By Thomas King
SOME AMAZING DISCOVERIES I FOUND IN THE DEUTEROCANONICALS/APOCRYPHA
Many years ago, I became a Christian at a young age and spent most of my formative Christian life in Protestant/Evangelical based churches. I was often told that Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy added to Holy Scripture and were idolaters. Amongst the accusations laid against them was the charge against the Apocrypha (as Protestants refer to it) or Deuterocanonical books. The most common of the charges was found in II Maccabees 12:44, 45 whereby Protestants accused Catholics and Orthodox for using this as an excuse to pray for the dead and purgatory.
The problem with this charge is that whilst both Catholics and Orthodox offer prayers for the deceased, yet Orthodox do not accept purgatory and furthermore, this practice was already existing in Judaism even to present day, and is commonly referred to as Kaddish. What amazed me was to discover many gems in the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals, some of which are historical and some of which are amazingly Jewish and most of all, the matters which relate to the Lord Jesus Christ. I will attempt to simplify this for the benefit of the well meaning but sincerely deluded Protestant Christians.
HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL DISCOVERIES
Amongst the many things stated by Protestants was that since the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals were not part of the Hebrew canon of Scripture, there is no value in them either historically or in any other way. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the fact that Protestants may not have it in the canon of Scripture, nevertheless, the Early Church Fathers definitely saw them as valid such as St. Irenaeus of Lyons, St. Hippolytus and others.
At times, we even have certain Rabbinical commentaries even alluding to them at times despite not accepting it as part of the Hebrew canon. Even the King James Translators actually included it in 1611 but it was excised from later editions due to Protestant objections. So clearly, if even the King James Translators saw value in it not to mention the Early Apostolic Fathers, then who was I to complain? I could not help but investigate the contents of the books without any Protestant bias.
The Maccabees and their significance.
Jews all over the world constantly remember the significance of the Maccabean revolt and success against the godless Hellenizing Selucids. In fact, it is because of this episode in history that we have Hanukkah, which is considered to be one of the more joyous holidays for the Jewish people, second to Purim. Although Jews all over the world celebrate it, yet ironically, the books of Maccabees was never considered as part of the Hebrew Canon. Furthermore, Jews constantly hold the memory of this in honour not only by Hanukkah, but also by holding the Maccabean Games in Israel constantly. How is it then that not only Jews, but otherwise well meaning Evangelicals that love the Jewish people also hold these books in disdain? This really puzzled me, considering these facts and still does intrigue me.
Nevertheless, from the books of Maccabees, we discover many things. We discover that indeed there was a time in history whereby Antiochus Epiphanes, from Syria, was intent on Hellenizing the whole of Israel to the point of persecuting those who believed in Yahweh/Jehovah as the true God. Under his tyranny, he tried to force the Jews to break the Sabbath/Shabbat; eat of the forbidden foods in the Law of Moses and also to bring in the sodomite gymnasiums amongst the Jews.
The last straw was to insist on Jews burning offerings to Zeus, thus causing Mattathias Maccabee and family, continuing the fight via Judah/Judas Maccabee, to rise up and not only wipe out the disobedient Jews that went along with godless Hellenization, but also to wipe out the Hellenist invaders too. It was finally successful with Antiochus Epiphanes actually dying a very similar painful death to Herod in Acts 12, namely falling off his chariot and getting eaten by worms. We also discover from these books that God not only will support godly fighters against evil, but is intent on establishing righteous rule. Here are some references for the readers’ investigation: I Maccabees 1:45-47; 2:24, 25; II Maccabees 8:4, 5; 9:1-10. [Note: Antiochus Epiphanes is very much a picture of the Beast of Revelation in attacking both godly Jews and the Church when he finally arises but will be brought to a miserable end by Christ Himself. Judas Maccabee also is a picture of Christ too in fighting the enemies of righteousness not to mention the enemies of Israel and the Church]
Another amazing historical repeat that continues to present day was the historical hatred of Arabs towards the Jewish people mentioned in the books of Maccabees. Just as it is now that Arabs were inciting hatred against the Jewish people and even engaging in evil against them, so it was in the books of Maccabees. In I Maccabees 5:3, 39, we find not only the Hellenizing enemy at war with Judas/Judah Maccabee but also we find 2 other enemies joining the fight, only to be defeated: the Edomites, the long term enemy and descendants of Esau and also the Arabs joining hand in hand with the Edomites in an attempt to destroy Israel.
