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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Page from the Devil's Playbook

Originally published April 29, 2006 by Kathleen Maples,
It's About HIM
Mat 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
Mat 23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

The word "Pharisee" means, ironically, "set apart". As I was reading these Scriptures I became curious about the Pharisees. I found out they came from some people called Hasidaens. These people lived among a compromised society but refused to give up the Word of God, they refused to defile themselves and give up their faith, and their refusal often cost them their life. No wonder Jesus accused them of being hypocrites generations later. But this was a time of intense persecution and cruelty against a people God had spoken to for years, sending His prophets, warning them, and they would kill His messengers or throw them in jail.

2Ch 36:15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 2Ch 36:16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

Because of this, the Jews went into captivity for 70 years to the nation of Babylon. When they were released, you can read in Ezra 9 how they came back to their homeland and began again their ways of disobedience and mixture with heathen nations. For decades, and generations, God warned them to return to Him, to turn from their ways. Finally, after the time of Malachi, God had grown silent. He stopped sending His messengers. He stopped pleading with a people who would not hear. This is what they insisted on and I pray America doesn't follow this path. The more I read the history of Israel and how she turned her back on God after He prospered and blessed her, the more aware I am of how closely America is following in her footsteps. It's a gut wrenching realization, for I see in the Word how God dealt with Israel and know He is no respect of persons. The Scripture warns us these things were written for our admonition on whom the ends of the world are come. (1 Cor 10:6, 11; Rom 15:4;)
After Darius III was dethroned as king of the Persians and Medes, by Alexander the Great, a Greek, Alexander ruled much of the whole earth for about 12 years, from 336 BC-323 BC. He permitted the Jews their religion, their laws of worship and sacrifice. They prospered under him. When he got sick and knew he was going to die, he gathered his closest most trusted servants, "such as were honorable, and had been brought up with him from his youth, and parted his kingdom among them, while he was yet alive" quote from 1 Maccabees 1:6. (Apocrypha).

1Ma 1:9 And after his death they all put crowns upon themselves; so did their sons after them many years: and evils were multiplied in the earth.

I had never considered the Apocrypha as something I had wanted to read, but while researching the Pharisees, and their awful beginnings, that is where it led. What I learned must be brought to people's attention. Regardless of how you feel about the Apocrypha, the events I want to examine in this study really happened. They are also corroborated by Josephus, a first century Christian historian.
The word Apocrypha means “hidden” and is applied to writings where there is a question as to who wrote them, or whether the text is inspired or not. I have not read very much of these texts, and what I did seemed to be a historical account of the struggle of the Jews during the 400 years after Malachi before Jesus. This study concerns the book 1 Maccabees, which was included in the KJV 1611 Bible up until the late 1880's. Even in the 19th and early 20th century, the apocrypha was often included in the KJV. Bibles were first handwritten, but then in 1439 with the invention of the Gutenberg press, were printed with a press, and they included the Apocrypha.
After beginning to read 1 Maccabees I believe in my heart that the devil sure doesn't want this read or thought about nor taken seriously by people. It exposes his methods as clearly as the book of Job does. Remember, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. The book , 1 Maccabees, the part I'm dealing with here, relates the history of the Maccabean revolt against king Antiochus IV Ephiphanes during the second century BC. History reveals he was a very cruel man. I should also mention this book is considered as inspired by the Roman Catholic church and Greek Orthodox church, and is included in the Roman Catholic Bible. (Deuterocanonical) That said, I urge you to investigate and search these things out yourself to see if there be truth here. I trust the Holy Spirit of Truth to convince and convict of truth and to bear witness of truth as He did to me as I studied these things.
After Alexander died, his servants all ruled the kingdoms he gave them, and generations later, things had deteriorated so badly that people pretty well just did what they wanted to. There was a man who came on the scene named Antiochus IV Ephiphanes.

1Ma 1:10 And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been an hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.

