Today is 12-12-12. Biblically, 12-12-12 speaks of the complete reign of God’s government or the complete reign of His Kingdom. The LORD told me: “The reign of My Kingdom has begun” at the beginning of this Biblical year (i.e., Feast of Trumpets – sundown September 16, 2012). It’s already existed, but God’s Kingdom is now filling the whole earth in a way that we have never experienced before. There has begun a sovereign shift to the divine order of earthly things that’s a global shift in the earth’s administration. (Please see Chapter 8 in my book SANTA-TIZING. It was written four years ago and goes into much greater detail about this “Fullness of Time.”) One of the Lord’s premier focuses is the heavenly commodity of a pure and spotless people in His sight.
That 12-12-12 happens to be on the fourth day of Chanukah is extremely significant. Just as His creation began with His command “Let there be light,” so will His Kingdom. A key to unlock Kingdom treasures is found in this Biblical Festival that Jesus celebrated in John 10:22-23. A heavenly door to a Winter One-der-land of oneness opened at sundown the first day of Chanukah. It’s a gateway of awe that has been prepared for the special season of light, miracles and dedication of our temples to walk as Jesus did. Please refer to Winter One-der-land article http://wp.me/p158HG-aH for more information.
Of course, we all get to choose whether to enter this Kingdom reality, or not. Our lack of a choice will be our choice. The heroes in the story of Chanukah can literally show us the way. Sure darkness appears to be covering the earth and deep darkness the people, but there is a people – you and I – that have been born for such a time as this. We are a royal priesthood, a holy nation that will lovingly display the excellencies of God’s Kingdom in the face of impossible odds.
For three days we have focused on the depths of darkness that surrounded the people in the day of Antiochus Epiphanes IV, because it’s a good picture of the darkness that we face in our day. Today is the day that we will focus our energies on those who did not shrink back and be destroyed. It was these who believed, acted on their belief, and were saved. Let us all be in that number.
The inner and outer dynamics of the Chanukah struggle began three years before the Chanukah miracle – Miracle of God’s Light – and it continued more than a generation after. Yesterday I painted the picture of the troubled days in which the Chanukah heroes arose (See The Dark Side of Chanukah http://wp.me/p158HG-dk ). Recall that the Syrian-Greek King Antiochus Epiphanes IV perversely commanded and brutally demanded that all the people in his earthly empire relinquish their own ways to completely conform to the customs, religion, and culture of the Greeks. To God’s people, a line had been being drawn in the sand. The Antichrist insisted everyone fit in with his darkness, or choose to die.
The Antiochus Antichrist did his homework. He outlawed and made punishable with death anything and everything that would keep God’s people holy. He desecrated God’s Holy Temple in Jerusalem with pig’s blood, and replaced it with a pagan temple to honor the Greek god of the sky and thunder whom they claimed to be the father of the gods and men who ruled from Mount Olympus – Zeus. Antiochus also set up his own corrupt High Priest. He dissolved their Biblical calendar, because these people of the Book tried to keep their time holy. He prohibited God’s people from observing dietary laws that respected the sanctity of life, laws of family and marital purity, the sign of Abrahamic covenant (circumcision), and even the use of their God’s Name. All holy writings were confiscated, pig’s blood was poured on them, and then they were burned. And if that wasn’t enough, pagan Greek altars and temples were set up everywhere so the people could demonstrate their “new devotion.”
This was the climate and the setting in Modi’in, a Judean village 30,000 cubits (approximately 8.5-11.3 miles) from Jerusalem. As you will see, Modi’in (Modin) became the cradle for the general revolt against the Antichrist System of their day. Today Modi’in is Tel al-Ras near the village of El-Midya. East and north of it, stretches rugged mountainous terrain.
A devout family headed by Mattisyahu the Hasmonean had fled Jerusalem where the persecution was strongest. One day the king’s forces appeared in their little town of Modi’in, and demanded that all the townspeople offer up a sacrifice in the pagan fashion. The official representatives of the King Antiochus looked for the most respected man in town. The king’s emissaries attempted to convince the venerable Mattisyahu that it would be to his material, social and earthly advantage if he would set an example for the people. If Mattisyahu were to comply, he and his sons would be considered the pagan king’s “friends,” an official title that carried with it many privileges with not the least being a substantial sum of money.
