Judas Maccabeus asks for prayers (2 Macc 13:9-13:12)

“The king with barbarous arrogance was coming to show the Jews things far worse than those that had been done in his father’s time. But when Judas Maccabeus heard of this, he ordered the people to call upon the Lord day and night. Now was the time to help those who were on the point of being deprived of the law, their country, and the holy temple. He did not want to let the people who had just begun to revive fall into the hands of the blasphemous gentiles. They all joined in the same petition. They had implored the merciful Lord with weeping, fasting, and lying prostrate for three days without ceasing. Then Judas Maccabeus exhorted them and ordered them to stand ready.”

Judas Maccabeus heard that King Antiochus V was coming to destroy the Jews. He was going to be worse than his father King Antiochus IV. Judas Maccabeus ordered the people to pray to the Lord day and night. He was afraid that they would fall back into the deprived ways of the blasphemous gentiles. They all joined him in imploring the Lord for 3 days of weeping, fasting, and lying prostrate. Then he exhorted and commanded them to get ready.

Purification of the Temple (2 Macc 10:1-10:4)

“Now Judas Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city. They tore down the altars which that had been built in the public square by the foreigners. They also destroyed the sacred precincts. They purified the sanctuary. They made another altar of sacrifice. Then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices. After a lapse of two years, they burned incense. They lighted lamps. They set out the bread of the Presence. When they had done this, they fell prostrate. They implored the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes. If they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations.”

This purification of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus took place earlier in 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, about a year before the death of King Antiochus IV. Here it is 2 years after the desecration of the Temple. In fact, the description in 1 Maccabees was more elaborate, but pretty much the same as here. There was no lamentation and mourning for the city and the Temple here. The Lord led them on here as the altars were in the public square. In 1 Maccabees, they saved the old stones. Here they just made another altar. They offered sacrifices, burned incense, lighted lamps, and set out the bread of Presence as in 1 Maccabees. Here there is a prayer to be more lenient next time if they do sin.

Ezra tells of the disobedience of Israel in the wilderness (Neh 9:16-9:21)

“They and our ancestors acted presumptuously.

They stiffened their necks.

They did not obey your commandments.

They refused to obey.

They were not mindful of the wonders you performed among them.

They stiffened their necks.

They determined to return to their slavery in Egypt.

You are a God ready to forgive.

You are gracious and merciful.

You are slow to anger.

You abound in steadfast love.

You did not forsake them.

Even when they cast an image of a calf for themselves,

They said.

‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt.’

They had committed great blasphemies.

You in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness.

The pillar of cloud that led them in the way did not leave them day.

The pillar of fire gave them light on the way by which they should go.

You gave your good Spirit to instruct them.

You did not withhold your manna from their mouths.

You gave them water for their thirst.

Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness.

They lacked nothing.

Their clothes did not wear out.

Their feet did not swell.”

Despite the great love of God, the Israelites would not obey him. They actually wanted to return to Egypt. However, God was forgiving, merciful, gracious, and slow to anger. He was steadfast in his love so that he did not forsake our ancestors. Even though they were blasphemous and created a golden calf, in his mercy he did not forsake our ancestors. He sent a pillar of cloud and fire to guide them. He gave his Spirit to instruct them. He gave them manna and water to sustain them in the wilderness. They lacked nothing as their clothes did not wear out nor their feet swell.