Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
1 Maccabees 9 – This takes up the story left in Chapter 7. King Demetrius [the Seleucid king], hears of Nicanor’s defeat, he sends other generals in. It is 160 BC – when Judas’ men see the huge force coming after them, many flee. They are left with around 800 out of the original 3000.
His men try to convince him to leave the field in the present state of weakness, but he convinces them their reputation requires them to stay. Somehow, they manage to break the strong right wing of the opposing army. The left wing scatters and Judas is mortally wounded. It is unclear how the battle ends, but from what comes next, it didn’t go well.
Seeming to start at a different place, after Judas’ death, unity breaks down among the Israelites. The “renegades” [anti-Maccabaean] reemerge; famine hits and people generally side with the Seleucid monarch. “A terrible oppression” (9:27) begins. The resistance movement turns to Jonathan. He sends one of his brothers, John on a mission and he is captured and apparently killed.
In revenge, the Maccabaeans raid a wedding procession of important opponents and turn them to mourning – God, how like today.
Bacchides, the Syrian general, working out of Jerusalem, sets up garrisons in many towns. In 153 BC. Alcimus, an Israelite from the House of Aaron, working with the Syrian occupiers orders demolition of a wall of the sanctuary – the wall dividing the Gentiles from the Jews in the Temple.
Alcimus dies of a stroke, and Bacchides withdraws from the area for two years. The “renegades” eventually ask for him to return. He starts back, but the Maccabaeans learn of it and have fifty of the renegades arrested and killed. The force of Bacchides is routed. Bacchides himself becomes angry with those who encouraged him to re-enter the region and so he takes some of them into custody and has them killed. Jonathan and Bacchides come to agreement on his withdrawal and Jonathan sets up a government center at Michmash where he governs according to the Law.
2 Timothy 3 – Difficult days lie ahead “in the last days” (3:1). ”People will be selfish, greedy, boastful, and conceited; they will be insulting, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful and irreligious” (3:2). People “will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power” (3:5). Timothy should avoid these people. People of real faith will have to endure persecution. He should be patient in all his trials.
Paul also speaks of the usefulness of the Holy Scriptures – what we now call the Old Testament. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed” (3:16-17).