I love stories about heroes and sacrifice. They are incredibly compelling. That’s perhaps why Hanukkah is one of my favorite times of the year. Hanukkah is the season when we celebrate how, centuries ago, God’s people were willing to make enormous sacrifices, to fight against great odds, not comprise their faith, and do what was right. They became heroes through their obedience to God.
Here’s a summary of the amazing story …
Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world but died without an heir, so his massive new empire (which included Judea) was divided among his generals. This was fine for the Jews of Judea at first – until 175 BC, when the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded and tried to outlaw worship of the one true God, the God of Israel. Antiochus banned circumcision, outlawed the Hebrew Bible and even sacrificed pigs on an altar to Zeus in God’s Holy Temple. This prompted a Jewish uprising – the Maccabean Revolt – led by a Jewish priest named Mattathias and his sons. After ten long years of guerrilla warfare against a much larger and better equipped Seleucid army, the Jewish rebels did the seemingly impossible, pushing back their enemies, recapturing Jerusalem and cleansing and rededicating the Temple. That’s why those Jewish Maccabean warriors were heroes – they did impossible things, against impossible odds, because it was right and because God told them to. Their heroic actions are the basis for the celebration of Hanukkah. Especially important was the miracle of the oil. During the re-dedication of the temple, they found only enough specially prepared oil to relight the lampstand in the Holy place for one day. But miraculously, God kept the lampstand burning for eight days until new oil could be prepared! This is why we celebrate Hanukkah by lighting candles for eight days. All because the heroes of that day had faith that God could do the impossible.
Heroes today are those who work so hard to provide impoverished and often persecuted people with clean water, education, clothing, friendship, and most important of all, with the Good News of Yeshua (Jesus) who loves them, died for them and wants them to receive the gift of eternal life. After all, Yeshua is the reason for this season and this celebration. Here’s a few reasons why:
#1- He is our light, and the only good and pure thing that breaks back the darkness of our of a sinful world.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it
John 1:4-5 (NIV)
#2- He is the ultimate hero who stepped down out of heaven to die on cross for a sinful humanity.
Have this attitude in yourselves, which also was in Messiah Yeshua, Who, though existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be grasped. But He emptied Himself, taking on the form of a slave, becoming the likeness of men and being found in appearance as a man. He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 (TLV)
#3- He is God’s provision for us that never runs out.
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:12-14 (ESV)
Hanukkah is absolutely amazing. It’s full of spiritual significance, all of which points directly to the Savior of the world. As a Christian, this celebration has incredible importance. Who wouldn’t love celebrating Jesus for eight days straight? Lighting the Hanukkiah (tree of life), singing worship eight nights in row, recounting stories of God’s faithfulness, it’s so much fun and so encouraging! I invite all my brothers and sisters around the world to join me and my family in honoring our King, our Light, our Life. It starts tonight. Will you join me?
Will you be a hero by not abandoning conviction and truth? Will you be a hero and share the love of Yeshua with a hurting world? Will you shine His love and light into the darkness?
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12 (ESV)
Peace in Christ