With Hanukkah approaching, and a lot of mystery and sensationalism surrounding issues within Christian circles, it all makes for intense conversation. Questions arise like, “Should Christians celebrate Hanukkah? Is God glorified when Believers partake in holidays like Christmas? What is the history with the Feast of Dedication?”
Let’s try and unpack it a bit.
One man trying to conquer the world is nothing new. It has been taking place ever since the fall of the Tower of Babel. Most recently, you can see it across the globe with Super Powers like Russia, Iran, China, the US, Great Britain and Germany.
In antiquity, from Persia, came Alexander the Great around 400BC. These were deemed as the “silent years” for Israel, because there was a real famine for the word of God. No prophets spoke during this time. This era was in between the Old and New Testaments.
During the conquest of the known world during Alexander the Great, the universal thought was inspired by and guided from Greek education. It was supreme. With it came the Greek language, philosophy and custom.
What resulted were things like stadiums, theaters, chariot races, gymnasiums. A lot of Jews embraced the Hellenistic lifestyle. We still embrace it today. I will cover that in more detail in another post. Right now I want to bring us to understand Hanukkah.
When Alexander the Great died, the empire was divided into four. One of the eventual leaders over Jerusalem was a lunatic. He made altars to himself and forced the people to worship him, calling himself a god. He also defiled the temple grossly.
During this time, any Jew caught obeying the Torah risked being put to death. This included circumcisions, feast celebrations, keeping the Sabbath, etc.
We have record of these things through the Historian Josephus and the apocrypha Book of Maccabees. Maccabee means “hammer”. This is of some significance, as this is what the Maccabeus revolutionaries did to the Greeks.
Hiding in the mountains was a small family whose Paterfamilias, or head of household, was Mattathias, whom the Apostle Matthew was named after. He was a loyal priest during this time and taught his sons to remain faithful to YHWH as he was.
When he died, his son Judah led the clan. They became the freedom fighters of the day, which comprised of farmers, peasants, slaves, workers. In the book of Judah, these words were recorded:
“It is easy for many to be overcome by few; in the sight of
heaven there is no difference between deliverance by many or
by few; for victory in war does not depend upon size of the army,
and lawlessness they come against us to destroy us and our
wives and children and to despoil us; but we are fighting for our
lives and our Torah laws. He Himself will crush them before us;
so do not be afraid of them.”
Because they honored God, he honored them in battle. The weak were the victors. It was nothing less than a miracle, according to some.
It was winter. Jerusalem once again belonged to them. The first thing these freedom fighters did was to purify the holy temple. They restored the temple and crafted new vessels. The altar was destroyed and rebuilt. They consecrated the courts and replaced the incense and table, along with the shewbread. The curtains were hung.
The men in the temple were anxious for God to fill it with his presence. What was missing was oil. There was only enough oil for one day. It would take eight days to make new oil. Once the menorah was lit, it was to remain lit all through the night, every night.
The men lit the menorah, anyway, and decided to let it burn as long as it would. Miraculously, it burnt for eight days until the new oil could be made.
Watch this space…
By Jori Sams