Written by my friend Aaron Gann, reproduced here with permission.
Tonight, let us focus upon one of the major themes of Hanukkah: Resisting the world.
As we read in last’s night story, the Jewish people faced a dangerous foe, one more dangerous than any that had been encountered before. More dangerous than any Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar. More dangerous than any battle they had been in. For this enemy was not something tangible, a force of evil that could be resisted as a person, this was a foe that crept into the hearts of the people even before they themselves knew it.
When Israel was under Greek control, they began to come under the influence of Greek culture through a process called Hellenization. What this did was assimilate all that they once held dear, things that were basic foundations to their faith and began to replace them with the things that the world held dear. The latest fashion became more important than prayer, Greek philosophers such as Aristotle began to become as highly regarded, if not more so, than the works of Solomon. They even began to speak Greek as their own tongue, and many were unable to read or understand the scriptures in the way they were written in Hebrew.
The People that God had chosen had begun to lose their way of life, their way of being. Instead, giving into the world’s idea of what a person should be, becoming tolerant of things that had been understood as abhorrent to The Lord. However, The Lord did not call them to be like the world, though they were very much in it. He called them to be a peculiar people, a distinct people, a people whose lives centered around The Lord and His glory.
Tonight, as we stare at the lights of the Menorah. Let us remember that as believers in Yeshua, we too are called to be a peculiar people. We have become children of the Most High (John 1:12-13). Paul picks up this point in his letter to the Church in Rome where He writes,
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2
Today this idea is exceedingly difficult to obtain, we are constantly bombarded with all forms of media and advertisements which tell us what to say, do, think, and practice in our own lives. We measure our values of success based upon what the world says it is. We are called out on our faith by people who hate the very idea of God and are labeled as intolerant bigots for refusing to let go of what is deemed as archaic values. However, the Lord has not called us to be worldly people with a taste of Yeshua. Rather, we ourselves are to be a peculiar people in the world. A people that are distinct from the things around them.
Does this mean that we are to go into hiding, exiling ourselves away from the outside world? By no means, for one of the greatest commissions that The Lord has given us is to go into the world making Disciples and telling people of His glory, not just verbally, but in every action we do.
Tonight, as we celebrate the second night of Hanukkah, let us be transformed, our minds renewed towards Him, our Lord and Saviour so that in these dark times, we may know what is good, acceptable, and perfect.