II Maccabees 5:8 makes reference to an Arabian king who is in league with Antiochus to destroy Israel and also in II Maccabees 12:10, 11 we discover that Arab armies have joined hands with the Hellenists to attack Judas Maccabee only to be sounded defeated and suing for peace. History indeed has a way of repeating itself. Even today, this is exactly the same scenario occurring time and again. The only difference now being that all those areas which opposed Israel then and now Muslim nations. Like before, they are intent on destroying Israel as a people and subsequently, the Church as a whole too. Why can’t Evangelicals that are bent on prophecy in Israel notice this was all there in the very books they despise?
Enough said on the Maccabees. Suffice to say that the discoveries in there shocked and amazed me no end and caused me as someone who prided himself on being a “Fundamental Evangelical” then to ask this question: “Here I am believing in the significance of prophecy especially in regards to Israel. How is it that I overlooked such details which were laid out before? Despite going through the Scriptures so many times, how could I miss this? The Evangelicals are really missing out a wealth of history and prophecy here!” This caused me to look further and discover other amazing things.
Significance of Jewish cultural and spiritual life as well as significance of names in the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals.
The first thing that I should have noticed as well was the fact that Jewish men and women use not only the canonical names from the Hebrew Canon, but also a number of the names used in the Deuterocanonicals is also significant. A number of Jewish men have been called Tobias/Tobiah which not only originates from the book of Tobit (another Jewish name too), but is of siginificance. Tobiah (טוביה ) means “Yah/Jah is good” and Tobit (טובי ) also means “my good”. This is not in vain since God was indeed good to Tobiah and Tobit in not only allowing Tobiah to get married, but also getting rid of a demon that was attacking the bride of Tobiah, Sarah, and also being good to allow Tobit to be healed from his blindness too via Raphael (an archangel). Raphael is also used amongst Jews in many variations and is significant too. Raphael in Hebrew (רפאל ) stands for: “God heals”.
This too is true since God sends Raphael, one of the 7 archangels to help Tobiah and not only heal Sarah from the curse of being demonically oppressed and widowed, but also heals the blindness of Tobit, the father of Tobiah in the process. [All details can be found in the book of Tobit for the readers’ information on this]. Judith is also a common name amongst Jewish women too since not only does it mean “praised” (יְהוּדִית-Yehudith) but is also of a godly significance. In the book of Judith, Judith is a godly Jewish woman that wishes to rid Israel of a notorious Assyrian general, Holofernes, that is overall harming the Jewish people.
She uses her charms to enter into his camp and by the grace of God, is not only saved from being defiled by him, but also manages to behead him with his own fauchion (broadsword) and cause the children of Israel to be free, albeit temporarily, from godless oppression. She is praised by Ozias (variation of the name Hosea): “O daughter, blessed art thou of the most high God above all the women upon the earth; and blessed be the Lord God, which hath created the heavens and the earth, which hath directed thee to the cutting off of the head of the chief of our enemies.” (Judith 13:18) [Note: She is here shown as a type of the Virgin Mary, who is called blessed amongst women in Luke 1:28.
Holofernes is a type of Antichrist that is intent on destroying the Jewish people and the Church by extension. Ever thought that the Virgin Mary would be a partaker in Christ’s campaign to destroy the Antichrist and the False Prophet? Another thought provoking question]. Judith is praised for not only defeating the enemy but also: “Thou hast done all these things by thine hand: thou hast done much good to Israel, and God is pleased therewith: blessed be thou of the Almighty Lord for evermore.” (Judith 15:10)
Judith also gives this prophetic truth regarding the future of the Jewish remnant: “Woe to the nations that rise up against my kindred! the Lord Almighty will take vengeance of them in the day of judgment, in putting fire and worms in their flesh; and they shall feel them, and weep for ever.” (Judith 16:17) Does this not sound like a serious prophecy for Israel’s future? Nations that have gone out of their way to harm Israel as a nation will experience damnation and no good future to come. WHY DIDN’T THE FUNDAMENTAL EVANGELICALS NOTICE THIS BOOK?!
