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    June 25, 1902

    “Restoration from Babylon. From Religious to Political” The Signs of the Times 28, 26, pp. 4, 5.


    AFTER the time of Malachi, there is, strictly speaking, no such thing as a religious history of the Jews. God had closed His revelation, His voice was stilled. He spoke no more by prophets. The people had got entirely beyond the hearing of His voice. They were already political in their religion; and it was not long before their religion itself became political, so that henceforth their history is simply political, tending steadily more and more to that dreadful hour in which they openly renounced every principle of religion, and openly proclaimed themselves political solely—in their savage exclamation, that awful night, to Pilate and to the universe, “We have no king but Cesar.”SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.1

    Nevertheless, God bore with them until that hour, and even beyond. He still abode with them, in spite of their sad misrepresentation of Him, in spite of their putting Him to an open shame. For the sake of His promise to their fathers from ancient time, that from them the deliverer should come, He remained through all their unfaithfulness the Faithful One. Yet their history from Malachi onward is but a part, rather an incident, of the general history of empire in the East. And in this general history of empire, God continued to reveal Himself to fulfil His Word, and to shape all things to the accomplishment of His eternal purpose.SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.2

    God had revealed Himself to Nebuchadnezzar, and had been accepted by him as the one true God and the everlasting King. And Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed Him as such to all peoples, nations, and languages. God revealed Himself to Darius the Mede, and was also accepted and proclaimed by him to all peoples, nations, and languages. God next revealed Himself to Cyrus, and by him likewise God weas accepted and proclaimed to all nations as “the God.” As we have seen, the influence of Cyrus for this God and for His worship in the earth, continued to shape the course of his successors, Cambyses, Darius, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes.SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.3

    We have seen that in the days of Cyrus the angel Gabriel abode at the Persian court; and he said that he would continue there till the time of the coming of the prince of Grecia, of which the angel had already spoken to Daniel. Daniel 8:21; 10:20. And the Persian court was becoming worse and worse, and more and more unbearable. We have seen that Darius Nothus came to the throne by the murder of his predecessor, who had obtained the same throne by the murder of his predecessor. This Darius was succeeded by his son Artaxerxes without murder on his part, but not without his brother’s attempting to murder him. Artaxerxes was succeeded by his son Ochus, “the most cruel and wicked of all the princes of his race, as his actions soon evinced. In a very short time the palace and the whole empire were filled with his murders.” He was poisoned by one of his ministers, Bagoas by name, who also slew all the king’s sons but the youngest, whom he made king; but whom in two years he murdered. Bagoas then placed upon the throne Darius Colomannus. Him also he shortly attempted to poison; but was detected, and was required to drink his own prepared poisoned drink to prove his innocence. In such a desperately corrupt place as the court of Persia had now become, the angel could no longer stay. Corruption had reached its height. Gabriel left the horrible place, lo! the prince of Grecia came, and the Persian empire sank.SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.4

    Alexander, “the prince of Grecia,” in his siege of Tyre, had demanded assistance from the Jews. The Jews pleaded that they were lawful subjects of the Persian king who was yet reigning; that all that they were, as a nation, they owed, under God, to the favor of the Persian kings; and that therefore they could not consent to oppose the Persian king. This made Alexander very angry, and he declared against the Jews and Jerusalem vengeance in destruction and desolation. He started toward Jerusalem to execute his wrath. The people were greatly troubled. The high priest proclaimed a fast, and that supplications be made to God. God accepted their appeal, and instructed the high priest in a dream to go forth with his assistant priests, arrayed in their priestly garments, and all the other people clothed in white, to meet the coming king, as he should approach the city.SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.5

    The procession extended a long distance outside the city. When Alexander “saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed in fine linen, and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his miter on his head, having the golden plate whereon the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself and adored that name, and first saluted the high priest. The Jews also did all together with one voice salute Alexander, and encompassed him about. Whereupon the king of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind.SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.6

    “However, Parmenio alone went up to him and asked him how it came to pass that when all others adored him, he should adore the high priest of the Jews? To whom he replied, ‘I did not adore him, but that God who hath honored him with His high priesthood. I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia; who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, for that He would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians; whence it is that having seen no other in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision, and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under the Divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius, and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my mind.”SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.7

