Feast of Dedication Devotion
Read: Amos Chapter Nine
"On that day I will raise up
the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
and repair its damages;
I will raise up its ruins,
and rebuild it as in the days of old;
that they may possess the remnant of Edom,
and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,"
says the LORD does this thing."
(Amos 9:11, 12)
The people of Israel had given the high honor that belonged to God alone to dead idols. Their man-made religion and false worship were detestable to the true and living God. Long before deep darkness ever fell upon the land through the promised "famine...of hearing the words of the LORD" (8:11), the people were already living in a state of spiritual deprivation and darkness. “…Therefore I will number you for the sword, and you shall all bow down to the slaughter, because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear, but did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I did not delight” (Isaiah 65:12). They had closed their ears to the word of God and rejected all the prophets He sent to them; therefore, He would no longer speak to them. Amos saw the Lord standing by the altar, but instead of speaking a blessing over His people, the Lord announced destruction would begin at His altar and consume the whole land. "I saw the Lord standing by the alter, and He said: "Strike the doorposts, that the thresholds may shake, and break them on the heads of them all. I will slay the last of them with the sword. He who flees from them shall not get away, and he who escapes from them shall not be delivered" (Amos 9:1). The rebellious people of God had polluted their worship of God with immorality and served the people with injustice. They built their society on lies and deception, rather than by God's moral standard of righteousness and justice. The walls around them had become cracked and bulging and would soon cave in around them. There would be no escaping the Lord's impending judgment.
"Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom,
and I will destroy it from the face of the earth;
yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,"
says the LORD."
Israel was chosen to be a people marked by holiness (Leviticus 11:44). The eyes of the Lord were ever meant to be upon His people with favor and blessing (Numbers 6:24-26). Sadly, the Lord had set His eyes upon His people for destruction. "Though they go into captivity before their enemies, from there I will command the sword, and it shall slay them. I will set My eyes on them for harm and not for good" (v. 4). The sovereign Creator "who builds His layers in the sky, and has founded His strata in the earth" (v. 6), would soon shake the earth and show the frailty of all their human supports. God's holy nation had become a "sinful kingdom" who would lose all their privileges and drink the cup of God's wrath as He sifted His people in His righteousness. He had showed His power in their deliverance from Egypt, but now He would display His great power in removing them from the land of promise and liberating the land from the pollution of His sinful people's idolatry and immorality. However, in His wrath He would remember mercy as He sifted His people in order that a righteous remnant would remain. "For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground" (v. 9). The Lord would not forget the true worshipers; He would not abandon His righteous ones. They would carry on His kingdom purposes in the world and fulfill His will among the peoples of the earth.
"I will plant them in their land,
and no longer shall they be pulled up
from the land I have given them,"
says the LORD your God."
The Lord is a God of restoration who purposes to bring about the complete restoration of His people. Israel was a divided people at the time of Amos's prophecy; they were separated into two kingdoms geographically, but of greater concern was their divided affections which polluted their worship of God and brought about His necessary judgment. The most prosperous and profane of the kingdoms, the northern kingdom of Israel, would be the first to fall and be swept from the land, while the southern kingdom of Judah would enjoy a time of reprieve until the Lord would fulfill His promise of judgment and send the Babylonian army to sweep the holy land clean and give it the rest His own people neglected to give it. The Lord promised, however, to raise up the tabernacle of David and fulfill His covenant promise to His servant David. "And to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may always have a lamp before Me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for Myself, to put My name there" (1 Kings 11:36). The royal house of David had fallen into a state of disrepair, but one day would be rebuilt in glorious splendor and the true King would sit upon his throne forever and ever. Having a lamp that never went out was a picture of God's blessing upon the house of David. In ancient Israel, families would choose to go without food rather than not have enough money to keep oil in their lamps. If the light went out in a home, it meant that it had been deserted. As we light the last candle on the Menorah today in celebration of the Feast of Dedication, remembering the miracle of the provision of oil that kept the lampstand in the temple aglow for eight days, may we yield to the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence and influence to produce the fruit of "self-control" in our lives as we abide in Christ and feed upon His Word. Self-control is a necessary part of obedience to God's divine government of the soul, so that we will not become rebellious people and bring disaster upon the land. "Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls" (Proverbs 25:28). May the light of Christ within us shine even more brightly as we pray with gratitude for the love His has planted in our hearts and the light His has entrusted us to steward for the blessing of the world and pray with greater fervency for the fulfillment of the His covenant promise to His servant David. "Now, O LORD God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said. So let Your name be magnified forever." (2 Samuel 7:25, 26a). May your homes and hearts be filled with the wonderful light, abounding love, and all-surpassing peace of God as we celebrate our Savior's birth!
"For unto us a Child is born,
unto us a Son is given;
and the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
there will be no end.
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
to order it and establish it with judgment and justice
from that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."
(Isaiah 9:6, 7)
The Feast of Dedication
The Feast of Dedication is a memorial feast of the dedication of the new altar and the purging of the temple by Judas Maccabeus in December, 165 B.C. after it had been profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes, as prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 11:31). Today the Feast of Dedication (see John 10:22-38) is known as the Festival of Lights or Hanukkah. In commemoration of God's plan of complete restoration for His people through His Son Jesus Christ, an additional "feast" is provided each day of this journey to be enjoyed with your family. As we celebrate this week of the Feast of Dedication and light the candles on our tables, may the light that is within us grow ever brighter as we feast upon the Word of God and share His love with others. Continue today's journey with a time of prayer and blessing for the whole family with the devotional link below. May your home in this season be filled with the sweet fragrance of Christ and may every heart overflow with His joy and be permeated with His peace as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!
"You are the light of the world...Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
(Matthew 5:13, 16)