As Mattisyahu was defiantly refusing to profane “The Name,” a renegade Jew neared the altar to save his own life by offering the pagan-required sacrifice. When Mattisyahu saw this, he was indignantly filled with rage. In the fashion of Phineas (Num 25:1-13), Mattisyahu grabbed a sword from a Greek soldier and killed not only the Jewish renegade, but the Syrian-Greek emissaries of the king.
Mattisyahu then proclaimed: “Whoever is zealous for the Torah (God’s Word) and is steadfast in the Covenant let him follow me!” Thus, Mattisyahu and his sons and entire family left all their worldly possessions behind in Modi’in and fled to the mountains in the Judean desert. Isn’t there an end-time prophecy about fleeing to the mountains and the Bride coming out of the desert leaning on her Beloved? Look it up. Well anyway, many others followed.
The king could not disregard this direct challenge to his authority, so the fight for truth, justice and God’s way was on. The Jews were exhorted by Mattisyahu to resist the Syrian-Greeks with force. They had 6,000 combat-worthy loyal Jews that had gathered under their banner of freedom. They quickly ascertained that they could not fight in the usual combat-line manner of the day, so they devised the first guerilla form of warfare. The Jews began by going on the offensive. They began to strike back at the Syrians in nocturnal raids. They demolished the idolatrous altars while the pagans slept.
Mattisuahu did not live to see the result of the events that he had set in motion. He died the following year (166 B.C.E.), but before his death he gathered his five sons around him. Shimon (Simon), Yehudah (Judah), Elazar (Eleazar), Yochanan (Jonathan), and Yonasan (John) were urged to be steadfast against the Seleucids. Mattisyahu instructed his boys to follow the advice of the eldest Simon “for he is a sagacious man,” but to look to Judah as their leader in battle. Judah was given the surname “The Maccabee,” because of his heroism and strength that was like a hammer. Maccabee is an acronym for “Who is like You among the mighty, O Hashem.” This legend was emblazoned on Judah’s shield.
The official appointed by Antiochus to administer Judea was Phillip. He was tasked to execute the forced obliteration of the Jewish religion, but somehow he didn’t take Mattisyahu’s revolt seriously. I’m sure Phillip felt that they could easily contain the rebellion by the troops stationed in the vicinity of Judea. Phillip called upon the military commander of Samaria (today it’s called The West Bank), Apollonius, to help him. Apollonius gathered some Cutheans and others to attack the Maccabees. But Judah was forewarned and preemptively struck. He killed Apollonius of Samaria and much of his army. The rest were routed with Judah appropriating their arms.
This drew greater attention. Seron, the commander of the army in Syria was chosen to gather a large, well-equipped army to march to Judea. Before a single sword was raised, Judah reassured his men, as he would many times in the coming years, that the fierce battle was for the sake of heaven. There was no difference in God’s eyes between many of a few. Triumph in battle does not depend on the size of an army, because strength comes from God. Judah told them that our enemy opposes us full of violence and lawlessness in order to destroy us, our wives, and our children. Our enemy seeks to plunder us. Judah remembered his father’s last words, and reminded this small army of the Most High God that we can be confident that God will help us. And help them God did. Judah and his rag-tag army crushed this greater Syrian force by killing 800 of their soldiers. After Seron, Judah’s fame spread, and he began to be feared. His fame even reached as far as Antiochus himself.
Antiochus was so enraged about Seron’s defeat that the king commanded that his entire army be gathered. Antiochus opened his treasury and paid his soldier’s a full year’s wages, and then ordered then to prepare for war. Upon Antiochus realization that his coffers had been depleted by his military campaigns and lavish spending (grandiose buildings and gladiator games), he was advised to go to Persia (modern-day Iran) to collect the tribute owed him. By the way, Antiochus’s violent tactics and erratic behavior had also disrupted the economy in his realm.