    Alexander then placed the high priest at his right hand, and walked at the head of the procession, that was now joined by his army, into the city, and up to the temple, where “he offered sacrifice to God according to the high priest’s direction.” There also the high priest read to him, from the book of Daniel, the prophecy concerning him; and Alexander acknowledged that he was the one referred to in the prophecy. O that Alexander had yielded himself to this call from God, as did Cyrus to him!SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.8

    When Alexander’s career had ended, and his dominion was broken up, the Jews submitted to whatever king happened to hold Palestine, as part of his dominion, tho it happened that for the most part they fell under the power of the kings of Syria—the Seleucids. One of them, Seleucus Philopater, sent his chief officer to ask the people at Jerusalem of its treasures. The priests and people of the whole city threw themselves down before God, imploring Him to defend His holy house. as the officer had entered the temple court, and was about to break open the treasury, “the Spirit of the Almighty revealed Himself by the most sensible marks; insomuch that all those who had dared to obey Heliodorus were struck down by a divine power, and seized with a terror which bereaved them of all their faculties. For there appeared to them a horse richly caparisoned which, rushing at once upon Heliodorus, struck him several times with his forefeet. The one who sat on this horse had a terrible aspect, and his arms seemed of gold. At the same time there were seen two young men, whose beauty dazzled the eye, and who, standing on each side of Heliodorus, scourged him instantly, and in the most violent manner.... By the same power he was cast to the ground speechless.”SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.9

    That was the last time, however, that the temple was so protected and defended, tho it was more than once entered and robbed by heathen. A few years afterward king Antiochus Epiphanes captured the city by storm, and gave it up to plunder and slaughter for three days, in which about eighty thousand were slain, forty thousand were made prisoners, and forty thousand were sold as slaves. The king himself entered the temple, and even into the most holy place, and robbed the temple of its golden furniture and all the treasure therein. But before all this, there had gone out of Israel “wicked men who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us; for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow. So this device pleased them well. Then certain of the people were so forward herein that they went to the king, who gave them licenses to do after the ordinances of the heathen; whereupon they built a place of exercise at Jerusalem according to the customs of the heathen.” And the sack, slaughter, slavery, and the robbery of the temple were their reward.SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.10

    Next Antiochus Epiphanes issued an edict, commanding that all the people of his dominion should be of one and the same heathen religion, and all recognize only heathen laws; and this under penalty of death. This, of course, was aimed directly at the Jews. Many of them obeyed the edict of the king, and persecuted those of their own people who would not obey it. The king also filled Jerusalem with idol altars, upon which he sacrificed abominable things; he also put to death those who would circumcise their children, or who refused to eat swines’ flesh and other abominable things.SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.11

    Driven to desperation by these horrible things practiced upon his people, a certain Mattathias, a ruler and a great and honorable man in the city of Modin, revolted, and with his five sons fled to the mountains. They were joined by all who rejected the king’s throne. Not long afterward Mattathias died; but before his death he solemnly enjoined upon his sons that they stand true to the laws of Israel and to fight against the king. he commanded them to let his son Judas be their captain. this Judas was surnamed Maccabeus. Thus came the Maccabean wars, and what is called “the Maccabean Revival.” The origin of this Maccabean Revival was religious, but it shortly became political. The Maccabees were wonderfully successful in their wars; but firmly to fix forever their power and standing, they sought an alliance with the Romans, B. C. 161. And that their motive in this was absolutely political is clear from their own record of it, which runs as follows:—SITI June 25, 1902, page 4.12

    “Now Judas had heard of the fame of the Romans, that they were mighty and valiant men; and such as would lovingly accept all that joined themselves unto them, and make a league of amity with all that came unto them; and that they were men of great valor. It was told him also of their wars and noble acts which they had done among the Galatians [the Gauls], and how they had conquered them, and brought them under tribute; and what they had done in the country of Spain, for the winning of the mines of the silver and gold which is there; and that by their policy and patience they had conquered all the place, though it were very far from them; and the kings also that came against them from the uttermost part of the earth, till they had discomfited them, and given them a great overthrow, so that the rest did give them tribute every year.SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.1

