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Faith Lift: In Unity
Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold how good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity.”
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FG_AUTHORS: Josh Medeski
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-A Hanukkah Lesson-
By John D. Garr, Ph.D.
During the month of December, Jews around the world join together in celebrating Hanukkah, the festival which Jesus and fellow Jews were observing in John 10:22, 23: "And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in Solomon=s porch."
Hanukkah has become one of the most beloved festivals of the Jewish year, one that is celebrated almost universally by all factions of Jews, even secularists. This is true despite the fact that its commemoration is not enjoined in the Torah, the five books of Moses. It is a time of great joy for the Jewish people because it recalls Israel=s liberation from the tyranny of foreign occupation and because it honors God=s deliverance of Judaism, itself, from a subtle attempt to destroy and replace it by syncretizing it with a polytheistic religious system.
Hanukkah features the lighting of candles for eight days, one candle the first day, two the second, and so forth until eight candles and the shammash, the lighting candle, are burning. This makes for a total of nine candles on the eighth day, producing the hanukia, the nine-branched candelabra which is used among the Jewish people more commonly than the seven-branched Menorah of Holy Scripture. The lighting of candles celebrates the miracle which occurred in the time of second temple Judaism when a one-day supply of oil burned in the Temple Menorah for eight days. Because of the lighting of candles, Hanukkah has also come to be called the Festival of Lights.
The miracle of the light, however, resulted from the Israeli=s steadfast devotion to Yahweh, the one God of the Bible, in the face of a sinister attempt to replace their faith with the polytheism of the Hellenic world. Their faith won them victory and the opportunity to remove the pollution imposed upon them and to rededicate the holy Temple to God=s service. The festival which Jesus commemorated and which his fellow Jews have celebrated for centuries is called Hanukkah, the Hebrew word for dedication. Israel=92s dedication produced the miracle of the supernatural light. This, then, is the great lesson which Hanukkah teaches us (both Jews and Christians): Dedication Produces Light.
The events which Jewish families around the world celebrate occurred during the time of Second Temple Judaism, what most Christians have come to call Intertestamental Judaism, the era between the "Old" and "New" Testaments or between the Minor Prophets and the advent of Jesus. This is thought of as being nearly five centuries when nothing positive or good was happening in Judaism or among the Israelis. "The Jewish people were slowly, inexorably sinking from faith into works, from the Word of God into tradition, and God was silent, just waiting for the time when he would send his Son to Aredeem fallen man," we Christians are told.
Both the term Intertestamental Judaism and the idea that God was absent from the earth and was doing nothing among his people during that time have been pejorative toward Judaism and the Jewish people and have also been unfortunate for Christians, robbing them of a rich legacy which Jesus and the apostles celebrated. The truth is that many good things were happening among God= people of faith, not the least of which was the Jews tenacious loyalty to the religion which the One God had given them at Sinai. This was a time when hundreds, perhaps thousands, chose martyrdom rather than bow their knee to the pagan religion of polytheism. Those who sanctified the name of God by sacrificing their lives during this time set a great example for believers of all time in how true devotion to God is manifest.
The story of Hanukkah begins with the life of perhaps the greatest military figure in history, Alexander the Great, the Macedonian who conquered the Middle East in the fourth century B.C.E. Alexander had been taught by Aristotle, the disciple of Plato; therefore, he was thoroughly indoctrinated in Greek philosophy. He was driven not only by a desire for conquest, but also by a vision to extend Greek civilization, philosophy, and religion to the world so that the other nations could become civilized instead of barbaric. Though he was tolerant of the various religious ideas and customs of the people whom he conquered, his underlying aim was to Hellenize the world.
When Alexander died at the early age of 31, his kingdom that had reached to most of the known world was divided among his four generals. One of these was Selucius, the Syrian, who began what is known as the Selucid dynasty, a line of kings who were fanatical in their devotion to Hellenism, the Greek philosophy and religion.
