CHANUKKAH

KNESSET BUILDING MENORAH. The modern state of Israel was founded in 1948. The menorah was adopted as the national emblem. This bronze menorah resides in front of the Knesset building in Jerusalem, it stands over sixteen feet tall. The menorah was a gift to the people of Israel by Great Britain. The sculpture was Benno Elkan.

KNESSET BUILDING MENORAH. The modern state of Israel was founded in 1948. The menorah was adopted as the national emblem. This bronze menorah resides in front of the Knesset building in Jerusalem, it stands over sixteen feet tall. The menorah was a gift to the people of Israel by Great Britain. The sculpture was Benno Elkan.

The Jewish celebration of Chanukkah is known by many different names including: the Feast of Rededication, Second Tabernacles and the Festival of Lights. Yeshua (Jesus) experienced and participated in this annual celebration.

The lamp stand used in the Temple is called a Menorah. The Temple Menorah held seven candles or bowls of oil. A Chanukkah menorah has nine candles, four candles on each side of a center candle raised above the others. The candle or oil bowl in the center is the called the shammash. (meaning a servant.) A new candle is lighted each successive night for eight nights. All candles are lighted from the shammash. The eighth night when all the candles have been lighted is called the “Great Day of the Feast”.  (Remember the Jewish day begins at sun down, not midnight.)

What is this ancient celebration about? When and where did it begin? Does this  Jewish celebration have any significance to New Covenant believers? We’ll have to take a look at a little bit of prophecy and history in order to answer these                                               questions. Let’s start by looking into the Old Covenant Book of Daniel, the non-canonical books of the Maccabee’s and the Gospels of Matthew and John. Two other secular books used in this discussion provided some insights and background. Those being: Through Jewish Eyes by Craig Hartman and The Outpouring by Elwood Mc Quaid.

 

PROPHECY and HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

PROPHECY (Dan. 8:14 and 11: 1-4)

The book of Daniel is an extremely fascinating book of prophecy. Chapter two of this book reveals how four different kingdoms would rule over the land of Israel. The first kingdom was Babylon, the second Medo-Persia, the third, Greece, the fourth Rome. Daniel chapter eight prophesied that a future king would do terrible things to the Jewish people. He would attempt a holocaust, outlaw Judaism, forbid temple worship and desecrate the temple. Daniel also prophesied that after 2,300 days the temple would be vindicated and restored. We know from history that those prophecies have been fulfilled exactly as for told.

HISTORY

Israel’s Rule by Greece

We know from history that Alexander the Great ruled most of Asia Minor which included Israel from 356-323 B.C. Alexander died at an early age and his kingdom was divided between three generals, who were also his sons. Toward the end of Greek domination a forth king named Antiochus IV, also known as Antiochus Epiphanes came into power (171 to 165 BC).

As prophesied, Antiochus Epiphanes did very evil things to the Jewish people, and tried to annihilate them. (He is also a picture as an antichrist of who is prophesied as yet to come.) Antiochus had the temple desecrated by sacrificing a pig on the altar of the Jewish temple. This act was done to commemorate Antiochus’ birthday on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev (December).

Just a side note: — The word epiphany means a flash of insight or enlightenment. The shortest day of the year is the twentieth of December. From that day on the days get longer. Ancient Peoples knew that days were getting longer, but weren’t sure of the exact day. They knew that days were definitely getting longer with additional light each day. Many ancient peoples had celebrations commemorating “the lengthening” of days, on or about the twenty fifth of December. This may be why Antiochus wanted to be known as Epiphanes, a flash of insight or light. Isn’t it interesting that we celebrate Christmas on December 25th, even though there is no historical record that Yeshua (Jesus) was born on that day. Could there possibly be a connection with the celebration of the Jewish Chanukkah and Christmas? Did the early Christians want to celebrate “The Light” (Yeshua) coming into the world, with the Hebrew celebration of the Festival of Lights?

Antiochus went about Israel requiring the Jewish people to renounce their religion and instead worship him. He also required synagogue leaders throughout Israel to sacrifice a pig and have all their followers eat the flesh. Eating pork was forbidden by Jewish law.

Seventeen miles Northwest of Jerusalem was the village of Modiin. A retired temple priest lived there. He refused the order to kill a pig and have the people eat the flesh. A compromising citizen rushed forward to slay the pig. Mattathias, the retired priest, killed that man. The sons of Mattathias then killed all of Antiochus’ henchmen. A revolt, in Jewish history known as the “Maccabee Revolt began.

