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Hanukkah – Culture War

Hanukkah – Culture War

By Eric Carlson on December 1, 2023

Hanukkah means “to dedicate”. On Hanukkah, the Maccabean Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Temple on the 25th of Kislev. The story of Hanukkah is actually a story of culture war, parallel, and similar in many ways to the culture war raging in modern America. A Culture war is the struggle for dominance of values, beliefs, and practices. The Culture War in America is the social clash between traditional, biblical, family values vs. a progressive, liberal, anti-biblical, anti-family agenda.

At Hanukkah we celebrate the victory led by Yehuda Maccabee. The essence of Hanukkah is the salvation of Israel from foreign oppression and assimilation, though weapons and warfare were involved there also must always be an accompanied spiritual awakening, divine outpouring, a sovereign move of Adonai. Prayer is always our immediate response in any situation, but there are times when we must transition from prayer to picking up some river stones and load the sling to slay the Giants. The Maccabees understood the danger and influences of Hellenization with great clarity. They would not allow Israel to assimilate, to apostatize, to lose their culture and identity. We must be aware of and understand the complexity of this issue the Maccabees were facing because we face it today: Who or what was the real enemy? Culture war! The Syrians Greeks were attempting to Hellenize Israel while the Israeli Aristocracy were openly embracing this new, progressive, and wildly popular progressive Greek culture and philosophy! 

I Maccabees 1:11-15. In those days certain renegades came out from Israel and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles around us, for since we separated from them many disasters have come upon us.” 12 This proposal pleased them, 13 and some of the people eagerly went to the king, who authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. 14 So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, 15 and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.

Assimilation through Hellenization would result in a complete annihilation and replacement of the biblical culture and identity of Israel with anti-biblical Greek culture and identity that results in sin.

No doubt there were many other Jewish people “in the middle” who weren’t seduced by the progressive Hellenistic cultural! Yet they were lukewarm about it, the silent majority that didn’t take any action against it. They probably agreed with the occupier Antiochus because culturally and politically it was the “safe” and “wise” thing to do. Seized by fear and panic many complied with the Greek demand to stop all biblical practices.

Without biblical morals and ethics, a peaceful and just nation is not possible. Without sound ethics and morals, the very fabric of society begins to shred and fragment. What results is whole scale narcissism, a person simply does whatever they think is right for themselves because there’s no foundation of truth to establish ethics and morals. It pits people against one another. Lawlessness, anarchy, and chaos prevail.

While the secular world grows increasingly hostile to Adonai and His word, what it offers to itself is more lawlessness, chaos, anarchy, and ultimately self-destruction. Almost two million people have migrated out of California in the last 3 years because it’s not safe to live there anymore! Washington state and Oregon are almost the same! Portland and Seattle are lawless, even when caught criminals are not prosecuted. Businesses are shuddering their doors and leaving! It’s like the time of Noach! Though far from perfect, Western Civilizations were based upon biblical morals and ethics which have produced the liberty, freedoms, and prosperity its citizens have experienced. This has resulted in numerous constitutional republics that recognize the God given, inalienable rights of every individual, they’ve formed constitutional governments that provide a framework of fairness, justice, safety, security, freedom and strive to defend and protect those inalienable rights! Unfortunately, we now find ourselves in a decaying society. We’ve turned away from the morals and ethics given in Proverbs chapters 1-10, that are centered upon:

Proverbs 1:7. The fear of ADONAI is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

This is no longer the teaching from parents to children because many parents have fallen away, they have abandoned fear of the Lord to live a hedonistic, narcissistic life to satisfy self. Where this really is revealed is on social media! I’m stunned to see people make posts on their social media of immoral, sinful behavior that is in direct disobedience to the word of God. Then people who are supposedly Children of God reply to these posts! “I love it”, “I’m so happy for you!”, “So Sweet”. It’s one thing to sin, it’s another to make it public and receive widespread support from alleged believers! They are modeling the exact opposite of “Fear of the Lord”. Yeshua warned us about this, that lawlessness will increase:

Matthew 24:10-12. (TLV) And then many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one other. 11 Many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold.

Yochanan boldly spoke truth, calling it what it is in:

I John 3:4.(TLV) “Everyone practicing sin also practices lawlessness-indeed, sin is lawlessness”

What is lawlessness? Anomia in the Greek-without Torah! Nothing reveals lawlessness more than manipulating the law legally to justify unethical, sinful behavior. This was the very reason Yeshua berated the P’rushim saying to them in:

Mathew 23:27-28. “Woe to you hypocritical Torah-teachers and P’rushim! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but inside are full of dead people’s bones and all kinds of rottenness. 28 Likewise, you appear to people from the outside to be good and honest, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and far from Torah.

