Christmas, Faith, Hanukkah, and the Time of Miraculous Love

It seems odd: I never saw it before, but there is a connection between Hanukkah, Christmas and the battles we are called to fight every day of our lives.

This is the time of year where all eyes turn to the invasion of earth by the Living God of Israel.  But like the Jews in the book of Judges, we find God’s plan for His invasion borders, once again, on the ridiculous.

Hanukkah details the exploits of a small heroic family of faithful Jews, pitted against the greatest power on earth, who find themselves without the one thing they need to finish the job. The story is not that different from a baby Messiah coming to battle death itself, yet unable speak, to sit up; not even knowing where his feet were.

The book of Judges tells us when the Jews were led into battle, to possess the Promised Land, they followed an invisible God.  The Hebrew people felt ridiculous in the face of fierce hordes of barbarian warriors, led by bloodthirsty kings eager to kill God’s people.

The Jews, sometimes pared down to a paltry number of warriors, all marched onto the battlefield blowing trumpets, hoping for victory, following: nothing? Nothing but an invisible God, unseen by everyone.

 The enemy probably licked their chops at the sight. They would have anticipated a complete route by the Jews, with a day topped off by plunder and pillaging.

The events of the day would prove them wrong.  With God leading the battle, the tiny nation of Israel brought their enemies to their knees.

But tired of being the laughingstock of their enemies, as they engaged in the battle, the Jewish people abandoned their reliance on God and chose, instead, to be led by a human king. So God let them have the tallest, most regal looking Jew as their leader, with disastrous consequences.  Let’s not make the same mistake as we go up against our enemies today.

But what does all this have to do with Christmas, faith, Hanukkah and living in the time of miraculous love?

Jesus came to subdue the iniquities of His people.

The idea that a little baby was more than able to dismantle the bondages that have held mankind in darkness for thousands of years is incredible.  Yahweh threw down the gauntlet against Satan, sin and pride. He met them head-on, calling us to trust in the power of a newborn babe.

Addictions, lust, greed, covetousness, pride and cruelty will all fall before this child, who simply repeated the words of Yahweh and died upon a cross at the hands of His enemies.  Indeed, Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan and overcome the Spirit of this world.

He came, a tiny helpless King, facing a world which does not value human life and has chosen darkness rather than light. Surrounded by death, destruction and spiritual poverty, we hope this baby, nevertheless, had what it took to destroy everything that exalted itself against Him.  Will we choose to rely on ourselves because our gospel seems so ridiculous? Are we ashamed to be led by an invisible God and be mocked by the world? Do we really believe Yahweh controls everything in the Universe and lives outside of space and time? Do all things really work for our good?

As weak as we are, under constant attack by evil, Yahweh sent us a deliverer who appears, at first glance, to be even weaker than us.  Moreover, The Scripture says we are sent into the world, sheep in the midst of wolves, to take on the darkness, just as He has.

Isaiah 63:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

   2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

   3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

   4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

 So Yahweh has irrevocably filled our hearts with His love, so His Spirit can dwell there. The Spirit who can do far more than we can ask or imagine. God’s weakness boasts itself against the enemies’ strength. Indeed, God promises to deliver Jacob from those who are stronger than him.

All God needed to send us was a newborn child. In Him, we have all we need to destroy the works of the Devil, overcome the Spirit of this world and subdue our iniquities. When it looks like we simply don’t have what it takes, the LORD miraculously gives us what we need. If this is true, then why are we dismayed? We have been called to set the captive free. What are we waiting for? Though at times all we see is the weakness of God, we are called to believe it is enough.

Hanukkah is a celebration of the fact that even though the enemy can have his foot on our necks, God has called us to chop at his feet… and win.

Those who have gone before us have left us a trail to follow. Although the first covenant saints seem larger than life, they never knew the power who lives inside us. And yet,

29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

   30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

   31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

   32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

   33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

   34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to fight the armies of the aliens.

   35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

   36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

   37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

   38 (Of whom the world was not worthy) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

   39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

   40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

While it is not a pretty picture, it is a picture of courage, hope, faith and passion.

This is the season which brings us Hanukkah and Christmas. This is the season to remember our calling. It is the time to recommit ourselves to the fight. It is the time to remember we have enemies and we are called to possess their gates. It is time to stop looking at what we lack and consider that the weakness of God is greater than the strength of man. The foolishness of God is greater than the wisdom and knowledge of man. It is a time to remember that when we face ashes, we have the gifting of God to usher in beauty.

Christmas is full of presents, and it is good to remember the Spirit of God gives gifts to God’s people. The miraculous gifting of God – healing, miracles, faith, discernment of Spirits, wisdom, knowledge and tongues are unlocked by faith. That faith is operated by the love of God which has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. It is love filled with passion and courage. Let’s ask for those miraculous gifts of Yahweh’s Spirit and open up as many as He will give.

The LORD said Jesus came to earth in the fullness of time. In Ezekiel, Yahweh declared, as He looked upon us, it was the time of love. He entered into a new covenant with us and gave us His Spirit to live in our heart.

We are invited to cast our cares upon Him, to passionately go to war for others and see the Kingdom of God transform lives because we can love as we have been loved by Yahweh. The weakness of our love is stronger than Satan, the Spirit of this world and the iniquities of mankind. We do not need to fear, freeze or flee. We do not need to save ourselves.

As you first light the menorah on November 14, or consider the newborn baby in Jerusalem who couldn’t even hold up his own head, be encouraged that our invisible King is leading us, His Spirit is going before us to win the battle, His Son is forever on our side. Indeed, nothing can separate us from the love of God who came to save us.

Put on the armor of God and join the fight! He will gift you with the miraculous and you will see the salvation of God, though you be sheep in the midst of wolves. Do not be dismayed; you will judge angels.

But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

   5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;

   6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

   7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

   8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;

   9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

   10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. 1 Cor. 6:4-10

We are the people of Yahweh. He is the God of new beginnings. Let us go forward, as Jesus went forward, not making new things but, by the power of the Living God, making all things new.