The Maccabee’s were under the leadership of Judas Maccabee (the hammer). This revolt was successful in over-throwing Greek power. The temple in Jerusalem was repaired and rededicated. The period of time between the temple’s desecration and its rededication by the Maccabees was 2300 days, as  propheced in the book of Daniel.

The Israelites initiated an annual feast celebrating the temple rededication. A legend has it that the Maccabees had only enough sanctified oil to keep the lamp, which was located in the room in front of Holy of Holies, burning for one day. However, the lamp burned for eight days. Thus, it was decided to celebrate an annual feast of Rededication for eight days.

Why was lighting the Menorah so important to the Maccabees and the Jewish people?  Specifications for the Tent of Meeting, the Menorah and Sacred Oil were all were given by God to Moses upon receiving the Torah (Law). The Tent of Meeting was where God ministered to His people. Keeping the menorah lighted was a perpetual statue throughout their generations. The menorah light symbolized the presence of God. Thus, keeping the light burning was an important step in rededicating the temple.

Israel’s Rule by Rome

Rome instituted a centralized form of government. A Caesar and a senate were located in Rome. Kings, governors and magistrates co-ruled in occupied territories and other possessions of Rome.

Israel was ruled in the first century A.D. by Rome’s appointed king and a local figure-head, king Herod Antipas the tetrarch of Galilee. Rome was polytheistic, but knew that Israel had religious laws. They therefore exercised control in the religious area by placing a High Priest of their choosing in office.

The temple in Jerusalem during the first century was one of the wonders of the world. Much of the interior was inlaid with gold, and the temple treasury was substantial because of the temple tax levied on the people. The temple tax was over and above the tax levied by Rome. Because of the wealth and the need to maintain order, Rome stationed troops in the temple compound. Rome, however, did not interfere with any of the Jewish customs, laws or worship.

The ruling body or council of religious matters was the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was composed of seventy Jewish men, from two religious groups. One group contented themselves with following only what was written in the Law of Moses. This group was called The Righteous, and became known as the Sadducees. The other group added the constitutions and traditions of the elders to the Law and other religious observances, like the Feast of Rededication or Chanukkah. Both of these groups had their origins around the time of the Maccabee revolt.

Israel’s Rule by King Herod Antipas.

Herod Antipas ruled Galilee (Israel) from about 4 B.C. to 39 A. D. Herod was a vile, treacherous and adulterous murderer. (These were his good qualities.) During Herod’s reign our Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) was born.

Magi from the East came to pay homage to Yeshua the “New Born King”. They ask Herod where this king could be found. Herod asked the scribes and the chief priest, and they replied that The King was to be born in Bethlehem of Judah, as proclaimed by the prophets. Herod asked the Magi to let him know where He was located when was found. This was done so that Herod would have the child killed. He wanted no competition to his claim as king. The Magi did not return to give Herod that information. However, Herod found out and decreed that all the male children up to two years were to be slaughtered. Yeshua’s parents had fled to Egypt before the massacre occurred, and the “Coming King” was safe. His parents moved back to Israel after Herod’s death.

 

Yeshua’s Ministry

 Yeshua began his public ministry after being immersed in the Jordan River      by “John the Immerser”. As Yeshua came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God descended upon Him, and God proclaimed Him as “My Beloved Son”.  (God’s Promised Messiah.) Matt.3:16-17. Thus, His public ministry began. The Sanhedrin and temple leaders denied He was the promised Messiah and set out to find a way to put Him to death because they claimed He was blasphemous, and making Himself out to be God. They would not believe He was the Messiah.

Yeshua proclaimed “I Am the light of the world” (John 8:12). This proclamation was considered blasphemy by the Jewish leaders.  Why was it considered to be blasphemy? Well, let us take a minute and look back into some more of Israel’s history, and at a little bit of the Greek language.

  • First, we have to go back to the time God talked to Moses out of the burning bush. Moses wanted to know Gods name. God told him to tell the children of Israel that He is “I Am that (who) I Am”. This expression in the Hebrew Language is like a verb of being, meaning “I exist”. That’s all Israel needed to know, for the time being. The One who exists would be with them and deliver them out of the hands of Egypt.
  • The expression translated into English from the Greek is just “I am”. However, in the Greek it’s really three words I and I am. (pronounced eago eeme) This is really saying “I the I Am”. Yeshua’s statement means that He and God are a plurality.

