Day 311 – God Fights for You

Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read about some graphic battles. Throughout the Old Testament, we read how God works through the brokenness that is around us and the violence that follows. Because of human sinfulness, life is not neat and tidy — it is messy.

In Wisdom 17 we read bout secret sins – those sins we keep hidden from others and those can haunt us. When we walk in truth and wisdom, we realize there is no such thing as a secret sin.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

2 Maccabees 14

1 Three years after this, Judas and his men learned that Demetrius son of Seleucus had landed at the port of Tripolis with a strong army and a fleet,

2 and that he had occupied the country and had killed Antiochus and his tutor Lysias.

3 A certain Alcimus, a former high priest, had wilfully incurred defilement at the time of the insurrection; realising that whichever way he turned there was no security for him, nor any further access to the holy altar,

4 he went to King Demetrius in about the year one hundred and fifty-one and presented him with a golden crown and a palm, together with the traditional olive branches from the Temple; there, for that day, he let the matter rest.

5 Presently he found an opportunity to further his mad plan. When Demetrius called him into his council and questioned him about the dispositions and intentions of the Jews, he replied,

6 ‘Those Jews called Hasidaeans, who are led by Judas Maccabaeus, are war-mongers and rebels who are preventing the kingdom from finding stability.

7 That is why, after being deprived of my hereditary dignity — I mean the high priesthood — I have come here now,

8 first out of genuine concern for the king’s interests, and secondly, out of a regard for our own fellow-citizens, because the irresponsible behaviour of those I have mentioned has brought no slight misery on our entire race.

9 When your majesty has taken note of all these points, may it please you to make provision for the welfare of our country and our oppressed nation, as befits the gracious benevolence you extend to all;

10 for, as long as Judas remains alive, the State will never enjoy peace.’

11 No sooner had he spoken thus than the rest of the King’s Friends, who were hostile to Judas’ activities, stoked Demetrius’ anger.

12 The latter at once selected Nicanor, then commander of the elephants, promoted him to the command of Judaea and despatched him

13 with instructions to dispose of Judas, disperse his followers and instal Alcimus as high priest of the greatest of temples.

14 The foreigners in Judaea, who had fled before Judas, flocked to join Nicanor, thinking that the misfortunes and troubles of the Jewswould be to their own advantage.

15 When the Jews heard that Nicanor was coming and that the foreigners were about to attack, they sprinkled dust over themselves and made supplication to him who had established his people for ever and who never failed to support his own heritage by direct manifestations.

16 On their leader’s orders, they at once left the place where they were and confronted the enemy at the village of Dessau.

17 Simon, brother of Judas, engaged Nicanor but, owing to the sudden arrival of the enemy, suffered a slight reverse.

18 Nicanor, however, had heard how brave Judas and his men were and how resolutely they always fought for their country, and he did not dare allow bloodshed to decide the issue.

19 And so he sent Posidonius, Theodotus and Mattathias to offer the Jews pledges of friendship and to accept theirs.

20 After careful consideration of his terms, the leader communicated them to his troops, and since they were all clearly of one mind they agreed to the treaty.

21 A day was fixed on which the respective leaders were to meet as individuals. A litter came out from either side and seats were set up.

22 Judas had posted armed men in strategic positions, in case of a sudden treacherous move by the enemy. The leaders held their conference and reached agreement.

23 Nicanor took up residence in Jerusalem and did nothing out of place there; indeed, he sent away the crowds that had flocked to join him.

24 He kept Judas constantly with him, becoming deeply attached to him

25 and encouraged him to marry and have children. Judas married, settled down and led a normal life.

26 When Alcimus saw how friendly the two men had become, he went to Demetrius with a copy of the treaty they had signed and told him that Nicanor was harbouring thoughts against the interests of the State, and was planning that Judas, an enemy of the realm, should fill the next vacancy among the Friends of the King.

27 The king flew into a rage; roused by the slanders of this villain, he wrote to Nicanor, telling him of his strong displeasure at these agreements and ordering him immediately to send Maccabaeus to Antioch in chains.

28 When the letter reached Nicanor, he was very much upset, for he disliked the prospect of breaking an agreement with a man who had done nothing wrong.

