Between the Old and New Testament was a time-period of approximately 400 years. What occurred during these centuries? One terrible event was the desecration of the Jewish Temple by a man named Antiochus Epiphanes.
Antiochus Epiphanes was the descendent of one of the four generals who took over the Grecian empire after the death of Alexander the Great. A part of Antiochus Epiphanes’ kingdom contained the land of Israel. History tells us that Antiochus did everything he could to remove from Israel from any influence or culture other than that of the Greeks. We learn from Daniel 8:11 that a part of his purging involved the ending of the daily sacrifices offered in the Jewish temple. In addition, he defiled the Jewish temple by placing in it a statue of Grecian god Zeus, and by offering a pig as a sacrifice on the brazen altar. He also made it illegal for the Jews to study scripture, to observe the Sabbath, and to circumcise Jewish boys.
Antiochus then sent his soldiers throughout the land to enforce his laws. When his soldiers came to a village called Modin, they ordered the local priest to sacrifice a pig before the people. Because such an act was considered to be sacrilegious, the priest refused to do as the solider had said. When another Jewish man stepped forward to slay the animal, the priest killed him. When the soldier tried to kill the priest, the priest turned and killed him. He then cried out, “Whoever is for God, follow me!” Thus began what is known in history as the Maccabean revolt which would be led by the priest Mattathias and his five sons.
Jesus said –
Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Join me again tomorrow and learn what happened after Mattathias and his sons decided to defy the evil demands of Antiochus Epiphanes.