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Hanukkah Then and Now

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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The miracle of Hanukkah occurred at a time strikingly similar to our own. The Greeks/Syrians ruled in Israel, bringing their gods worship of the human body, and worship of the arts and entertainment. These gods were very appealing to the flesh, and many Israelites were being assimilated into the alluring culture of the Greeks, allowing their flesh to overrule their pursuit of the one true G-d and follow in His ways. A silent war to assimilate the Jews was raging.

Though they may not be identical, you can see the parallels today. So many things in our culture have become more important, even to believers, than G-d entertainment, accumulation of wealth, sports, social media and the list could go on. Even believers have been lured into these traps, rather than showing up for a prayer meeting or even a weekly service; other things occupy their time. There is a silent war going on for our time and our attention.

A cruel leader, nicknamed 'Epimanes' meaning madman, came on the scene. This was Antiochus Epiphanes. The silent war of assimilation turned into an all-out war under his rule, as he tried to enact harsh decrees forbidding Jewish people to worship G-d, burning the Torah scrolls, outlawing Shabbat rest, circumcision and dietary laws. Thousands of Jewish people refused to follow these decrees and were murdered. But then an elderly priest named Mattityahu stepped up when a Syrian officer built an altar in the marketplace of his town, Modiin, and demanded that Mattityahu offer sacrifices to the Greek gods. He exclaimed, I, my sons and my brothers are determined to remain loyal to the covenant which our G-d made with our ancestors!' Then a Hellenistic Jew stepped up to offer a sacrifice on the Greek altar. This was too much for Mattityahu who grabbed his sword, killed the Hellenist, and many of the Syrian officers and men and chased the rest away. The physical war had begun.
It was a war fought by the few against the many, and a war fought by the weak against the strong. But in the end, the few and the weak, being the Jewish army, committed to G-d, won!

Then returning to Jerusalem, they entered the desecrated Temple, clearing the idols placed by the Syrian vandals. The golden menorah had been stolen, so these soldiers now called the Macabbees, made another one out of cheaper metal. They wanted to light it and found only one cruse of pure olive oil bearing the seal of the High Priest Yochanan, who had been murdered. This was only enough oil to burn for one day, but by a miracle of G-d, it burned for 8 days!

This light that continued to burn when it should have gone out; this is the miracle of Hanukkah.

This is the light that reminds us today to never be afraid to stand up for what is right.

This is the light reminding us that the flame of goodness that went out from us yesterday, can be even better today!

This is the light that even though may be little, will light up a very dark room.

This is the light that can be taken to the streets and wherever we go.

Matthew 5:14,15 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

Remember Hanukkah and Let Your Light Shine!

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