After Alexander=s death, Israel came under the control of the Ptolemies of Egypt. In 175 B.C.E., Antiochus IV, the great grandson of Selucius, came to power in Syria. He was a devotee of Hellenic culture and religion. His was determined to bring "civilization" to the barbaric peoples of the Middle East, including those pitiful Jews who were considered to be atheists because they refused to worship the Greek pantheon of gods that had been transplanted in Greece from ancient Babylon. The Jews were considered to be a strangely barbaric people because they worshipped only one God and an invisible God at that! The most educated Greek was simply a pagan at heart, unable to fathom the Jews dedication to ethical monotheism.
In 167 B.C.E., probably because of the waning influence of the Selucid dynasty, Antiochus decided to force all the peoples under his rule to be Hellenized. He was determined to mold all the people in his realm into one people with one language and one religion. The tolerance that Alexander had had for diverse peoples was not to be found in the Selucids, and especially not in Antiochus.
When he returned to Syria from battles with Ptolemy in Egypt, Antiochus came against the city of Jerusalem and took it without a fight. At first he was considered a liberator because he ended the oppression of the Ptolemies on the land of Israel. For a period of at least two years, Antiochus entered into a peace treaty with the Jewish people. In 165, however, he began a reign of terror against the Jews in an attempt to force the Greek religion and culture on them. Of course, as Josephus notes, he was also motivated by a desire to plunder the magnificent riches of the Temple as were despots before and after him.
By this time, Antiochus had assumed the title of Epiphanes, which meant God manifest. He had come to consider himself to be divine, in much the same way in which Alexander had done near the end of his life. As a god, Antiochus Epiphanes determined to destroy the worship of Yahweh, the one true God. He was convinced that in order to subdue the land of Israel, he had to destroy the Jewish religion and culture. Antiochus, therefore, proscribed the observance of Sabbath, circumcision, and the dietary laws. He converted the Temple into a shrine to Zeus and proceeded to offer swine on the very altar of God in homage to the king of the Greek gods.
Both the Jewish nation and Judaism were in danger of extinction. Many Jewish leaders were in league with Antiochus, with at least two gaining the position of High Priest by bribing the king. They openly encouraged Hellenization, and many of them endured painful surgery to reverse their circumcision so that they would be accepted without derision in the gymnasium, where the games were performed in the nude. This attack upon Judaism was far more subtle and dangerous than previous assaults, for it encouraged the assimilation of the Jews into Hellenistic culture. It initially promoted syncretism, the blending of Judaism and Hellenism; however, the end aim was for Hellenism to prevail totally. And, it was very attractive to the secular, wealthy Jewish aristocracy who wanted above all else to preserve their prerogatives and privileges.
There were other Jews, however, who were called the Hasidim (righteous ones), the forerunners of the Perushim (Pharisees). Because of their extreme dedication to God and his Word, they refused to bow to Antiochus= demand that they be Hellenized. An outstanding example of these were Hannah and her seven sons who chose death rather than worship Greek idols. Several thousand men, women, and children who were hiding in a cave chose death by suffocation
to avoid breaking the Sabbath.
These were acts of martyrdom that were undertaken to "sanctify the name of God," a practice that has continued in Judaism until this time. (The first martyr was not Stephen, for thousands of Jews had chosen martyrdom rather than recant or apostatize their faith.) When Stephen and later Christians chose to become martyrs, they merely continued a strong tradition and a rich heritage passed on to them by their forefathers. Even in the twentieth century, it has been suggested that a larger percentage of Jewish people have been martyred for faith in God (in the Holocaust) than have Christians.
It is interesting that the Greek word for "witness" is marturevw (martureo), from which we get the word martyr. It is sometimes necessary to suffer martyrdom when bearing witness to faith in God. Jewish tradition prescribes three cases when one must surrender his own life rather than violate the commandments of God. Of the 613 commandments of the Torah, 610 may be suspended in order to save one=s own life or the life of another; however, under no circumstances may one violate the first, sixth, and seventh commandments of the Decalogue. If committing idolatry, murder, or adultery would save one=s life, he must choose to become a martyr instead. Interestingly enough, these three commandments were openly violated by Antiochus and his soldiers in the very temple sanctuary itself, including the Holy of Holies. Swine were sacrificed on the altar in worship to Zeus, Israelis were murdered, and rape and adulterous orgies were committed in the temple confines as a part of the worship of Zeus.
