Pigs Off the Altar
This year Hanukkah falls on December 10 through 17. Send your Jewish friends a Hanukkah greeting if you can!
Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication, also known as the Festival of Lights, reminds us of a time when God fought for His people and how they responded. The tyrant Antiochus terrorized the Jews, demanding that they either worship idols or face the sword. Worse, to prevent the proper worship of the God of Israel, the evil king sacrificed a pig on the altar. That was the ultimate obscenity.
God raised up a small group of fighters who miraculously won the day against Antiochus and his army. The Jewish people could not wait to clean and rededicate the altar so that the Temple would once again be a place of true worship.
Today, as believers, our bodies are the temple of God, and we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Yet we, too, face various tyrants that threaten true worship.
The Festival of Dedication is a great time to rededicate our hearts and lives to the Lord. It’s a time to ask Him to clean our temples, to remove our idols. It’s also a good time to see if there are pigs on our altars.” If so, they weren’t set there by wicked kings or terrorists. Each of us is responsible for what we allow into our temple.
Some pigs are easy to identify: greed, lust, selfishness and all the base things that are obviously fleshly. But perhaps the most unkosher pig of all is self-righteousness.
Self-righteousness distorts how we see everything. It is an addiction that urges us to point to the pigs on everyone else’s altars rather than dealing humbly with our own. It finds fellowship with others who keep long lists of grudges and who revel in discussing other people’s faults. It ultimately manifests itself as the opposite of all that we read about in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
Jesus died at Calvary so that His righteousness could cover our sins. When we fill our temples with thoughts of self-righteousness instead of looking to Yeshua’s righteousness, it is perhaps even more obscene, even more grievous to God than the baser things with which we all struggle. But like every other addiction, God will break it if we come to Him. Seeing others as God sees them is part of what we owe Him—a fitting sacrifice to offer, particularly when others have wronged us.
Signs of dedication to God and signals that our hearts are ready for true worship include eagerness for God to clean our own altars. Hunger for friendships that stress unity within the Body of Christ also signals true dedication to the Father of Lights, who shines most brightly through us when we appreciate the love and forgiveness He gave us—appreciate it enough, that is, to extend it to others.
Please pray for this kind of dedication throughout the ministry of Jews for Jesus, and throughout the Body of Christ. May God knock the pigs off all our altars this Advent Season! May He receive all the worship and glory He deserves as we focus on His righteousness and mercy.
Newsletter Editor, Missionary
Ruth Rosen, daughter of Jews for Jesus founder Moishe Rosen, is a staff writer and editor with Jews for Jesus. Her parents raised her with a sense of Jewishness as well as "Jesusness." Ruth has a degree in biblical studies from Biola College in Southern California and has been part of our full-time staff since 1979. She's toured with Jewish gospel drama teams and participated in many outreaches. She writes and edits quite a few of our evangelistic resources, including many broadside tracts. One of her favorites is, "Who Needs Politics." Ruth also helps other Jewish believers in Jesus tell their stories. That includes her father, whose biography she authored in what she says was "one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life." For details, or to order your copy of Called to Controversy the Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus, click here. Or click here for a video desription of the biography. For the inside story and "extras" about the book, check out our Called to Controversy Facebook page. Ruth also writes shorter "faith journey" stories in books like Jewish Doctors Meet the Great Physician as well as in booklets like From Generation to Generation: A Jewish Family Finds Their Way Home, which you can download for free here. She edits the Jews for Jesus Newsletter and RealTime for Christians who want to pray for our ministry and our missionaries. In her spare time, Ruth enjoys writing fiction and playing with her dog, Annie, whom she "rescued" from a shelter. Ruth says, "Some people say that rescue dogs have issues, and that is probably true. If dogs could talk, they'd probably say that people have issues, and that is probably even more true. I'm glad that God is in the business of rescuing people, (and dogs) despite—or maybe because of—all our issues." You can follow Ruth Rosen on facebook or as RuthARosen on twitter.