In the second chapter of 1 Maccabees we finally are introduced to the patriarch of the family, Mattathias. Mattathias inherited priesthood from Joarib who was gifted everlasting priesthood to his descendants. He was well respected in the Isrealite community and was targeted by Antiochus and his men to turn towards the new pagan ways because they knew people would follow his example. Mattathias stood strong to his zeal for the Jewish law and proceeded to kill the messenger and a fellow Jew he saw disobeying the law.
“Let everyone who is zealous for the law and who stands by the covenant follow after me” (1 Maccabees 2:27). Mattathias makes this call to any Jew who wants to avoid falling into sin and breaking the covenant with God to to follow him to the mountains where they can worship together and not be persecuted. Let me remind you the author of Maccabees is the son of Mattathias who is retelling the story of his war hero father scooping him up and taking him off to hiding to fight for the law. What greater example of zeal can you ask a father to give their son than this. It’s ok to stand for the law and what you know is good even if it means going against the grain.
When the king found out he was infuriated and sent men to chase after him and wage battle but God rewarded the faithful and zealous Matthias with a band of Hasideans to help them in battle. When they emerged victorious, they returned to their town and tore down all the pagan altars and punished anything and anyone who disobeyed the law.
On his death bed presumably surrounded by his sons, Matthias recalls the stories of great Jewish men and advocates of the law who came before them and how greatly they were rewarded for their actions. True examples of what can be accomplished when you put your trust in God and keep his covenant. I love the verse “And so, consider this from generation to generation, that none who hope in him shall fail in strength” (1 Maccabees 2:61).
As you sit in quarantine maybe a little frightened or uncertain about the future and the health of your friends and loved ones, don’t lose hope and you’ll find the strength you need to continue. I promise you God gives us all the resources we need to make it through anything.
For Friday, let’s read 1 Maccabees chapter 3.