Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Time Between Testaments-The Day the Temple Lamp Shone

By Mary Vee
Between the Old and New Testament

From the Historical records

The time in between time. 

Four hundred years are in the process of passing since God last spoke through a prophet to His people.

Remember we are counting backwards to year 0. The year is around 143 BC. (before Christ)

    400 BC                           300 BC                        200 BC                        100 BC                          Birth of Christ

photo by Mary Vee
The Syrians had ruled Judea.

Their soldiers were equipped with the best, newest, and powerful weapons of the day: rams to break through strong city gates, bows and arrows, javelins, spears, armor, elephants, and military siege engines shaped like large crossbows having better accuracy than a catapult. What small army would dare fight them? 

A Jewish remnant led by Judah of the Macabee family rallied the Jews to fight for the right to worship God. In the post below this one, read about the fourth and decisive battle that brings us to today's story.

A few years had gone by since Judah and his men had left the safety of the mountains. He wondered if this was the time to move forward. Not to take back their country. The much greater goal was to take back the temple and their freedom to worship. 

The fourth and largest battle wore out his troops. They scooped up the dead soldiers' weapons and carried them back to camp. During their meal and while the men rested, a new plan popped in Judah's head. He said the thought out loud, "It's time to take back the temple."

The men standing around him cheered. Those out of hearing range closed in. 

"Listen up. The Syrian army has retreated leaving the door open for us to take back the temple. I say we do it. This will no be an easy job. There will be more soldiers at the temple, but I feel in my heart we can do it. We're ready."

The men cheered again. After a time of celebrating they quieted and one said, "What is your plan. We're ready to do whatever you command."

Judah grabbed a stick. He made a drawing of Jerusalem's wall and the temple. "We'll sneak into the city from every direction then meet at the temple where we'll take out the Syrian guards. Unit leaders spread your men out. We'll creep in like ants to a picnic."

The men laughed then cheered again. 

"Get some sleep. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow."

Before the sun rose, the Jewish rebellion troops crept over hills and behind bushes. They signaled contacts on the inside to get through the city gates. Through the streets they moved, converging on the temple. 

Syrian troops stood outside with their weapons ready. 

Judah gave the signal to attack.   

The battle woke Jews living in the city and drew Jews from outlying villages. They all met at the temple and stepped over dead soldiers to go inside. 

The men fell to their knees and wept at what they saw. The Temple, built to honor and worship the living God was in shambles. Gates were torn. Grecian statues littered the spaces. Dirt. Vines. Broken furniture. This special place, once the foundation to their worship, had been violated.

Simon, Judah's older brother stood first. He wiped tears. "Get up. Everyone on your feet. We are going to restore this building starting right now."

The men pushed themselves to a stand. While tears still fell, they hauled Grecian statues and threw them out of the temple. Artisans pitched in and built new altars, furniture, holy vessels, and candlesticks. Women and men worked to scrub, repair, and make new items for the temple. They baked fresh bread and hung new curtains.

The work lasted for many days. As they worked, they sang, spoke words from the Holy Scriptures, repeated teachings, and remembered.

The day finally came for the Temple to reopen. A celebration called all the Jews to Jerusalem. Instruments played and the people sang. 

Then Judah lit the lamp. There was only enough oil to burn for one day. This made him sad. The lamp was to always be lit.

The celebration lasted into the late night and started the next morning. To everyone's surprise the lamp was still lit. 

The next day the lamp shone brightly. How could this be? There was only enough oil for the first day. 

For eight days the lamp remained lit, the length of the celebration. 

The Jews decided to observe this celebration every year. The celebration is called Hanukkah in some languages and Chanukah in others. Both are pronounced the same.

The battles against the Syrians didn't end that easily. There were more battles to keep the Temple a place for Jews to worship. The Jews then fought to have more than the freedom to worship, they were ready to fight for their country's freedom. This war took more than twenty years.

Simon, the last living of his brothers, became the High Priest of Jerusalem and ruler of Judea.

Come back next time to see what happens.

This is the history, the events that happened to real people during the time between the Old and New Testaments. 


*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary
*The Hanukkah Book by Marilyn Burns, Four Winds Press, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1981

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