If you have read any of the history of the 400 years between Malachi's writing and the birth of Jesus Christ, this name will be familiar to you. Daniel prophesied about him. As I read this first chapter of 1 Mac, I was amazed as scriptures started flowing through my mind. Daniel mentioned some of what I read. Jesus mentioned some of what I read. Dan_11:21-32. Mat_24:15 Mar_13:14 Mat_24:2
Antiochus was a very wicked, evil man who must have hated God a lot. Surely, he was full of the devil. His name means "opponent". As I read about what this man did, I could not help but see him as heavily influenced if not possessed by Satan. 1Ma_1:11 says in 137 a.d. when Antiochus Epiphanes (pronounced "an tee uh kus eepif uh neez" ) began ruling, wicked men of Israel, who persuaded many, went and made a covenant with all the heathen around them, because they were tired of living under the law of God, convinced, I believe by Satan himself, that the law of God was responsible for their sorrow. When you are a Believer in God and his word, and try to live a holy life, according to his word, you will encounter resistance from the adversary of your soul. He will come against you-through those closest to you who are not saved. Through situations, and circumstances. He will attack your mind with vicious thoughts and you better know if you are praying and believing God, your heavenly Father will prepare and warn you ahead of time. The devil hates God, and everything God loves-that includes the people God created in his image. The Christian life includes suffering, and don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t. The Son of God himself had to suffer-should we think we are any better to escape suffering? Some will suffer more than others, but all that live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer.

1Ma 1:11 In those days went there 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.
1Ma 1:12 So this device pleased them well.

They went to the king Antiochus (big mistake) and he gave them permission to leave the law and do as the heathen did. And they wildly embraced the customs and practices of the heathen. They forsook the holy covenant. Not all the people but many did.

1Ma 1:16 Now when the kingdom was established before Antiochus, he thought to reign over Egypt that he might have the dominion of two realms.
1Ma 1:17 Wherefore he entered into Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots, and elephants, and horsemen, and a great navy,
1Ma 1:18 And made war against Ptolemee king of Egypt: but Ptolemee was afraid of him, and fled; and many were wounded to death.

Antiochus proceeds to conquer Egypt. When Antiochus Epiphanes went against Egypt, he did spoil many cities, but he was stopped short of Alexandria, the capital city of Egypt at the time, founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, and was a sea port city. There, Antiochus was met by a Roman military leader and his unit, and threatened with all of Rome's power if he continued his assault on Egypt and furious, but knowing he could not withstand Rome, Antiochus backed down and left Egypt, feeling defeated, though he had conquered most of this nation. Most, but not all. This had to inflame his anger, which made him even more vengeful and violent because then he went on to Jerusalem. (Source: Jewish Encyclopedia.com)

On his return from Egypt , he heads straight for Israel and Jerusalem. He had learned that the one he set in charge of Jerusalem, a liberal man named Menelaus who had been appointed high priest of Jerusalem by Antiochus, had been challenged and sent on the run after it was discovered he plundered the treasure of the temple to pay personal debts. Fearing the wrath of the Jews, Menelaus fled and when Antiochus heard his man had been put out, he went on to Jerusalem and attacked the city.

1Ma 1:19 Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt and he took the spoils thereof.
1Ma 1:20 And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude,

Oh, folks, look where the enemy heads when he invades the city where God’s people live. Remember, this is a warfare between Satan, the adversary of our souls, and the Lord Jesus Christ who has already defeated the old devil, who just can’t give up and admit defeat and since he can’t hurt the Lord, he turns to hurt those the Lord loves. He manipulates people into betraying their faith in the Lord, and walking away from Him, and don’t you know it hurts the heart of God to see people behave so cavalierly about the things of God-when He paid such a high price that we might have abundant life, eternal life? Remember, the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.

1Ma 1:21 And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof,
1Ma 1:22 And the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials. and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off.

He proudly enters the sanctuary of the Jewish temple, which had been rebuilt, starting with the return of the exiles from Babylon, under Ezra and Nehemiah. Apparently, it had been restored to its former beauty, because 1 Ma 1 gives a sickening description of how this Antiochus and his army invades the city of Jerusalem, marches proudly and defiantly into the temple, taking all the treasures of the temple, the gold and silver vessels, the hidden treasures he found, the candlesticks of light, the golden altar, and all its vessels, the crown, the golden ornaments before the temple, he pulled off. He took everything which represented gifts from and service to God. He took away the golden altar- oh, and an altar represents prayer and communion with God, doesn’t it? Isn’t that what you think of when hear the word altar? Prayer? Communication with our Father? Where you got saved? Where you found God? He took away the candlestick of light-the testimony, the light of truth in a dark and desperately wicked world. He took it away. He took the shewbread- which was a type of the Word of God- he gives seed to the sower who then ministers it to the sheep.

2Co 9:10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

God has such great provision, He tried to show the people through physical illustrations along with the Word from the prophets how He cared so much for them. But when they forsook God, they left the door open and then enemy came in and stripped them bare.