Another case in point, Susanna is ascribed as a Jewish woman that has been falsely accused of adultery by wicked elders amongst the children of Israel intent on committing adultery with her, but failed. She is saved by the testing of a young prophet Daniel who shows the falseness in the 2 elders’ testimony and thus not only saves her but also brings the 2 wicked men to be executed according to the Law of Moses. Susanna is also a common name amongst Jewish women too and not without reason since it means in Hebrew (שׁוֹשַׁנָּה -Shoshanna) “Lily”. She was indeed as beautiful as a lily, not only to look at, as evidenced by these lecherous elders, but also she displayed here beauty in character through not committing adultery nor betraying her husband. St. Hippolytus makes reference to it as an application to the purity of the Church and attempts by evil men to defile the Church. Nevertheless, it also has an application not only to the Church, but also to the remnant of Israel in the last days who will not depart from the God of their Fathers and will turn to the true Messiah, our Lord, in truth.
In terms of cultural and spiritual life, there are numerous references to keeping the feasts of the Lord instituted to Israel; to keeping the Sabbath/Shabbat; to keeping kashrut or the Jewish dietary law and also keeping of the temple sacrifices when the Temple in Jerusalem existed. We also find that Israel is urged not to depart from the Law of Moses nor from worshipping Yahweh/Jehovah for any other deity, such as Zeus in the case of the books of Maccabees. We even have instances of an Ammonite, Achior, being circumcised and accepting the Law of Moses after seeing Holofernes beheaded by Judith. (Judith 14:9, 10).
I Maccabees 1:45-47 mentions all the above practices in Jewish life as being suppressed by Antiochus Epiphanes. Judith insists on keeping kashrut even in the camp of Holofernes, and brings her own meats. (Judith 12:1-10) Tobit mentions going to the Temple often to observe the feasts. (Tobit 1:6). We even have the prayer of Manasseh, a king of northern Israel that went apostate but repented in prison under the Assyrians.
The Hebrew Bible mentions his repentance in II Chronicles 33:9-16 but it is in the Deuterocanonical books that we discover the actual prayer itself as a short book. Worship of others outside of Yahweh/Jehovah is always condemned and this theme is continued in all the Deuterocanonical books. For someone who was originally sceptical of the books thinking they were Roman Catholic and Orthodox additions, I was not only impressed but also shocked at the Jewishness of the content. As a further confirmation, I was impressed to discover that the fuller reasons for the destruction of the Canaanites and other inhabitants of the Holy Land as commanded by God are given. In Wisdom of Solomon 12:3-10, we also discover further confirmation of what God had given as the reasons for commanding Israel to destroy the Canaanites in Leviticus 18:26-28.
Whilst Leviticus simply summarizes what the Canaanites did as “abominations” and urged the Israelites not to partake in them lest the land “spue not you out also”, it is in Wisdom of Solomon 12:3-10 that we get the details, namely: 1.Witchcrafts and wicked sacrifices (v4). 2. Murdering children mercilessly and being “devourers of man’s flesh” and eating blood/vampirism (v5). 3. Parents and pagan priests sacrificed their own children to these evil gods. (v6). 4. God also gave them space to repent but they were so intent on malice and their mind was never changed and hence they were to be destroyed. (v10). Israel’s Crusade against evil has been doubly confirmed through this.
Insofar as keeping the Law of God (Torah) is concerned, there is no end to the commands on these matters all throughout. Nevertheless, it is well summarised in Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 21:10, 11 in a similar vein to Proverbs 15:24. It states: “The way of sinners is made plain with stones, but at the end thereof is the pit of hell. He that keepeth the law of the Lord getteth the understanding thereof: and the perfection of the fear of the Lord is wisdom.” Not only is the fate of sinners made clear of hell, but also of getting understanding via keeping the law of the Lord (Torah). How much plainer can one get regarding such a high view of Torah observance on the part of Jews. In a similar vein, we are told: “Remember the commandments, and bear no malice to thy neighbour: remember the covenant of the Highest, and wink at ignorance.” (Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 28:7). For a Jewish person, what else could this be a reference to?
Other historical notes
Any Jewish person is well aware of Baruch and his association with Jeremiah the prophet. Few people are aware of his calls to repentance to his fellow Israelites in Baruch 2:8-12:
“Yet have we not prayed before the Lord, that we might turn every one from the imaginations of his wicked heart. Wherefore the Lord watched over us for evil, and the Lord hath brought it upon us: for the Lord is righteous in all his works which he hath commanded us. Yet we have not hearkened unto his voice, to walk in the commandments of the Lord, that he hath set before us. And now, O Lord God of Israel, that hast brought thy people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and high arm, and with signs, and with wonders, and with great power, and hast gotten thyself a name, as appeareth this day: O Lord our God, we have sinned, we have done ungodly, we have dealt unrighteously in all thine ordinances.”
