Day 190 – 1 Maccabees 1:1-2:14; Psalm 9:18–39; Proverbs 2:1–5; Acts 15:22–41

1 Maccabees 1:1-2:14

1 After Alexander, the son of Philip the Macedonian, came out of the land of Kittim and conquered Macedonia, and defeated Darius the king of the Persians and the Medes, and reigned in his place—he was already king of Greece— 2 he then fought numerous wars, conquered fortresses, and slaughtered the kings of the earth. 3 He went to the ends of the earth and took the spoils of many nations. So the earth rested from war before him, and he was exalted; his heart was likewise encouraged. 4 He formed a mighty army and ruled countries, nations, and princes, and they all paid taxes to him.

5 Then later, he fell sick, and he knew he was dying. 6 So he brought in his trusted servants who had grown up with him from childhood, and parceled out his kingdom to them while he was still living. 7 After Alexander reigned for twelve years, death claimed him. 8 Then his servants began to rule, each in his appointed place. 9 They all put on crowns after he died, and their sons for many years after them, and the evils they caused multiplied on the earth.

Antiochus Epiphanes and the Lawless Jews

10 A sinful root came forth from them, Antiochus Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus the king, who was a hostage in Rome. He began his reign in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.

11 In those days lawless men came forth from the sons of Israel, and they persuaded many, saying, “Let us make a covenant with the Gentiles surrounding us, for ever since we were separated from them, many evils have found us.” 12 This proposal found favor in their eyes, 13 and some of the people eagerly desired to enter into this agreement. So they went to the king, and he gave them authority to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. 14 Then they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem according to the customs of the Gentiles, 15 and made themselves as the uncircumcision. So they fell away from the holy covenant, yoked themselves to the Gentiles, and sold themselves to do evil.

Antiochus Conquers Egypt

16 Thus the kingdom was prepared before Antiochus, and he determined he would reign over the land of Egypt, so as to rule over two kingdoms. 17 Thus he entered Egypt with a strong multitude of chariots, elephants, cavalrymen, and a large army. 18 He engaged Ptolemy king of Egypt in battle, and Ptolemy turned from him in shame and fled. Many were wounded and fell. 19 So they captured mighty cities in Egypt, and Antiochus took spoils in the land of Egypt.

Antiochus Pillages the Temple

20 After he conquered Egypt in the one hundred and forty-third year, Antiochus turned and went up to Israel and Jerusalem with a large army. 21 He entered the sanctuary in arrogance and took the golden altar, the lampstand, all the utensils, 22 the table of presentation, the cups and bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the golden ornaments on the face of the temple. He stripped everything, 23 and took the silver and the gold and everything costly, and the hidden treasures he found. 24 Taking all these things, he departed for his own land. He committed deeds of murder and spoke with great arrogance.

  25 There was great mourning everywhere in Israel,

26 Rulers and elders groaned,

Virgins and young men grew weak,

And the beauty of the women was altered.

27 Every bridegroom took up a lament

And sat mourning in his bridal chamber.

28 The land was shaken for its inhabitants,

And all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.

More Destruction in Jerusalem

29 After two years, the king sent a revenue official to the cities of Judah, and he entered Jerusalem with a large army. 30 Antiochus spoke peaceable words to them with deceit, and they believed him. Then he fell upon the city suddenly, struck it a great blow, and killed many people from Israel. 31 He took spoils from the city, set it on fire, and tore down its houses and the city walls. 32 They took captive the women and the children and took possession of the animals.

33 Then they built the city of David with a great and strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel. 34 They placed there a sinful nation of lawless men, and they became strong within it. 35 And they laid up weapons and provisions, and gathered together the spoils they had taken from Jerusalem. Then they returned there and were like a great snare.

36 It became an ambush against the sanctuary,

An evil accuser against Israel continually.

37 They shed innocent blood around the sanctuary

And defiled the sanctuary.

38 The inhabitants of Jerusalem fled because of them,

And she became a dwelling place of strangers.

She became a stranger to her offspring,

And her children forsook her.

39 Her sanctuary was laid waste like a desert

And her feasts were turned into mourning,

Her Sabbaths into a disgrace

And her honor into contempt.

40 Her dishonor prevailed against her glory,

And her high position was turned into mourning.

A Decree of Corruption

41 Then the king wrote to all his kingdom, that they all were to be as one people, 42 and that each one was to forsake his customs. So all the nations accepted the word of the king. 43 Many from Israel also thought it good to serve him, so they sacrificed to idols and profaned the Sabbath.

44 Then the king sent books to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah by the hand of messengers, and told them to follow foreign customs in the land, 45 to forbid whole burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane the Sabbaths and the feasts, 46 and to defile the sanctuary and the holy ones. 47 These books also told them to build altars, sacred precincts, and temples to idols, to sacrifice swine and common animals, 48 to leave their sons uncircumcised, so they would corrupt their souls by every unclean and profane thing, 49 and forget the law and alter all the ordinances. 50 They also added that whoever did not obey the word of the king would die.

