#FamilyFriday | Faithfulness and a Man Called the Hammer

How do we know that God will be faithful to His promises, whether to us or to the world? How do we know anyone will honor what they have said they'll do? By their reputation among others. I know God will be faithful to me because of the stories that my parents, grandparents, professors, teachers, and siblings. And I know God will be faithful to His promises to the whole world because of his covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Israel.

God has a made a reputation of remembering His covenant partners. "Remembering" doesn't sound like a big deal to us. We usually think of remembering as being an easy mental reflex. But in the Bible, it's precedes action. When God remembers something, His movement is imminent and unstoppable. He remembered Sarah, and she gave birth in her old age! He remembered Israel in slavery, and not only were they made free, but Egypt was laid in ruins!

So it is also with us. When we remember Him, our obedience should be unstoppable. When we think of His faithfulness to His people Israel, His patience for all mankind, His steadfast love, and His instructions for how we should live, then our response should be in righteousness, justice, and kindness.

Remember his Covenant forever, the word that He commanded, for a thousand generations.
— 1 Chronicles 16:15
You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.
— Deuteronomy 16:12

But sometimes we stop remembering. And when we stop remembering, we forget. We drift away from the heavens. We forget our role in redeeming the world around us. We stop fighting for truth. We make allowances and compromises until there's nothing left of who we really are.

There was a grave risk of that happening to the Jewish people about 150BC. The Syrian-Greeks took over the land of Israel, and their pagan worship and foreign ideas began to take root. Some Jews forgot who they were, and began to take on practices of the Greeks. When the mentally deranged Antiochus Epiphanes took power, he saw the Jewish faith as something that had to be destroyed. He outlawed the Sabbath. He outlawed study of the scriptures. He desecrated God's Temple by entering it and sacrificing a pig on the Alter.

And then Israel remembered.

The son of a priest, Judah Maccabee the Hammer, raised a tiny army of farmers and craftsmen in the hills of Judea, and they ignited a revival across Israel. They defeated the Syrian-Greek armies, chased every foreign nation out of the land, took back Jerusalem, and purified God's Temple.

But when it was time to light the Menorah, they could only find one small jar of pure oil. It would take 8 days to purify another batch of oil. What should they do? God said that the flame of the Menorah must not be allowed to go out. Do they wait 8 days for more oil, or do they ignite it immediately and rely on God's faithfulness to accomplish the rest of the task?

You probably know the rest of the story. They lit the Menorah as quickly as possible, and that one little jar of pure oil miraculously burned for the whole 8 days. They were faithful to God's commandments, and God was faithful to them. 

Every year at Hanukkah, we remember that miracle. We remember that a few faithful people can set a nation on fire for God. The faithfulness of Judah Maccabee and his men would reshape the world, and the revival that they ignited would set the stage for the birth of Jesus. We remember that a good deed, no matter how small, is a beacon of light to others in a dark world. And we remember that one day, darkness will be swallowed up in the Light. 

What are some promises that God has made to you? Do you ever wonder whether or not He will keep them?

Judah Maccabee didn't wait for more oil. He lit the Menorah as soon as possible. Do you ever rationalize your obedience and delay action? Is there something that God has asked you to do that you've been avoiding?

May your love and good deeds illuminate the world this season. Shabbat Shalom!

Jonathan MitchellComment