    “Beside this, how they had discomfited in battle Philip, and Perseus, king of the Citims [Macedonians], with others that lifted up themselves against them, and had overcome them: how also Antiochus [Magnus] the great king of Asia, that came against them in battle, having an hundred and twenty elephants, with horsemen, and chariots, and a very great army, was discomfited by them; and how they took him alive, and covenanted that he and such as reigned after him should pay a great tribute, and give hostages, and that which was agreed upon, and the country of India, and Media and Lydia and of the goodliest countries, which they took of him, and gave to king Eumenes.SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.2

    “Moreover how the Grecians had determined to come and destroy them; and that they, having knowledge thereof sent against them a certain captain, and fighting with them slew many of them, and carried away captives their wives and their children, and spoiled them, and took possession of their lands, and pulled down their strong holds, and brought them to be their servants unto this day.SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.3

    “It was told him besides, how they destroyed and brought under their dominion all other kingdoms and isles that at any time resisted them; but with their friends and such as relied upon them they kept amity: and that they had conquered kingdoms both far and nigh, insomuch as all that heard of their name were afraid of them: also that, whom they would help to a kingdom, those reign; and whom again they would, they displace: finally, that they were greatly exalted: yet for all this none of them wore a crown or was clothed in purple, to be magnified thereby.SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.4

    “Moreover how they had made for themselves a senate house, wherein three hundred and twenty men sat in council daily, consulting alway for the people, to the end they might be well ordered: and that they committed their government to one man every year, who ruled over all their country, and that all were obedient to that one, and that there was neither envy nor emulation among them.SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.5

    “In consideration of these things, Judas chose Eupolemus the son of John, the son of Accos, and Jason the son of Eleazar, and sent them to Rome, to make a league of amity and confederacy with them, and to intreat them that they would take the yoke from them; for they saw that the kingdom of the Grecians did oppress Israel with servitude. They went therefore to Rome, which was a very great journey, and came into the senate, where they spake and said:—SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.6

    “Judas Maccabeus with his brethren, and the people of the Jews, have sent us unto you, to make a confederacy and peace with you, and that we might be registered your confederates and friends.SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.7

    “So that matter pleased the Romans well. And this is the copy of the epistle which the senate wrote back again in tables of brass, and sent to Jerusalem, that there they might have by them a memorial of peace and confederacy:—SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.8

    “Good success be to the Romans, and to the people of the Jews, by sea and by land for ever: the sword also and enemy be far from them, if there come first any war upon the Romans or any of their confederates throughout all their dominion, the people of the Jews shall help them, as the time shall be appointed, with all their heart; neither shall they give any thing unto them that make war upon them, or aid them with victuals, weapons, money, or ships, as it hath seemed good unto the Romans; but they shall keep their covenants without taking any thing therefore.SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.9

    “‘In the same manner also, if war come first upon the nation of the Jews, the Romans shall help them with all their heart, according as the time shall be appointed them: neither shall victuals be given to them that take part against them, or weapons, or money, or ships, as it hath seemed good to the Romans; but they shall keep their covenants, and that without deceit.SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.10

    “According to these articles did the Romans make a covenant with the people of the Jews. Howbeit if hereafter the one party or the other shall think to meet to add or diminish any thing, they may do it at their pleasures, and whatsoever they shall add or take away shall be ratified. And as touching the evils that Demetrius doeth to the Jews, we have written unto him, saying, Wherefore thou made thy yoke heavy upon our friends and confederates the Jews? If therefore they complain any more against thee, we will do them justice, and fight with thee by sea and by land.” 1 Maccabees 8.SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.11

    Thus was solicited and obtained, by the Jews, that connection with the Romans which brought the utter ruin of the Jewish nation, and the desolation of their land, by the power of the Romans.SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.12

    [The next and last article of this vitally instructive series is entitled “The Scepter Departs from Judah.]SITI June 25, 1902, page 405.13

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