Friday, November 30, 2012

Feast of Dedication- Celebrate!

I am continually marveled at what meaning there is behind celebrations that a) are commanded by God for believers to celebrate and b) are rooted in nothing other than cause for celebration because of something God had done! All of the Biblical Feasts (major and minor) have taught me personal lessons and cause deep personal reflection. I am thankful for them.

We are learning about the Feast of Dedication! Will you join us as I share about it? Even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ celebrated the Feast of Dedication! (John 10:22-23)

Why is this even important?

History  (His Story!) tells us that some major events took place during the time of the Second Temple. Do you remember learning about the Jews and their Babylonian exile? Do you remember that afterward they had returned to Israel and rebuilt the Holy Temple? I had read these accounts in the book of Daniel several times (and probably like most of us) just moved right along with my reading. You know, "Okay... all of that's nice to know.........???"

Well, the Jews ended up still being subjected to the Persian Empire until Alexander the Great came along. Now, Alexander the Great was kind to the Jews. However, once he died the kingdom was divided by his generals and then they were subjected to Greek kings ruling from Syria.

Usher in Antiochus. Alexander the Great desired to build an empire by culture and Antiochus had
intentions of carrying that out as well  He went in and stripped treasurers from The Holy Temple! While he was at it, he stripped the Jews of their freedoms to worship God. He made it illegal for them to practice God's instructions about eating Kosher foods. The Jews were no longer allowed to study their holy books. Essentially, Antiochus wanted to Hellenize all of the people... but there was a remnant of priests and people who did not give in. They remained faithful to God!

They remained faithful to God.
Would I?

Would You?

At what cost and at what lengths?

Don't glaze over now! Antiochus then turned The Holy Temple into a Greek Temple... to worship the pagan [false] god Zeus! Not only that, Antiochus desecrated the Holy Temple by having pigs sacrificed on the altar! Why does this matter? God required certain meats to be sacrificed on that altar for Himself... and pigs are an unclean meat! That is why the word *desecrated* is used for this act. At this point in time, the king believed he could get away with these actions because he believed that the majority of the Jews were ready for this. For what? To accept Greek culture!

Antiochus sent Apollinius and an army of twenty-two thousand to destroy Jerusalem! This army outnumbered the remnant. So many people were killed for worshiping God at the temple. The soldiers built a tower where they commanded the temple. You see... they aimed to not allow any further worship of God. It was decreed that all people would conform to Hellenism (which is Greek culture).

The remnant would not allow it! The Maccabees arose and battled against the army of Antiochus. Though they were fewer in numbers, God was on their side and they won. In this victory, they rededicated The Holy Temple to God!

I think it's easy to read this as a story.... "Once upon a time... in a kingdom far, far away...." If we read it like that we miss so much! These were real people and real events and many died.

Personal Reflection:

Leading Idea:
Scripture makes things perceptible (the causes and effects in history and in hearts).

Bible Principle:
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. -Psalm 119:105

This whole historical event is known as the Abomination of Desolation. It is the first known religious persecution. This remnant of people set examples for me: what it is to be faithful to God and what God considers to be Holy vs. what man considers to be Holy.

As a follower of Christ, my body is a temple for the Holy Spirit. Have I allowed myself to be Hellenized in any way? What are ways in which this temple may be desecrated? (Webster's 1828 Dictionary: Desecrated, pp. Diverted from a sacred purpose or appropriation; divested of a sacred character or office.)

I have some thinking and reflecting to do... some personal re-dedication. The fact that I can do this because of grace through Jesus Christ is definitely something to celebrate!

How has this post challenged you?


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