Posts Tagged ‘Antiochus IV’


The Fiery Furnace

Friday, January 7, 2022

Joy and Daniel – Ordeal

We have discovered the many ways that joy visits us in celebration but we also find her during days without light and nights without end. From the stories of Genesis to the extravagant images of Revelation we find that no matter the circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  For the next several days we re-visit the prophets for a final experience of joy in darkness. And we remind ourselves that we have the power to bring God’s infinite, sustaining, persistent joy to others.

Daniel’s prophecy includes familiar stories: the writing on the wall, the lion’s den, the fiery furnace and in the Apocrypha, Susana’s rescue and Bel and the Dragon. The prophecy also contains the first reference to one like the son of man, coming from the heavens (Daniel 7:13) with whom Jesus later identifies himself (Matthew 8:20, Mark 2:10, Luke 5:24, and John 1:51), with whom others identify Jesus (Stephen in Acts 7:54-8:1, and as our brother by the writer of Hebrews 2:5-8). This Son of Man reappears in Revelation as the living one who was dead in 1:13 and again at the harvest of the earth in 14:14. These stories and images have much to communicate to us, especially when we undergo a great ordeal.

 “Strictly speaking, the book does not belong to the prophetic writings but rather to a distinctive type of literature known as ‘apocalyptic,’ of which it is an early specimen . . . This work was composed during bitter persecution carried on by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and was written to strengthen and comfort the Jewish people in their ordeal”. (Senior 1086)

Through the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, we learn that the faithful need not fight, they need only remain faithful in and with God.

Daniel 6:23: The king was beside himself with joy and ordered Daniel lifted from the den. And not a scratch was found on him because he believed in his God.

Through the words of Daniel’s prayer, we learn how to rise in hopeful joy in the darkest of hours.

Daniel 9:17: O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead! Let your face shine again with peace and joy upon your desolate sanctuary—for your own glory, Lord.

joyThrough Daniel’s actions, we learn how to remain faithful in a world that worships power, breeds oppression and disdains a life of joy in God. Let us consider the lessons of Daniel today.

Make time today to look through Daniel’s stories. Choose one that might apply to the circumstances playing out around you. Compare different versions of this story . . . and commit to living it out as might be possible in this new year.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1086. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the Old or New Testaments, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: https://fccya.wordpress.com/tag/fiery-furnace/

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joySunday, November 14, 2021

2 Maccabees 9

Joy and Arrogance

The Books of Maccabees unfold for us violence, rebellion, abhorrence and fear. We may be surprised to find that joy threads its way through these stories. As we examine the tales of the Maccabees family, let us consider how our own families are caught up in global and local affairs . . . and how miserable circumstances may well be hiding glimmers of joy . . . if we might only look. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy even when we suffer at the hands of the arrogant.

The effects of arrogance are far-reaching and long-lasting. Arrogance leads us into ourselves and a belief that we can resolve all conflicts and overcome all obstacles. Arrogance leads us away from God and a healthy understanding that ultimately, we cannot control all that touches and surrounds us. Arrogance is a wall the weak construct behind which to hide. Arrogance uses the tools of bullies, obfuscators and liars. Arrogance is not found in Christ himself, who showed us that humility and meekness before God lead us to truth, goodness and even immortality. Antiochus IV is one of history’s lessons on arrogance.

Verses 9:1-4: About this time Antiochus was retreating in disorder from Persia, where he had entered the city of Persepolis and had attempted to rob a temple and take control of the city. The people took up arms and attacked Antiochus, forcing his army to retreat in disgrace. He became furious and decided to make the Jews pay for the defeat he had suffered. So he ordered his chariot driver not to stop until they reached Jerusalem. With great arrogance he said, “I will turn Jerusalem into a graveyard full of Jews”. But he did not know that he was heading straight for God’s judgment. 

Antiochus falls ill on his way to eradicate the Jews.

Verses 9:7-8: But this in no way caused him to give up his pride. Instead he became more arrogant than ever, and breathing out fiery threats against the Jews, he gave orders to drive even faster. As a result he fell out of his chariot with such a thud that it made every bone in his body ache. His arrogant pride made him think he had the superhuman strength to make ocean waves obey him and to weigh high mountains on a pair of scales. But suddenly he fell flat on the ground and had to be carried off on a stretcher.

At last Antiochus capitulates to forces he knows he cannot control, and he decides to ask forgiveness of the people of Jerusalem in a letter which he writes to them.

Verses 9:20-21: I hope that you and your families are in good health and that all goes well with you. My hope is in God, and I remember with a deep sense of joy the respect and kindness that you have shown me.

