And It Was Winter
Beverly A. Brown, Set Me Free Ministries Prayer Coordinator
As I write this, Jews all across the world are celebrating Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights and The Feast of Dedication. The menorah will be lit, and latkes will be eaten. Children will play the dreidel game, delighting to see what fate their spin will bring them.
While there are some Christians who observe this holiday, most have little knowledge of the rich heritage and meaning of the symbolism inherent in the celebrations. In 165 BCE, during the reign of King Antiochus IV, the Jews were subject to great persecution and even death if they did not give up their worship of the one true God, YHWH. The temple was desecrated and an altar to Zeus was set up, even sacrificing a pig on the Holy altar. Despite the threat of death, many Jews resisted, and under the leadership of Judah Maccabee, they eventually regained control of the Temple and began purifying it. When they went to light the menorah, however, they could only find enough oil for one day. Despite this, they made the decision to light it. To their amazement, it remained lit for eight consecutive days, giving them enough time to make the oil needed.
While Jesus may not have eaten latkes or spun the Dreidel, we do know that scripture records Him as being in Jerusalem during The Feast of Dedication. John 10:22 records, "Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter."
There is something about those last four words that captivates me: "… and it was winter." Most of us think of winter as being a season when everything around us is cold and dying. The harvest is over, and spring is months away. Yet, Hanukkah is a reminder to us that even in the darkest of days, when it seems that all hope is gone, when the enemy of our souls has tried to desecrate all that is good and holy, God is still present. Even when we only have enough oil for one more day, God promises us that He is our supply.
I want to note here that this was not an easy fight for Judah Maccabee and his fearless band of followers. They had to wage all-out guerrilla warfare. This was a battle of life and death for the Jewish people and all that they stood for. They were willing to die rather than bend their knee to any other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
What is it in your life that you are battling? What "god" is trying to gain control of you? Do you find yourself in a winter season with only enough oil to last one more day? Don't give up. It is in this same scripture passage in John where Jesus declares Himself as the Messiah who came to bring light into a dark world. A light that would never be extinguished. Read with me in John 10:28-30: "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one."
I want to exhort you today to hold onto the promise that is offered to us during this Jewish celebration. It may be winter. You may look all around you and see the enemy gaining ground. But when you stand your ground and fight the battle in the Name of the Lord your God, you are promised victory.