Have you ever wondered what happened to the Israelites between the Old and New Testaments? Today, I want to share some of their interim history and how it’s significant to us in understanding the message of our Savior.
After the Babylonian exile and return to Israel, Alexander the Great (who was Macedonian), pretty much conquered the whole world. However, he died young and then his territories were split up among his generals. Seleucid was the guy who ended up ruling over the Middle East and Israel, and he was about as evil as they came. In fact, under the Seleucid Empire, the Jewish temple was turned into a pagan shrine! Fortunately, out of that era emerged a Braveheart-like character named Judas Maccabeus, whose father was a Jewish priest. Along with his brother, Shimon, they raised up a small army, and through guerilla warfare, were able to kick the Seleucid empire out of their land! At that point, they created their own Israeli state called the Hasmonean Dynasty, which was a huge victory for God’s people. Fascinatingly, at one point during their reign, Shimon and Judas entered the city of Jerusalem and all the people waved palm fronds at them while shouting “Hosanna.” Sound familiar? In fact, the palm frond was on all the currency of the dynasty because it symbolized an independent Jewish state, free from paganism. Clearly then, this is what was expected of Jesus when He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, yet little did the people know that God had a plan that was far better! You see, even something as good as the Hasmonean Dynasty couldn’t last because human corruption always prevailed. After the Maccabeus brothers died, there was in-fighting, assassination, and betrayal, which opened the door for the Romans to step in and take over.
Friend, human governments don’t save, nor does military might. Rebirth happens on the inside, not through power and conquest. Though you may vociferously devote yourself to a cause (there’s nothing wrong with that), I encourage you to deal with matters of your heart and spirit first. Let a new thing spring up on the inside of you as you follow the lessons of Jesus and become His disciple. When you allow His life into yours, He illuminates your heart and changes you from the inside out. This is the way of His Kingdom — the only one that is unshakable, will never fall, never be corrupted, and never be overthrown. Firmly establish your citizenship there and all will be well!