Let’s be honest: times are tough. Those who stand for biblical values are increasingly persecuted. But light shines brightest when times are darkest. The Creator doesn’t want us hiding our lights under bushels. That’s not what the original Hanukkah warriors, the Jewish Maccabees, did in their day. So this year their story is uniquely inspiring me.

Some of the end times difficulties you and I seem to be experiencing are foreshadowed in the events of Hanukkah. I pray you’ll be encouraged by this short devotional I’ve written for each of the eight days of Hanukkah, 2013.

(Meanwhile, I’ll be off facebook for a week or so due to right hand surgery Monday morning, Dec. 2. I’d very much appreciate your prayers for both the surgery and recovery.)

DAY 1: JOHN 10:22-31
In the Temple compound at the winter Feast of Dedication (in Hebrew, “Hanukkah”) Yeshua publicly revealed to leaders in Jerusalem that He is the Messiah. Israel had suffered a long, dark winter season under harsh Roman occupation. But remember, the night is darkest just before dawn. Though weeping may endure for a night, and sometimes the night is long, joy comes in the morning.

Based on the timing of priesthood rotations listed in the Hebrew Scriptures and in Luke 1, Yeshua was probably conceived at Hanukkah. At that time the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14, KJV). The original Hanukkah was actually a delayed celebration of the eight day Feast of Tabernacles, previously prohibited by the Romans. (Yeshua was probably born during the Feast of Tabernacles.) Even when delays occur in your life at the hands of the wicked, God’s timing is synchronized to perfect all that concerns you.

DAY 3: JOHN 9:5
“I AM the Light of the Word.” Light symbolizes life, truth and righteousness. Prolonged darkness had descended over Israel before the original Hanukkah events. Nevertheless, a remnant of God’s people chose to live in His light. They fought long and hard against the grain of society for the truth of God’s Word and righteousness. Yeshua, the Light of the World, overcame the darkness of this present age. Yet truth and righteousness are currently under extreme attack. Fight the good fight in and for both—and know you gain eternal life.

“Not by might or power, but by My Spirit.” According to rabbinic legend, when the Hanukkah warriors (Maccabees) liberated God’s Temple from pagan defilement they found one cruse of hidden, purified oil. The oil was enough to keep the Temple lampstand burning for only one day. Eight days more would be needed to properly purify additional oil. But miraculously, the small cruse of oil burned for eight full days–until a fresh, new supply was processed. In a season of darkness, it is not by might or power but by God’s Spirit that He supplies fresh, new oil for supernatural fire.

DAY 5: MATTHEW 25:1-13
“The wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps” (v. 4). Matthew 25 tells a parable of wise and unwise virgins awaiting the promised coming of a bridegroom for his bride. When the bridegroom returned, only half the virgins had sufficient oil in their lamps to go out and meet him. God supernaturally provides us with the oil of His Spirit but we must daily seek Him for more. Sometimes we think we can keep the ignition running on our own strength. But if we aren’t filled with fresh oil daily, we’ll just burn out. Be wise.

DAY 6: HEBREWS 11:37-38
“They were sawed in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.” The book of Maccabees describes how Jewish martyrs faithfully resisted the evil spirit of their age, Greco-Hellenistic humanism. Sadly, this spirit is quite similar to that which prevails in the Western world today. But you can be encouraged by these forerunners who endured tortuous persecution. They achieved victory and eternal glory. Blessed are you when you are persecuted in the name of the Lord, for yours is the kingdom of heaven—now and for eternity.

DAY 7: DANIEL 11:32
“Those who do wickedly against the covenant, he [the antichristian ruler] shall corrupt with flattery, but the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.” The book of Daniel was partly fulfilled at a certain level by the events of Hanukkah. The demonized rule Antiochus Epiphanes, against whom faithful Jewish Maccabees rebelled, foreshadows the increasingly antichristian spirit of the end times. But you are being prepared by God for great exploits. Don’t let the devil dishearten you by fixing your focus on dark circumstances. “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heaven, and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever” (Daniel 12:3). A great harvest of souls is to be reaped by those who shine brightly in dark times!

“You are the temple of God and the spirit of God dwells in you….For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” Your body is a holy temple for Holy Spirit’s fire. This Hanukkah, re-dedicate your temple to Him. Seek Him for a supernatural provision of fresh, new oil for a new season. Stay strong and courageous like your spiritual forbears, the Maccabees. Anticipate the glorious day of the coming of our Bridegroom King. Let the Light of the World shine through you. He loves you passionately!