It became apparent that martyrdom would not solve the dilemma. Finally in Modiin an aged priest named Mattathias became so enraged when he saw a Jew about to sacrifice a pig in obedience to Antiochus that he killed the apostate. Then he and his five sons began a revolt with the declaration, "mi l Adonai elai!" ("Whoever is for the Lord, follow me!") His son Judah became known as the Maccabee, which is usually translated hammer. Some have suggested that the name was an acrostic for the scripture that appeared on Judah=s battle flag: "Mi kamkha ba-elim Adonai" ("Who is like unto thee, O Lord?" Exodus 15:11).
At first the Judah and his brother John engaged the Syrians in guerrilla warfare and were successful because Antiochus did not take the rebellion seriously. Later, however, he sent three armies to suppress the rebellion in one stroke. A decisive battle was fought at Emmaus, and Antiochus was defeated. This "god manifest" was broken by Yahweh, himself, "without hand" as Daniel 8:25 had prophesied. He later died of tuberculosis in Gabbai of Persis in such horrible consumption that his own personal physicians could not attend to him.
Following the victory, the Israelis went to Jerusalem and began the process of purification of the Temple. The idols to Zeus were removed, all the elements of the sanctuary were cleansed ceremonially according to the law, and the people themselves were ritually purified. The Jews had not been able to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles because of the foreign occupation; therefore, they celebrated the eight days of rejoicing in the month of Chislev, beginning on the twenty-fifth day.
When it came time to light the seven-branched Menorah in the holy place, the priests discovered that they had only one cruise of consecrated oil, a one-day supply for the Menorah. In their fervor to rededicate the Temple, they decided to light the Menorah anyway. Then, the miracle occurred. One day passed, then, two, then, three, and finally eight days passed, and the Menorah continued to burn. A one-day supply of oil burned for eight days - a material sign of God=s approval on the rededication of the Temple. Just like God had manifest himself in a cloud that forced the priests to discontinue the temple service when Solomon had dedicated the temple, so a supernatural sign was given of God=s approval upon the rededication. Israel was given a physical sign that God approved of his people=s loyalty to their faith in him and their dedicating themselves and their sanctuary to him.
Each year since that time, Jews have celebrated the fact that their God triumphs over oppression and forced idolatry. Both the Jews and Judaism survived a major challenge of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism because of the faith and determination of the Maccabees and the hosts of Israel whom they led in rebellion against Antiochus.
Hanukkah in Prophecy
The prophet Daniel had predicted the events surrounding Antiochus Epiphanes= occupation of Israel. In Daniel 8:5-7, he declared that a male goat with one "notable" horn between his eyes would destroy a ram with two horns. Daniel was told that the goat was Greece and the ram was Media-Persia (vs. 20, 21). The notable horn was Alexander the Great. Then, in verse 8 Daniel said that the great horn would be broken to be replaced by four others. This prophecy was fulfilled when Alexander died and his four generals divided his kingdom.
In verse 9, the prophet predicted that a little horn would come out of one of the four. According to verse 23, he would be a "king of fierce countenance" who would "destroy the mighty and the holy people." He would magnify "himself to the prince of the host" (vs. 11) and by "peace [would] destroy many" (vs. 25). By "him the daily sacrifice [would be] taken away and the place of his sanctuary cast down." An army was to be given to this military leader "against the daily sacrifice," and he would "cast down the truth to the ground." (vs. 12).
Then Daniel heard a saint asking, "How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?" The answer was, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." As predicted, Antiochus Epiphanes did for three and one-half years bring a policy of peace by which he destroyed many.
Then, in the middle of the twenty-three hundred days (or seven years), he began a reign of terror on the Jews. Finally, as Daniel had predicted, he stood up "against the Prince of princes," whereupon, in the words of the prophet, he was "broken without hand" (vs. 25).
Daniel 8's prophecy of Antiochus is paralleled in the apocalyptic literature that concerns the coming of Messiah. The little horn equals the man of sin, the son of perdition who deceives world by flattery and prosperity and exalts himself to sit in God=s temple proclaiming himself to be god. He, too, is to rule for a period of seven years, beginning with three and one-half years of prosperity and peace and concluding with three and one-half years of "great tribulation." Again, however, when he exalts himself as god against the Prince of peace, the coming Messiah will destroy him"without hand," "by the spirit of his mouth," (II Thessalonians 2:8) in the battle of Armageddon. These prophetic events are also described in Daniel 7 and Revelation 19.
