A Salute to those Who Saw Victory – Vayeshev “And he dwelt”

Vayeshev “And he dwelt”

Genesis 37:1-40:23

Amos 2:6-3:8

Acts 7:9-16, Hebrews 11

A Salute to those Who Saw Victory

A few weeks ago Americans observed a day known as Veterans Day. On this day we honor the men and women who have given of their service and even their lives to fight for both this country, and for the cause of freedom overseas. Many of these men and women in recent years had their lives changed forever when they came home, not to crowds of admirers who stood with appreciation for a job well done, but rather crowds of people who spit upon them, yelled obscenities at them and held signs of hate and slander.

What does the above paragraph have to do with this week’s or for that matter any week’s Torah portion? I believe it has everything to do with it.

In a few days we will observe the Feast of Hanukkah. To me, Hanukkah and Veterans Day go hand in hand. The similarities are amazing.

In the Torah as well as the balance of scripture we read about men and women who went forth and performed deeds far beyond their natural abilities. Some of them even gave their very lives for the causes they fought for. Like Joseph this week, many of them were known to their families as heretics or worse. But no matter what life would throw at them, they held fast to the course they felt God had called them to. In the end, some would see the rewards of their labors. However for many it would not be until after their deaths that their work would be appreciated and honored. Just think back to the prophets for a moment as an example of this. Even today, some who gave their all have not been fully honored. Consider One we know as Messiah, or even the disciples who followed Him. Consider the people of Hebrews 11.

Just as many veterans returned to America to unfriendly and down-right mean crowds, most of Christianity has repeated history regarding the men and women of faith who lived before the time of Yeshua. Yes, they may be used for a Bible story now and then, but have these people truly been honored as they should? I think not. I have even heard people say that though these people lived a life of faith, because they did not live to know who Yeshua was that they are forever separated from God and will burn in torment. I have heard some who thought that Joseph was not living by faith when he stored the grain, but was missing God by doing this. Of course you and I are appalled by thoughts like this, but nevertheless there are people who think this way.

I, for one believe it is time for these great people of scripture to be honored for the battles they fought and won so that we today may enjoy a freedom in Messiah unparalleled through the centuries.

As we look at Hanukkah this year, let us take our eyes off replacement commercialization that has been attached to this time. Let us not be so caught up in the lights, oil and food that we forget the reason for this season. Let us take time to talk about and teach our children about the great men and women who have gone before us. Let us remember that it is because of their lives and sacrifices that we have the scripture today. Let us remember that if it were not for a band of brothers called the Maccabees that there would not have been a Jewish virgin alive in a small town called Nazareth to give birth to the One we call upon for our redemption.

December is a month of challenges to many of us who follow the Torah. It is a month that we are called to make choices and to take a stand for truth. Maybe with Hanukkah being observed at the first of the month, far separate from other holidays with pagan roots it will give us a clear time to reflect on the price many have paid for truth in the past. We will be able to gain strength and renewed conviction from their lives. In the end, who knows, maybe many of us will one day join their ranks as the people who took a chance at being a heretic, so they could one day be an humble hero!

Have a blessed Hanukkah.

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