Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving and Chanukah

Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz
Israel’s region of Judea was for a time part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. Then, in 200 BC, Antiochus III of Syria, defeated King Ptolemy in battle, and Judea became part of the Seleucid (Syrian) Empire.

To conciliate his new Jewish subjects, Antiochus III declared that the Jews could practice their faith in Jerusalem according to their own laws and traditions. But 25 years later, son Antiochus IV invaded Jerusalem, and Judaism was outlawed for the sake of Zeus worship. Sacrifices of swine were common sacrifices to Zeus, and so the seeds of a revolution were planted.

Two generations of the Maccabee family led the Jewish revolt against Syria. Under Judah Maccabee the Temple was liberated by 165 BC, and it was in need of cleansing and rededication. A new alter replaced the defiled one, and new altar vessels replaced those that had been plundered, or used for ritual pig sacrifices.

But for the rededication however, only enough lamp oil was found to keep the Temple Menorah lit for one day, In accordance with the Talmud, pure virgin olive oil was required for the Menorah, and it would take eight days to process a new kosher supply, and it needed to be lit during the night.

Nonetheless, the priest lit the Menorah and the day’s-worth of oil lasted for eight days. The righteous efforts of the Maccabees were blessed by God, and the Lord caused the oil to last until a new supply of kosher oil could be produced. An eight day celebration was proclaimed to recall God’s faithfulness: Chanukah.

If the story bears a resemblance to Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, then we see the same miracle of God multiplying the physical supply to provide for the need of His people. How appropriate that our Thanksgiving coincided this year with this Jewish “Festival of Lights.” In the Gospels Jesus promised to make the Apostles “fishers of men,” and said he was “the Light of the world,” and the “Bread of life.”

 “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” -Phil. 4:19

Jesus Christ is still mankind’s greatest need, and greatest supplier.

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