When the Messiah comes, just as in the days of the Maccabees, the Temple and the land of Israel will be rededicated, producing the day when the light of the sun will be as Isaiah 30:26 described it, "sevenfold . . . the light of seven days." Then, the entire world will join the Messiah and his resurrected saints in the greatest of all Hanukkah celebrations!
So, both a historical event and a future expectation call for the remembrance of Hanukkah, the festival of the dedication, the festival of lights, making Hanukkah a festival of import to both Jews and Christians.
Hanukkah: Understanding the Principles
The word chanukkah means "to make narrow, hence to separate or dedicate." The verb form is (chanik) and means "to discipline or instruct" as in Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go . . ." The word hanukkah is used of the dedication of the altar in Solomon=s Temple in II Chronicles 7:9, in the dedication of the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem in Ezra and Nehemiah=s day, and in the dedication of the temple of Zerubbabel.
Dedication takes place when the use of something is narrowed or when the way is made narrow. This immediately calls our attention to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:14: "Enter ye in at the strait [narrow] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
The righteous or Hasidim are always the few because they have separated themselves from the world through the process of dedication and sanctification so that they can be a peculiar people. They have chosen to narrow their conduct so as to walk the way unto life. The majority, on the other hand, prefers the comfort of the broad way of compromise and accommodation with the spirit of the world. In the spirit of the ancient Hellenes, they prefer to syncretize their religious views with the concepts of the world, so they choose the wide, easily-traveled road.
The way that leads to eternal life is a narrow way, a Hanukkah way! We cannot live our lives in conformity with the world and be "dedicated" to God. We are commanded to "come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (II Corinthians 6:17, 18).
We must be a holy people, for Hebrews 12:14 tells us that "without [holiness] no man shall see God." Why does God demand holiness? Because he is a holy God. Of him it is repeatedly said in Scripture, "Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh" The angelic host repeat this phrase day and night (Revelation 4:8). Kadosh means "holy" or "set apart." Kadosh, Kadosh is the Hebrew way of saying "perfectly holy." Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh means utterly holy, or wholly other. A God who is so utterly holy demands that his people be holy also.
In order to walk this walk, we must follow Paul=s instructions in Romans 12:1, 2: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." The problem with living sacrifices is that they tend to crawl off the altar. This is why we must "die daily" as Paul said in I Corinthians 15:31.
In order to be successful in this walk, we must understand the difference between positional sanctification and progressive sanctification, and we must understand the difference between sanctification and justification. We are justified before God by grace through faith only in God=s provision for atonement of sins through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 10:9). This justification is the legal proclamation from God that imputes unto us the righteousness of Jesus Christ for our faith. One cannot become more righteous or justified than he is at that moment of his spiritual rebirth when he receives Jesus as Lord.
We are positionally sanctified when we are baptized into Christ in a process similar to circumcision (Colossians 2:11, 12) that brings the remission of sin from our lives and gives us holiness. Holiness is the product of justification and means the condition of being set apart unto God. We can never become more righteous than we were at our conversion; however, we can become more holy by being more sanctified or set apart unto God.
In order to maintain holiness in our lives, we must continually sanctify ourselves through the process of progressive sanctification. Sanctification and dedication require the same effort. Sanctification is "setting apart." Dedication is "making narrow or separating." We must separate ourselves unto God and purpose to do his will. This means that we take upon ourselves God=s halachah, determining to walk his way, the way of truth that was simply called "The Way" in the earliest church.
This is the implication of Jesus= prayer for his disciples in John 17:17: "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth." It is the application of God=s Word to our lives that sets us apart unto God. Believers are to be progressively sanctified or made holy in a process described by Paul in Ephesians 5:25-27: ". . .Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." We are made holy by being sanctified through the washing of the Word of God. As we become more dedicated and obedient to God by fulfilling his Word in our lives, we walk in the Spirit, and we please God.
