This year Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving-which in a way is appropraite-because the first Hanukkah was a time of giving thanks to God for the victory that Judah Maccabee had won which was religious freedom for the Jewish people.
In 167 BC, the Seleucid Greeks began a policy of forced assimilation into the Greek culture for the Jews. The Temple of Jerusalem was taken and profaned by the Greeks by pouring swine blood on the altar. Possession of the Bible and observance of the law of Moses was a capital crime.
Many Jews were put to death for their faith. Finally an elderly priest named Mattathias resisted. Soon thereafter, his son, Judah took over the Jewish revolt.
Judah was called "Maccabee" which means "the Hammer" in Aramaic because of the way he hammered the Greeks in battle. Later, the Temple was re-taken by the Jews and dedicated (Hanukkah in Aramaic) to God anew. The story of the first Hanukkah is told in the Books of First and Second Maccabees and in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus. The Books of Maccabees are part of the Bible for Catholics and Orthodox Christians while most Protestants relegate 2 Maccabees to the "apocryphal" section of the Bible.
The story of Hanukkah is a story of a great conflict and inspiring tales of heroism and great courage.
Stephen Missick had re-told the story of Hanukkah in a comic book form. "Most people don't realize that Marvel comics and other major comic book companies, started off with Bible comics. I believe that comics are an effective medium for re-telling the Bible story. The story of Hanukkah is particularly important because it is a relevant story about the importance of
religious liberty. Also, for many Christians the story of Hanukkah is part of the Old Testament of the Bible. For Protestants, the story is important in understanding what happened in the time period between the Old and New Testaments. Also, Hanukkah was important to Jesus. In John 10:22, we find that Jesus observed the festival of Hanukkah." Stephen Missick has written and illustrated a comic book series based on the Hanukkah story called "The Hammer of God." Recently, his "Hanukkah Comic and Coloring Book" has been published. Missick said, "I think it is important to make this great story more accessible to the public and I think it is a story that needs to be passed down to the new generation."
Stephen Missick is a graduate from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a doctoral student at Houston Graduate School of Theology. He is the associate pastor of King of Saints Church in Cleveland Texas. Contact him at 281-592-4104
NEW HANUKKAH PROGRAM
Hanukkah Crossover Interview with Stephen Missick
Stephen Andrew Missick is associate pastor of King of Saints Messianic Congregation in Cleveland, Texas.
He has served in Iraq with the US Army twice and served as an Army Chaplain.
He is the author of "The Words of Jesus in the Original Aramaic" and several other books.
He is also the author and illustrator of a series of comics that tell the story of Hanukkah and the recently published "Hanukkah Comic and Coloring Book."
We all see the Hanukkah menorahs out during the holiday season, and many people see Hanukkah as a type of Jewish equivalent to Christmas, what is Hanukkah really about?
Hanukkah is a celebration of the victory of Judah Maccabee over the Syrian Greeks who were persecuting the Jews. The Syrian Greeks were killing Jews for believing in the Bible and for observing the Law of Moses.
The Syrian Greek King, Antiochus Epiphanes, aimed to exterminate Judaism.
Judah Maccabee fought against these killings. Judah Maccabee won religious freedom for the Jewish people about 167 years before the birth of Jesus. Hanukkah is about the Battle for Religious Freedom and the fight against anti-Semitism.
What does the word "Hanukkah" mean?
Hanukkah is a word in Hebrew and Aramaic that can be translated "Dedication." The reason this festival is holiday is called "Dedication," is because the Syrian Greeks had taken God's Temple in Jerusalem and erected idols inside it and then they sacrificed a pig on the altar in order to profane it. After three years of fighting, Judah Maccabee was able to liberate the temple and rededicate it. Hanukkah is a celebration of the liberation of the temple and the cleansing and rededication of the Temple.
Why is Hanukkah celebrated for eight days?
Originally, Hanukkah was called "Sukkot in Kislev." It was patterned after Sukkot, what is also called "The Feast of Tabernacles," which is an eight day holiday. Many people are familiar with the story of a one-day supply of sacred oil lasting for eight days and this being the "miracle of Hanukkah." However, this story isn't in the earliest sources. I think the oil story can distract from the real story of Hanukkah which is a story enduring persecution and fighting for religious liberty.
What exactly is a menorah?
Moses built a tent-shrine when the Israelites were in the wilderness. Sacred furnishings were built for this tabernacle, which included the Ark of the Covenant and the Menorah.
The Menorah was a seven-branched lamp-stand. The Hanukkah Menorah, called a Hanukkayah, has nine branches and is a candle stand. On each night a new candle is lit, until on the eighth day, all nine candles shine. The center candle is called the Shamash-or servant-candle.
According to Jewish tradition, the Menorah is placed openly in the window, the boldly proclaim the Jewish family of the household in celebration of the religious freedom won by Judah Maccabee.
What motivated you to tell this story?
