Happy Hanukkah! There are so many powerful themes of Hanukkah that we can apply to our daily lives, it’s always a challenge for me to pick just one! Since the word Hanukkah itself means “Dedication” in Hebrew, I thought I would start there. The first Hanukkah was an eight day celebration of the rededication of the Temple in 165 B.C.E. after the Maccabees miraculously defeated the Syrian army and reclaimed the Temple for the Lord. The Seleucids (or Syrian/Greeks) under Antiochus had defiled it by sacrificing pigs on the altar and erecting an altar to Zeus in the Holy of Holies in 167 BCE.
It’s important to note that in the 165 years from when Alexander the Great first conquered the area around 333 BCE to when Judaism was outlawed by Antiochus in 168 BCE, the Jewish people were completely surrounded by and influenced by Greek culture. Many adapted its customs and worldviews, even though they were in opposition to those of the Torah. Israelites took on Greek names, sporting events, language, dress, worship, as well as views of humanism and relativism (sound familiar?). By the time the Temple was defiled in 167 BCE, most had become so desensitized to God’s Word that only a small band of Maccabees had the courage to stand firm and revolt.
So now let’s zoom ahead to 2013 CE and ask ourselves, “How do we defile our temples?” I believe that MESSAGES of the WORLD (from the outside) and MESSAGES of the HEART (from the inside) defile us and block us from dedicating our temples to the Lord.
In this blog, I will explore the MESSAGES of the WORLD. Tomorrow I will discuss the MESSAGES of the HEART. Looking back to the time of the first Hanukkah, the Israelites’ enemy did not come in all at once and try to wipe out their faith and obedience to God, it was a slow, gradual process of assimilation. The enemy works the same way with us now. What was deplorable 20 years ago is now mainstream. We have slowly become desensitized to the messages of the world by ongoing exposure to them through TV, music, movies, internet, social media, magazines, etc. These messages of the world tell us what to wear, how to talk, how to raise our kids, how to date, how to be successful in work, in marriage, what we need to have to be happy andwhat we need to look like to have worth, what is “OK” regarding sex, homosexuality, gender, and marriage. These messages redefine God, sin, grace, His Word, and basically tell us what is right and what is wrong.
Gradually, by ongoing exposure to these messages, we become hardened to God’s Spirit and His Word, and our temples are defiled. Satan (the father of lies) gets a handle or a foothold in our lives as we accept each message (lie) as truth, and God’s light within us is blocked. As believers, we look and act no different than anyone else.
Furthermore, we experience the pain and destruction that these messages bring (remember Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy), and that God is trying to protect us from (He comes that we might have life and that more abundantly).
I speak from experience, I’ve lived it! I took on these messages of the world hook, line and sinker and by the time I was 28 yrs. old, I was ready to end my life. Trust me, they lead only to death (physical, spiritual, emotional, relational) and destruction.
Now remember that anything that is not of faith is sin, and so these lies that we are believing – whether they are coming from the WORLD or the HEART – are sin. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, it is a spiritual battle. Therefore, the only way we can cleanse our temples and rededicate them to the Lord on a daily, continual basis, is by using spiritual weapons of warfare!
Are you ready to dedicate your temple to the Lord this Hanukkah? If so, ask God to show you what lies you are believing from the messages of the world. Confess the lies you’re believing as sin. Cancel the authority you’ve given Satan in your life by believing these lies. Ask God to show you His truth about who He is, how He sees you, where He is in the picture of your situation. Ask God to give you the courage to believe and stand up for what is right and true, andwhen you do – just as He provided for, fought for and did miracles through the Maccabees – He will do the same for and through you!