The punishment of Heliodorus (2 Macc 3:24-3:28)

“When Heliodorus arrived at the treasury with his bodyguard, then and there the Sovereign of spirits and of all authority caused so great a manifestation that all who had been so bold as to accompany him were astounded by the power of God. They became faint with terror. There appeared to them a magnificently caparisoned horse, with a rider of frightening mien. It rushed furiously at Heliodorus and struck at him with its front hoofs. Its rider was seen to have armor and weapons of gold. Two young men also appeared to him, remarkably strong, gloriously beautiful and splendidly dressed. They stood on each side of him and scourged him continuously, inflicting many blows on him. When he suddenly fell to the ground and deep darkness came over him, his men took him up. They put him on a stretcher and carried him away. This man who had just entered the aforesaid treasury, with a great retinue and his bodyguard, was now unable to help himself. They recognized clearly the sovereign power of God.”

When Heliodorus arrived at the Temple treasury with his bodyguards, he was met by a heavenly manifestation or apparition that showed the power of God. He became faint. Appearing to him was a horse and rider who kicked him. This golden armored rider had 2 other strong, beautifully dressed men to whip him on each side until he fell to the ground. Finally they took him away on a stretcher as he was unable to help himself. This was a show of strength of the sovereign God. To what extent they were real men or not, we do not know, but the effect was real on Heliodorus.

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The death bed repentance of King Antiochus (1 Macc 6:8-6:13)

“When King Antiochus king heard this news, he was astounded and badly shaken. He took to his bed. He became sick from grief because things had not turned out for him as he had planned. He lay there for many days because deep disappointment continually gripped him. He concluded that he was dying. So he called all his friends. He said to them.

‘Sleep has departed from my eyes.

I am downhearted with worry.

I said to myself.

‘To what distress I have come!

Into what a great flood I now am plunged!

For I was kind and beloved in my power.’

But now I remember the wrong I did in Jerusalem.

I seized all her vessels of silver and gold.

I sent to destroy the inhabitants of Judah without good reason.

I know that it is because of this

That these misfortunes have come upon me.

Here I am perishing of bitter disappointment in a strange land.’”

King Antiochus IV was astonished and shaken by the news that he heard about Judah. In quite a melodramatic way, he took to his bed because things had not turned out the way that he had planned them. He was very despondent. Thinking that he was dying, he called his friends. He tried to clear his soul with a confession to his friends. He could no longer sleep because he was so worried. He was in great distress that he himself had caused. He had been a kind and beloved king, until he went to Jerusalem. There he took the silver and gold vessels and destroyed the people of Jerusalem for no reason. He believed that all his misfortunes stemmed from that incident. Now he was going to die disappointed in a strange land, Persia.