Few people also pay attention to a letter Jeremiah the prophet wrote to his fellow Israelites too found in Chapter 6 of Baruch. As also mentioned earlier, the repentance of Manasseh, who caused Israel to sin against God , is also given in detail in the Deuterocanonicals too. In this prayer, Manasseh states:
“..for I have sinned above the number of the sands of the sea. My transgressions, O Lord, are multiplied:…I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I acknowledge mine iniquities: wherefore I humbly beseech thee, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me, and destroy me not with mine iniquities. Be not angry with me for ever, by reserving evil for me; neither condemn me into the lower parts of the earth.” (Prayer of Manasses).
There have also been mentions made by others of Daniel’s famous incident with 2 false gods that the Babylonians worshipped, namely, Bel, and a dragon (what we call a “dinosaur” today, thus disproving once again the evolutionary notion that man and dinosaurs could not exist in the same age) which were both destroyed through the God given wisdom of Daniel. In it, we hear for the first time, the concept of time travel which science fiction has been promoting. We discover in this account that Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den reluctantly by the king of Babylon at the instigation of his angry servants/officials for destroying those 2 false gods.
Whilst there, not only was Daniel protected, but also was unexpectedly given food by the prophet Habakkuk who was transported by an angel to Babylon to give him pottage and bread and after doing so, was taken back to his place immediately. Considering that Habbakuk was not a contemporary of Daniel, then clearly something supernatural had to take place via the angel of God to transport him to both Babylon and the time period of Daniel. A time travel miracle indeed! [Note: This incident of being thrown into the lion’s den is not to be confused with the more well known incident that occurred under Darius, King of Persia. Whilst similar, yet they are 2 separate times and 2 separate places.] Historically, none of these things can really be denied.
The account of Esther is familiar to both Jews and Christians alike. What few people are aware of however, is the actual decrees given both when Haman was in power and also when Haman’s evil decree was reversed and the Jews were allowed to defend themselves. In the Masoretic Hebrew, we are not given the actual decrees in detail but nonetheless, has been made reference to.
Thankfully, in the Septuagint and for that matter in the Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha, we actually have those decrees in full. This is contained in the King James Apocrypha, which sadly was edited out in later editions of the King James Bible as well as the Vulgate and other Catholic translations. The former is found in Chapter 13 of the King James Apocrypha and the Septuagint and the latter is found in Chapter 16. In addition to this, we also discover that the Septuagint also mentions Mordechai/Mardocheus prayer to God and his dream of 2 dragons fighting, which thus signifying his battle against Haman/Aman.
In fact, whilst the Masoretic Hebrew has no mention of God, the Septuagint retains prayers to God at this point too. Thankfully, the King James Translators took the effort to translate from both sources, and made a distinction between the Hebrew and Greek on this book of Esther. Nevertheless, the Deuterocanonicals at this point and others have given greater details to the Esther account, thus making fuller sense of the same.
Some Messianic prophecies
The one thing that amazed me regarding the Deuterocanonical books was the Messianic prophecies that indeed found their fulfilment in none other than Christ our God. Esdras in Greek or Ezra in Hebrew, is of significance since in it not only do we discover his godliness in urging the repentance of the children of Israel whilst the Temple is being reconstructed, but we are also given some insights into the prophecies of the future, including the future of both the Messiah and Israel. Thankfully, the King James Translators took the effort to translate both 1 and 2 Esdras, which sadly later editions removed. In 2 Esdras, we discover this Messianic prophecy regarding the Messiah: “And therefore I say unto you, O ye heathen, that hear and understand, look for your Shepherd, he shall give you everlasting rest: for he is nigh at hand, that shall come in the end of the world.” (II Esdras 2:34).
Esdras/Ezra is also told in the same vision given to him by the Archangel Uriel, of a young man giving crowns and palm branches to the people on Mount Zion/Sion and when asking who he was, he was not only told that these people were the ones who confessed God and are rewarded but is told the identity of the man giving the rewards. “So he answered and said unto me, It is the Son of God, whom they have confessed in the world.” (II Esdras 2:47).
