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When people talk about the Chanukah story, and the heroes who fought so that Israel could be free to worship God again, people talk about Judah Maccabee. Judah was the leader of the army when they regained control of the Temple, but it was his father Mattathias who began their fight for freedom. The historical account of what happened in Israel is recorded in the Book of Maccabees. Let’s take a look and see what it says.

1 Maccabees 2

17 Then the officers of the king addressed Mattathias: You are a leader, an honorable and great man in this city, supported by sons and kinsmen. 18 Come now, be the first to obey the king’s command, as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah and those who are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the King’s Friends, and shall be enriched with silver and gold and many gifts.”

19 But Mattathias answered in a loud voice: “Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him, so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers and consents to the king’s orders,

20 yet I and my sons and my kinsmen will keep to the covenant of our fathers.

21 God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments.

22 We will not obey the words of the king nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree.

27 Then Mattathias went through the city shouting, Let everyone who is zealous for the law and who stands by the covenant follow after me!

28 Thereupon he fled to the mountains with his sons, leaving behind in the city all their possessions.

29 Many who sought to live according to righteousness and religious custom went out into the desert to settle there,

I would like to remind you today that we need to be Modern Day Maccabees and use our influence for God, just like Mattathias did. When the Syrians arrived in a city, they looked for a man of influence. A person who could be used to lead other people to abandon their faith. In this particular city, Mattathias was the man. They offered Mattathias a very nice bribe to be the first person to abandon his faith. But Mattathias would have nothing to do with this. He not only would not abandon his faith, but he decided to use his influence to get other Jews to remain faithful to God.

Mattathias spoke loudly so all could hear; both Syrians and Jews. Mattathias really did have much influence and many people followed him. After Mattathias passed away, his son Judah continued their fight for freedom. Judah received the nickname “Maccabee” which means “hammer.” Since he was the leader of the army, all the freedom fighters became known as “Maccabees.”

Today, even in America, there is an attack on religious freedom. I would like to encourage all of you to be a Modern Day Maccabee and remain true to your faith in God.

Do you have your Green Card?

“Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” (Lev 23: 42-43)

When you study Sukkot you see that the Hebrews were wandering through the wilderness and that their homes were only temporary. Their homes were not permanent because they were just passing through the land they were in. When you think about it, this describes our stay here on earth. Since our spirits are eternal, earth is not our permanent home, we are only passing through this planet. Like the booths the Hebrews lived in, this planet is only our temporary home.

First, we need to realize that earth is not our home. When we trust in Messiah, and become a child of God, we become citizens of heaven.

I am but a foreigner here on earth. (Psalm 119:19 NLT)

If you call God your Father, live your life as temporary residents on earth.

(1 Peter 1:17 GNT)

All they think about is this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Messiah Yeshua lives. (Phil 3:19-20 NLT)

If we were to move to another country we might have to learn a new language. But we definitely would have to learn some new customs and cultural differences. Once we trusted in Yeshua, and became a child of God, we moved. And once we realize that heaven is our new homeland, and we are no longer citizens of earth, we should adopt the values, priorities, and ways of living of our new home, heaven.

If we are now citizens of heaven, “Why are we still living on earth?”

We are living here to be Messiah’s Ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20). An ambassador is a diplomat sent by a state as its representative in a foreign country. Messiah, our King, has left us here to be His representative. As an ambassador to another country we have to be very careful that we don’t fall in love with this land, preferring it over our own homeland. We need to ask ourselves, “Which land do we love? Which land are we committed too? Which land are we living for?” If we are living for earth, and not Messiah, we are a traitor to our King.

Warnings

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. (1 Peter 2:11 Message)

Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away. (1 Cor 7:31 NLT)

Maybe there have been times you have felt some discontent or dissatisfaction in life. You have longings that you feel will never be fulfilled on earth. Maybe this is God. Maybe God allows us to feel this sometimes so we don’t’ become too attached to earth.

i.e., a fish would never be happy living on land, because it was made to only live in water.

i.e., An eagle would never feel satisfied if it wasn’t allowed to fly.

i.e., (in Winnie the Pooh) Tigger was driving Rabbit crazy because he was always bouncing. In one episode he promised Rabbit he would stop bouncing. Eventually Tigger couldn’t keep his promise to Rabbit. He had to bounce. He realized Tiggers were made for bouncing. And so he could not be happy unless he was bouncing.

You will never feel completely satisfied on earth, because you were made for heaven. You should be happy here, but you should also realize there a place you will be much happier in.

Remember

Speaking about people who had a great faith in God the writer of Hebrews says, “They said they were like visitors and strangers on earth, … They were waiting for a better country – a heavenly country. So God is not ashamed to be called their God, because He has prepared a city for them.” (Heb 11:13, 16 NCV) This is how we should be living, and God, and all people, should be able to say this about us. Heaven is a BETTER country, and therefore we should be waiting for it.

I read about a retiring missionary who came home to America on the same boat as the President of the United States. The President was greeted by cheering crowds, a military band, a red carpet, banners and media. But the missionary slipped off the boat unnoticed. He began to feel self-pity and resentment, and began complaining to God. God then gently reminded him saying, “My child, you’re not home yet.”

Another thought you should remember is this: When you die, you won’t leave home, you’ll go home!