Refined and Purified
Last week I shared a hotel room with my friend, Cecil, who teaches with me at Southern Bible Institute and College at the Evangelical Theological meeting in Denver. At night before going to sleep and in breaks for meals, we had some time to share more of our life stories. Cecil escaped Natchez, Mississippi by joining the army, but as a sergeant in Vietnam he didn’t escape fiery trials. Many of his men didn’t make it, but those who did, tested by the fires of battle, developed an intense bond. Periodically, Cecil and his army friends from Natchez head home to remember and celebrate their closeness, refined and purified in the hot jungles of Southeast Asia.
The United States involvement in Vietnam lasted twenty years, 1955-1975. The Jewish Maccabean Revolt against the Syrians lasted only a little more than three years, but just as Daniel prophesied, it was a time of devastating suffering and the severe tests of war.
“Those who are wise will instruct many, but some will fall by the sword, by the flame, by captivity, and by the spoils of war for a time. When they fall, there will be little help and many who are not sincere will join them. From the wise, some will fall and this will refine, sift, and cleanse until the time of the end, for it will come at the appointed time.” Daniel 11:33-35
Mattathias and his sons wisely chose not to break the first and second commandments. They revolted against Antiochus’ attempt to destroy the Jewish people. But it cost. Mattathias died in the early stages of the revolt when only a few had joined them. Then in the second major battle against a massive Syrian army, Judas, Matthias’ son, won a great victory, but it cost his brother’s life.
When a massive Syrian elephant threatened the Jewish forces, Eleazer, Judas’ brother, plunged his sword into the beast, but it crushed him when it fell. Later, Judas, himself, died in the Syrian Wars. Was this testing, refining purifying time worth it?
If the Maccabees had not resisted Antiochus, l60 years later there would have been no pure, Jewish girl in Nazareth to receive the word that she would give birth to Immanuel, the Messiah.
LORD, unlike the Maccabees, Jesus told us as his Church to put up our swords. Our warfare is far more subtle. We fight a spiritual warfare, and our goal is not to kill our enemies, but to love them and bring them to Jesus. Use Truth Encounter to instruct your people so we will discern the hypocrites and false teachers seeking to infiltrate our ranks.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!