Parents: This week, we're looking at another example from history of God proving Himself to be Mighty to Save.
Hanukah is a Jewish holiday normally celebrated in December. We Christians don't usually learn about the first Hanukah or why it's special to Jewish people, but it’s a wonderful example of God being mighty to save. It acutally took place about a hundred years before Jesus was born, and there's a lot Christians can learn from it.
In the Bible, we read about how the nation of Israel was taken away into captivity by a king named Nebuchadnezzar (check out the book of Daniel for the story). After seventy years living as captives in foreign lands, the Jewish people were finally allowed to start returning to the land of Israel, but their troubles were not over.
After King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came King Cyrus and Darius of Persia. After the Persians came Alexander the Great from Greece. He conquered all the nations that Babylon and Persia had controlled, including Israel, and he made a huge empire for himself. Then, he suddenly died, leaving his empire to be split into four pieces and given to his four top army commanders. Two of those pieces were Syria and Egypt. The Greek families that ruled Syria and Egypt were pretty mean and cruel, and they tried to conquer more land for themselves, often fighting each other for it. They fought over the land of Israel for many years, while the Jewish people suffered.
Finally, Syria defeated Egypt and had complete control of Israel. At first, the king of Syria let the Jewish people have some freedom, but then he lost a war to the growing Roman empire. Just to give you a hint, the Romans were in control of Israel by the time Jesus was born. So, the Syrians had to pay a lot of money every year to the Romans, and the people of Israel were the ones forced to give most of the money.
To make matters worse, the king of Syria died and was eventually replaced by a very wicked, evil king named Antiochus. Antiochus not only took money from the people, he also put up terrible Greek idols all through the land of Israel and forced the Jewish people to worship them instead of God. Many refused, and lost their lives because of it.
One such person who refused was an old priest named Mattathias, but he didn’t lose his life. He had five brave, strong sons who helped him lead a rebellion against the Syrians. He and his sons later became known as the Maccabees. The word “Maccabee” basically is a nickname that means, “the hammer”. Antiochus was furious that the Maccabees were revolting against him, and he sent many soldiers to crush them, but time after time, they somehow won every battle.
Antiochus finally sent a huge army of 40,000 men to completely crush the Jewish people. The Maccabees were outnumbered and stood little chance of victory. However, by a great miracle they won and defeated the mighty Syrians. They restored King Solomon’s Temple and threw out all the horrible idols from Israel. They lit a special lamp called a Menorah to dedicate the Temple, but there was only enough oil to keep the lamp lit for one day. By another miracle, the lamp stayed lit for eight days until new oil could be made. God had delivered His people once again and provided for their needs.
The Jewish people were always looking forward to the arrival of the Messiah, as promised by the prophets in the Bible. The Messiah would be the Savior of Israel and the whole world. About a hundred years after the Maccabees, that promise was fulfilled one night in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. Jesus is the Savior of Israel, and the whole world. He is the best proof that God is mighty to save in every situation, no matter how hopeless it may seem. Whenever you face a dark and scary time, remember that Jesus is the Mighty One who saves.
"He has saved us from our enemies. We are rescued from all who hate us." Luke 1:71
2 Kings 6:24 - 7:20 | God Scared an Army
CHAT WITH ME
1. Is there anything God cannot do? Why then does God say no sometimes to our prayer requests?
2. Does God save us because we are good, or because He is good? What's the difference between our "goodness" and His goodness?