At this time of year, it is my pleasure and joy to wish you Chag Sameach, Happy Hanukkah! In the midst of our celebrations, it is important to reflect - what can we learn from this story and these historical events? How would G-d like us to live in light of what he has done for us? Surely, Hanukkah is a wonderful time to commemorate what God did for his people - and it is! However, we must also not forget why it happened in the first place. Hanukkah only exists because a totalitarian government tried to take away the identity of the Jewish people, their freedoms, and their ability to worship G-d. I know for me, this sounds a little familiar in today’s world. Can history repeat itself? A quick review of history and we can see the many times the Jewish people had to fight for survival. Hanukkah is merely one of the events in history where one group tried to wipe out an entire people, their culture, history and identity. We see this from Egypt, to Haman, and Hitler. During the Nazi regime, the Jews were seen as just a number. Without G-d, our world is full of chaos. G-d has always given us the freedom to choose how we will live - with him or without him. When we choose G-d, he offers us his protection and strength, wisdom and truth. I believe the G-d of Israel gives us choices. We have the freedom to choose or dismiss Him. Today we are being told and mandated - to choose man's will over our own, man’s will over G-d’s. It often feels like our freedom to choose is being taken away. Fear is a strong word and I believe it is being used to corral people in one direction. But fear does not belong in the camp of G-d. After all, fear is what caused the children of Israel to wander in the desert for 40 long years. But WE do not have to live in fear. WE can live with faith. The Bible holds many examples of those who walked by faith and stood up for righteousness in the face of godlessness. Noah, Yachobed (Moses' mother), Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, David over Goliath, Daniel and Nehemiah to name a few. During Hanukkah, the Maccabees stood up and fought to protect their people and save the Jewish temple. As we remember what each of these individuals endured and overcame it should leave us encouraged, renewed, and excited about the future. Their journeys are not only a testament to G-d’s faithfulness, they ALSO reveal what happens when we partner with G-d in faith. Yes, G-d DOES and CAN and WILL fight our battles, but it also requires our trust and faith in ACTION. Would David have saved the Israelite armies against the Philistines had he not acted in faith to slay Goliath? So, as we face ungodliness in our world today, we shouldn’t cower in fear but live and ACT in faith. This Hanukkah, I want to challenge you to think about another aspect of this holiday that often goes unnoticed - How will I stand up for righteousness in the face of ungodliness? For the believer, the commemoration and heart of Hanukkah should be with us everyday. How important it is for us to trust that G-d has a plan and act in faith accordingly... It takes a commitment: daily dedication, prayer, reading the scriptures, standing firm on His word and upholding truth. Personally, this year I am looking at Hanukkah to cleanse MY TEMPLE and REDEDICATE it for G-d's glory! Not only is today the day of salvation, but a new day for DEDICATION. We are called to stand for our Messiah and be a LIGHT in a world of darkness. Our one TRUE HOPE the MESSIAH, the Shammas or servant Yeshua, who is the true light. My prayer for you this season is to be filled with HIS light, His redemption, His strength. As we enter this season, I pray you would be reminded of this truth: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" - Romans 8:31 Chag Sameach, Happy Hanukkah!
May you live and walk in the light of his presence!
The lighting of the first candle will be this evening Sunday, November 28th and end on Monday evening, December 6th.
For a quick story about Hanukkah, you can watch this beautiful video by One for Israel!