Therefore, Antiochus Epiphanes IV equipped a large part of his army with elephants, and assigned them to Lysias’ command with orders to march into Judea and crush the Jewish nation. Elephants were the ancient equivalent of our modern-day tanks. In reality, the regent Lysias was in charge of the western part of Antiochus kingdom while the majority of the Seleucid army stayed with Antiochus Epiphanes in the eastern satrapies. An army of 40,000 foot soldiers and 7,000 cavalry marched as far as Emmaus, a town west of Jerusalem in the Judean hills. There the massive army pitched camp and were enhanced by reinforcements from the standing armies of southern Syria and the coastal regions of Philista. So confident were the Syrian-Greeks of victory that Nikanor summoned some slave dealers from the coastal cities and promised to sell them Jewish slaves at an unprecedented low price.
Judah did not loose his trust in where his help came from. The Jews could not go up to Jerusalem to pray, so they set their sights on a place of prayer for God’s salvation in the days of Samuel – Mizpah. A day of prayer and fasting was put aside. The Jews even managed to save some of their holy scrolls. They opened one and read from it. Then they brought the priestly garments, the tithes, and the first-fruit offering to the only Temple they had access to – the heavenly one. They placed these articles before the group, then they all cried out: “What shall we do with these and where shall we bring them Your Temple has been downtrodden and defiled… How can we withstand our enemies if You will not help us?”
Did heaven hear their cry? Judah was led to divide his small army into four battalions of 1,000 men each, to be commanded by either himself or by his brothers (Jonathan, John and Simon). Before exhorting his Gideon army to trust in God, Judah declared one more requirement to remain in his army that was in accordance to Deuteronomy 20:1-9. Any man who had recently got married, built houses, or planted vineyards were told that they should leave the army (1 Maccabees 3:46-60).
Being forewarned again by those loyal to the cause, Judah and company marched 27 km along a narrow hilly trail under the cover of darkness into a position to attack the enemy’s main base at dawn. Too many soldiers would have hindered their progress and lead to their discovery. Not only that, but the reduced Maccabean force actually contributed to their morale by recalling their glorious past and the great things God had done for them. When Judah got to Emmaus, he saw that the Seleucid army was not only huge, but well-seasoned. The enemy had many sentries posted around their camp. This was probably the most critical moment for God’s people since their pious rebellion began. Judah had exhorted his men to pray and be steadfast: “Do not fear their number or their attack… Let us cry out to God – perhaps He will … crush the enemy camp that faces us now. Then all the heathen will know that there is One who rescues and preserves Israel.”
Once again Judah preemptively ordered his men to attack. The Jews surprised the Syrians and shortly caused a disorderly retreat for Lysias and friends. The Jews decimated their entire rear guard, set fire to the Syrian camp, and pursued the fleeing enemy. They killed 3,000 Syrian-Greek soldiers during the chase. A large part of the enemy’s army was still in the mountains, but when Gorgias and his troops saw fire rising from their main camp, they panicked and fled the battlefield.
After a year (165 B.C.E.), Lysias, the kinsman appointed in Antiochus absence to head a caretaker government, sent yet a stronger force that consisted of 60,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry. Judah met them at Beth Tzur with 10,000 loyal Jews. Beth Tzur (Beth Zur) was the southernmost fort in Judea, which could not be bypassed so the confrontation had to take place here. Judah went on the offensive again. He and his men attacked killing 5,000 soldiers. Lysias seeing the dogged determination of the Jews – they’d rather die rather than surrender – despaired of victory this time and returned to his capital of Antioch in Syria.
When Judah saw that the Syrian-Greeks had been routed, he said to his brothers, “Let’s now go up to the Temple, cleanse and re-dedicate it.” They gathered their entire force and marched to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. We’ll continue this story tomorrow from here.
~ Robin Main
Copyright Dec. 12, 2012 – Author: Robin Main.
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Resources for this article:
- 500 Questions and Answers on Chanukah by Jeffrey M Cohen
- Chanukah – Its History, Observance, and Significance – A Presentation Based on Talmudic and Traditional Sources (The Artscroll Mesorah Series) by Rabbis Nosson Scherman & Meir Zlotowitz, General Editors
- Epic of the Maccabees, The byValerie Mindlin & Gaalyahu Cornfeld
- Judas Maccabaeus – The Jewish Struggle against the Seleucids by Bezalel Bar-Kochva
- Judas Maccabaeus and the Jewish War of Independence by Claude Reignier Conder,