I believe this story of faith and courage has two lessons for us today
Why did Jesus celebrate Chanukkah?
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Chanukkah is thought by many Americans to be the Jewish answer to Christmas. Some believe it was invented by Jews to give their children an opportunity to gaze at lights similar to those on a Christmas Tree and give and receive gifts. But Chanukah is very different than Christmas in many ways.
God commanded His people to celebrate feasts and fasts to remember certain things at certain times of the year. It is clear from the teachings of the New Testament that the writers expected the followers of the Jewish Messiah to join themselves to the Olive Tree that is Israel, so for this purpose it follows that Christians should celebrate these same feasts and take joy in them along with their Jewish brothers and sisters
The idea was that we should take time to celebrate these feasts so that we would think about God and what He had done for us. Of course, one of the foremost of these feasts and the one most recognized by Jews and Christians alike is Passover, which teaches us to remember the time when the Almighty led His People out of Egypt to worship Him. We will not take time to go into any of the other Biblical feasts at this time because we are concerned at this time of year with only one.
In John 10.22 we read that Yeshua (Jesus) was in the Temple at the Feast of Dedication. The Feast of Dedication was the last of all the feasts to be added to the list because the event we are to remember took place only in the year 164 BC. But it was no less important than the other feasts because again it reminded God’s People of a miracle that He performed at one of the most difficult times of Jewish History.
At many times during the 3,000 years of Jewish life in the Land of Israel they were invaded by foreign armies who, among other things, tried to force them to give up serving God. Some of these invading armies also took them as slaves to far away countries until finally the Romans scattered most of them (but not all) to the far corners of the Roman Empire from which Diaspora many have returned in the last 100 years. I must stop for a moment to say that there have always been Jews in the Land of Israel since the time God deeded it to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The, so called, Palestinians, came from many countries but only in the relatively recent past. They have absolutely no rights in the Land Of Israel other than those right given them by Israel to live in peace within her borders.
About 200 years before the Romans invaded Israel other evil forces were at work. After the death of Alexander the Great his immense empire was divided between his leading Generals who each took a part of the empire. In time these groups warred against each other and the Land of Israel changed hands, finally coming under the rule of Antiochus the 4th with his invasions of Israel in 170 to 167 BCE.
At this time the Jewish population was divided. There were those traditionalists who continued to worship the God of Israel and the progressives who turned to Greek Culture assimilating into the way of life of their conquerors. Without a strong and undivided faith in their God the Jewish Nation fell apart and capitulated to the enemy with the traditionalists continuing to worship as best they could at risk of their lives.
Antiochus now consolidated his victory by issuing Executive Orders demanding that all worship of God must cease including Temple Sacrifices, circumcision of babies, and Torah study. He followed this up by placing a statue of Zeus in the Temple and sacrificing a pig on the altar. He did not limit these atrocities to Jerusalem but sent his soldiers throughout the land to enforce his edicts. One of these groups of soldiers eventually found their way to the village of Modiin where they ordered an elderly priest named Mattityahu to sacrifice a pig.
While the old man refused to do it another man came forward to do it. That Godly old priest could not stand by and watch this sacrilege so he killed the traitor and also the emissary of Antiochus. Now the priest and his five sons fled to the mountains saying “Whoever is for God follow us.”Through great miracles God enabled this guerilla band, known as the “Maccabees”, to fight back and win against the vastly superior armies of Antiochus.
The war finally won the victorious Macabees returned to Jerusalem in 164BC and to the Holy Temple. After cleaning up the rubble and throwing out the pagan images it was time to rededicate the Temple and light the candles in the seven branched Menorah. To their horror as the ceremony was about to begin they found that there was only enough consecrated olive oil to last for one day. The problem was that it took eight days to properly consecrate a new supply of oil and they could not allow the light to go out again now that it was finally about to be restored. They agreed that they would have to ask God to perform a miracle and cause that oil to keep burning until more could be consecrated.
God performed the miracle because Mattityahu, his five sons and those who followed them had the faith and courage to stand up against the wicked rule of an ungodly dictator and his army of occupation.
By the way, I should mention that at Chanukkah we use a nine branched candlestick (rather than the usual seven) There is one Servant candle and 8 candles that are lit from it, one for each of eight days to remember the eight days of the miracle.
And so it was that Yeshua visited the Temple on that day to celebrate the Feast of Dedication.
I believe this story of faith and courage has two lessons for us today.
The first is that Israel must not back down and allow one more inch of territory to be given to the Muslims who have invaded the Holy Land. No matter what the United Nations decrees nobody has any right in God’s land but those to whom God Himself willed it. That is His People Israel. However, it must also be said that Israel must return to God and put her faith completely in Him in order to win this battle against the greatest odds ever seen in a battle; because it seems that the whole world is against that little Nation. And not only must the Land be liberated but so must the remains of God’s Holy Temple which the Muslims have been systematically destroying.
The second is a lesson all patriotic Americans need to learn. The United States became the strongest and richest nation in the world because of her faith in Almighty God. Over the past 50 years America has changed. Many Americans have come to think that they are so powerful and so rich they no longer need God. Church and Synagogue attendance has decreased alarmingly. The Bible and prayer are no longer permitted in schools. Pagans have invaded the land and Americans have followed their false religions turning further and further away from God. Surely by now most Americans realize we are in very deep trouble, yet they are turning to ungodly men for help instead of turning to the One True God.
The man America elected to lead the country – not once, but twice – is leading the nation into a pit that has no way out. Only complete reversal and return to God can help America.
It is said that in one of America’s darkest hours George Washington heard the story of the Maccabees at his headquarters at Valley Forge in 1777. Six months later he implemented the Maccabee battle plan by chasing and routing the British enemy. This decisive victory led to others which in turn led to the great Nation that America finally became.
Note. I have left out a lot of details in order to make this easily readable so that everyone can understand it. Please do not write to me to tell me the names of all Alexander’s Generals and the dates that various things occurred or explaining the Syrian Seleucid Army. I already know those things and the details can be looked up by anyone who wants to go into that depth of study. Please concentrate instead on what needs to be done to bring America back to God and rid us of the foreign, pagan, dictator who wants us to forget everything about God Almighty and worship at the shrine of Marxist Leninism.