Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chanukah and Christmas: A Message from Heaven?

An excerpt from 1 Maccabees 3:17-19 Jerusalem Bible to go with the graphic: 
‘How can we, few as we are, engage such overwhelming numbers? We are exhausted as it is, not having had anything to eat today.’ ‘It is easy,’ Judas [Maccabaeus] answered, ‘for a great number to be routed by a few; indeed, in the sight of heaven deliverance, whether by many or by few, is all one; for victory in war does not depend on the size of the fighting force; it is from heaven that strength comes…’

This morning one of the emails I received from a ministry couple in Israel opened with this statement that gave me a selah moment (pause to consider): 

"As many of you are preparing to celebrate the Lord's birth, many here in Israel are looking forward to Chanukah, which tells of the story of victory over apostasy and lawlessness. Even Yeshua honored this Feast as we see in John 10. Hebrews 11:33-38 includes the people involved in the Chanukah story in its list of the heroes of faith."

It has been my observation over the past 30 years that God speaks in the still, small voice more often than the burning bushes. Meaning, when I see a subtle thing like this, it catches my attention and I wonder if God is not telling us to draw a spiritual truth from the juxtaposition of Christmas and Chanukah that we have not considered before. Instead of the annual spiritual mud wrestling over the holidays, maybe we should mull over the significance of the above statement.

The New Testament is pretty clear about the lawlessness within the people of God that will exist, like Matthew 7:21-23, where Jesus says to people who are actually doing wonders in His name, prophesying and casting out out demons in His name, "depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" There is another good place to pause and mull over what the Word actually says, not what we have been preaching instead.

What I am seeing in the paragraph sent from a Mt Carmel ministry couple - the man fighting the good fight of faith against cancer - is that maybe Christians SHOULD pay attention to the story of the Macabees. If the Hebrews "Hall of Faith" sees fit to list them, and if Yeshua Himself honored the Feast in John 10, then it probably does hold some meaning for those of us who abide in our calling to God through Jesus as Gentile Christians. Certainly, we hear very little preaching about the state of lawlessness that the New Covenant scriptures speak of as being among US in the last days. 

I don't think Paul was just talking about the unsaved when he wrote to Timothy (2Ti 3:1-5):

 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

We stand in faith by grace, but we excuse ourselves so easily. What Jesus said in Matthew 7 really should stop us in our tracks to carefully judge ourselves.

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