Monday, December 13, 2004
Why a menorah in the window on Chanukah?
.. because it is the Jews' proudest moment of declaration .. "This house dedicates itself to God alone! In the spirit of Matithius!"
Quick! Name ONE thing Alexander the Great believed in! Ok, ok... name one thing believed in by the tiny band of strange devotees numbering only to only a few million and largely confined to a meditteranean country the size of most large cities...
they're usually known as Jews.
Ah... lot's of things spring to mind - "One God." "Thou shalt not commit murder..." "And God said, 'Let their be light..' " And you didn't even have to go to Yeshiva to learn all that, did you?
The tiny nation of Jews has shaped the world we live in.
And this is the season of Chanukah - Kislev 25 - Tevet 3, 5765 (December 8th - December 15th, 2004, on the Greek Calendar). You may have heard of it... but what is it all about?
In brief, Alexander strolled over to Israel and bowed (according to historian, Josephus, and unrelated Jewish accounts) before the High Priest of the temple in Jerusalem... and bowing wasn't something Alexander was prone to do!!! The reason he did this, the accounts state...
"I did not bow before him, but before that God who has honored him with the high Priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very apparel."
But that strange introduction began a unique relationship which began with both parties being enamored with each others brilliance and resolve... the Jew with the Greek and the Greek with the Jew... until, that is, one named Matithius changed the affair!
Matithius basically said, "No." We won't allow you to CHANGE our TEMPLE for your zeus-god! And he proceeded, with a comparitively TINY band of warriors to defeat 3 Greek armies and reclaim the temple.
The temple was defiled by greek occupation, so the priests had to re-dedicate it according to scripural directives. One requriement being purified, blessed and sanctified (set-apart) oil for lamps inside the temple. Most of the oil had been ransacked by the greeks except one small flask - enough for 1 day of temple service.
And yet it burned 8 days... just long enough to properly sanctify more oil for the ongoing service.
Jesus (Yeshuah) celebrated this "temple-re-dedication day" -
John 10:22 "And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch."
The comparitively larger miracle is that such a small band of priest-soldiers fought off the Greek Empire, though. And it is with the same spirit that Jews today, all over the world set their Chanukah menorahs in plainly visible places in front of or in the front window of their houses. Timidity causes many (like my family) to light them inside away from the window. But it is for this cause that Chanukah is celebrated! And that cause is this alone -
FREEDOM TO WORSHIP THE ONE TRUE GOD AS HE DESIRES WE DO - WITHOUT FEAR AND WITH COMPLETE SANCTITY AND DEVOTION ... AND JOY!
So, I'm learning...
And perhaps tonight (Night #7) I'll get it right and you'll see the Chanukah candles in our window.