The need to engage in and prevail in the culture war is the central theme, the lesson of Hanukkah! Mattityahu Hasmonea got engaged and started guerrilla warfare along with his sons and a few followers against the Syrian Greek Culture invasion. What they did in the hill country of Judea and Samaria was so amazing that books on their exploits are still studied by modern guerrilla fighters. Early in the war Judas Hasmonea took over after his father’s death and he is the one who came up with the legendary tactics. They fact that they did so paved the way for Jewish continuity and survival over the last two millennia. If we want to ensure that the unique and positive aspects of American Exceptionalism will survive, we need to remember this Hanukkah story. Hanukkah is considered a somewhat minor celebration, yet the story of Hanukkah reveals a profound message concerning obedience to God and the necessity and importance of not misplacing our trust.

Our identity as both Messianic Jews and Gentiles comes from our conformity and oneness with Scripture, Gods word, with Gods culture. This is why we are so centered upon the Youth at these celebrations and the Feast Days!

Proverbs 22:6. Train (Chanak: to train, dedicate) a child in the way he [should] go; and, even when old, he will not swerve from it.

Chanak is the root word of Hanukkah. Hanukkah isn’t just about Donuts and Latkas, it’s a time of training and ‘dedication. Hanukkah is a lesson of warning for us as this battle is still being fought! It’s about the children and the enemy knows this very well!

The Syrian Greek authorities constructed gymnasiums throughout the land so that children could be indoctrinated in Greek culture and practices of physical contests. That is happening today! Daniel Villarrea, a writer for The Queerity, a top online LGBQT magazine wrote an article entitled, Can We Please Just Start Admitting That We Do Actually Want To Indoctrinate Kids? In it he says, “Why would we push anti-bullying programs or social studies classes that teach kids about the historical contributions of famous queers unless we wanted to deliberately educate children to accept queer sexuality as normal?”

The homosexual lobby is aggressively indoctrinating children that homosexual behavior is normal and should be accepted and embraced. They clearly want homosexuality to be introduced before these children are old enough, mature enough to understand who they are. This is not about education or being nice, inclusive, and tolerant. That’s why they are hosting trans reading times in public libraries-to normalize the immoral and sinful behavior! Unfortunately, some adults have become enamored with what they believe are progressive, rational and scientific ways and are convinced of the need to replace our traditional biblical based values with progressive behaviors that are immoral.

Here is their narrative: If you pushback regarding your daughters’ becoming boys, or your boys’ becoming girls, or you don’t want girls and boys to play on the same sports teams, or share coed locker rooms, or the same restrooms it’s because your closed minded, your not inclusive, and your children need to be liberated from your backward bible values. Transgenderism and gender ideology are no more scientific and rational than idol worship. Yet they are aggressively recruiting and indoctrinating our children-especially through social media! They will coerce, shame, and cancel adults who seek to live their lives and raise their children according to the word of God. As we critically learn through the Hanukkah story, the only thing worse than a culture war is too willingly surrendering our liberty, freedoms, and values without a fight.

The Maccabees dedicated themselves to this principle and Adonai long before they won and rededicated the temple! We must do the same! Hanukkah reveals a mystery, the miraculous power of trust in Adonai in the face of hopelessness, a spark of light in the depths of darkness, the limitless, divine, dunamis power of Adonai as we contend for the Kingdom of Adonai in our own culture war! Hanukkah is the story of restoration and dedication! To accomplish this, we like the Maccabee’s must first seek a personal, spiritual restoration through the word and the Blood of Messiah! Yeshua Himself, the Light of the world observed Hanukkah in the temple.

John 10:22-23. Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, 23 and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s Colonnade.

The menorah, kept in the temple, represents the “light unto the world. The temple, which was located on a hill had inverse windows which allowed the light of the Menorah to be radiated to the world. This light represents the knowledge of the kingdom of God. It’s this light that will overcome our current darkness as our light cannot be extinguished! We must stand against this cultural invasion and deny our children’s indoctrination and not be forced to embrace unbiblical, sinful values! We must imitate Judah’s steadfastness. And thankfully there is no foreign occupying army to be defeated for lovers of freedom to prevail, so there is no need to imitate Judah’s violence. This Hanukkah let your light shine!

Chag Hanukkah Sameach
Rabbi Eric S Carlson