The Feast Of Dedication





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_!





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