Hanukkah 2011 – Dec. 21-28, 2011
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:16
Are you shining your light in the darkness that surrounds you?
Hanukkah is called the Festival of lights. It is a celebration of God’s miracles, and faithfulness. It is story of dedication. It is a celebration for courageous people who would rather die than compromise.
The back story starts with Alexander the Great conquering the world. As he conquered a people, he conquered their culture, making the Greek language, thought, custom and philosophy the standard. As Israel was conquered, many Jews accepted the Greek culture and lived a Hellenistic lifestyle, glorifying themselves, rather than God. Yet, some Jews continued to cling to His Word.
Alexander died in 323 B.C., but the Greek culture continued as his four generals divided his kingdom into four parts exactly as predicted by Daniel almost 200 years earlier (Daniel 8:8, 22). Several generations later, Antiochus Epiphanes (meaning “god manifest”) became the demented ruler over one of those parts. True to his name, he made statues of himself and ordered people to worship him. Sadly, the Hellenistic Jews had discarded God’s Word that told them what would happen next.
In a rage, after the loss of a battle, Antiochus Epiphanes ordered Jerusalem to be destroyed (foretold in Daniel 11:29-31). The city was destroyed and its citizens were either killed or sold into slavery, including the compromising Jews. The Temple was stripped of its wealth, and partly destroyed. Then, on Zeus’ birthday (December 25), Antiochus Epiphanes erected an idol of Zeus in the temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Holy Temple, dedicating the temple to Zeus.
As Antiochus Epiphanes continued to kill the Jews, a priestly family from the line of Aaron was hidden away in the mountains. The priest Mattathias would not compromise and soon formed a small army of common people, willing to stand for what is right. This tiny resistance army came to be called the Maccabees, meaning hammer.
Through faithful men, the Lord overthrew the huge Greek army and they took Jerusalem back. As they prepared to purify God’s Holy Temple, they discovered only enough oil to light the holy lamp for one day, but they needed oil for eight. They decided to not wait, but burn it anyway. The menorah miraculously burned for eight days until new oil was made.
Points to Ponder and Pray
“Hanukkah” is Hebrew for dedication. It has nothing to do with Christmas, but rather is a story of dedication and incredible conviction to follow God in a culture of compromise. Those who remained faithful did so with awesome courage. Women who circumcised their children were killed and their babies hung around their necks. Jews who continued to study God’s Word were boiled alive, as they looked forward to a better life to come (Hebrews 11:35; Daniel 11:33-34). The Jews viewed Hanukkah as a time of dedication, and a time to reflect on the miracles of God.
It is a Holy Day for both Jews and Christians to remember and to learn from. It is a holiday of light…of shining light in a very dark world. Do you shine your light in this dark world (Matthew 5:16)?
The history of Hanukkah is very important and should be passed on to our children. Already, our culture parallels the Hellenistic values introduced by Alexander the Great. Will your children stand and not back down? Will they find God’s Word, relevant and believe God will sustain their faith as they look forward to a better day, full of His light?
One lesson to learn is God uses ordinary people. When you trust God with the small things, He will do miraculous things through you. Conversely, if you compromise on the small things, it is easier to compromise the big things. Will you stand and be of good courage, and allow God to fight for you? Greater is He who is in you, then He who is in the world (Romans 12:21).
Are you compromised by the surrounding culture? Secular Humanism is the new face of Hellenism and it is raging in America today. America is filled with people who take pride in making their own decisions because they know what is right and best for them. They view the Bible as archaic, not relevant to the modern world. Thus they rely on their own minds to determine their own course of action and not depend on God. They view themselves as the ultimate in the universe, free to determine their own actions as they arrogantly decide what is good and right…and wrongly conclude God is neither. Do these characteristics describe you? Does God’s Word direct your steps (Psalm 119:105)? Would you rather die than compromise? Do you cling to the hope of the Resurrection and a better life to come?
Antiochus Epiphanes is a type of the antichrist. During the end times, the antichrist will seek to annihilate the Jews, as he erects statutes of himself (not Zeus) and sacrifices a pig in God’s Holy Temple in Jerusalem. But, that’s another story. Make no mistake and do not compromise! Rest assured the final chapter of history will conclude with all men falling to their knees, as they acknowledge Jesus as the true Lord of All (Daniel 7:13; Revelation 7:12).
Maranatha. Jesus is coming soon and bringing His reward with Him. Are you ready? Is your family ready?
This entire post is used by permission from Moving Forward on Our Knees and is edited slightly.