Written by my friend Aaron Gann, reproduced here with permission.
Tonight, as we light the candles and stare into the lights, let us focus on another aspect of Hanukkah: Dedication.
The central focus of Hanukkah is that of dedication, indeed that is what the very word means. It is a time when we remember that the Maccabees, those brave souls who dared to take a stand against the tyrant king Antiochus, cleansed and dedicated again the Holy Temple of the Lord. Last night we talked about resisting the world, tonight we will talk about what happened after they resisted, fought back, and won.
The rebellion that began in Modi ‘in last for about three years before they were able to return to capture the Holy City of Jerusalem. Three years spent hiding and ambushing. Hammering them in one place and then another, as a wrecking crew tears down a wall. Therefore, they were given the name of Maccabees, for they hammered their foes wherever they struck. However, even though they successfully resisted and fought back, it did not undo the damage that had been done.
When they entered the temple compound of Jerusalem, it was hardly recognizable as the holy place it had once been. A place that had been completely dedicated to The Lord. In its place stood a disaster: objects smashed, gold stripped, the altar covered with pigs’ blood and a statue of the pagan god Zeus, which stood in mockery over the altar. The temple of the Lord was no more. For all the fighting that they had done, it was for nothing if the Temple was ruined.
However, the Maccabees did not allow that to deter them from their goal. Instead, they immediately began to clean it, washing away the destruction that had been caused by their enemies. They tore down the statues, washed the walls, cleaned the altar, and began working on that which had been destroyed. They did not allow themselves to be defeated, even in the face of so much death and hatred against The Lord.
Tonight, as we stare into the candles, let us remember that our lives were once as this temple. Jew or Gentile, we were all lost and desecrated before God. Lost in our sin and dedicated to the world. Let us remember tonight that it is Yeshua who has promised that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). That just as the Maccabees did not stop until all the work was complete, so too has He promised to finish the good work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).