Saturday, October 26, 2013

Daily Old Testament: 2 Maccabees 13 and My Own Article on "Friends' Testimonies" (Part 11)

2 Maccabees 13 – It is 162 BC. Antiochus Eupator [nine years old ???] advances  against Judea with Lysias, [brother?, tutor, vizier] and 110,000 Greek infantrymen, 5300 cavalry, 22 elephants and 300 scythed chariots.

Menelaus – Benjaminite brother of the High Priest Simon who suggested that the Temple be plundered back in chapter 4 - collaborates with the enemy, but Antiochus finally has him executed – thrown down from a high tower into a pile of ashes that surrounded it (13:5-6). “And indeed, this satisfied justice, for just as he had committed many offenses toward the altar of God, the fire and ashes of which are holy, so was he condemned to die in ashes” (13:8).

The writer says that the king – still just a boy – revealed himself “as more wicked to the Jews than his father” (13:9) had been. Judas realizes he will once again have to fight for his people. “And so, giving everything to God, the Creator of the world, and having exhorted his own to contend with fortitude and to stand up, even unto death, for the laws, the temple, the city, their country and the citizens: he positioned his army around Modin [or Modein]” (13:14).

Judas assaults the Seleucids before they arrive at Jerusalem and is successful. The details of what happens during the assault are very confusing. The Seleucid king realizes he had been outsmarted and agrees to make a treaty with the Jews.

“Friends’ Testimonies”
Part 11
The final testimony of early Friends that has had lasting value to Friends is the peace testimony. The peace testimony was not clearly enunciated by Friends until 1660. There is even some evidence that Fox may have believed in the 1650s that Oliver Cromwell’s army would have a role to play in the end-time scenario he believed his reproclamation of the “true gospel” might inaugurate in England. For an interesting discussion of Fox’s approach to this issue, see H. Larry Ingle’s excellent history of Fox entitled First Among Friends (New York: Oxford University Press). He discusses the history on pages 161-194.

Much of Fox’s most successful evangelization in the 1650s was among the soldiery of this army. This may have even been true, though he made it quite clear that he personally felt from the start that he had been called into “the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars. . . .” (Fox, Journal, 65).

By 1660, however, Fox had become clearer on the matter. He and eleven other Quaker leaders issued a statement at that time that soon became official policy for all Friends. This was not a decision made by all Friends; it was made by the recognized “leaders”:

“We know that wars and fighting’s proceed from the lusts of men (as James 4:1-3), out of which lusts the Lord hath redeemed us, and so out of the occasion of war. .  . All bloody principles and practices, we, as to our own particular, so utterly deny, with all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretense whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world.

. . .the spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world” (Fox, Journal, 399-400).

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