in the snares of the enemy and the pastor has nothing to say about it. He turns from it, makes an excuse and is silent. They ignored the danger and they want you to ignore it too. Faithful messengers will always warn and protect the sheep by identifying them by name as well as practice- unfaithful ones protect them by their silence.
They have made disciples follow their ways. They are taken captive, no longer learning from Jesus but from men with worldly ideas and intents. If you have wondered why it is so hard to get people away from the false teachers it is because they are disciples of them and cannot hear the truth, but only their voice. It takes one who has understanding, wisdom and God’s Spirit to help them escape being trapped.
The enemy is within the church today not just without. If we don’t see this our eye is not good our body is not filled with light.
We are living in confusing times, a time of war, a time of compromise. Prov. 24:23-25: “These things also belong to the wise: it is not good to show partiality in judgment. He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” him the people will curse; nations will abhor him. But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.” We must make up our mind what is right and what is wrong by God’s word not mans. Only God can identify who is the enemy and where the enemy is, so we can see him for what He is.
The prophet says “All you beasts of the field, come to devour, all you beasts in the forest. “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yes, they are greedy dogs which never have enough, and they are shepherds who cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his own gain, from his territory” (Isaiah 56:8-11).
If you have a watchdog that is sleeping on the job you don’t keep him. It would be ludicrous to applaud him as doing his job. Have you become silent when we are being attacked by beasts? Do you roll over to the other side and keep sleeping? A good portion of the church has. In the same manner, if pastors no longer speak out, what good are they? As good as a dog that does not bark when danger has come to the door of a house. They are silent because they are asleep on their watch. Why sit under them if they do not care to stay awake to protect you? They only want to keep their position. They are greedy dogs, always wanting more, bigger, more control; more prestige. Isaiah described them as “blind,” “ignorant,” and “dumb.” And when you tell them the truth to these shepherds they are unable to understand. Like being suddenly aroused from sleep, they are disoriented, not knowing what to do, they lie down again.
What has happened? In the days of John, the religious leaders had a conglomerate who was heralding the coming of the Messiah, you had to go out in the wilderness to meet John the baptizer to hear the real preaching of the word for the religious men who were in control had mislead the people into their own ways.
Today, an underground movement has formed much like the reformation and previously the Macabees. It has been at work rescuing as many as possible before the days become so dark that no man can work (Jn.9:4).
Its voice and action is becoming stronger, as it competes to be heard as the loud voice of the spirit of the age that is influencing the deception.
The church is at war. Some of the things we are at war with we have always been fighting, but there are new battles that have surfaced. Much of the battleground is now found inside the church. Dan Brown is not the problem, Rodney Browne is. It is people who are called ministers of Christ that introduce teachings to the church that are not taught in the Bible and goes against the nature of God- the Holy Spirit. Numerous unbiblical practices, ways, programs, methods are being used to enlarge the church and progress peoples spiritual growth.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that our fight is not against flesh and blood. However we are also told by Jude to contend for the faith against those who have entered in the church and are among us. So we need to distinguish where the influences are coming from but we must also deal with the ones being influenced and influencing others into the departure from the Bible. Our fight is not against flesh and blood (fallen mankind taken captive by an enemy that has blinded them), but an outside influence that has blinded them from seeing and understanding the gospel, substituting the truth with other religious and philosophies in its place.
2 Cor. 4:3-5: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake.”
So many are battle fatigued they have sat down on the sidelines. We should remember the words of Paul to young timothy, 1 Tim 1:18: “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage (KJV war) the good warfare.”
1 Tim. 6:12: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
Scripture makes the obvious assertion that there is a fight and it is in the walls of the church, not just outside. Jude 1:3: “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude was specifically led to warn the church, by explaining how to identify the false teachers in the church. The phrase “contend earnestly” is a combination of two Greek words that intensify the meaning of labor, strive, “to struggle, as a combatant.” It means to work fervently, fighting to overthrow an opponent, as one competing vigorously in the Greek games to win. If it was a wrestling match it would mean that you pin your opponent.
There are some things that are important and worth fighting for. We are to rigorously contend for “the truth”; the goal is to win the person. To impact them with truth so they can agree with what God has written in the Bible thus saving a soul from destruction.
Paul who said of himself, “that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:17). He lived his live stepping forward despite the opposition to comfort people and to rebuke them, even naming their names. At the end of his life he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). There are too many today that at their end of their life they have given in to what is wrong and they have given up the fight. Think what the apostle Paul or Peter would do today if they heard these same heresies that are promoted . They would go ballistic and NOT keep silent.
Defending the faith to those who oppose it is part of spiritual warfare. The outcome is not trivial- it is the souls of men and women Jesus died for. We can know those who understand, the faithful will always speak up and not be silent, they will “expose the unfruitful works of darkness” that affect the brethren’s health- because it is the right thing to do before God and man. It is fulfilling to love God and love their neighbor. But in doing this they face a concerted effort to silence their exposure of error. The enemy of God needs to work in stealth mode to accomplish his victories; when he is uncovered and exposed for what he is doing, he loses his influence. So he fights by demoralizing those who have the truth by demoralizing their mission. He makes them feel guilty for doing what is right and he uses people to discourage their work. Prov. 17:15: “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.” The loyalists to their rebellion say, “shhh don’t say anything, you are judging, or “shhh you are speaking against the anointed of God” “touch not my anointed.” But everything has been turned upside down and darkness is considered light. The sides are being decided. Whose side are you on? You prove it by whom you have loyalty to and what you do. The Holy Spirit was sent as our helper to teach us the TRUTH, to guide us and give us wisdom in everyday living and strength to stand for the truth against what challenges it. Are you listening to what He wrote, or what men say? When He is abandoned, worldly ways and other means fill the void.
John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight.” Rome had the most powerful army in the world at that time and no one could withstand them in combat. So how do we fight this fight of faith? Jesus made it clear that we do not use the sword (as Peter did when he was being arrested). Paul explains, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled”(2 Cor. 10:3-6). Our fighting is not physical but a spiritual battle that is won one person at a time by convincing them by the truth so they can understand the lie they once believed in and the truth they are to believe in.
The hour is getting late, darkness is setting in on planet earth, the restraint is being lifted -The time is now, time to stand and fight. It is time to fight for what is right, pick up the sword of the spirit and cut people free from being trapped by the enemy of their souls, defend the temple- defend the body of Christ.