HANUKKAH - Hearing God Like the Maccabees
For the last five years I have been saying that the most prophetic now books of the Bible are the Books of Maccabees. You may be familiar because of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
Commonly called Hanukkah, scripture calls the holiday The Feast of Dedication, but other names are used to like:
The Festival of Lights
The Season of Miracles
The Feast of Dedication is a minor feast the Jews still celebrate today. The feast was established to have a yearly eight—day celebration on the 25th of the month of Kislev (usually in the month of December).
The Book of John (Chapter 10) tells the story of Jesus teaching during this feast:
Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’
The Feast of Dedication is a man-made feast established in the Books of Maccabees to celebrate the rededication of the temple after two years of Greek desecration. It celebrates the power of a mighty God working through a small group of people that stood up for righteousness and what they believed; that group was led by the Maccabeus family with the son Judah as their leader. People gave him the nickname, Maccabee- “The Hammer.” The name Maccabee means, “Who is like you among the gods, O Lord?” This became the small group’s battle cry. Everywhere they went and every battle they faced, they cried with one voice, “Who is like you among the gods, O Lord!”
How to Win Battles - The Maccabees show us today how to win spiritual battles.
RELY ON THE LORD’S STRENGTH
Judah won many battles by relying on the Lord for strength. Knowing God was powerful and mighty, he encouraged his small army saying:
It is not difficult for a small group to overpower a large one. It makes no difference to the Lord whether we are rescued by many people or by just a few. Victory in battle does not depend on who has the largest army; it is the Lord's power that determines the outcome. Our enemies are coming against us with great violence, intending to plunder our possessions and kill our wives and children. But we are fighting for our lives and for our religion. When we attack, the Lord will crush our enemies, so don't be afraid of them.
–1 Maccabees 3: 18-22
TRUST & RETELL GOD’S WORD
He also encouraged them with his devotion to the Lord. He would have the army fast and pray and consult the book of the Law to search out God’s guidance. Some of his most famous victories recorded he gave speeches retelling of God’s mighty power:
Don't worry about the size of their army, and don't be frightened when they attack. Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea when the king of Egypt was pursuing them with his army! Now let us ask the Lord to have mercy on us. Let us pray that he will honor his covenant with our ancestors and crush this army when we attack today. Then all the Gentiles will know that Israel has a God who rescues and saves them.
–1 Maccabees 4:8-11
At Lysias the following year an army of 60,000 well—trained infantry and 5,000 cavalry went out to conquer the tiny army. When Judah saw them, he prayed:
We will praise you, Savior of Israel. You broke the attack of the giant by the hand of your servant David and you let Saul's son Jonathan and the young man who carried his weapons defeat the entire Philistine army. Now in the same way let your people Israel defeat our enemy. Put them to shame, in spite of all their confidence in their infantry and cavalry. Make them afraid; let their bold strength melt away; let them tremble at the prospect of defeat. We love and worship you; so let us kill our enemies, that we may then sing your praises.
–1 Maccabees 4:31-33
EXPECT GOD TO MOVE ON YOUR BEHALF
After years of fighting victoriously, the first thing the Maccabees did was go into the Temple, and clean it up from being defiled. Antiochus Epiphanes had put a statue of Zeus in the Temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar!
The Maccabees cleaned up the temple, and after it was purified they decided to light the oil lamp. The lamp was to be lit at all times in the Temple of the Lord so that it never went out.
But there was a problem. There was only enough oil to light the lamp for one night, and it would take eight days for new oil to be made! On the 25th of Kislev 148 B.C. they lit the lamp trusting in God’s power and expecting Him to provide. Miraculously for eight straight days the lamp burned till the new oil could be made!
How do I hear God like the Maccabees?
Reading the exciting story of the Maccabees we want to be like them. We want to do mighty exploits for God like them, but where did they get their resolve, their steadfast strength?
Uncompromised in their beliefs they were loyal to God’s word, ways and expected Him to be on their side.
We MUST become a people that are the same and the STARTING place is commitment to God’s word--read it, believe it, obey it, do it! Consistently Judah encouraged his small army with stories of God’s power.
Hearing God Like….The Maccabees
Your listening activity will be to read some of the stories Judah encouraged the small army with then you will retell them.Telling the story is what brought courage and strength to the army. Here are a few that Judah mentioned.
David and Goliath
Daniel in the Lion’s Den
Caleb and Joshua
The Red Sea Parting
Pray and ask God who you should encourage today and what story do they need to hear.
When God gives you a name and a story, read the story.
Pray and ask God to help you believe what you read. Ask for faith and expectancy to rise in your heart. Since He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow ask for the resolve to expect the same today for your friend.
Call the person God put on your heart and enCOURAGE them by telling them the story.
There are several themes of the Books of Maccabees like:
Standing up for what is right
Strength in unity
It just takes a little bit of light to change the circumstances
Retelling and recalling what God has done brings faith and strength
Relying on God’s strength instead of your own—the anointing
With God you ALWAYS have the victory!
The importance of retelling the story for spiritual strength
Jesus the Light of the World
In a dark world, you have to be the light
God protects his people
God wants to restore his temple
We serve a God of miracles
PRODUCTS THAT RELATE TO THIS TOPIC
Hanukkah for Kids is designed to take our children on a journey to encounter the Father's love through Jesus Christ. They will discover Mighty God and be equipped with knowing Him and partnering with Him to do great things for the Kingdom of God.
Each of the FIVE lessons equip and impart Kingdom truths through their favorite Bible stories as the kids experience the love and power of God. This Word and Spirit based curriculum establishes a strong biblical foundation while creating space for children to encounter the Holy Spirit.