In another vision we are even given the name of the Son of God and even explicitly told that he is Christ (Messiah) and that he will even die. A prophecy of the crucifixion as well as the resurrection of our Lord and His Return too.
“For my son Jesus shall be revealed with those that be with him, and they that remain shall rejoice within four hundred years. After these years shall my son Christ die, and all men that have life. And the world shall be turned into the old silence seven days, like as in the former judgments: so that no man shall remain. And after seven days the world, that yet awaketh not, shall be raised up, and that shall die that is corrupt. And the earth shall restore those that are asleep in her, and so shall the dust those that dwell in silence, and the secret places shall deliver those souls that were committed unto them. And the most High shall appear upon the seat of judgment, and misery shall pass away, and long suffering shall have an end: But judgment only shall remain, truth shall stand, and faith shall wax strong: And the work shall follow, and the reward shall be shewed, and the good deeds shall be of force, and wicked deeds shall bear no rule.” (II Esdras 7:28-35)
Clearly, all of this has to be fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Wisdom of Solomon, we are also given some prophecies regarding the nature of our Lord. We are told of his suffering and persecution by wicked men at His crucifixion and we are also told of His Resurrection and Ascension too. In Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-22, we are given a clear picture of the wicked religious leaders that persecuted Christ even to the point of causing Him to be crucified and also mocking Him on the Cross over His righteousness. It reads:
“Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous; because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings: he upbraideth us with our offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy the transgressings of our education. He professeth to have the knowledge of God: and he calleth himself the child of the Lord. He was made to reprove our thoughts. He is grievous unto us even to behold: for his life is not like other men’s, his ways are of another fashion. We are esteemed of him as counterfeits: he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness: he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his father. Let us see if his words be true: and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him. For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies. Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience. Let us condemn him with a shameful death: for by his own saying he shall be respected. Such things they did imagine, and were deceived: for their own wickedness hath blinded them. As for the mysteries of God, they knew them not: neither hoped they for the wages of righteousness, nor discerned a reward for blameless souls.”
If one was to read the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion of Christ and all the events surrounding it, one cannot help but see the prophecy here. Christ was mocked, was attacked by false witnesses, was marred more than any man, was challenged over His claim to be the Son of God, etc. In the Wisdom of Solomon 4:10, 11, 13, 14, 15, we have a picture of the Resurrection and the Ascension too:
“He pleased God, and was beloved of him: so that living among sinners he was translated. Yea speedily was he taken away, lest that wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul. He, being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long time: For his soul pleased the Lord: therefore hasted he to take him away from among the wicked. This the people saw, and understood it not, neither laid they up this in their minds, That his grace and mercy is with his saints, and that he hath respect unto his chosen.”
If anyone is an honest reader of the Gospels, who else could fit such a description but our Lord Jesus Christ, especially in relation to His Resurrection and Ascension?
Even the title of “Saviour” that is unique to God is also ascribed to Christ in the following verses.
“Flee the shadow of this world, receive the joyfulness of your glory: I testify my Saviour openly.” (II Esdras 2:36). [Note: Is this not an application to witness for Christ openly against the shadow of the world, as our Lord commands?]
“For he that turned himself toward it was not saved by the thing that he saw, but by thee, that art the Saviour of all.” (Wisdom of Solomon 16:7)
“Faint not to be strong in the Lord; that he may confirm you, cleave unto him: for the Lord Almighty is God alone, and beside him there is no other Saviour.” (Sirach 24:24) [Cf. Isaiah 43:11; 45:21 and also in reference to Christ, Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Titus 1:3,4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6. God is Saviour. Christ is Saviour. Hence what else can Christ be but Yahweh/Jehovah?!]
“For my hope is in the Everlasting, that he will save you; and joy is come unto me from the Holy One, because of the mercy which shall soon come unto you from the Everlasting our Saviour.” (Baruch 4:22) [Note: Is this not a prophecy of our Lord being the Saviour of Israel and even being termed “the Everlasting”?]
