December 10 to 18, 2020
“The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place. (Reader, pay attention!)” Matthew 24:15 (NLT)
Most Followers of Christ don’t celebrate or understand the Jewish holidays. Hanukkah included! Even though Jesus came and fulfilled the law and the prophets, it doesn’t mean they have no significance for us today… especially TODAY!
The four hundred years of silence, was a time when God gave no new revelation to His people, goes from the end of Malachi until John the Baptist. Though God was silent, He wasn’t absent! Hanukkah is a feast that began during this period of time. It preserves the epic struggle and courageous exploits of what came to be seen as one of the greatest Jewish victories of all time. I encourage you to dig in and read about this amazing story of an evil Syrian ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes, who was a madman believing he was a visible god, and how the Jewish people defeated him.
Antiochus attacked Jerusalem, destroying houses and walls, killing or enslaving tens of thousands of Jewish people. His soldiers desecrated the Holy Temple on Mount Zion, stripping it of its golden vessels and treasures. Ultimately, he erected an idol of Zeus and offered up a pig on the altar. This was the ultimate abomination. Yet he continued and poured the blood on the sacred scrolls before tearing them to shreds. The nation reeled with horror from this trauma. Antiochus then outlawed any form of practice of Judaism with the penalty of death to those who violated it. This was a dark time in Israel.
Nevertheless, Jewish patriots began to engage in guerilla warfare attacking Syrian outposts. Judah, the Maccabee, rose up as the leader. This revolt raged on for several years. These freedom fighters hid in caves and would lie in wait for Syrian soldiers. Finally, these patriots wore the Syrians down and faced them in open battle where they secured a stunning victory. These liberators immediately headed for Jerusalem, where they were horrified by what they discovered. Exactly three years from the day of its defilement the altar of the Lord was rededicated.
Jewish tradition has it that the Maccabees found only one small “cruse” of undefiled oil in the Temple. This one day’s supply of oil for the golden lampstand, miraculously burned for 8 days until a new consecrated supply of oil could be prepared. In other words, oil miraculously appeared every day to keep the fire burning!
Hanukkah has several names: The Feast of Dedication and The Feast of Lights. This is the season of the miracle of lights. Just as in this story where Satan tried to defile and silence the worship and practice of their faith, we are also at such a crossroads. This is a time for the church, the true followers of Jesus Christ, to rededicate ourselves to following Jesus wholeheartedly and rising up as patriots for the kingdom of God. Just as the Syrians brought in a multiple of gods and forbid the worship of the one true God, our faith is under siege to the pantheon of gods being worshipped today and we cannot remain silent. The temptation is to give in and simply get on with Christmas. Instead we must refocus, and tarry on until God brings the miraculous victory.
Personally, take these next 8 days and rededicate yourself to God, to His purposes in your life and to His holiness. Ask God to use you as a fragrant oil, burning in His presence, bringing His light to those around you. Ask Him to sustain you in your weariness. Also, be watching and praying for the miracles that God will do during these eight days. Some have hinted that December 14th will be significant!