We might see our neighbors, friends, work colleagues, loved ones or even ourselves in Antiochus today. Let us pause to consider how we might break the misery of arrogance that lives in the world’s power centers; and let us call one another to a new humility and meekness that Jesus shows us. As we reflect on the conversion of this intense and complex man, let us look for the joy that lives somewhere deep inside the most entrenched and ugly faces of arrogance.


More information can be found about Antiochus IV at: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Hanukkah/History/Antiochus_Madman.shtml and https://sawiggins.wordpress.com/tag/antiochus-iv-epiphanes/ 

For more Noontime reflections about this tumultuous time, enter the word Maccabees into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://sawiggins.wordpress.com/tag/antiochus-iv-epiphanes/

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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2 Maccabees 10Battle – Part IV

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Friday, March 9, 2018

Second Maccabees is a narration of the revolt led by the Maccabeus family in the second century before Christ.  Part of this narrative is a description of the political intrigue accompanying the physical battle.  We can imagine the plotting and counter-plotting that took place.  Chapter 10 describes how the faithful purified and re-dedicated their temple after they removed the profane statues placed in the sanctuary by Antiochus Epiphanes.  We arrive breathless at the end of the chapter to read: . . . with hymns and thanksgiving they blessed the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel and gives them the victory. 

We will find ourselves from time to time in a place of battle, unable to fully hear or see in the dust and din of clashing fears and realities.  In these times of cacophony, it is difficult to hear the difference between the voice of God and our ego-centrist, inner voice of survival.  For this reason, we turn to God frequently during our days and nights so that we might best hear God’s voice and respond to it rather than our own.  During times of stress, we might fall back on John 10 in which Jesus tells us that faithful sheep will know the voice of the true shepherd so well that they will follow no other.   This shepherd we follow is one who forgives continually, calls endlessly, and waits patiently.   This shepherd will not lead falsely, will not abandon the flock, and he will go out in search of the last lost sheep to return it to the fold.

We are in the beginning of our Lenten journey and we are just commencing to unpack the baggage we have been carrying all winter.  What is it we need to re-sanctify and re-pack?  What is it that we need to sweep away forever?  What is it that brings us such confusion that we cannot decide how to handle it?  What are the battles we can wage on our own, and what are the battles we must hand over to God?  Which of these battles are psychological?  Which are emotional or physical?  And which are purely spiritual?

All of these questions ask us to examine our own motivations and actions, but the most important questions are these. How do we thank God under all circumstances for the gift of who we are and what we have been called to be? What hymns of thanksgiving do we sing to bless the Lord?  How do we tell this one who shows us great kindness and who gives us victory in our battles, that we are God’s and God’s alone?

Adapted from a reflection written on February 23, 2010. 

Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes

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1 Maccabees 6: Siege and Peace

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Francesco Hayez: Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem

Francesco Hayez: Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem

God abides with us in peace even during siege. We reflect on this as we remember a Favorite from March 29, 2008.

 This chapter is full of the back-and-forth-ness of prolonged battle.  It speaks of what the Spanish call the vaivén or the going and coming of a situation, a people or a period of time.  We may want to consult a commentary as we wade through the warfare we encounter here.

As King Antiochus the Fourth was passing through Mesopotamia, he heard of a city in Persia, named Elymais, which was famous for its riches in silver and gold.

We know that stored goods are too great a temptation for those who value the world more than they treasure the kingdom of God.

The temple was very rich, containing gold shields, armor, and weapons left there by Alexander, son of King Philip of Macedonia, who was the first to rule the Greek Empire.

We have all been participants – either willing or unwilling – in a protracted, pitched battle for something we hold dear.

Remains of the Arca Citadel in Jerusalem

Remains of the Arca Citadel in Jerusalem

Antiochus came and tried to take the city and loot it, but he didn’t succeed, because the citizens had learned what he was planning to do, and they drew up their troops to resist him. In great frustration he withdrew to return to Babylonia.

There are times in our lives when we have behaved badly, with anger and revenge, insult and brutal indifference.

In Persia a messenger reached Antiochus with the news that the armies he had sent into Judea had been defeated. Lysias and his strong army had been forced to flee from the Jews, who were now reinforced by the additional weapons, supplies, and loot they had taken from the defeated armies.

There are other times in our lives when we have behaved with integrity and honesty, justice and compassion. No matter the circumstance, God is always with us, offering us an opportunity to trust God’s mercy and compassion.

When we find ourselves under siege, we only need ask ourselves this question: Have we looked for God’s Peace to replace the siege that grips our lives?

For the fascinating story of the unearthing of the Arca Citadel, click on the image above or visit: http://www.timesofisrael.com/maccabean-era-fortress-unearthed-in-jerusalem-after-century-long-search/


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