29 Since, however, there was no way of opposing the king, he waited for an opportunity to carry out the order by a stratagem.

30 Maccabaeus began to notice that Nicanor was treating him more sharply and that his manner of speaking to him was more abrupt than it had been, and he concluded that such sharpness could have no very good motive. He therefore collected a considerable number of his followers and got away form Nicanor.

31 The latter, realising that the man had well and truly outmanoeuvred him, went to the greatest and holiest of Temples when the priests were offering the customary sacrifices, and ordered them to surrender Judas.

32 When they protested on oath that they did not know where the wanted man could be,

33 he stretched out his right hand towards the Temple and swore this oath, ‘If you do not hand Judas over to me as prisoner, I shall rase this dwelling of God to the ground, I shall demolish the altar, and on this very spot I shall erect a splendid temple to Dionysus.’

34 With these words he left them. The priests stretched out their hands to heaven, calling on him who has at all times done battle for our nation; this was their prayer:

35 ‘O Lord in need of nothing, it has pleased you that the Temple where you dwell should be here with us.

36 Now, therefore, holy Lord of all holiness, preserve for ever from all profanation this House, so newly purified.’

37 Now, a man called Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor. He was a man who loved his countrymen and stood high in their esteem, and he was known as the father of the Jews because of his kindness.

38 In the earlier days of the insurrection he had been convicted of Judaism, and he had risked both life and limb for Judaism with the utmost zeal.

39 Nicanor, by way of demonstrating the enmity he had for the Jews, sent over five hundred soldiers to arrest him,

40 reckoning that if he eliminated this man he would be dealing them a severe blow.

41 When the troops were on the point of capturing the tower and were forcing the outer door and calling for fire to set the doors alight, Razis, finding himself completely surrounded, fell on his own sword,

42 nobly resolving to die rather than fall into the clutches of these villains and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth.

43 But in the heat of conflict he missed his thrust, and while the troops swarmed in through the doorways, he ran nimbly upstairs to the parapet and manfully threw himself down among the troops.

44 But, as they immediately drew back, he fell into the middle of the empty space.

45 Still breathing, and blazing with anger, he struggled to his feet, blood spurting in all directions, and despite his terrible wounds ran right through the crowd; then, taking his stand on a steep rock,

46 although he had now lost every drop of blood, he tore out his entrails and taking them in both hands flung them down on the crowd, calling on the Master of his life and spirit to give them back to him one day. Thus he died.

Wisdom 17

1 Yes, your judgements are great and impenetrable, which is why uninstructed souls have gone astray.

2 While the wicked supposed they had a holy nation in their power, they themselves lay prisoners of the dark, in the fetters of long night, confined under their own roofs, banished from eternal providence.

3 While they thought to remain unnoticed with their secret sins, curtained by dark forgetfulness, they were scattered in fearful dismay, terrified by apparitions.

4 The hiding place sheltering them could not ward off their fear; terrifying noises echoed round them; and gloomy, grim-faced spectres haunted them.

5 No fire had power enough to give them light, nor could the brightly blazing stars illuminate that dreadful night.

6 The only light for them was a great, spontaneous blaze — a fearful sight to see! And in their terror, once that sight had vanished, they thought what they had seen more terrible than ever.

7 Their magical illusions were powerless now, and their claims to intelligence were ignominiously confounded;

8 for those who promised to drive out fears and disorders from sick souls were now themselves sick with ludicrous fright.

9 Even when there was nothing frightful to scare them, the vermin creeping past and the hissing of reptiles filled them with panic;

10 they died convulsed with fright, refusing even to look at empty air, which cannot be eluded anyhow!

11 Wickedness is confessedly very cowardly, and it condemns itself; under pressure from conscience it always assumes the worst.

12 Fear, indeed, is nothing other than the failure of the help offered by reason;

13 the less you rely within yourself on this, the more alarming it is not to know the cause of your suffering.

14 And they, all locked in the same sleep, while that darkness lasted — which was in fact quite powerless and had issued from the depths of equally powerless Hades-

15 were now chased by monstrous spectres, now paralysed by the fainting of their souls; for a sudden, unexpected terror had attacked them.

