I wish everyone a merry Christmas and my Jewish friends a belated happy Hanukkah. We all enjoy the presents, the songs and the parties that make up the secular celebration of Christmas. They have become part of our culture even for many people who have no Christian faith. LIkewise there is a secular celebration of Hanukkah that Jews enjoy even those Jews who may have Jewish ancestors, but lack any religious faith.
The secular celebrations of both of these holidays is fun and glamorous. Merchants enjoy a boost in sales at this time of year as we throw parties and buy gifts. I wish that people would look deeper than the surface to the original meanings of both holidays.
Christmas is supposed to be a religious celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Christ. In between the parties we should be finding time to attend church. We should be reading the Christmas story in Luke or in Matthew chapter 2 to our families on Christmas day. We should be praying prayers of thanksgiving that God came down at Christmas to live as man, and be prepared to die for our salvation at Easter.
I hope that Christmas and Easter inspire you to look more closely at your relationship to God and Jesus. We are called to repent of our sins. That means rid ourselves of the bad behavior. We are called to believe that Jesus is our redeemer, our Messiah. who came to save each of us on a personal level. He died for the sins of the world and then rose the third day to demonstrate that we can have life after death. Most of all, I hope you accept the Lord Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. You do this by yielding yourself to Jesus. Let him lead your life. I wish all people would accept Jesus in this way.
Hanukkah is a celebration of God’s power and love for His people. During the time of the Maccabees, Greek invaders took over Israel and defiled the temple. Judas Maccabee’s men recaptured Jerusalem. Then they cleansed and rededicated the temple. One of the central figures of temple worship was the menorah, a golden lampstand that was kept constantly burning, but when they lit it during the rededication, they discovered they had only enough olive oil for one day. Yet, the menorah kept burning for 8 days. The only explanation is that God supplied the fuel. God was demonstrating his power and his love for the Jews. By the end of the 8 days, a supply line was established so that the temple would never again run short of oil.
Devout Jews attend services and pray to God in thanks for this miracle, for His love, and for His lovingkindness. They also find time to enjoy the secular joys of the holiday, but as with Christians, these Jews seek to strengthen their relationship with the God of their fathers. My hope is that Jews who have little or no relationship with God will use this holiday to attend services and open a relationship with God. It is also a good time to strengthen what relationship they have.
Jews can learn about the Messiah by reading the Old Testament where prophets foretold about a Messiah, who will come to save His people and be King of Kings. Most Jews are still waiting for his arrival.
Christians and Messianic Jews recognize that this Messiah came during the reign of Herod the Great and is known by the name of Jesus or Emmanuel (God with us). To my Jewish friends who are still waiting for Jesus, may God bless you. At least you remain faithful to the eternal God of the universe, but I wish that you would look into the fact that Jesus, your Messiah has come and wants you to worship Him.