A perfect example of this dedication or sanctification is found in the most ancient of times in Holy Scripture, where we find a man who epitomized the walk of obedience to God. Interestingly enough, his name is Enoch, which in Hebrew is Chanoch, a derivative of the same root as the wordhanukkah. Chanoch (Enoch) was prophet of God of whom it was said, "He walked with God: and he was not; for God took him" (Genesis 5:24). Hebrews 11:5 says that it was "by faith" that "Enoch was translated that he should not see death . . . for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Enoch=s very name meant dedicated. Can those who have hope of being seized in clouds at the coming of the Messiah (I Thessalonians 4:17) expect to do anything less than walk with God and please him? Being the seventh from Adam, Enoch typifies the Sabbatical Millennium when eternal life will be granted to all the righteous or separated ones of all ages who, both Jew and Gentile, will stand with the Messiah on Mount Zion and join him in a Hanukkah for the ages.
Christians, then, should make preparation for the coming universal dedication by experiencing their own spiritual hanukkah by being instructed and trained in the Word of God and set on the narrow path toward the narrow gate that leads to everlasting life. If we, the church of Jesus Christ, are a truly dedicated people, a festival that speaks to us of dedication and light is profoundly meaningful. This is why Hanukkah has such great significance not only to Jews but also to Christians.
When the Maccabean Jews rededicated the Temple and themselves unto God, the result was a miraculous manifestation of light. Oil that naturally would have burned for only one day supernaturally burned for eight days, signifying God=s approval upon the efforts of his people to separate themselves and their sanctuary to him.
The same thing happens with us. When we dedicate ourselves unto God by being sanctified through the Word of God, we become channels of light to the world. Jesus declared in the Sermon on the Mount that this is the very purpose of the church=s existence: "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. . . Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in now wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. . . For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).
It is interesting that Jesus did not tell us to let our light shine so that men would see our faith and glorify God. He said that they would see our good works and glorify the Father. Good works are not a means of salvation or justification before God; however, they are a product of the righteousness that is imputed to us for our faith when we are born from above. And, the way we understand the good works that will bring honor to God is from studying the Scriptures: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (II Timothy 3:16, 17).
When the Word of God is applied to our lives, we are taught, corrected, and instructed in righteousness so that we become mature, completely equipped for all good works. (Interestingly enough, the "God-breathed" scripture to which the apostle alluded in this passage was the Tenach, the Hebrew Scriptures that Christians call the Old Testament. Can anyone doubt, then, the value of studying and applying the first testament so that our good works can bring light to the world that will cause them to glorify the Father?
Paul describes the light that we are to be and the manner in which we become it in Philippians 2:15: "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life." We become lights only when we extend to men the Word of life, the person of Jesus Christ. We are not the light; we are merely channels through whom the light shines. In us dwells no good thing, but in us dwells the best thing in the universe, God=s Son. And, through him we have the light that brings vision and warmth in a cold world where sin abounds.
How We Are Light
"In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. . . In him was life and the life was the light of men" (John 1:1, 3). Jesus is the person of the Word (the Memra, or Logos) of God who was with the Father in the beginning and was inherently God. He was the living Torah, the Word made flesh. He was the light that existed before the creation of the sun, moon, or stars. The eternal life that was inherent in him became the light of men during his incarnation.
This is the key to our being light in the world. Putting the Word of God into action in our lives produces light for men. It is not our works that enlighten men. It is God=s Word in us that produces light. The world must not see, not us, but the light. It would see only Jesus.
How do we manifest the light of Jesus in our lives? We begin by declaring with Jews of all ages, "Shema, Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad" ("Yahweh, our God, is one.") We love God with all our "heart, soul, mind and strength" (Matthew 22:37). We have no other gods before the Lord. We separate ourselves unto him. We sanctify his name. We consecrate ourselves to his service. We remove all the pollutants that mar our lives. We determine to walk with God and please him. We focus our lives on working the works of righteousness, the good works that are the product of faith.
Then, we proceed to fulfill the commandment of Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:39 by loving our "neighbor" as ourselves. We seek to fulfill the positive commandments of the Torah by being obedient to the Word of God. In so doing, we prove that there is something more in the world than man=s selfishness and man=s inhumanity to man. The outworking of God=s Spirit in our lives brings the light of his Word into the lives of others, who, in turn, are persuaded to receive the Messiah for themselves.
