I'm sure you're aware the Jewish festival of Chanukah began this past Sunday night and lasts 8 days through the end of this week and Rabbi Natan Alexander shares how this celebration still applies to our lives today!
I’m sure you’re aware the Jewish festival of Chanukah began this past Sunday night and lasts 8 days, through the end of this week. When I was in Latvia last week, I had the amazing opportunity to sit down with my friend, Rabbi Natan Alexander. He lives in Israel, and I have had the blessed privilege of learning from him when I was in Israel, as well as over the phone and Skype. We wanted to invite you into our conversation about the significance of Chanukah, so we actually recorded our Skype call while I was in Latvia. Rabbi Natan shared what Chanukah is, why we celebrate it and how it still applies to our lives today.
Chanukah is probably the most well-known festival of the Jewish people. During the 2nd Century, around the time of the second temple, the Greeks ruled Israel. They controlled every aspect of life for the Jews – including learning the Bible, teaching the Bible to their children, performing circumcisions, saying prayers, along with everything central to Jewish lives – were forbidden.
The Greeks’ final action was to destroy the Jews’ sacred temple. A group of the Jewish people, called the Maccabees, who were very small in number, rose up and created their own army to fight back against this Greek tyranny.
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One of the most incredible things about this historic story is, this small group of people were NOT warriors! Their lives and skills did NOT revolve around fighting! That’s not who they were. They were priests! They were just people who were sick and tired of being told they could worship God or follow the Bible as they believed.
Let this sink in. It doesn’t matter what you are known for, or not known for! There comes a time in everyone’s life when they have to step up and do something WAY outside of your comfort zone or skill sets.
These priests easily could have said, “We’re priests and scholars! We’re not warriors! We’re not the ones for this job!” Too many people do this, saying, “That’s just not me. I can’t do that. That’s not who I am.”
But that’s not what the Maccabees did. They had an opportunity to defend the Bible, their history and their temple, so they became what they needed to be in that moment. The strength of their belief in God reached a fiery intensity and fueled their actions: “If God wants me serving in the temple, that’s what I will do. But if He wants me fighting on the battlefield, I will fight with the same fire I light in the temple.”
We are all called upon at different times in our lives, to do different things. As long as we have His fire inside of us, we will use it to do whatever God calls us to do. And that’s exactly what the Maccabees did.
One of the greatest miracles we remember on Chanukah is after we went back into the temple to clean up the destruction and light the Menorah. They searched for the required purified oil to fuel the Menorah flame and could only find one small jar – just enough for one day. But that little bit of oil miraculously lasted 8 days, long enough for them to make more purified oil!
That’s why we light candles for each night of Chanukah, adding one each night. One profound thing about adding a candle each night is this: a person always has to increase in the light they give. It doesn’t stay the same. It starts with one, and then the next night there are two, then three, four and so on. Always increasing, always spreading more light. In fact, I believe our Father expects us to push beyond our comfort zone in order to shine more and more light into the world.
Watch the video above to learn even more about Chanukah, and how you can experience the blessing of this beautiful celebration in your own life!
I would love to know your thoughts about Chanukah. Do you and your family celebrate? Have you ever learned about it or studied it? Do you believe Christians should celebrate Jewish holidays? Tell me what you think below!
And please remember to tune in for my weekly Spiritual Equipping episode of The Dani Johnson Show today for more biblical insights and inspiration. You can find the show on your TV and radio and please remember you can always stream today’s show right here on our website.
In great faith,
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