Christmas and Hanukkah: God Always Provides
As the seasons of Christmas and Hanukkah arrive, many of us are busy planning the gifts we will buy for friends and family. This year, however, our bank accounts may be a little smaller and our wallets a bit thinner. As inflation saturates our nation’s economy, some might wonder how they will maintain their lifestyle, or simply get by. Yet in the midst of these difficult realities, we can look to the very holidays we are celebrating for a glimpse of hope and encouragement. Christmas and Hanukkah provide important reminders about what God can do when supplies run dry. Certainly, a lack of resources furnishes a sturdy platform upon which the Lord can showcase His mighty work.
In the Christmas story, Mary and Joseph travel all the way to Bethlehem, only to find that there are no places to stay. Luke 2:6–7 says: And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Certainly, these humble accommodations weren’t the luxurious quarters in which one might expect the Savior of the world to be born, but they were exactly what was needed. Additionally, from the moment it was revealed to Mary that she was carrying Jesus, she and Joseph had to fully trust that God would lead them through a difficult, overwhelming situation that would require continual provision. It would not be easy, but in Luke 1:37–38, the angel had already reassured Mary: “For nothing will be impossible with God.” And with great faith, she answered: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” This reminds us that God is not limited in what He can do for us in times of need or distress. Like Mary, we can “let it be,” as the Lord takes control.
The story of Hanukkah reflects the idea that God will provide what is needed, at the right time and place. After King Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the Second Temple, a rebellion broke out among the Jews. Even though they were outnumbered, these determined Jewish warriors (the Maccabees) were eventually able to drive out the Seleucids from Jerusalem and reclaim the Temple. After its desecration, however, it needed to be cleansed and rededicated to God. Answers in Genesis quotes the ancient scroll of Antiochus to describe the process: “The Hasmoneans [Maccabees] entered the sanctuary, rebuilt its gates, closed the breaches and cleansed the Temple court from the slain and from the impurities. They looked for pure olive oil to light the Menorah, and found only one bottle with the seal of the High Priest so that they were sure of its purity. Though its quantity seemed sufficient only for one day’s lighting, it lasted eight days owing to the blessing of the God of heaven who had established his name there.”
Even though the supply of oil was limited, this did not limit what God could do. Miraculously, this small amount of oil lasted for eight whole days. The miracle of lights showed that God had provided everything that was needed to cleanse and illuminate the Temple. In the natural, it appeared that a one-day supply of oil would surely run out, but God’s economy operates on a supernatural level.
In these troubling times, it often feels like our oil has run dry and we have no place to take refuge. But we cannot let this become our mindset, because that will paralyze our faith and keep us from moving forward. We must never forget that when the wolves surround us on all sides, it is Jesus who holds us in the palm of His hand. Like a lamb that takes refuge with a shepherd, so with us — we have a mighty Savior who can protect and provide, if we will only trust Him.
Recently, I wrote an article about a raven that the Lord used to remind me that He is the Great Provider. In October 2021, I was feeling great anxiety about the vaccine mandates that were being implemented nationwide. I was worried that my husband might lose his job, as might countless others who were being forced to comply. During this time, I took a trip to Grand Teton National and Yellowstone National parks. While I was there, something amazing happened to remind me that Jesus is always in complete control, and that no matter what happens, He will always supply my every need.
After praying about the situation, the Lord gave me one powerful word: RAVENS. From there, I read the story of Elijah and the ravens in 1 Kings 17, where God used these resourceful scavengers to provide food for the prophet.
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there” (1 Kings 17:2–4 NIV).
I knew God was telling me that if He could use a bird that represents death to bring life-giving food to Elijah, He could certainly provide for my family and me in times of need. I went to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National parks with this message in mind, though not yet realizing that the Lord would confirm it in a powerful way.
As I watched the ravens glide seamlessly through the air, I said a small prayer: “Lord Jesus, I would love to get a closeup picture of a raven to remind me that no matter what happens, You will provide.” Then I said: “And I will also share the picture with everyone I know, so I can encourage them.”
Within minutes of the prayer, a beautiful raven showed up and perched himself right next to my vehicle. He posed like a supermodel from Bird Vogue (!) for over 20 minutes! My husband was able to take one spectacular photo after another as I marveled at how the Lord had granted my request. I had no doubt that Jesus was telling me that I should not worry and fret about provision, because just as He used the ravens to provide meat and bread to Elijah in the morning and the evening, my God is with me every moment of every hour of every day. Luke 12:24–25 came to mind: Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Venturing into the grocery store recently, I kept this verse and the raven in mind. As I walked down one aisle, I noticed cereal prices were as high as $6. In another aisle, my favorite cookies were marked on sale at $5. When I made it to the eggs, I did a double take – $8.69 for a dozen. At that moment, I thought I heard the gurgling croak of the raven I saw back in October 2021. Instead of giving in to worry, I pictured that awesome raven striking a pose.
Prices may continue to rise throughout the holiday season and beyond. This is all the more reason to remember this verse from Isaiah 7:14, which describes the birth of Jesus: Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
The name Immanuel means “God is with us.” At Christmastime, we remember that God came to earth as a baby so He could dwell with us in the flesh. Next, He died on the cross so He could be part of our lives spiritually and eternally. When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, He becomes our Immanuel who is with us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If we truly believe He is with us, then why should we worry and fret about whether we will have enough? If we know God is with us, it will change how we respond to inflation, pandemics, food shortages, and all the crises we face. As in the miracle of Hanukkah, when God is with us, His oil never runs out.
The economy and prices will fluctuate, but the faithfulness of our God does not. In the coming months and years, it’s possible that many of us will endure financial challenges that seem hopeless. But it’s imperative that we take our place under Jesus’ mighty wings of refuge and trust Him for our provision and security. It’s interesting to note that a bird’s wings are of little use on the ground, but they are essential when flying. It is the same with us, because we have to take our battles to a higher ground — right up to the heavens — in order for miracles to happen!
Lord Jesus, thank You for being our Immanuel, as well as the Light of the World. You will take care of all our needs. When prices go up, we will lift our hands up even higher to You. We will not live in fear of the future, but instead we will look for great miracles of provision that come from a Savior who was born in a manger and whose oil never runs out.
Have you experienced great miracles of provision? If so, share how you were encouraged by what God did.
Angela Rodriguez is an author, blogger and home-schooling mom who studies the historical and biblical connections between Israel and the U.S. You can visit her blogs at 67owls.com and 100trumpets.com. Her latest book, Psalm 91: Under the Wings of Jesus, was released in June 2021. Photo Credit: Canva.
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