So I’m reading my daily scripture last Thursday (1Maccabees 2:15-29). It’s a typical Bible story… or so I think.
The king’s officers are enforcing apostasy, or sacrifices in the city of Modein. Many of Israel joined them. Then the king’s officers addressed Mattathias. “You’re a great guy. Come do what the king wants and you will be his best friend. You and your sons will be invited to all his parties and be given cool stuff.” (I’m paraphrasing.)
I’d be tempted to say, “Sure!” I wonder what kind of gifts the king would give me…
Mattathias responds that while others have obeyed the king and thus giving up their religion, he and his sons will not forsake their religion and will keep the covenant of our fathers. They will not obey the words of the king.
Not the first time a righteous, God-fearing man stands up to a king who does not understand. I wonder if I could I do that.
What will happen to Mattathias? Arrest? Beheading?
What happened next surprised me!
As Mattathias finishes speaking to the king’s officers a “certain Jew” comes forward to offer sacrifice in front of all according to the king’s order forsaking his religion.
Does Mattathias think, “This man can do what he wants to but I’m not going to obey the king’s orders”? No. Not even close.
Mattathias, a man of God, was “filled with zeal” and his “just fury was aroused”. He sprang forward and KILLED the Jew upon the altar. AND he killed the messenger of the king who was forcing them to sacrifice. Then he tore down the altar. “Thus he showed his zeal for the law.”
REALLY?! You show how much you love God by killing people?
Then Mattathias went through the city shouting that all who are zealous for the law and who stand by the covenant should follow him.
They fled to the desert leaving behind all their possessions.
WHAT? Mattathias tells the king “no”, kills two people, tears down the altar, retreats to the desert and GETS AWAY WITH IT?
That was the end of the reading. Maybe there is more to the story.
Reading on… uh, yeah. The king’s men find them in the desert, attack and kill them all.
Ok, maybe this is a typical Bible story, one with zeal for the law and plenty of killing. I can’t imagine God wants us to kill people who don’t follow His ways. I would imagine God would want us to show His love to them.
Thank goodness we don’t live in Old Testament times anymore. Or do we?