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The Feast Of Dedication

Source: Hebrew Heroes

Loud was the burst of joyous music from citherns, harps, and
cymbals--Mount Zion rang with songs of gladness--when in the early
morning the worshippers of the Lord of Hosts appeared in His Temple, to
offer sacrifices of thanksgiving! The front of the building was decked
with crowns of gold, and with shields; and, in the forcible language of
the ancient historian, "thus was there very great gladness among the
people, for that the reproach of the heathen was put away."

Then--emblem of thanksgivings from thousands of hearts--rose clouds of
delicious fragrance from the altar of incense. Judas Maccabeus stood
beside it--more pale and pensive, perhaps, than seemed to suit the
occasion--watching the light curling smoke as it ascended and lost
itself in the perfumed air. Presently the prince took something from
his arm, and cast it into the flame. The movement was so quiet that it
was noticed but by few by-standers; and none knew what that was which
blazed brightly for a moment, and then left not even visible ashes
behind. It was but a few threads of flax, which had bound up flowers
long since withered; it seemed a worthless sacrifice indeed; but when,
a few years later, Judas Maccabeus poured out his life's-blood on the
fatal field of Eleasa, the steel which pierced his brave heart
inflicted not on him so keen a pang.

And here will I close my story, leaving the hero of Judah a victor over
his enemies, and a victor over himself. Let the picture left on the
reader's mind be that of Jerusalem in the hour of her triumph and
rejoicing--when the Lord had turned again the captivity of Zion, and
her exulting citizens were like unto them that dream!

But, ere I lay down my pen, let me crave leave for a few moments to
address my readers, both Christian and Hebrew. And to the first I
would say: Think not of the record of the lives of Judah's heroes, and
the deaths of her martyrs, as something in which we have no personal
interest--merely to be admired, like the courage of the Greeks at
Thermopylae, or the devotion of Regulus at Rome. Rather let us honour
the children of Abraham who fought or died for the Covenant as our
brethren in faith, heirs of all the promises on which we rest our
hopes, as well as of some others peculiarly their own. Their
Scriptures are our Scriptures--they guarded them at hazard of their
lives; their Messiah is our Messiah, though He visited earth too late
for them--as too early for us--to behold Him. Christianity rests on
such Judaism as was held by Hebrew saints and martyrs; Christianity is
in regard to the ancient religion as the capital to the column, the
full-blown flower to the bud, as the cloud floating high above the sea
is to the waters from which it drew its existence. Laws and rites
which passed away when types had been accomplished and prophecies
fulfilled, are as the salts which are necessary component parts of the
sea but not of the cloud; when it rose on high it left them behind.

It is an interesting subject for thought to inquire whether, if
Daniel's weeks had run out in the times of the Maccabees, and the
Messenger of the Covenant had then come suddenly into His Temple,
Christ would not have found adoring worshippers instead of fierce
persecutors--a throne instead of a cross? Would He not then have been
welcomed by the heroes of Emmaus and Bethsura, instead of being
despised and rejected of men? Would he not, humanly speaking, have
escaped the scourge, the nails, and the spear? But how then shall the
Scriptures be fulfilled (Matt. xxvl. 54) that Christ should suffer
these things? (Luke xxiv. 36). The Sacrifice must be slain, that the
sinner may be pardoned and live.

And if--as I would fain hope--some Hebrews peruse these pages, how
earnestly would I desire power to speak to their hearts! Countrymen
and countrywomen of Maccabeus, ye whose fathers fought side by side
with the Asmonean brothers, does the history of their deeds rouse none
of their spirit of patriotism in your breasts? Can ye, amidst the
cares and toils of this working-day world, be indifferent to the state
of your own land, your own city--yours by divine right--yours by a deed
of gift signed and sealed by God Himself! Is it no grief to you that
the mosque stands on the site of your holy Temple; that--under a
corrupt form of so-called Christianity--idolatry is practised at this
day in the city of David? _Ye that make mention of the Lord keep not
silence, and give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make
Jerusalem a praise in the earth!_ (Isa. lxii. 7, 8.)

If Gentile Christians are longing and praying for that time, shall not
Hebrews long, pray, and strive to hasten its coming? Shall they not
search their hearts and ask, "Wherefore is it so long delayed?
Wherefore are the heathen still suffered to prevail; the followers of
the false prophet to hold the holy city in subjection? For what
transgression doth the Lord God of Israel still hide His face from His
people; what hath brought upon them a judgment enduring so much longer
than Egyptian bondage, or Babylonish captivity, or the tyranny of an
Antiochus Epiphanes?" Seek for the answer to this momentous question
in your own Scriptures; read them in the light thrown by your own
history;--that history will in the future flash into greater brilliancy
than even in the days of the Hebrew heroes; we Christians are assured
of this, because we, like yourselves, believe those Scriptures, and
know that God's Word is pledged for your restoration, and that _the
Word of the Lord endureth for ever_!

Next: Gaffer Death

Previous: The Victor's Return

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