Volume. XXXIV, No. 6
Sunday, 11 August 2019

From the Pastor’s Heart: Jerusalem (8)

Last week, we learnt that Mathathias died and his son, Judas Maccabeus, led the Jewish resistance movement against Antiochus Epiphanes.  General Gorgias, who was chosen by Lysias, came with mighty and well-trained forces to decimate all the rebels in Judaea.  What Judas had was a willing but neither trained nor equipped group of men.  At this critical moment, Judas exhorted his men in 1 Maccabees 4:8-18.  I am sure that his words are inspirational and encouraging even to us today. 

8 And Judas said to the men that were with him: Fear ye not their multitude, neither be ye afraid of their assault. 9 Remember in what manner our fathers were saved in the Red Sea, when Pharao pursued them with a great army. 10 And now let us cry to heaven: and the Lord will have mercy on us, and will remember the covenant of our fathers, and will destroy this army before our face this day: 11 And all nations shall know that there is one that redeemeth and delivereth Israel. 12 And the strangers lifted up their eyes, and saw them coming against them. 13 And they went out of the camp to battle, and they that were with Judas sounded the trumpet. 14 And they joined battle: and the Gentiles were routed, and fled into the plain. 15 But all the hindmost of them fell by the sword, and they pursued them as far as Gezeron, and even to the plains of Idumea, and of Azotus, and of Jamnia: and there fell of them to the number of three thousand men. 16 And Judas returned again with his army that followed him, 17 And he said to the people: Be not greedy of the spoils: for there is war before us: 18 And Gorgias and his army are near us in the mountain: but stand ye now against our enemies, and overthrow them, and you shall take the spoils afterwards with safety.

This precarious and unpredictable war brought a surprise victory to Judas and his men.  If we know that Gorgias took 5,000 infantry and 1,000 of his most experienced cavalry and planned a surprise attack on Judas and his men by night, we must be even more surprised by the victory won by Judas.  When Gorgias’ army was put to fight, the Jews defeated them on the mountain side and regrouped themselves in the plain.  The enemy forces were seized with great fear and fled away from Judas and his men.  Judas took the spoils from the camp of the Gorgias’ army, much gold, silver, silk, and great riches.  The Jews experienced a great victory and delivery from their enemies that day.  They returned home with hymn singing and blessing the name of the Lord. 

The survivors from the war went to Lysias and reported all that had happened.  Naturally, he was shocked and disappointed that his army could not defeat the Jews.  In the following year, he even more multiplied his army and gathered an army of 60,000 well trained infantry and 5,000 cavalry to conquer the Jews.  There were only 10,000 men with Judas.  He knew that that this battle belonged to God.  Thus he prayed,

“. . . Blessed art thou, O Saviour of Israel, who didst break the violence of the mighty by the hand of thy servant David, and didst deliver up the camp of the strangers into the hands of Jonathan the son of Saul and of his armourbearer. 31 Shut up this army in the hands of thy people Israel, and let them be confounded in their host and their horsemen. 32 Strike them with fear, and cause the boldness of their strength to languish, and let them quake at their own destruction. 33 Cast them down with the sword of them that love thee: and let all that know thy name, praise thee with hymns” (1 Maccabees 4:30b-33).

When the battle started, five thousand men of the army of Lysias fell.  What Lysias found from the battle was that the Jews were ready to fight even if it cost them their lives.  Lysias brought more soldiers from Antioch, but Judas and his men were even more resolved to defy the Gentile forces to remove them completely from Judaea.  Having defeated them, Judas and his men went to Jerusalem.  What they found there is well described in 1 Maccabees 4:38, “And they saw the sanctuary desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burnt, and shrubs growing up in the courts as in a forest, or on the mountains, and the chambers joining to the temple thrown down.”  They rent their clothes and lamented.  They put ashes on their heads and fell on their faces down to the ground.  They cried to God. 

