1 Maccabees 2: God’s Yardstick – Mattathias
Generations of Fidelity
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
We continue to see God’s yardstick in the Old and New Testaments.
Mattathias laments that he lives in an age when centuries of fidelity fade into corruption: Woe is me! Why was I born to see the ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city? We might well ask this question in any age and in any place. It seems that the human condition is to succumb to the temptation of the call of false teaching and self-promotion. Fraud replaces fidelity; dishonesty becomes truth; disgrace and honor trade places. But Mattathias calls on his sons to remember their lineage as beloved children of Yahweh. Falling back on their relationship with God, this ancestry is characterized by strong men who consistently rely on qualities that nourish truth and light. These forbears trust God alone, and they serve as a measuring stick for our own behavior in turbulent times.
Remember the deeds that our ancestors did in their times, and you shall win great honor and an everlasting name.
Abraham, faithful in trial, fills with righteousness. Joseph keeps the commandment, despite distress, to become master of Egypt. Phinehas, for his burning zeal, receives the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. Joshua executes his commission to become a judge in Israel. Caleb bears witness before the assembly and receives an inheritance in the land. David, known for his loyalty, receives as heritage a throne of eternal kingship. Elijah, full of burning zeal for the law, is taken into heaven. For their faith, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael are saved from the fire. Innocent Daniel is delivered from the mouths of lions. (verses 51-60)
We might pause with these verses 61-63 in particular.
And so, consider this from generation to generation,
that none who hope in Heaven shall fail in strength.
Do not fear the words of sinners,
for their glory ends in corruption and worms.
Today exalted, tomorrow not to be found,
they have returned to dust,
their schemes have perished.
When we spend time reflecting on these verses today, we see how this pedigree inspired Mattathias and his sons to defend the kingdom whose loss they lament. Like Mattathias, we might also allow ourselves to see the measure of God’s love in our own spiritual family tree. Let us place our hope in heaven so that whatever our circumstances require of us . . . we do not fail in strength.
To learn more about Mattathias and his family and the story of Hanukkah, visit: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Maccabees.html