WHAT A GIFT!!
2 Maccabees Ch 11 we have more history as well as God’s intervention in the ways of the world
We have Lysias, the king’s guardian and kinsman
We have King Antiochus who thinks he’s going to put the hammer down on the Jews
What does he realize?
Well, he does not realize that Maccabeus means HAMMER
So the joke is on you, Lysias
Here’s what happens…
The Lord reveals his presence and action in the lives of the people of Israel who are defending their land
While they are still near Jerusalem, Judas Maccabeus is praying and rousing everyone up to fight
2 Maccabees 11:8-10, “And there, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold. And they all together praised the merciful God, and were strengthened in heart, ready to assail not only men but the wildest beasts or walls of iron. They advanced in battle order, having their heavenly ally; for the Lord had mercy on them.”
THIS IS IMPORTANT
Here’s what happens…
GOD SHOWS UP AND HE IS PRESENT
And then, the people also have to fight
They have a HEAVENLY ALLY for the Lord had mercy upon them
2 Maccabees 11:11, “They hurled themselves like lions against the enemy…”
It’s good for us to be reminded CONSTANTLY of the Lord’s presence and the Lord’s action
The Lord’s LOVE FOR US
God is there even if we don’t see a vision of a horseman clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold
GOD IS PRESENT
We keep saying this again and again because 2 Maccabees reveals it AGAIN AND AGAIN
One of the things that happens as well is that here is the Lord’s warrior
The warriors of Israel are called upon to fight
It’s not “Ok Jesus, take the wheel. I’m going to let go of the steering wheel and just whatever happens happens.”
It’s actually, “Lord, help me in this moment. I’m going to steer the car.”
It’s actually, “Lord, help us at this moment. We are going to take up arms and hurl ourselves like lions against the enemy.”
There is something SO IMPORTANT TODAY
As you and I are thrust into the day, launched into today, we know that God is Present
“God, help us to do your will.”
That’s been our prayer this whole time because we don’t want to miss God’s will or get it wrong
At the same time, God is going to move BUT God expects US TO MOVE AS WELL
God is there as our ally
THAT ALSO MEANS THAT WE HAVE TO BE HIS ALLY!!
How many times in the Gospels does Jesus say something to the effect of like in Matthew Ch 25, “I was naked and you clothed me. I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was in prison and you visited me.”
In Matthew Ch 25 Jesus makes that case SO CLEARLY
One of the things that it reveals to us is that WE GET TO BE THE HAND AND FEET OF THE LORD!!
Yes, God is ABSOLUTELY PRESENT
Yes, God ABSOLUTELY IS CALLING US TO ACT IN THIS WORLD
So as we launch into this day, wherever you are listening to the Word of God…
“Ok God, you are present. You are active. Help me to be present to you. Help me to be active in your name.”
Also in Wisdom of Solomon Ch 11 hopefully you are getting just as much GRACE from this book as Fr. Mike is
Let’s just highlight two things today...or maybe three (how many times has Fr. Mike started with two things then changed it to three? 😉 I want more actually 😉)
Wisdom Ch 11 talks about how GOOD God is
Wisdom 11:10, “For you tested them as a father does in warning, but you examined the ungodly as a stern king does in condemnation.”
So here is the people of Israel and the Lord God who is in covenant with them
He is their God
They are his people
For us as Christians, God is our FATHER
We are his children
There are two ways we can see God coming to us
One is as the Father does in warning
He tests us
He doesn’t want us to FAIL
He doesn’t want us to FALL
He doesn’t want us to BE CRUSHED
HE WANTS US TO BECOME STRONG
HE WANTS US TO BECOME FAITHFUL
So we are tested as a father does in warning vs. examining the ungodly as a stern king does in condemnation
Wisdom 11:15 “In return for their foolish and wicked thoughts, which led them astray to worship irrational serpents and worthless animals, you sent upon them a multitude of irrational creatures to punish them...”
What is that a reference to?
It may be a reference to their wandering in the wilderness when the people were punished for their grumbling by being bitten by seraph serpents
Here they are in BITTERNESS
Here they are in RESENTMENT
Here they are in COMPLAINT
And the Lord God allowed them to be that way
This is really interesting
I don’t know if we mentioned this way back when in Numbers and Deuteronomy and we had those seraph serpents that had bit a number of people of Israel (Do you remember this? Go back and read Day 69: The Bronze Serpent in The Bible in a Year Study Guide for a refresher 😁)
One thing is, the reality wasn’t that God created serpents to come upon the people of Israel to bite them
It was that they were ALREADY THERE
God had been PROTECTING THEM
God had been HOLDING THOSE SERPENTS BACK
And then when they grumbled against God saying, “I don’t want to belong to you, Lord. I don’t want to trust you, Lord.”
So God was like, “Ok well in that case, I am going to remove my withholding of the serpents.”
Does that make sense?
Did we talk about this earlier this year however many days ago it was?
There is an element there that is SO POWERFUL to realize
How many DANGERS does the Lord keep from us ON A DAILY BASIS?
ON A MOMENT TO MOMENT BASIS?
Anyways...Verse 16 is the KEY VERSE
Wisdom 11:16, “...that they might learn that one is punished by the very things by which he sins.”
If that is not WISDOM…
MAN OH MAN!! (YAY!!!)
How many times have we reached out to something that was a sin
The thing that we thought would give us MOMENTARY JOY
The thing that we thought would give us MOMENTARY HAPPINESS
We realize that WE ARE PUNISHED BY THE VERY THINGS THROUGH WHICH WE SIN
IT COMES BACK TO US
IT IS NOT GOOD FOR US
The reason that God prohibits these things is not because they are actually awesome and God doesn’t want us to experience awesomeness
IT’S BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT GOOD FOR US!!
What does God do?
This is the theme here in Wisdom Chs 11 & 12 and the following chapters
GOD CALLS US BACK!!
The author uses a phrase again and again in Wisdom of Solomon is LITTLE BY LITTLE
GOD CALLS THEM BACK LITTLE BY LITTLE
Wisdom 12:8, “But even these you spared, since they were but men, and sent wasps as forerunners of your army, to destroy them little by little…”
God could have destroyed them COMPLETELY at any given moment but he didn’t
Wisdom 12:10, “But judging them little by little you gave them a chance to repent…”
Again, this THEME
Wisdom 12:2, “Therefore you correct little by little those who trespass, and remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin, that they may be freed from their wickedness and put their trust in you, O Lord.”
WE MARVEL AT HOW MANY TIMES GOD HAS BEEN SO PATIENT WITH US
God corrects us LITTLE BY LITTLE rather than just DESTROYING US IMMEDIATELY
Why does he do this?
THAT WE MIGHT LEARN HOW TO PUT OUR TRUST IN HIM!!
MAN (OH MAN!!) YOU GUYS!!
As we know, we can’t do this on our own
We get reminded of this every single day
WE NEED GOD’S GRACE
WE NEED EACH OTHER
As we are coming to the end of these 365 days, it’s not like we can’t keep going
We can make another trip around the sun here with each other (I’ll be there and I’m going to write another 2,000 pages for the study guide 😉!! Will you be there too? 😉)
We are journeying with people who are in the highs of life and the lows of life
WE ABSOLUTELY NEED TO PRAY FOR EACH OTHER!!
PLEASE KNOW THAT YOU ARE BEING PRAYED FOR!!
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU!!
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER