We hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Wednesday, Dec. 28, is the final day of the Jewish holiday Chanukah, which lasts 8 days.
The holidays often coincide, and a lot of people think that Chanukah is sort of a "Jewish" version of Christmas.
That couldn't be further from the truth. The holidays are completely different. Unfortunately, most people (including most Jews) don't really understand what Chanukah is all about.
Actually, Chanukah is very relevant to what we're going through right now in America and around the world. It's about struggling against — and ultimately winning, with God's help — a seemingly unwinnable culture war against extremely oppressive government-enforced secularism and paganism.
In the second century B.C., the powerful Syrian empire had conquered Israel. By around 170 BC they were ruthlessly forcing paganism on the country and banning traditional religious practice.
Pagan holidays, customs, and religious practices were imposed on the citizens of Israel. Statues of pagan gods were erected throughout the country. People were required to bow down to idols and make sacrifices to them. If they refused they were tortured and killed. (You think the imposition of "Earth Day" and "Holiday" parties are annoying? That's just the beginning . . .)
They were allowed to have some "private" religious beliefs, but no public acknowledgement of God was allowed anywhere. Sabbath observance, study of the Bible, and other Jewish customs and rituals were completely banned. People who did not comply were executed.
Sadly, many Jews embraced the pagan customs and willingly abandoned God. And most others simply complied and offered no resistance. (Does all this sound familiar?) As a result, the anti-religious oppression continued unimpeded.
Finally, a small band of unyielding believers had had enough. They fled into the hills, formed a resistance movement, and gathered a guerilla army to fight back. Such a fight was considered impossible against the Syrian empire. But they fought nevertheless. They didn't give up. Their guerilla encounters got bolder and bolder, and began to yield incredible successes. And with God's help they finally won. Within three years they drove out the Syrians and took back the country!
Then they came to clean out and re-purify the Great Temple in Jerusalem that had been turned into a pagan shrine. But they had only a one-day supply of holy oil to light the sacred lamps and re-dedicate the Temple. That miraculously lasted eight days — until more holy oil could be made. Thus the eight-day celebration of Chanukah (which means "dedication" in Hebrew) ever since.
So thus, the holiday of Chanukah — as traditionally understood — is about fighting and winning a war against oppressive state-forced paganism, overcoming near impossible odds.
This ought to be an annual lesson to us. Even though the forces ruling us want to drive out God from our lives and ever more ruthlessly impose Godless secularism on us throughout society, do not give up. It's not lost. Seemingly impossible circumstances can and will be overcome with God's help. But you must be willing to fight back.