Hanukah (Feast of Lights)

Judas chose priests without blemish, whose hearts were set upon the law of God.  They cleansed the holy places.  They pulled down the altars because they were defiled and built a new altar.  They also built up the holy places and the things that were within the temple.  They sanctified the temple and the courts.  They made new vessels and brought the candlestick, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple.  They lighted up the lamps upon the candlestick and set the loaves upon the table.  They hung the veils.  Then they offered sacrifices according to the law upon the new altar.  They dedicated new musical instruments including harps, lutes, and cymbals.  They spent eight days for the dedication of the altar.  The Jews also built high walls and strong towers around the city.  This account is found in 1 Maccabees 4:52-59. 

This particular occasion, the dedication of the Temple, is called “the dedication of the altar” (4:56), and Josephus speaks of it as “the Feast of Lights.”  This feast does not have any biblical origin and was instituted by Judas Maccabeus in 164 BC, when, after the recovery of Jewish independence from the Syro-Grecian domination, the Temple of Jerusalem was solemnly purified, the old polluted altar removed, its stones put in a separate place on the Temple-mount, and the worship of the Lord restored.  This feast is also well known to us as “Hanukah.”  It lasts for eight days commencing on the 25th of Chislev (December). 

According to Alfred Edersheim, people carried palm and other branches.  There was a grand illumination of the Temple and of all private houses. They also sang “Hallel” psalms.  Interestingly, these three observances bear so striking a resemblance to what we know about the Feast of Tabernacles.  It is even more interesting to know that the 25th of Chislev (December) was adopted by the ancient Church “as that of the birth of our blessed Lord—Christmas—the Dedication of the true Temple, which was the body of Jesus (John 2:19).”

“Tradition, indeed, has it that when in the restored Temple the sacred candlestick was to be lit, only one flagon of oil, sealed with the signet of the high-priest, was found to feed the lamps. This, then, was pure oil, but the supply was barely sufficient for one day—when, lo, by a miracle, the oil increased, and the flagon remained filled for eight days, in memory of which it was ordered to illuminate for the same space of time the Temple and private houses. A learned Jewish writer, Dr. Herzfeld, suggests, that to commemorate the descent of fire from heaven upon the altar in the Temple of Solomon (2 Chron 7:1), ‘the feast of lights’ was instituted when the sacred fire was relit on the purified altar of the second Temple” (The Temple, pp. 190-191).  On the Feast of the Dedication, as at Purim and New Moons, no public fast was to be kept, though private mourning was allowed.



Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Congratulations to the new (9th) Session which takes over after the ordination of Bro Jason Tan and Installation of Session.
  • Special thanks to Dn Raphael Ng for his contribution & participation in the previous (8th) Session.
  • 5th Anniversary Thanksgiving today: Congratulations to Pastor David Weng & Providence B-P Church.
  • Missions trips to Batam (16-21 Jan) & Phnom Penh (24 Jan–6 Feb) in 2020. If interested, please see Elder Michael D Lee or any Missions Committee member by 30
  • IF Retreat forms available in the Foyer. Please complete & return with payment to Bros Daniel Volvricht or Danny Chu by 25 Aug.
  • Holiday Bible Club: Parents, please save the date & register your children.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: YAF. Next week: AFG.  


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • ACM & Session Election last night.
  • Visitors & church activities in the past week.
  • 5th Anniversary Thanksgiving of Providence B-P Church today.
  • Journey mercies: Those who have travelled.



  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); and others in affliction.
  • New Session – God’s wisdom & guidance in decision making.
  • Batam Missions: Sis Ang Liang Phoa requests funds for 6 computers (A$4,000) for Primary School computer lab & school fence repairs (A$3,500). Rev Sun Sokha & ministry (PhnomPenh).
  • Wellspring Bible Church in Glen Waverley, Melb. Elder Stephen Lim.
  • Journey mercies: Those who are travelling.





© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041