I believe that this story is very relevant because we see religious freedom under attack every day, around the world and in the United States of America as well.
Recently, Christians were massacred in Egypt and in Kenya. Here in the United States we see the government trying to force religious institutions to support political agendas that are opposed to their sincerely held religious beliefs concerning abortion, birth control, and gay marriage. Also, we see the rise of anti-Semitism, often masquerading as "anti-Zionism." So the Hanukkah story deals with important relevant issues.
The story of Hanukkah is also an all around fascinating story about good verses evil, amazing courage and adventure.
The story of Hanukkah also is important in understanding the historical context of the world in which Jesus lived.
So would Hanukkah be part of Jesus' Jewish culture?
Yes. In fact, the Gospel of John states in John 10:20 that Jesus went to Jerusalem in order to observe Hanukkah. I think this is very important for several reasons. First, Hanukkah is, in some ways, a minor Jewish festival. It has risen in importance because it usually falls near Christmas.
Hanukkah was not a pilgrimage festival like Sukkot or Passover, but Jesus chose to go to Jerusalem in order to observe Hanukkah.
By celebrating Hanukkah, Jesus is signaling that this is an important holiday that his followers should be familiar with.
We see that Jesus celebrating Hanukkah is in the Bible, but is the story of Hanukkah in the Bible?
The story of Hanukkah is told in 1 and 2 Maccabees, which are part of the Bible for Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox Christians. Until the Protestant Reformation, Maccabees was part of the Old Testament.
The Jewish historian Josephus wrote about the Hanukkah story in his books. He was from the same family as Judas Maccabee.
Actually, Christians viewed Judah Maccabee as a hero of the Old Testament along with Abraham, Moses, and King David. In fact, in pre-Reformation Catholic Europe, Maccabees was probably one of the more popular stories of the Old Testament.
The Jews use a version of the story of the Maccabees that is derived from 1 Maccabees, it is called Megollith Antiochus. The Jews did not include Maccabees as a part of the Bible. For that reason, Martin Luther and other Reformers delegated Maccabees to the status of "Apocrypha."
However, the story of Hanukkah IS in the Bible. Daniel prophetically writes about the Maccabees in Daniel 11:32. His prophecy of the Maccabees would be fulfilled centuries after he wrote.
Jesus celebrating Hanukkah in John's Gospel alludes to Maccabees. Also, there is a reference to the Maccabean Martyrs in Hebrews 11:35-36.
Isn't the Book of Maccabees used to justify the Roman Catholic belief in purgatory?
The first thing to remember about the Book of Maccabees is that these are not Roman Catholic writings. These are pre-Catholic, ancient Jewish writings. There is a passage in 2 Maccabees that Catholics use to support their doctrine of purgatory, and it is a passage where Judah Maccabee repents on behalf of some of his fallen soldiers who dabbled in idolatry. Catholics also use verses in the book of Corinthians and Revelation to support their doctrine of purgatory (Revelations 21:27 and 2 Corinthians 5:10). What 2 Maccabees is trying to do is to affirm life after death, which the Sadducee faction denied, it isn't about purgatory. 1 and 2 Maccabees are two alternate accounts of the Hanukkah story. Both are important. I have heard people described Maccabees as "very wicked and demonic books." This is an ignorant statement made by someone betrays the fact that they never read the books by making such a statement. Jesus celebrated the Maccabees story when he celebrated Hanukkah. Jesus is holy, he wouldn't have celebrated anything wicked or demonic. Judah Maccabee didn't claim to be a prophet or any thing like that. He was a hero fighting for the Jewish people. Judah Maccabee also preserved the Holy Bible. Part of his mission when he was fighting was to collect and preserve the Holy Bible. The Syrian Greeks had given orders that all copies of the Bible were to be destroyed.
So, Judah Maccabee played an important role in the story of how we got the Bible.
Why did you decide to tell the Hanukkah story in a comic book format?
I am a bit of an artist and I also think that comic books are an effective means to communicate the story of the Bible. Both Marvel Comics and EC comics began with Bible comics. Comic artists began communicating the story of the Bible almost as soon as the art form was developed.
I called this series "The Hammer of God" because Judah was given the nickname "Maccabee" which means "Hammer" in Aramaic." The "Hammer of God" comic book series tells the story of Judah Maccabee and Charles Martel, both of whom fought for religious freedom.
