THE VOICE OF HANNUKAH
by Miriam Nadler
Just as at that first Hanukkah, God answered
and delivered Israel from the Syrian tyranny, so today
God hears our prayers and provides protection
from the enemy of our souls.
Have you ever
felt that God is silent? Or perhaps it seems like He is not listening to
your prayers, nor is He concerned about your particular situation? From
Malachi to Yeshua, God had not spoken through His prophets to the Jewish
people for about 400 years. Some historians call this era the silent period
- but is God ever truly silent? Let’s take a look at what transpired during
these so-called silent years, where the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah has
How It All Started
A brilliant army commander named Alexander was conquering the entire known
world including Europe and Egypt in 332 BCE. At the age of 30 he sought to
unify all his conquered lands through the cohesive force of Greek culture
known as Hellenism. I think Alexander would have definitely been on several
People Magazine covers as the world’s youngest conqueror.
But alas, Alexander the Great died at 33 years of age, leaving his empire
divided between four generals. One of these generals, Antiochus received a
part of Alexander’s kingdom including Israel. But why would Antiochus be
interested in Israel? Because this small country was strategically located
as the land bridge between the continents of Asia and Africa leading to
Europe. Therefore the one who controlled Israel controlled the entire
The goal of Antiochus Epiphanes was to conquer Israel and Hellenize all the
Jews. This idea of Hellenization has to do with assimilation, forsaking the
Jewish lifestyle and embracing a pagan lifestyle. Antiochus wanted the
entire nation of Israel to forsake the God of Israel and to worship the
Greek gods with all the paganism that this would entail. During this dark
time Israel felt like God was silent, and did not intervene to deliver them.
Faithful Unto Death
Antiochus, with his well-trained Syrian army, the best in the world, entered
Jerusalem. They took over the Holy Temple, defiled it by erecting an idol of
Zeus, the supreme deity of the Greek temple in the courtyard of the Holy
Temple, and worst of all, offered a pig as a sacrifice on the holy altar.
But they did not stop there. These powerful, cruel Syrian soldiers went from
town to town forcing the local leaders to defile their altars with swine’s
blood and flesh.
If people refused to obey their orders they would face a slow and torturous
death. However, God broke the silence through His faithful remnant. These
faithful servants never gave up their faith in the God of Israel. In fact,
during this period of history, those martyrs who were tortured for their
faith became an inspiration to the first century believers as they gave up
their lives for Yeshua.
The Silence Is Broken
God’s silence was finally broken through one priestly family. When the
Syrian soldiers came to a small town of Modi’in, a few miles northwest of
Jerusalem, they demanded that the elderly priest Mattathias the Maccabee and
his five sons sacrifice a pig, but they refused. Instead they chose to stand
firm in their faith. This act of zealousness and courage was the beginning
of a three-year battle.
A Great Miracle Happened Here!
Of course, the Israelis were not only outnumbered, but also lacked weapons.
But little did the enemy know that the Jewish people possessed a secret
weapon and a defense that had no equal. The Lord Himself is Israel’s
protection and an everlasting refuge. And miracle of miracles after three
years of struggle, on the 25th of Kislev (December) the Jewish people were
given a victory. The Temple was recaptured, cleansed, and rededicated. And
that’s how Hanukkah began exactly three years from the day of the Temple’s
defilement by the enemy. From that time forward Hanukkah or the Feast of
Dedication became a yearly remembrance of the victory that God gave Israel.
We all can identify with Israel. None of us are immune from the attacks and
oppression of the enemy (1 Peter 5:8). Often it may seem like God is silent
and even distant from our heartaches, however we need to remember that God
is faithful to His promises and to His people. His faithfulness is tried and
proven throughout history. Scripture reiterates that our God is near to the
broken hearted and His ear is open to their cries (Psalm 34:15-18). We need
to trust Him continually.
Messiah Celebrates Hanukkah
When Yeshua went up to the Temple to celebrate Hanukkah, He used this
occasion as a teaching opportunity. John 10:22-23 informs us,
At that time the Feast of the Dedication [Hanukkah]
took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple
in the portico of Solomon. The Jewish people were looking for
another deliverer who could give them victory, this time over the oppressive
Roman regime. I imagine that many felt that God was silent, nevertheless the
messianic hope burning within their hearts was not extinguished, and this is
why they peppered Yeshua with questions about who He was.
|The Jews therefore gathered around Him,
and were saying to Him, How long
will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.
Jesus answered them, I told you, and you do not believe; the works
that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me. But you do
not believe, because you are not of My sheep.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and
they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never
perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.
~ John 10:24-28 ~
Instead of giving them a yes or no answer Messiah tells them
that if they will listen to His voice then they will have eternal life and
His eternal deliverance. He alone has the authority to not only save, but
also to keep them.
God Still Speaks
In retrospect, when the people of Israel were merely looking for temporary
and physical deliverance, He accomplished far beyond their expectations.
Messiah, through His atonement, provided freedom from the bondage of sin and
life everlasting. Likewise today when we heed His voice, and answer His call
to follow Him, He will do the same for us.
God is never silent. He still speaks. But do we hear His voice? Just as at
that first Hanukkah, God answered their prayers, and delivered Israel from
the Syrian tyranny, so today God hears our prayers and provides protection
from the enemy of our souls. We need to trust in His faithfulness and remain
faithful to Him. Let us rededicate our personal "temples" and bring Him a
sacrifice of praise for what Messiah accomplished on our behalf. My heart’s
desire and prayer to God is that our ears, even the ears of the lost sheep
of the house of Israel, will be opened to hear His voice.
article is reprinted
from the Word of Messiah Ministry's Shmoozeletter of 12/10/10.
Other articles by Miriam may be viewed at
Miriam Nadler has assisted Hilda Koser in
Brooklyn, interned with Chosen People Ministries, studied at Hebrew
University, helped to open a coffeehouse outreach in Jerusalem, and was a
member of The Liberated Wailing
Wall music outreach of Jews for Jesus, where she met, and then married, Sam
Nadler. Sam later opened
the New York branch of Jews for Jesus, where she discipled women. From 1979
to 1996, Sam was in
leadership with Chosen People Ministries during and since which time they'veplanted Messianic
congregations worldwide. In 1997, she and Sam opened Word of Messiah
to focus on making Messianic disciples through congregations.
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