Isn’t this a great thing to find at the bus station?
As I said yesterday, this is a great sign that Hanukkah is on its way!
There are several themes found within the Hanukkah festival and historical events which took place. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will talk about a few of these and how these can impact our lives.
Theme One: Overcoming/Enduring Persecution
Where the Hanukkah story usually begins is with Judea being ruled by Antiochus Epiphanes in 175 BC. He had gone to war with King Ptolemy V Epiphanes from Egypt.
When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and services stopped, Judaism was outlawed. In 167 BC, Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He banned brit milah (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple.
Antiochus’ actions provoked a large-scale revolt. Mattathias (Mattityahu), a Jewish priest, and his five sons Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. It started with Mattathias killing first, a Jew who wanted to comply with Antiochus’s order to sacrifice to Zeus, and then a Greek official who was to enforce the government’s behest (1 Mac. 2, 24-25). Judah became known as Yehuda HaMakabi (“Judah the Hammer”). By 166 BC Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BC the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated. The festival of Hanukkah was instituted to celebrate this event.
This is a brief overview of the festival. Today I just wanted to talk about the first part–the persecution. Just as in the time of Daniel, and during the time of the Maccabees, we will at some point be confronted with a situation where we are to obey G-d or man. And the consequence of obeying G-d may be steep. We need to be spiritually ready for the persecution to come.
What are some ways we can prepare ourselves?
First we need to be in the Word. Nothing will prepare us better than studying and meditating upon the Word of G-d. He communicates with us through it. He encourages, instructs, disciplines and blesses us through it. Do not neglect this.
Second, we need to be in prayer. G-d wants to fellowship with us and hear from us. Telling Him our fears, troubles, doubts and asking for Him to give us the grace, faith and favor to react in a G-dly way will greatly bless us and help to prepare us.
Thirdly, we can fellowship with other believers. There are many places in the Bible where it speaks about if one member suffers, we all suffer. Let us love in deed and truth, not in word only. Have compassion upon one another. The way we, as believers, are to treat one another is totally different than what the world says and does. Let us not fall into the ways of the world, but rather build up one another, share each other’s burdens, encourage one another. Remember, many people do not have family members who are believers, and Biblically-based friendships are VITAL to them.
Finally, I want to share a link with you. This link is for a Hanukkah video we used to show our children many years ago. We had the VHS and didn’t bring it with us to Israel when we made aliyah 16 years ago. It was a very well-made video.