Papal Neutrality in the Culture War? November 15, 2013 - 4:40 AM - See more at: http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/patrick-j-buchanan/papal-neutrality-culture-war#sthash.We8TVtwV.dpuf
By Patrick J. Buchanan
Pope Francis doesn't want cultural warriors; he doesn't want ideologues," said Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Wash.: "The nuncio said the Holy Father wants bishops with pastoral sensitivity, shepherds who know the smell of the sheep." Bishop Cupich was conveying instructions the papal nuncio had delivered from Rome to guide U.S. bishops in choosing a new leader. They chose Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., who has a master's degree in social work, to succeed Archbishop Timothy Dolan whom Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times describes thus: "[A] garrulous evangelist comfortable in front of a camera, [who] led the bishops in their high-profile confrontation with the Obama administration over a provision in the health care mandate that requires most employers to have insurance that covers contraceptives for employees." That mandate also requires employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs and sterilizations. Yet here is further confirmation His Holiness seeks to move the Catholic Church to a stance of non-belligerence, if not neutrality, in the culture war for the soul of the West. There is a small problem with neutrality. As Trotsky observed, "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." For the church to absent itself from the culture war is to not to end that war, but to lose it. What would that entail? Can we not already see? In America, the family has disintegrated. Forty percent of working-class white children are born out of wedlock, as are 53 percent of Hispanic children, and 73 percent of black children. Kids from broken homes are many times more likely to drop out of school, take drugs, join gangs, commit crimes, end up in prison, lose their souls, and produce yet another generation of lost souls. Goodstein quotes the Holy Father as listing among the "most serious of the evils" today "youth unemployment." And he calls upon Catholics not to be "obsessed" with abortion or same-sex marriage. But is teenage unemployment really a graver moral evil than the slaughter of 3,500 unborn every day in a land we used to call "God's Country"? Papal encyclicals like Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno have much to teach about social justice in an industrial society. But what is the special expertise of the church in coping with teenage unemployment? Has the Curia done good scholarly work on the economic impact of the minimum wage? The cultural revolution preached by Marxist Antonio Gramsci is continuing its "long march" through the institutions of the West and succeeding where the violent revolutions of Lenin and Mao failed. It is effecting a transvaluation of all values. And it is not interested in a truce with the church of Pope Francis, but a triumph over that church which it reviles as the great enemy in its struggle. Indeed, after decades of culture war waged against Christianity, the Vatican might consider the state of the Faith. Our civilization is being de-Christianized. Popular culture is a running sewer. Promiscuity and pornography are pandemic. In Europe, the churches empty out as the mosques fill up. In America, Bible reading and prayer are outlawed in schools, as Christian displays are purged from public squares. Officially, Christmas and Easter do not exist. The pope, says Goodstein, refers to proselytizing as "solemn nonsense." But to proselytize is to convert nonbelievers. And when Christ admonished his apostles, "Go forth and teach all nations," and ten of his twelve were martyred doing so, were they not engaged in the Church's true commission — to bring souls to Christ. Pope Francis comes out of the Jesuits. Hence, one wonders: Did those legendary Jesuits like St. Isaac Jogues and the North American Martyrs make a mistake proselytizing and baptizing, when they could have been working on youth unemployment among the Mohawks? An Italian atheist quotes the pope as saying, "Everyone has his own idea of good and evil," and everyone should "follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them." Does this not reflect the moral relativism of Prince Hamlet when he said to Rosencrantz, "there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so?" Yet, is it not the church's mission to differentiate good and evil and condemn the latter? "Who am I to judge," Pope Francis says of homosexuals. Well, he is pope. And even the lowliest parish priest has to deliver moral judgments in a confessional. "[S]ince he became pope," writes Goodstein, Francis' "approval numbers are skyrocketing. Even atheists are applauding." Especially the atheists, one imagines. While Pope Francis has not altered any Catholic doctrines in his interviews and disquisitions, he is sowing seeds of confusion among the faithful, a high price to pay, even for "skyrocketing" poll numbers. If memory serves, the Lord said, "Feed my sheep," not "get the smell of the sheep." And he did not mean soup kitchens, but more importantly the spiritual food essential for eternal life. But then those were different Jesuits. And that was long ago. - See more at: http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/patrick-j-buchanan/papal-neutrality-culture-war#sthash.We8TVtwV.dpuf
Sarah Palin's Christmas Book
Sarah Palin has written a new book about the Left's War against freedom of religion and Freedom of Speech.
In her New York Times bestsellers Going Rogue and America by Heart, Sarah Palin revealed the strong Christian faith that has guided her life and family. In Good Tidings and Great Joy she calls for bringing back the freedom to express the Christian values of the season. She asserts the importance of preserving Jesus Christ in Christmas—in public displays, school concerts, pageants, and our expressions to one another other—and laments the over-commercialization and homogenization of Christmas in today's society.
Interwoven throughout are personal memories and family traditions, as well as more than a dozen family photos, which illustrate the reasons why the celebration of Jesus Christ's nativity is the centerpiece of her faith. Palin believes it is imperative that we stand up for our beliefs before the element of faith in a glorious and traditional holiday like Christmas is marginalized and ignored. She also encourages readers to see what is possible when we unite in defense of our religious convictions and ignore the politically correct Scrooges seeking to take Christ out of Christmas. Good Tidings and Great Joy is a call to action to openly celebrate the joys of Christianity, and say Merry Christmas to one another.