Are You a Wannabe or a Maccabee?


Are You a Wannabe or a Maccabee?

“It was now winter, and Yeshua was in Jerusalem at the time of Chanukah, the Festival of Dedication.” 

(John 10:22)

What the world needs more than ever are heroes. There are many Wannabes but few Maccabees. Let me explain.

The story of Hanukkah reads like a fairy-tale.  A wicked, Greco-Babylonian king by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes wanted to reunite the broken empire of Alexander the Great. He esteemed this empire to be the most civil and educated in the world.  In 167 B.C.E, he outlawed the practice of Judaism deeming it a threat to this goal of unification. To make matters worse, the king huffed and puffed and arrogantly stormed the Temple, violating its most sacred space – the Holy of Holies.  In a display of utter sacrilege, he publically offered a pig sacrifice upon the altar. Not only was this not kosher, but it was a foreshadowing of the Abomination of Desolation.

Thumbing his pointy nose at the Jews in another confrontational move, Antiochus erected pagan, Greek statues in the Holy place.  Then, he ordered his emissaries to invade individual towns throughout the land of Israel. These henchmen were commanded to gather the leaders of the community and force them to offer sacrilegious sacrifices to the Greek gods and idols.  In one town called Modi’in, a Jewish priest performed this profanity.

Watching from the sidelines was a godly priest by the name of Matathaias. He was so infuriated by what he saw that he grabbed a knife and violently killed the official who was supervising the blasphemy.  This was the trigger for what history later recorded as The Maccabean Revolt. The mantra of the war was, “Whoever is for the God of Israel, follow me.”

This rag-tag bunch of Jewish renegades launched military guerilla warfare against the most powerful army and nation of their day – Babylon.  After three and a half years, they won the war against preposterous odds, proving Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit…”  As a side-note, they fought against their foe the same amount of years that Yeshua’s earthly ministry lasted.

Riding high on victory and faith, these haphazard warriors went back to Jerusalem to recapture the Temple. They found it decimated.  Furthermore, the seven-branched candelabra called a menorah that was supposed to burn perpetually, symbolizing God’s eternal presence and promise to the Jewish people was extinguished.  Determined to set this symbol ablaze again, they searched the trampled Temple and found one cruz, or flask, of oil.  This was no ordinary oil, but kosher oil of the purest caliber.  There was one problem.  This amount of oil would burn for only a day.

This limited supply didn’t deter the Maccabees.  In a leap of faith, they lit the menorah and re-dedicated the Temple to God, which is why Hanukkah is known as the Feast of Dedication.  God blessed their act of faith and supernaturally stretched the one-day supply to burn for eight days!  This is the great miracle that is commemorated each year during the Hanukkah holiday, known by yet another name – the Festival of Lights.

A key part of the miracle of Hanukkah is that the Maccabees had faith to light the Menorah! The Lord honored their act of faith by multiplying the oil. Faith is about belief. Trust goes a step further and puts feet on faith, moving us into action. It is not enough to know God can slay giants; we must trust God enough to go out and slay them ourselves. That’s the difference between faith and trust. Faith and trust seem like two separate concepts, but they are really like two sides of the same coin. They are inseparable. You can, however, have faith without trust, but it’s impossible to have trust without faith. Faith is the foundation upon which trust takes a stand.

Blessed be the one who trusts in the Lord. The Lord shall be his bitachon/trust. He is like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

We must all ask ourselves, “Am I Maccabee or a Wannabe?” Wannabes are doubters that will never dare to do anything dangerous or big for the L-rd. Maccabees on the other hand attempt to do audacious things for God because they have a radical faith that cannot be shaken no matter what the odds! Which are you?

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