Clearly, our Lord fits the description of these prophecies and will have even greater fulfilment at His Return when indeed He does finally sit on the throne of David forever to institute the True Millennium in Jerusalem and to fulfil all the prophecies made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to the letter. (II Kings 2:45; Isaiah 9:6, 7; Ezekiel 44:1, 2; Revelation 20:7). In fact, we have in the Wisdom of Solomon, a clear picture of not only the Incarnation of Christ, but also of His Return as the Word of God that shall use the sword to wipe out the wicked: “Thine Almighty word leaped down from heaven out of thy royal throne, as a fierce man of war into the midst of a land of destruction, And brought thine unfeigned commandment as a sharp sword, and standing up filled all things with death; and it touched the heaven, but it stood upon the earth.” (Wisdom of Solomon 18:15, 16) Is this not a sobering thought of the Return of our Lord?
ISRAEL: Her importance and future in the Deuterocanonicals
It is very obvious that the Deuterocanonicals despite not being in the Hebrew Canon (Masoretic Text), is of great significance to the Jewish people and the Jewish content of this cannot be ignored. Whilst Jews and Protestants have missed a lot out in relation to the Messiah, and also the future of Israel, that shall be discussed here, a number of Orthodox and Catholics are equally ignorant of the significance of Israel’s future in the Deuterocanonicals. This indeed is tragic on all sides. Alone in the Deuterocanonical/Apocryphal Books, the name of “Israel” is mentioned 245 times.
Is this not significant in and of itself regarding the importance of Israel according to these books? Already mentioned from above, we have already seen that Jewish practice and life is mentioned consistently throughout these books as well as some of the Messianic prophecies. What we also should mention is that even the future of Israel’s inheritance is also mentioned as well. Whilst praying to confess the sins of his people, Israel, Baruch makes this hope and promise very clear:
“And shall know that I am the Lord their God: for I will give them an heart, and ears to hear: And they shall praise me in the land of their captivity, and think upon my name, And return from their stiff neck, and from their wicked deeds: for they shall remember the way of their fathers, which sinned before the Lord. And I will bring them again into the land which I promised with an oath unto their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they shall be lords of it: and I will increase them, and they shall not be diminished. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them to be their God, and they shall be my people: and I will no more drive my people of Israel out of the land that I have given them.” (Baruch 2:31-35)
It is clear as day that this not only has to do with the physical return of the Israelites/the Jews to their homeland, but just as equally clear that Israel shall repent of her unbelief and rebellion and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ too. To try and read the Church into the passage simply will not work and will only cause more harm than good. Even in Tobit, when Tobit was telling Tobias to beware of whoredom and to only take a wife from the house of Israel, he gives this clear promise: “for we are the children of the prophets, Noe, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: remember, my son, that our fathers from the beginning, even that they all married wives of their own kindred, and were blessed in their children, and their seed shall inherit the land.” (Tobit 4:12)
What other seed shall inherit the land being discussed but Israel shall inherit the land that was promised to their forefathers from Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Whilst the Church may partake in the blessings in the future (as spiritual seed of Abraham by default), nevertheless the promises to the physical seed of Abraham clearly cannot be ignored and this shall indeed have fuller fulfilment at the end when Israel repents and our Lord Jesus Christ returns to sit on that throne of David forever.
To those amongst our Orthodox and Catholic brethren that tend to be anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish, bear in mind that just in the Deuterocanonical books alone, the word “Sion” or “Zion” is mentioned 35 times, and never in a derogatory manner as tends to be done today. In fact, it is on Mt. Zion that the Archangel Uriel tells Esdras/Ezra that the Son of God will actually be issuing rewards to those who confessed Him and stood for Him in this world. (II Esdras 2:41-48). In fact, this command is given regarding the future of Zion: “Take thy number, O Sion, and shut up those of thine that are clothed in white, which have fulfilled the law of the Lord.” (II Esdras 2:40)
Zion is important in the future of God, not to mention our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is there that the righteous shall be rewarded and be promoted for their righteousness in the Millennial Reign and the World to Come. In fact, more explicitly, Ezra is told by the Archangel Uriel regarding the nature of our Lord Jesus Christ coming to return to save His own. We are given a clear picture of Armageddon in these verses:
“And he shall come to the astonishment of them that dwell on the earth. And one shall undertake to fight against another, one city against another, one place against another, one people against another, and one realm against another. And the time shall be when these things shall come to pass, and the signs shall happen which I shewed thee before, and then shall my Son be declared, whom thou sawest as a man ascending. And when all the people hear his voice, every man shall in their own land leave the battle they have one against another. And an innumerable multitude shall be gathered together, as thou sawest them, willing to come, and to overcome him by fighting.” (II Esdras 13:30-34) [Emphasis mine].