51 According to all these words he wrote to everyone in his kingdom. He also placed inspectors over all the people and commanded the cities of Judah to sacrifice in each and every city. 52 Thus many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined together and did evil things in the land. 53 They forced Israel to hide in every place of refuge they had.

54 Then on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation on the altar of the whole burnt offerings and built altars in the surrounding cities of Judah. 55 They also burned incense at the doors of houses and in the streets. 56 And when they found books of the law, they tore them to pieces and burned them in the fire. 57 Whenever a book of the covenant was found in someone’s possession, or if anyone sympathized with the law, the judgment of the king was to kill him. 58 They acted with their might against Israel, against those who were found month after month in the cities.

  59 Then on the twenty-fifth day of the month they sacrificed on the altar, which was on top of the altar of the whole burnt offerings. 60 In keeping with the decree, they sentenced to death the women who had their children circumcised, 61 and the families who had circumcised them, and hung the infants from their mothers’ necks. 62 Yet many in Israel grew strong, and determined in themselves not to eat unclean things. 63 They chose rather to die than be defiled by foods or profane the holy covenant. So they died, 64 and great wrath came upon Israel.

The Zeal of Mattathias

1 In those days Mattathias, the son of John of the tribe of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, rose up from Jerusalem and settled in Modein. 2 He had five sons: John, called Gaddi; 3 Simon, called Thassi; 4 Judas, called Maccabeus; 5 Eleazar, called Avaran; and Jonathan, called Apphus. 6 He saw the blasphemies taking place in Judah and Jerusalem, 7 and said:

“Alas, why was I born to see this,

The ruin of my people,

The destruction of the holy city,

And to live there when it was delivered

Into the hand of the enemy,

The sanctuary into the hand of foreigners.

8 Her temple has become like a man without honor.

9 Her glorious vessels were carried away into captivity;

Her infants have been slain in the streets,

Her young men with the sword of the enemy.

10 What nation has not inherited her palaces

And taken hold of her spoils?

11 All her adornment has been removed:

In place of freedom, she has become a slave;

12 And behold, our sanctuary,

Our beauty and our glory have been laid waste,

And the Gentiles have desecrated it.

13 Why should we live any longer?”

14 Thus Mattathias and his sons tore their clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned exceedingly.

Psalm 9

18 Let sinners be turned back into Hades, And all the nations who forget God. 

19 For the poor man shall not be forgotten in the end; The patience of the poor shall not perish forever. 

20 Arise, O Lord, and do not let man prevail; Let the nations be judged in Your presence. 

21 Set a lawgiver over them, O Lord, And let the nations know that they are men. (Pause) 

22 Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You disregard me in times of affliction? 

23 When the ungodly man behaves arrogantly, the poor are set afire; Let him be caught in the counsels he ponders. 

24 For the sinner praises himself in the desires of his soul, And the unjust man blesses himself. 

25 The sinner provokes the Lord; He will not seek Him out because of the fullness of His wrath; God is not before him. 

26 His ways are defiled in every season; Your judgments are removed from his face; He shall rule over all his enemies, 

27 For he said in his heart, “I will not be shaken; From generation to generation I will be without trouble.” 

28 His mouth is full of cursing, bitterness and deceit; Suffering and pain are under his tongue. 

29 He lies in ambush with the wealthy; He kills the innocent in hidden places; His eyes look intently at the poor; 

30 He lies in ambush in a hiding place, like a lion in his den; He lies in wait to seize the poor man, To seize the poor man to drag him away; 

31 He will humble him in his snare; But he will bend down and fall when he rules over the poor. 

32 For he said in his heart, “God forgets; He turned His face so as never to see it.” 

33 Arise, O Lord God, let Your hand be lifted high, And do not forget Your poor. 

34 Why has the ungodly man provoked God? For he said in his heart, “You will never call me to account for this.” 

35 But You do see, You do perceive the suffering and pain, That You might deliver them into Your hands; Therefore, the poor man will be left to You; You give help to the orphan. 

36 Break the arm of the sinner and the evil man; His sin shall be sought, and because of it he will not be found; 

37 The Lord will reign, But you, O nations, you will perish from His earth. 

38 The Lord hears the desire of the poor; Your ear heeds the readiness of their heart, 

39 To judge the orphan and the humble, That man may no longer increase his great boasting upon the earth.

Proverbs of Solomon 2

It Is Wise to Obey

1 My son, if you receive the words of my commandment And hide them within yourself, 

2 Your ear will be obedient to wisdom, And you will incline your heart to understanding; You will entrust it to your son as an admonition. 

3 For if he calls upon wisdom, And you utter your voice for understanding; If you seek perception with a strong voice, 

4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as treasure, 

5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord And find the knowledge of God.

Acts 15

The Decree: Early Canon Law

22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

23 They wrote this, letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. 

24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “ You must be circumcised and keep the law”

25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,

26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth.

28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:

29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. 

The Decree Received in Antioch

30 So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter.

31 When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.

32 Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.

33 And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to the apostles.

34 However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there.

35 Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Paul and Barnabas Separate

36 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.”

37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark.

38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.

39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus;

40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God.

41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

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