What can Hanukah teach me about God during this time of turmoil on the earth? This devotional will show you the incredible miracle of Hanukah and how God wants to work a miracle in your heart and life where you may feel depressed, alone and defeated.
PREPARING for #12daysofChristmasprayer
Having celebrated Christmas my entire life, this time of year has always been a time of reflecting on the birth of Jesus, the son of God. I now am starting to truly appreciate the power of God at work in the Hanukah story and am seeing incredible parallels to what we are facing today.
Let me set the stage. Try to imagine this…..
A world culture of paganism, inclusiveness and idolatry was spreading to every nation. Every culture was feeling the pressure to blend into a melting pot of religion and social practices. Everyone had to be the same, and was encouraged to “throw off the old ways of their religion.” People of faith who wanted to embrace the new changes in the world and stay up to date and in the good graces of those in political power began to embrace inclusiveness and tried to see the value in other people’s religions. After all, look at how wealthy and successful those cultures were. Look how the businesses who embrace equality and coexistence thrive under the good graces of the government!
There was a purging of religious leaders. Take them out and replace them with leaders who seem to follow in the steps of the great leader of the known world. Everyone tried to live together in harmony, but it was far from harmony as the Jews were being discriminated against more and more.
“A short time later, Seleucus was killed and his brother Antiochus IV began to reign over Syria (in 3586 – 174 B.C.E.). He was a tyrant of a rash and impetuous nature, contemptuous of religion and of the feelings of others. He was called “Epiphanes,” meaning “the gods’ beloved.” Several of the Syrian rulers received similar titles. But a historian of his time, Polebius, gave him the epithet Epimanes (“madman”), a title more suitable to the character of this harsh and cruel king.
Desiring to unify his kingdom through the medium of a common religion and culture, Antiochus tried to root out the individualism of the Jews by suppressing all the Jewish Laws. He removed the righteous High Priest, Yochanan, from the Temple in Jerusalem, and in his place installed Yochanan’s brother Joshua, who loved to call himself by the Greek name of Jason. For he was a member of the Hellenist party, and he used his high office to spread more and more of the Greek customs among the priesthood.”
Yes. This is actually an ancient story and not just a commentary on our most current political situation.
It became quite a bloody situation of extreme oppression as Antiochus IV suddenly became enraged with the Jews. He took over their temple, he burned the holy scriptures, he slaughtered the priests and anyone who wouldn’t break the law of God by eating pig. It is even said that he sacrificed a pig on the altar of God and declared himself “God” in the temple. This is a type of anti-Christ, which I believe Daniel the prophet referred to, however this is not the final Anti-Christ, because Jesus refers to Daniel’s anti-Christ passage AFTER the situation with Antiochus IV.
Matthew 24:15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’[a]spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
The people of God were terrified of Antiochus. I am sure it looked hopeless, as if things would never be the same again. Men, women and children were slaughtered and pursued through the land of Syria…(sound familiar??) They were forced to live in caves to survive, if they refused to break the law of God and worship according to the ways of the Hellenistic, one-world religion.
During this time, a small remnant arose who decided that being holy and serving God was a better idea than waiting around in a cave to be killed. The Maccabean revolt started with a family of farmers who fought the Syrians and won little battle by little battle until a great host of faithful, courageous Jews stood side by side with them and they decided to take back the temple, the holy ground of the living God. Upon taking back the temple, they cleansed it of all the evil idols that had been brought in to profane the home of the Living God.
After regaining the temple, they realized that the vestments of the temple were stolen, including the beautiful, golden Menorah lamp. They had to make a makeshift lamp to keep the light burning in the temple, as the Torah requires of the priests. However, they only had enough oil to burn the lamps for one day. The miracle of Hanukah is that the oil for 1 day lasted for 8!
The Jewish Temple is a type of the temple in heaven and a foreshadowing of the work of God through the Messiah in the life of his children. When we repent of sin, we are cleansed by the blood of the perfect passover lamb and our sins are removed. The presence of God comes and lives in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The lamps, the oil, the fire…these represent the presence of God’s Spirit in a believer’s heart. By a miracle of God, when our own hearts and lives are under siege in these days we live in, God can and will allow for our oil in our lamps to burn miraculously. But, for some of us, our lamps have been stolen. The enemy has taken the precious vestments of God in our hearts. He has stolen joy, peace, faith and love from our homes and it seems that there is a great despair inside. When all is dark and all seems lost, God WILL empower those who take up the sword of the Lord to fight against the enemy of their souls. God WILL give you victory over evil which will require you to allow a cleansing of the false idols out of the temple of your heart.
1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
You may need to do inventory of your soul. Do you feel as if a part of you is missing? Do you remember the “glory days” of when you first came to Christ, but something is gone? Is it possible that you allowed the enemy to steal something beautiful in your heart through sin or that someone else sinned against you and left you full of pain, while stealing away the golden lamp that the oil of God burned upon.
There is no pit too deep….
The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness. You, oh believer in Jesus can take back the temple Christ died for. You can light the lamp of your heart with the Holy Spirit of God.
2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
Jesus gave a warning to the church about what it’s condition would be like before his coming. He likened the church to 12 virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom with lamps. They were all virgins. They all had lamps.
Only half of them had oil in their lamps when the bride groom came and only half of them were ready to go. Are you a virgin of fire or a virgin of the dark? Time is running out.
The times we live in are dark. We need oil for our lamps. Jesus does not want us to think that we will never feel in the dark before he arrives. He makes it clear that we will need oil (representing the Holy Spirit) and we should not be lazy about making sure our lamps are ready at all times.
In preparing for our 12 days of prayer, take inventory of your heart. Ask Jesus what the enemy has stolen from you and how he can work a Hanakauh miracle in your heart. Even if you have nothing….The fire of God can burn in your life on the oil of the Holy Spirit.
“Holy Father, I feel besieged all around me. The darkness seems to be closing in and many times I want to hide in a cave and pretend it’s not happening. The enemy is stealing everything precious from our society and replacing it with utter paganism, confusion, violence and sin. My heart is growing fearful and I do not see a way out. But, you, Oh Lord, are a shield for me! You are my glory and the lifter of my head. Put the Sword of the Lord in my hand to fight the enemy of my soul, Satan. Destroy the works of Satan in my life, in Jesus name. Rescue my life from the pit. See if there is any unclean way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Bring back the light in my heart and burn like a fire in me again. Rescue my family from spiritual and emotional bankruptcy. Fight for us, Lord Jesus! Deliver us from evil. Your ways are higher than my ways and your thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Give me victory in Jesus so that I can have the oil I need in my lamp in the times we live in. Thank you for the victory of the cross! Thank you for the victory of the resurrection! Thank you that you overcame death. I trust in you! May you not find me unfaithful, but faithful and watching, in Jesus name, amen!”