Posted on Dec 12, 2017 | 10 comments

Originally written in 2016:

The season of Lights is approaching quickly…only one more week until we remember a true and heroic small family that changed the world. It is a time for us to reflect on not only what happened many, many years ago, but on what the future might hold in store for us.

No, this is not a commanded set apart appointment with the Holy One of Israel as he has instructed us to keep in Leviticus, but it is a day to remember, reflect and rededicate our lives.

It is a historical day, a special time in history when a family that had had enough and took a stand, determined to make a difference. And that is what I’d like to focus on … a family who took a stand. A family that was determined not to give up, not to give in, and not to run away.

So here is a little bit of background for this historical day of remembrance. A family, known as the Maccabees, were living in a time of subjugation under the heavy hand of the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great. After Alexander’s empire had been divided, Judea became part of what is known as the Greek Seleucid Empire. The ruler of this empire, Antiochus IV Epiphanes refused to allow the Jews to practice even the most basic of it’s customs and traditions, which eventually led to a revolt by the Jewish people against the empire. Antiochus refused to allow them to keep Sabbath, to circumcise their children or practice anything that would set them apart from those living under his rule.

The time period of what came to be known as the Maccabean revolt was from 175 to 134 BC – it was a lengthy, bloody and long drawn out battle begun under the leadership of a man named Matthathias ben Johanan ( מַתִּתְיָהוּ בֶּן יוֹחָנָן הַכֹּהֵן‎, Matityahu ben Yoḥanan HaKohen) who died in 165 BCE. Matthathias was a Kohen (Jewish priest) from Modi’in. He was a son of Yohannan, grandson of Simeon, the Hasmonean, and a great-grandson of Asmon or Hasmonaeus, a Levite of the lineage of Joarib for being the fifth grandson of Idaiah, son of Joarib and grandson of Jachin, in turn a descendant of Phinehas, the third High Priest of Israel (Maccabees 1). So…quite a lineage to live up to!

What happened to bring all this about was that Matthathias returned to his home town of Modi’in to escape from the pollution of what was happening to the Temple after the Seleucid persecutions began.  In 167 BCE an official under Antiochus IV Ephiphanes demanded he offer a sacrifice to the Greek gods – yeah – he refused. What else could a man of his reputation do? Succumb to pressure like many of his friends and family had done due to the persecutions? He could have – but he didn’t. He stood up in the face of death and said … “NO“. In fact, not only did he refuse the demand, but he killed the Jew who stepped forward to sacrifice to the Greek gods and he finished it off by then killing the official! OY VEY – he was definitely going to pay for this one! But his integrity and his faith in his God was so deep, so pure that he never wavered, in fact it is noted that he said:

Let everyone who has zeal for the Law and who stands by the covenant follow me!

Septuagint, 1st Maccabees 2:27.
 

Upon his return to Moi’dim, his five sons (five- interesting number isn’t it?) Judas Maccabeus, Eleazar Avaran, Simon Thassi, John Gaddi, and Jonathan Apphus joined him and carried on the revolt after his death which would eventually free the Jews from the 400 year old oppression of the Greeks and became the basis for the holiday we know as Hanukkah. Many Jews followed them in this revolt in defeating the odds that were against them. After they defeated the Greeks, they set about cleansing the temple of the idols placed there by the Greeks and rededicating the altar to the One God. It is said that they found one flask of pure anointing oil – enough for one day to relight the Menorah in the Temple. However, the legend has it that the one flask of oil supplied all the oil that they needed and lasted eight days – enough to cleanse the temple and rededicate it to the Holy One of Israel! What a miracle happened there!

On the Hebrew calendar it is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev and it usually corresponds to mid-November to late December on t he Gregorian calendar. This year, it falls on December 24th. In all my years of celebrating this holiday and recalling to mind the good fight of this long since gone family, I don’t remember it ever falling on Christmas Eve. It never ceases to amaze me to see how the Father works in our lives.  You can do a search and read the rest of this miraculous story and all the details, or you can pick up one of the many versions of the bible that do carry the book of the Maccabees, however, I’d like to return to our focus. A Family.

When looking back on this scene in history, a scene shrouded in mystery, excitement and intrigue, one can not help but close one’s eyes and ‘see‘ the Maccabees. See this family, see the men and women and children afire with indignation!  The emotions didn’t stop there, the myriad of emotions they endured must have felt like a roller coaster ride! They new that their family might be brutally murdered at any moment by the well equipped and trained legions of the Greek empire. They  feared the worst yet believed in the salvation (Yeshua) of their God. They were determined to face the fact that no matter what happened, they were willing to stand in the gap and be the clarion call. Others would follow. And that is how it always happens.

Our family has incorporated this time of remembrance, this Feast of Lights or Feast of Dedication for almost 25 years now. At first it was very difficult because many thought we were becoming too “Jewish” … or that we were ‘leaving the faith and losing our salvation‘ … but truth be told, we were simply trying to understand and follow what our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) had done during his lifetime on earth and follow Him. Definitely not a main stream thing to do and certainly considered fringe element mentality by most of our friends and family.

