Greetings fellow sojourners! I am using a guest writer today. He is a 16 year old friend of mine that wrote for my daughters e-mail circulation that encourages ‘kids’ to be bold for the cause of Christ. I tell you the truth I am encouraged by these sweet things and had to share. I pray it blesses you! Here it is…
Hey guys! I’m just going to share a few thoughts :). Right now I’m sure most of us are really excited for Christmas (it will be here in 3 days, believe it or not) but there’s also another holiday coming around this time that most Christians aren’t very well aware of. I’m talking about Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication. This 8 day feast commemorates God’s faithfulness to his people during the time between the Old and New Testaments, specifically around 170 years before Christ came onto the scene.
It all began when Syrian-Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes took over Jerusalem in 175 B.C. He had one goal: destroy the people of God. He did this by forcing the Jews to either bow down to his statue of Zeus and become hellenized Greeks, or they could die. Thousands of Jews were brutally killed because they would not deny God. The temple was defiled and for a while it was looking like hope was lost for the people of God. For one man named Mattathias and his family, this treatment was unacceptable. He and his 5 sons – Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah – led a revolt against Antiochus and the Greeks. When Mattathias died in 166 B.C. Judah became the leader of the revolt. In 165 B.C. the revolt was successful in their fight to free Jerusalem of the Greek rule. The Jews then cleansed the temple and rededicated it to God. To commemorate God’s faithfulness to His people, the Jews created the feast of Hanukkah. The term “Hanukkah” actually means “to dedicate”.
Right about now you might be thinking, “well all that is great but why should I care about Hanukkah? I mean the Jews are the only people who celebrate it, right?” While it is true that Jews are pretty much the only people in the world who celebrate the feast of Hanukkah, that doesn’t mean that Christians shouldn’t care about it. For example, if the Maccabees had been unsuccessful in their revolt, there would be no place in history for Jesus to come into the picture. The temple that the Maccabees rededicated to God is the same temple that Jesus walked in and taught in. Also, if the Maccabean revolt had been a failure, then we would probably not have the Old Testament today. At that time the Jews were the only people in the world who had the Old Testament. If they had been destroyed, then the Bible would probably have perished. But through God’s faithfulness, they were able to beat Antiochus and preserve the Word of God for us here today.
Jesus also celebrated Hanukkah in John 10. Hanukkah is about us rededicating ourselves (as Paul calls us the temple of God) to God. It has a lot of significance for Christians, even though it is oftentimes left in the dark because of Christmas. Now I realize that there are a lot of Jewish traditions associated with this feast, but you don’t have to do all of those if you don’t want to. As a matter of fact, Scripture doesn’t command that you celebrate Hanukkah, but Jesus certainly didn’t think that it was a bad idea, or he wouldn’t have celebrated it. This year Hanukkah will be from December 24 – January 1. My family will be visiting other Christians during this time as we all celebrate God’s deliverance towards his people and we focus on rededicating our lives to Him. So I want to encourage all of y’all to at least give Hanukkah some thought this year. You don’t have to make it anything big, but just ask God to help you as you focus on rededicating your life to him and making sure that your “temple” stays holy and undefiled. Now if you are still reading this, then congratulations! I just took 10 minutes of your life, but hopefully it won’t be a wasted 10 minutes :).
I love all of y’all and can’t wait to see you guys soon!