Of Faith and Valor

I love this story because it shows how remembering God’s victory in our lives can produce Faith and Valor in abundance.

2 Maccabees 15:1-29

 Nicanor’s Arrogance.

1 When Nicanor learned that Judas and his companions were in the territory of Samaria, he decided he could attack them in complete safety on the day of rest. 2 The Jews who were forced to accompany him pleaded, “Do not massacre them so savagely and barbarously, but show respect for the day which the All-seeing has exalted with holiness above all other days.” 3 At this the thrice-accursed wretch asked if there was a ruler in heaven who prescribed the keeping of the sabbath day.  4 They replied, “It is the living Lord, the ruler in heaven, who commands the observance of the sabbath day.” 5 Then he said, “I, the ruler on earth, command you to take up arms and carry out the king’s business.” Nevertheless he did not succeed in carrying out his cruel plan.

 

Judas harangues his men. His dream

6 In his utter boastfulness and arrogance Nicanor had determined to erect a public victory monument* over Judas and his companions. 7 But Maccabeus remained confident, fully convinced that he would receive help from the Lord. 8 He urged his men not to fear the attack of the Gentiles, but mindful of the help they had received in the past from Heaven, to expect now the victory that would be given them by the Almighty. 9 By encouraging them with words from the law and the prophets,* and by reminding them of the battles they had already won, he filled them with fresh enthusiasm. 10 Having stirred up their courage, he gave his orders and pointed out at the same time the perfidy of the Gentiles and their violation of oaths. 11 When he had armed each of them, not so much with the security of shield and spear as with the encouragement of noble words, he cheered them all by relating a dream, a kind of waking vision, worthy of belief.

12 What he saw was this: Onias, the former high priest, – a noble and good man, modest in bearing, gentle in manner, distinguished in speech, and trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched arms for the whole Jewish community.  13 Then in the same way another man appeared, distinguished by his white hair and dignity, and with an air of wondrous and majestic authority. 14 Onias then said of him, “This is a man* who loves his fellow Jews and fervently prays for the people and the holy city—the prophet of God, Jeremiah.” 15 Stretching out his right hand, Jeremiah presented a gold sword to Judas. As he gave it to him he said, 16 “Accept this holy sword as a gift from God; with it you shall shatter your adversaries.”

 

The disposition of the combatants

17 Encouraged by Judas’ words, so noble and capable of instilling valor and stirring young hearts to courage, they determined not merely to march, but to charge gallantly and decide the issue by hand-to-hand combat with the utmost courage, since city, sanctuary and temple were in danger. 18 They were not so much concerned about wives and children, or family and relations; their first and foremost fear was for the consecrated sanctuary.  19 Those who were left in the city suffered no less an agony, anxious as they were about the battle in the open country.20Everyone now awaited the decisive moment. The enemy were already drawing near with their troops drawn up in battle line, their beasts placed in strategic positions, and their cavalry stationed on the flanks.  21 Maccabeus, surveying the hosts before him, the variety of weaponry, and the fierceness of their beasts, stretched out his hands toward heaven and called upon the Lord who works wonders; for he knew that it is not weapons but the Lord’s decision that brings victory to those who deserve it. 22 Calling upon God, he spoke in this manner: “You, master, sent your angel in the days of King Hezekiah of Judea, and he slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand men of Sennacherib’s camp. 23 And now, Sovereign of the heavens, send a good angel to spread fear and trembling ahead of us. 24 By the might of your arm may those be struck down who have blasphemously come against your holy people!” With these words he ended his prayer.

 

The defeat and death of Nicanor

25 Nicanor and his troops advanced to the sound of trumpets and battle songs. 26 But Judas and his troops met the enemy with supplication and prayers. 27 Fighting with their hands and praying to God with their hearts, they laid low at least thirty-five thousand, and rejoiced greatly over this manifestation of God’s power. 28 When the battle was over and they were joyfully departing, they discovered Nicanor fallen there in all his armor; 29 so they raised tumultuous shouts in their ancestral language in praise of the divine Sovereign.

 

Taken from:    http://www.usccb.org/bible/2mc/15

 

My thoughts:

When reading the Old Testament, I take away the good from the bad.  If you were to read this chapter further there are things I would never suggest we do.  But the faith and the courage and the prayer of these soldiers and their victory is what captivated my heart.  And I believe if we pray at all times for God’s victory we Christians will be victorious in all we do, even if we do not always get what we want.

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