When we dedicate ourselves wholly to God, we become channels of the divine light of heaven. We become mini-menorahs, lampstands upon which God can place his light so that it gives light unto all in the house and to all the world. A miracle occurs: What we in our inadequacies could not do, the Holy Spirit does. A one-day supply of oil burns for eight days, the small light that we have is multiplied, and God is glorified.
Joining Our Jewish Friends in Celebrating Hanukkah
Because of Hanukkah=s importance to the Jewish people, we might think that the synagogue would be the focal point for the ceremony of lighting the Hanukkah candles, but this is not the case. Each home is the focus, and more than that, each individual member of every household must be intrinsically involved in the celebration. Maimonides ruled that if there were ten people in a household, on the first night of Hanukkah, there should be ten flames, the second night, twenty, and so on until at the end of the festival eighty flames were lit. Hanukkah is not just a ceremony a "leader" to perform!
Why should each Jew light the candles? It is because Hanukkah is an essentially spiritual festival that memorializes the miraculous restoration of independence to the Jewish people and Torah to the Jewish soul. Antiochus and the Greeks did not so much want to destroy the Jews (as had Haman in Persia); they wanted to change the Jews by making Judaea a Greek city-state and by transforming Judaism into a branch of Hellenism. The Selucid goal was assimilation of the Jews.
Hanukkah, then, marks Jewish victory over assimilation; therefore, it is celebrated in the home to mark the home as the most powerful force in the world against assimilation. Each member of the family must light the candles so that the entire household will be emblazoned with the fiery passion of commitment to the Torah. He remembers that as Solomon said, "the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord" (Proverbs 20:27).
For the Jew, Hanukkah celebrates freedom, national sovereignty, redemption from slavery, and return to God and his Word. Each Jew remembers the past in order to build for the future. We who are Christians can imitate Jesus, our Jewish Lord, by joining with our Jewish brethren around the world in celebrating the Hanukkah season as memorial of the triumph of freedom over slavery, of deliverance over tyranny. Just as Jesus was at the Temple at Hanukkah, we can share with our Jewish friends the Hanukkah story of unwavering commitment to God and his Word and to our determination not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by renewing our minds.
We can use this time of light to pray that the light of everlasting peace will come to Jerusalem. Though he tarry long, we can join our Jewish friends in anxiously anticipating the coming of the Messiah and Savior of the world. We can also pray for the welfare of the international Jewish community and trust that by dedicating ourselves to God=s truth, the light that came to us in the person of the Jew Jesus will reach to all men.
We can use the Hanukkah season to renew our stand against assimilation by the neo-pagan society in which we live which exalts Platonism and Eastern Monism and plans the eradication of Judaeo-Christian monotheistic ethics through New Age philosophy. Yes, ancient Greece is still alive and well in post-modern humanism that exalts man and the creation to the status of God. It is time for the sons of Zion once again to hear the call to arms against the sons of Greece (Zechariah 9:13). We can remember with our Jewish friends the Hanukkah victory over assimilation and the miracle of light that dedication to God produced.
Finally, we can join believing Jews in celebrating our confidence in Yahweh, the miracle-working God, who can not only cause light to be multiplied seven times over but can also use humble earthen vessels like ourselves to bring his light to the entire world.
A Hanukkah Prayer
We thank you, Almighty God, that you are the Father of Lights in whom is neither variableness nor shadow of turning. You change not, and your compassions never fail. We are secure when we hold to your unchanging hand and lean on your everlasting arms. We pray that you will empower us to sanctify your name, to dedicate ourselves to you wholly, and to serve you worthily. Let us fully experience a hanukkah of separation unto you and your Word. And, work your miracle in our lives by filling us with the life of Jesus that is ever the light of men so that through him we may be your candle, the light of the world. We humbly petition you in the name your Son, our Lord, to whom be glory, might, praise, and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
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*In both the Jewish and Christian traditions, the name of G-d is treated with honor and respect. In the Jewish tradition, in order to show respect, the name of the L-rd is written without a vowel. The idea is that if a document with His name on it is destroyed or deleted, His name will be spared because it was not written out fully.