1Ma 1:23 He took also the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels: also he took the hidden treasures which he found.
1Ma 1:24 And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken very proudly.
1Ma 1:25 Therefore there was a great mourning in Israel, in every place where they were;

He massacred the people, and then, after two years of harsh rule, heavy taxation, he sent his chief tax collector to the cities of Judah and Antiochus' man came in speaking "peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit. "For when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly on the city and smote it sore and destroyed much people of Israel." 1Ma_1:30. He burnt the city to the ground, took the women and children captive. Then they rebuilt the city of David, with a great and strong wall, mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for the enemy. They sent wicked, sinful men to occupy and fortify themselves there.

1Ma 1:29 And after two years fully expired the king sent his chief collector of tribute unto the cities of Juda, who came unto Jerusalem with a great multitude,
1Ma 1:30 And spake peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit: for when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel.
1Ma 1:31 And when he had taken the spoils of the city, he set it on fire, and pulled down the houses and walls thereof on every side.

1Ma 1:32 But the women and children took they captive, and possessed the cattle.
1Ma 1:33 Then builded they the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for them.
1Ma 1:34 And they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein.
1Ma 1:35 They stored it also with armour and victuals, and when they had gathered together the spoils of Jerusalem, they laid them up there, and so they became a sore snare:
1Ma 1:36 For it was a place to lie in wait against the sanctuary, and an evil adversary to Israel.
1Ma 1:37 Thus they shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary, and defiled it:

Now the next few verses got to me, for they are horrifying. As I read this, what Daniel said and what Jesus said in Matthew 24, began to make so much more sense. And you have to remember-Daniel was talking about this-before it happened. By the time Jesus came, this had already happened. And he warned it was going to happen again. The following is an excerpt from 1 Maccabees 1 from the KJV that includes Apocrypha. As I read this, I felt horrified and dismayed, because this sounded so familiar, although I had never read it before. And it also sounds like something that could very easily happen again in our generation, where the antichrist spirit is thriving and spreading like wildfire in this world. Underlines are mine. No wonder there has been a debate about whether to include the Apocrypha in the Bible. I'm sure the enemy doesn't want people to read this and pray about it.

1Ma 1:41 Moreover king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people,
1Ma 1:42 And every one should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king.

Remember things are heading again toward a one world government now. Whose idea do you think it is that we all need to be one people? Remember the devil has a fake and tries to counterfeit everything God has and does and is. Jesus prayed we'd be one. But people can't seem to agree, even in the Christian faith-when He came He divided. He said he come to send division on the earth not peace. (Luk 12:51)
He divides light from dark, truth from error. But who is behind the pressure to conform to the world and be like it? Who is the one the young people are fighting that is inspiring the cruelty of peer pressure? It's sunk to an all new level of cruelty in our schools today. The malice in these kids' mouths comes straight from the devil. The governments are preaching 'tolerance' for everything except Christ. They say we must tolerate the Muslims, the Buddhists, the wiccans, we must allow everyone their freedom of expression-but Government forbid that people pray in the name of Jesus Christ at a graduation or city council meeting, and even our military chaplains now are facing persecution and have been forbidden from praying in Jesus' name. WHERE do you think that enmity, that bone deep hatred of Jesus Christ comes from? From the one Jesus Christ defeated, and made an open show of over 2000 years ago. (Col. 2:15)

1Ma 1:43 Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath.
1Ma 1:44 For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land,
1Ma 1:45 And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days:
1Ma 1:46 And pollute the sanctuary and holy people:
1Ma 1:47 Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine's flesh, and unclean beasts:
1Ma 1:48 That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation:

Forbid burnt offerings and sacrifice and drink offerings in the temple. No presenting your body as a living sacrifice to the Lord. No seeking God, being filled with the Holy Spirit, no, burnt offering, no drink offering. Today society is full of self-seeking, pleasure hungry, ambitious people who have been so spoiled and pampered they know nothing of sacrifice and offering their lives and time to God. When I read this, “leave their children uncircumcised” that sounds hard to understand. Why would it matter? Well, God is so precious and the Holy Ghost is the best Teacher I’ve ever had or ever could! I must pause a moment to thank him, and ask Him to never let me take lightly the things He opens to my understanding. Oh, don’t take Him for granted, seek Him, we need Him, saints!
Circumcision is the cutting away of flesh that is in the way, that can trap bacteria and cause infection in males in their genitals. Sensitive area, I know. But spiritually speaking, if you aren’t “spiritually circumcised” which is painful, too, let me tell you, then you are still trusting in your own ability to do things that can only be done by the Holy Spirit of God in our lives. You are trusting in your flesh, your thoughts and ways, and think you can do that and still please and serve God. Your flesh, your thoughts, your carnal ways will kill you. Period. They do not and will not listen to God. Your flesh wants no part of God. It has to be cut off-crucified. When they left their children uncircumcised, spiritual speaking this means they would grow up ‘self-sufficient, proud, arrogant,’ and not rely on God; where does all that lead? Isn’t that what God kicked the devil out of heaven for?

