Power Over Numbers

Yael Eckstein  |  December 14, 2022

Yael Eckstein lights Hanukkah menorah with son

‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. — Zechariah 4:6

This month, Jews around the world celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Enjoy this collection of my devotional teachings on this festival that Jesus celebrated (John 10:22) and explore the many lessons of faith that this observance has for Christians and Jews alike

Do you know how many Jews there are in the world? Most people think there are a lot more of us than there actually are. Maybe that’s because we make a lot of noise. Just kidding. But in all seriousness, the Jews are really a tiny people.

According to recent estimates, the Jewish population of the entire planet is only around 15 million. Think about that. This means that the Jewish people are less than quarter of 1 percent of the entire human race!

As small as this number is, it shouldn’t really surprise us. After all, Moses told the children of Israel that we are the smallest nation. We read in the Book of Deuteronomy: “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples” (7:7).

So why did God choose such a tiny people for the mission of Israel?

Power Over Numbers

This question is especially relevant to the festival of Hannukah. In the special paragraph added to our daily prayer liturgy on Hannukah, we praise God for the Maccabees’ victory: You delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the arrogant into the hands of those who live by Your Torah.”

The Maccabees and their men were vastly outnumbered by the great army of Antiochus. What’s more, they were merely a small group of pious and devoted Jewish citizens. Few, if any, had any military training. They had only crude weapons and farming tools, while the Seleucid forces were well-trained and well-armed, with chariots, horses, and even elephants.

Miraculously, the Maccabees were victorious. Precisely because of the Maccabees’ small numbers, it was clear to all that this victory was a divine act of God. If the Maccabees had not been so vastly outnumbered, the miracle would not have been so obvious.

When the dominant culture turns against God, people of faith often feel afraid and outnumbered. The battle can seem impossible to win. The miracle of Hanukkah, of the few over the many, is a message for all times and places.

When God is under attack, faith, courage and self-sacrifice ultimately have the power over numbers or weapons. In the words of Zechariah, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

Your Turn:

Do you feel outnumbered and overpowered by those that oppose biblical faith? Remember that God will grant us victory if we are true to Him, regardless of the numbers.

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