We are also told the following in conclusion clearly:
“But he shall stand upon the top of the mount Sion. And Sion shall come, and shall be shewed to all men, being prepared and builded, like as thou sawest the hill graven without hands. And this my Son shall rebuke the wicked inventions of those nations, which for their wicked life are fallen into the tempest; And shall lay before them their evil thoughts, and the torments wherewith they shall begin to be tormented, which are like unto a flame: and he shall destroy them without labour by the law which is like unto me.” (II Esdras 13:36-38) [Emphasis mine].
Clearly, our Lord Jesus Christ as God the Son is meant to return and fight the battle of Armageddon and stand on Mt. Zion and cause it to be totally renewed unlike before out of heaven. He is also the Judge that shall separate nations into sheep and goat nations which is highlighted in Matthew 25:31-46. Zion/Sion is clearly in the mind of God for the future of Israel’s redemption and the blessing of the world and also for the hope of the Church as co-heirs in His reign.
Let us also not forget that Judith also prayed for the salvation of Israel from her enemies and mentions how the enemies of her people plot against Sion/Zion:
“I pray thee, I pray thee, O God of my father, and God of the inheritance of Israel, Lord of the heavens and earth, Creator of the waters, king of every creature, hear thou my prayer: And make my speech and deceit to be their wound and stripe, who have purposed cruel things against thy covenant, and thy hallowed house, and against the top of Sion, and against the house of the possession of thy children. And make every nation and tribe to acknowledge that thou art the God of all power and might, and that there is none other that protecteth the people of Israel but thou.” (Judith 9:12-14)
Judith saw that God will stand by Israel her people and Sion/Zion shall stand even against the enemy. In the final chapter of Judith, she states this curse which is applicable even today to both the Jewish people and also the Church: “Woe to the nations that rise up against my kindred! the Lord Almighty will take vengeance of them in the day of judgment, in putting fire and worms in their flesh; and they shall feel them, and weep for ever.” (Judith 16:17) Clearly, God is still the God of Israel as He is of the Church, which partakes in the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12) NOT REPLACING ISRAEL! That being said, Jews still need to repent as do Gentiles, to the saving truth of Christ our God and Saviour.
CONCLUSION OF THE MATTER:
There is more I could discuss regarding the gems I found in the Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha (such as the concept of righteous, godly rule and how it is a type of Christ ruling on earth at His return as found in I Maccabees 9:73) but enough can be said for now. There is a lot of godliness and wisdom in it that the Protestants and Jews have missed out on, not to mention the prophecies relating to Christ our God as the Messiah and the future of Israel at His Return. Orthodox and Catholics whilst retaining these books have also overlooked many of these gems too and thus many amongst our Orthodox and Catholic brethren have allowed for erroneous and dangerous ideas to enter the Church too. The Deuterocanonicals are indeed part of our Holy Scripture. It is not enough to merely retain them, but more importantly to examine them and learn the truth of God from them.
Protestants by following the lead of Luther and Calvin have deprived themselves of much historical knowledge, Messianic prophecies and deep understanding regarding Israel in the future. Jews by not paying it any attention in the name of “canonical reasons” have also deprived themselves of understanding Messianic prophecy and also of any understanding regarding their future as a people and nation. Orthodox and Catholics have retained it but have overlooked many of these points discussed, thus also allowing delusions to set in and render themselves impotent in the fight against Satan and the Antichrist and the False Prophet (The unholy trinity of evil that is the counterfeit to the Trinity of God).
I sincerely urge Protestants and Jews to read them without bias and for Orthodox and Catholics to read them afresh again. This may be the key to leading to true reconciliation on all sides between Jews and Christians under the Truth of Christ our God and under the Yahweh/Jehovah of Scripture Who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I know from experience that it has helped me from being an anti-Catholic, anti-Orthodox Fundamental Evangelical to being an Apostolic minded Christian that contends against Satan and seeks to be an instrument of God in bringing the people of God together. May this knowledge shared be a means of blessing to all of the people of God and enable us in the fight against Satan. God bless.
Glory to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Both now and forever unto the ages upon ages. Amen.