Isa 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Isa 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Isa 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Eze 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
Eze 28:14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
Eze 28:15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

Much of Ezekiel 28 describes the effects of being uncircumcised and how it leads to pride, arrogance and self-reliance. We have to depend totally on God for everything. I even need Him to teach me how to worship Him. How to pray. Everything. How to parent my children. How to be a good wife and mother. How to serve others, how to be kind. How to see, think, hear and understand. How to walk. How to dress and speak with the law of kindness in my mouth, not arrogance, not sarcasm, or scorn. See why the enemy wanted the children uncircumcised? Because he knows it’s not in men to direct their own paths and when they think they are wise enough to do so they end up destroying themselves.

Jer 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

Pride is something God hates and won’t tolerate in His children. Satan knows this. He knows it’s sin as far as God is concerned for people to trust in their flesh, rather than the love and help of God. Isaiah talks about this in chapter 30:1-7. Proverbs warns that pride goeth before a fall. The way of a man seems right in their own eyes but the end thereof is death. (Pro 16:18, Pro 14:12, 16:25.) Why does the devil want people to be proud and arrogant? To do things their own way?

1Ma 1:49 To the end they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances.
1Ma 1:50 And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die.

Sure, he wants to get that Word of God out of sight and out of mind. He will steal it from you anyway he can. Through distraction, pressure, fear, attacks of unbelief he will fire at you, those fiery darts that he shoots into the mind of a believer to try to cause them to doubt the promises of God. This wicked king targeted those who defied his law and the women who indeed had their children circumcised, he slew, and ordered the children hanged by their necks. There were some who would rather die than give in to the demands of the enemy. They loved God and would not betray Him. I believe the martyrs will sit closest and be most honored in heaven. Next, the missionaries who sold out to God, I think. And praise the Lord for every one of them. What a great cloud of witnesses we have to be encouraged by.
Do you see what happens when you forsake God and try to make a deal to live with and like the world? Jesus warned us beforehand. This reads like a play by play book of the enemy that will happen again. Even now, it is this way in many parts of the world-like Sudan, North Korea, China. There was a group of godly people who wanted no part of this "one world" system, and held to the law of God. They rose up and warred against the evil, and over the next several hundred years, the story of the Jews is full of battles, war, defeat, and slaughter. They won some and lost some. But there was always a remnant that held on to the law of God, and it was preserved, as much as the enemy tried to stamp it out and make them forget. And indeed by the time of Jesus, the Jews no longer even spoke Hebrew, they spoke Aramaic. They mostly couldn't remember the language, except for the Pharisees who by then had deteriorated into a group of spoiled legalists, and were power hungry, proud and arrogant people. They considered themselves better than the common man of Israel. They loved prestige, attention, political gain, recognition and were vain. They were all about appearances. But they did not know God. They did not have love and compassion for the people, for the most part of them, at all. Perhaps Nicodemus did. Maybe a few others. But most of them were rigid authoritarian men.
There is a religious spirit that is just as dangerous and deadly as the anti-christ spirit because they have one thing in common: they hate Christ. Religion will kill you, just as sure as pride will. The life of Christ is about humility, servitude, dependence on God. Religion is about pride, works, critical attitudes, harshness, self-reliance. I pray God help us all be awake, with our minds girded up with His truth, and in close fellowship with Him, and laying aside the weights that beset us, forsaking the sins that would stop us, and trusting and following Him totally. When He comes, all that is going to matter is does He know you? He doesn’t fellowship with any darkness at all so we must be full of His LIGHT. NONE OF THIS WORLD or SELF. We are in it but not to be part of it. He can teach us and show us how to do this. Daily. Trust Him. Love Him. Seek Him. Depend on Him, not yourself or anyone or anything else. He will not fail you or forsake you.

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