16 And thus, whoever it might be that fell there stayed clamped to the spot in this prison without bars.

17 Whether he was ploughman or shepherd, or somebody at work in the desert, he was still overtaken and suffered the inevitable fate, for all had been bound by the one same chain of darkness.

18 The soughing of the wind, the tuneful noise of birds in the spreading branches, the measured beat of water in its powerful course, the headlong din of rocks cascading down,

19 the unseen course of bounding animals, the roaring of the most savage of wild beasts, the echo rebounding from the clefts in the mountains, all held them paralysed with fear.

20 For the whole world shone with the light of day and, unhindered, went about its work;

21 over them alone there spread a heavy darkness, image of the dark that would receive them. But heavier than the darkness was the burden they were to themselves.

Wisdom 18

1 For your holy ones, however, there was a very great light. The Egyptians, who could hear them but not see them, called them fortunate because they had not suffered too;

2 they thanked them for doing no injury in return for previous wrongs and asked forgiveness for their past ill-will.

3 In contrast to the darkness, you gave your people a pillar of blazing fire to guide them on their unknown journey, a mild sun for their ambitious migration.

4 But well those others deserved to be deprived of light and imprisoned in darkness, for they had kept in captivity your children, by whom the incorruptible light of the Law was to be given to the world.

5 As they had resolved to kill the infants of the holy ones, and as of those exposed only one child had been saved, you punished them by carrying off their horde of children and by destroying them all in the wild water.

6 That night had been known in advance to our ancestors, so that, well knowing him in whom they had put their trust, they would be sure of his promises.

7 Your people thus were waiting both for the rescue of the upright and for the ruin of the enemy;

8 for by the very vengeance that you exacted on our adversaries, you glorified us by calling us to you.

9 So the holy children of the good offered sacrifice in secret and with one accord enacted this holy law: that the holy ones should share good things and dangers alike; and forthwith they chanted the hymns of the ancestors.

10 In echo came the discordant cries of their enemies, and the pitiful wails of people mourning for their children could be heard from far away.

11 One and the same punishment had struck slave and master alike, and now commoner and king had the same sufferings to endure.

12 Struck by the same death, all had innumerable dead. There were not enough living left to bury them, for, at one stroke, the flower of their offspring had perished.

13 Those whose spells had made them completely incredulous, when faced with the destruction of their first-born, acknowledged this people to be child of God.

14 When peaceful silence lay over all, and night had run the half of her swift course,

15 down from the heavens, from the royal throne, leapt your all-powerful Word like a pitiless warrior into the heart of a land doomed to destruction. Carrying your unambiguous command like a sharp sword,

16 it stood, and filled the universe with death; though standing on the earth, it touched the sky.

17 Immediately, dreams and gruesome visions overwhelmed them with terror, unexpected fears assailed them.

18 Hurled down, some here, some there, half dead, they were able to say why they were dying;

19 for the dreams that had troubled them had warned them why beforehand, so that they should not perish without knowing why they were being afflicted.

20 Experience of death, however, touched the upright too, and a great many were struck down in the desert. But the Retribution did not last long,

21 for a blameless man hurried to their defence. Wielding the weapons of his sacred office, prayer and expiating incense, he confronted Retribution and put an end to the plague, thus showing that he was your servant.

22 He overcame Hostility, not by physical strength, nor by force of arms; but by word he prevailed over the Punisher, by recalling the oaths made to the Fathers, and the covenants.

23 Already the corpses lay piled in heaps, when he interposed and beat Retribution back and cut off its approach to the living.

24 For the whole world was on his flowing robe, the glorious names of the Fathers engraved on the four rows of stones, and your Majesty on the diadem on his head.

25 From these the Destroyer recoiled, he was afraid of these. This one experience of Retribution was enough.

Proverbs 25:18-20

18 A mace, a sword, a piercing arrow, such is anyone who bears false witness against a companion.

19 Decaying tooth, lame foot, such is the fickle when trusted in time of trouble:

20 as well take off your coat in bitter weather. You are pouring vinegar on a wound when you sing songs to a sorrowing heart.


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