Everyone knows by now though that He didn’t celebrate Christmas…and He wasn’t born on Christmas day. That is pretty much a given and everyone acknowledges that. But what do you do when you know that there has to be more to the story? Where do you go for answers when your heart cries out for TRUTH? Who do you consult when fairy tales and bedtime stories just don’t cut it any longer? Do you just hang your head, shut your mouth, close your eyes and press on with the status quo – just so you won’t be called weird? Well, this family couldn’t do that any longer…and believe me, we tried.  One year the boys even built a sukkah scene instead of a tree…we sang Chanukah songs instead of Jingle Bells, we tried…..we tried to be ‘normal’. We gave up! We are now part of that fringe element that said…enough is enough. The TRUTH just sometimes slaps you in the face. It came one Christmas Day when we stood in front of that pretty green tree (the best one in the lot!) with all the glitter and gold wrapped around it with such care and presents that set you back several hundred dollars…. well, it hit us full force. Standing there, staring at your handiwork and realizing that He would never approve and had never asked to be honored in such a way as this. Now what?

What do you do with the decades of tradition and culture and ornaments that are stockpiled in the closets and basement?  Well, when honoring Him becomes more about Him than you, you simply have to make a decision in your life. Right turn or left? We turned right and headed down the road of ‘bible’.  And we’re still on that road – it wasn’t an instant, spontaneous all or nothing decision. For some, I’ve heard, it is – for us it wasn’t, and it continues to be a journey. It took time to sort through all the emotions, the discouragement of knowing you hadn’t been taught the truth, that the Catholic Church didn’t have all the answers and that well, this isn’t what the One you say you serve even approves of! That last one, well, that was the deciding fact. Like I said, it’s a journey. One we are still traveling. Bottom line, we simply wanted to do what the bible said – to the best of our ability.

That one family, so long, so very long ago  … made a decision to not fall in line, to not continue the status quo (even in the face of losing all they had) to fight for what was right and they made a difference! Against all odds – they made a difference. They stood in the gap for their people and refused to follow the crowd, the traditions, the culture of the time and stood tall as they returned and dedicated their lives to doing what the God of All told them to do.   They lit a candle in the midst of the darkness, and overcame the terror of the night.

We can do that too.

So as we enter into this time before us where the world seems to be glowing with multi-colored lights, let this time be a time of REFLECTION, EXAMINATION and DEDICATION of our lives, our traditions, and hold them up to the ONLY light that matters. His. Let us examine our hearts, cleanse our temples, and rededicate our whole lives to what pleases Him. And yes, if we do that, then there will be peace on earth and good will towards men.

In closing, remember, even when the darkness seems to surround you, even when the odds seem stacked against you, even when the numbers far outweigh your small family, the God of the Heavens stands ready to support you. All you have to do is light that one candle, and others will come to stand by your side, light their candle and together the darkness will flee!

It is time beloved, to be a light and stand together!

 

10 Comments

  1. 12-17-2016

    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR THIS SIMPLE, STRAIGHT FORWARD, AND ENJOYABLE ARTICLE.

    • 12-17-2016

      Thank you so much Dan – I never know who is going to read my mutterings … and am blessed and humbled every time someone finds them enjoyable 🙂 … many blessings!

  2. 12-17-2016

    Shalom~

    My daughter forwarded your email which I appreciate greatly. It is Scripturally and truth based.

    Toda raba and blessings.

    Sincerely,
    Chayah

    • 12-17-2016

      Thank you so much – may the LIGHT be shown through our actions more than it flows from our words. Blessings sister!

  3. 12-17-2016

    That was a well written summery of what many biblical Truth seekers struggle with in these times. Thank you Pam 🌹for your thoughts on this matter. May you and your family have a peaceful and meaningful Chanukkah as we all reflect on rededicating our temples to Yahwey. 💙💙💙🌹💙💙💙
    Much love and Shalom,
    ❤️❣Diane

    • 12-17-2016

      Todah Rabah Diane…blessings to you and yours and thank you for sharing and for the encouragement. We are all on a journey and the journey can be easy at times, and at times a bit difficult. But it is through the love of the body that we can continue to put one foot in front of the other!

  4. 12-18-2016

    Pam, Thank You for sharing this very heart felt reason for the Chanukah season! It is a very special 8 days of an open heaven of His presence! Wanted to comment, I too don’t ever remember Chanukah falling on these dates, beginning on December 24th. May there be a special revelation imparted to all who will lite their candles this Chanukah in agreement with His Heart in this set apart season!

    • 12-18-2016

      Totally agree with you Vonnie – and that is a beautiful sentiment!

  5. 12-18-2016

    Pam, I really enjoy your writing, about Scriptures, but one thing I learned when I read the MACCABEES was the the oil story is just a story,THE MENORAH wasn’t lite until the MACCABEES got the TEMPLE cleaned out, and they HAD A 8 DAYS TO CELEBRATE, FEAST OF TRUMPETS because they was in the wildness for 2 years.

    • 12-18-2016

      yes, Jeri – you certainly right on that – that’s why I said the ‘legend’ is that there were 8 days of the oil 🙂 … I love that the Holy One can provide enough oil for 8 days out of one day’s worth, but again, there is no proof of such. That being said, I’ve also learned that it takes 7 days to ‘purify’ the temple and on the 8th day it is ‘renewed’. And yes, you’re also right about the Feast of Trumpets being probably the feast that they were celebrating. Whatever the absolute truth of it is, it is such a miracle that they overcame the Syrian army and because of that……..we have been given our Messiah! 🙂 … who IS the LIGHT no matter what the season may be! Thank you for taking the time to comment!

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