FREEDOM AND FORGIVENESS FOR THE PEOPLEThe Jewish Hasmonean victory over the Greek Seleucids led to one of the only periods of autonomous, sovereign rule by the people of the land ever seen in history. Over the centuries, Israel has been passed from pillar to post as various foreign invaders, from the Romans all the way up to Turkey and Britain, came to occupy and rule the land until 1948. Although Israel is often accused of being a foreign occupier, the truth is quite the opposite.
The people of Israel have been no stranger to battle and have been in desperate need of God’s saving hand time and time again. At Hanukkah we remember what God did to deliver Israel from the oppressive regime of the Greeks, and restore freedom of worship.
“We thank you for the miracles, the redemption, and for the mighty deeds and saving acts wrought by you. For the wars you waged for our fathers in days of old, and also in our time.”
Part of the Hanukkah story was that when they came to relight the temple menorah, they only had enough ritually pure oil to last for one day, but it was said to last for a miraculous eight days until more had been prepared. Often seen as a festival of light in the dark days of winter, Hanukkah reminds us that there is always hope even in the darkest days. Our God is a God of deliverance and miracles, both for our fathers in days of old… and also in our time.
But the greatest miracles are still to come.
We are looking forward to the future time when God’s holy hill is properly rededicated to Him, and all Israel will worship Him from there:
For in My holy mountain, Israel’s high mountain”—it is a declaration of Adonai—“there the whole house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land. There I will take pleasure in them. There I will receive your offerings, the first of your gifts, with all your holy things. With your sweet aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered. I will be sanctified in you in the sight of the nations. You will know that I am Adonai, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country where I lifted up My hand to give it to your fathers. There you will remember your ways and all your deeds, by which you defiled yourselves. You will loathe yourselves for all your evil that you have done. Then you will know that I am Adonai, when I deal with you for My Name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt deeds, house of Israel.” It is a declaration of Adonai. (Ezekiel 20:40-44)