It’s The MOST Wonderful Time Of The Year!

The SEED CATALOGS are arriving!  Bet you didn’t see that one coming 😉

And that’s my excuse, that is where I have been.  ALL of my free time, which isn’t much, that is supposed to be going into this blog has been occupied by my reading of the seed catalogs along with my husband.  We like to go through them together, with our own separate gardening notebooks in hand, and take notes and talk and dream and plan…building sandcastles in the sky…well, maybe…but it’s fun and that is precious to me right now as there is so little in this world that I truly enjoy anymore.  Right now it is my husband, my children, seed catalogs, Skyrim (awesome video game for the x-box 360) and coffee…everything else is just sort of  a necessary bore at the moment.  And no, I won’t apologize for that 😛

This time of the year, the time of decreasing light leading up to the night of (seems like) “eternal darkness” is always the hardest time of the year for me.  I’ve often wondered if I have what they call “seasonal affective DISorder” but then again to react this way to receiving  less light is not necessarily a disorder now is it?  The changing of the season should effect us, shouldn’t it?  Unless you are so disconnected you can’t see that, which I guess is totally possible for those living cities or suburbia, but that’s not me….that is so not me.

That is why I LOVE the holy days of Light…of  The Light…The Light of The World….who is JESUS CHRIST.  Yes, I am speaking of Hanukkah…I prefer it much more than christmas.  Do you know the story of Hanukkah?  It has much to do with living your Faith out in the face of persecution.

More than 2000 years ago, the land of Judea was ruled by Antiochus, a tyrannical Syrian king. He was a tyrant – cruel, harsh and savage. He wore his pride like a garment. Believing that he was deity in the flesh, he referred to himself as Antiochus Theos Epiphanes (“Antichous, the visible god”). His detractors called him Epimanes, or “madman.” Without warning, Israel found herself exposed to his intolerant rule – a foreshadowing of the coming Antichrist.  Antiochus was anxious to unite his kingdom of many languages, cultures and religions. These diversities only served to fan the fires on individual nationalism and independence. He desired to impose or “hellenize” Greek language, thought, and religion upon his subjects in an effort to unify his rule through assimilation. And that’s precisely what Antiochus did to the Jews: he forbade them to circumcise their sons, or observe the Sabbath or study their religious text, the Torah, and he erected a statue of Zeus in their sacred temple of Jerusalem and offered swine upon the alter of God. Many Jews followed his decrees, because they had no choice; those who resisted were executed.

In 167 B.C., the Jews — driven to desperation — rose up against Antiochus. Mattathias, a well-respected priest, gathered together an army and put his five sons in charge. Judah and his brothers wanted a name for their battalion that would signify force and strength; “Maccabee”, meaning “hammer”, fit the bill.

It took three years of fighting, but eventually the Maccabees drove the Syrians out of Israel and reclaimed the temple in Jerusalem. This took place about  164 B.C. Judas Maccabees and his followers came back into Jerusalem and solemnly cleansed the Temple from the profanations to which it had been subjected under Antiochus. Naturally, the Maccabees quickly got rid of the statue of Zeus.  They removed the polluted altar, and put the stones in a separate place on the Temple mount, and restored the worship of the Lord (1 Maccabees 4:52, 56, 59). Then they cleansed and purified the temple, and rekindled the menorah, a candelabra that symbolized God’s Divine Presence. Oddly enough, although it only held enough oil to burn for a single day, the menorah burned for eight. This was the miracle.  This “cleansing of the Sanctuary” (Daniel 8:13-14) took place on the 25th day of Chisleu (December the 25th), and the joyous celebration lasted for eight days. The Temple was the central power of unity, binding the Jews together as one. According to the prophetic word of the last prophet, Malachi, the Messiah would “suddenly come to His Temple” (Mal. 3:1)

Jesus is “the light of the world” who is coming to rescue His People  from the oppression of the world about them.

The miracle of Hanukkah lies not only in the oil which didn’t run out but also in the preservation of God’s people and the continuation of the covenant promises that God will heal and deliver them. The one who heals is Yeshua, Jesus The Christ, the man who said at Hanukkah (The Feast Of Dedication, John 10) he was one with the Father, the one who said he is the good shepherd of Israel who leads his people to circumcised hearts (which is repentance or a turning away from our natural “human nature”) and eternal life.

When a new Antiochus arises, as in the anti-christ, to greatly trouble Israel (God’s People) again, it will be Yeshua who comes to deliver his people. In the meantime, we are the Hasidei Yeshua, the pious ones of Yeshua, who stand firm in faithfulness to God’s ways and who do not compromise. Great movements of salvation do not usually look impressive, but when the times get difficult, the ones made to shine with His Light are revealed.

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