Yeshua’s accusers wouldn’t believe Him, saying His testimony wasn’t true because He was testifying about Himself. He continued ministering to the common people and proclaiming Himself to be their Messiah.

Yeshuas Celebrates Chanukkah. (John 10: 22-40)

Scriptures tell us that it was winter and Yeshua went up to the temple to celebrate Chanukkah. He went up on the “Last Great Day of the Feast”. This is the night when all eight bowls of oil were lighted. Giant torches were erected in the temple compound. The light of these menorahs could be seen for miles. The Jewish leaders met Yeshua there and demanded that He tell them plainly if He was the Messiah. He responded, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness to me.” He told them “I give eternal life to them (His followers), and they will never perish, and no one can snatch them out of my hand. I and my father are a plurality”. That made it very plain to the Jewish leaders what He was asserting himself to be God. So, they plotted to have Him put to death. Soon after Chanukkah, He convincingly displayed He is God by performing miracles which only God can do. Things like raising someone back to life after having been dead for four days, and opening the eye’s of a man born blind. Yeshua did these and many more miracles (John 11: 1-37).

      Conclusion:

Wow! That took a long time to answer the questions of what is Chanukkah and       where did it begin? The answer to the question “should we as believers in Messiah celebrate Chanukkah” will require a little more discussion, so stick with me.

First let’s look at the Scriptures:

NIV Translation (John 10:22-30)

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus (Yeshua) was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade (Women’s Court).The Jews gathered around him saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ (Messiah) tell us plainly.”

Jesus (Yeshua) answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me. But you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.”

Remember, the Jewish celebration has to do with rededication and restoring the light in the temple. Scriptures (1 Cor.3:16 and 1Cor.6:19) tell us, that our bodies are temples of God and of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit). Chanukkah is a time of remembrance. Remember the coming of “The Light of the World” Yeshua our Messiah, and a time to rededicate our lives to Him.

We know that once obtained, we cannot lose our salvation. (We can’t be snatched out of His hand.) However, while here on earth we will continually sin (continually fall short of what He requires.), and must confess this to God the Father to be cleansed. Our whole body doesn’t need cleansed.

Since our bodies are temples and we get dirty (sin), and our light grows a little dim as we travel through life. Chanukkah is a good time to rededicate our life to Him so the “light of the world” can shine brightly through us. We of course need to be washed and cleansed from sin on a daily and hourly basis. However, it is nice to set a season aside right before we celebrate Yeshua’s birth, to commit and rededicate ourselves to Him.

You see it doesn’t have to be either Chanukkah or Christmas, it’s good to remember and celebrate both the Light coming into the world and into our hearts.

Here is an example of what can be done to celebrate Chanukkah. Each of the seven (or Eight) nights on which you light a Menorah candle, say a simple prayer of thanksgiving, and remember what Yeshua has done and is doing in your life. During Chanukkah focus on the following undeniable things in preparation for celebrating His birth at Christmas:

  1. He is the “Light of the World, in Him there is no darkness at all”.
  2. We are his sheep.
  3. He promises believers in Him eternal life.
  4. Nothing can snatch us out of His or the Fathers hand.
  5. He and the Father and the Holy Spirit are One, a plurality.
  6. He is the only one which can forgive sins and trespasses.
  7. He is coming back again.

God Bless and Happy Chanukkah.

Visioneering-ak

 

 

 

 

CHANUKKAH

 

The Jewish celebration of Chanukkah is known by many different names including: the Feast of Rededication, Second Tabernacles and the Festival of Lights. Yeshua (Jesus) experienced and participated in this annual celebration.

The lamp stand used in the Temple is called a Menorah. The Temple Menorah held seven candles or bowls of oil. A Chanukkah menorah has nine candles, four candles on each side of a center candle raised above the others. The candle or oil bowl in the center is the called the shammash. (meaning a servant.) A new candle is lighted each successive night for eight nights. All candles are lighted from the shammash. The eighth night when all the candles have been lighted is called the “Great Day of the Feast”.  (Remember the Jewish day begins at sun down, not midnight.)

What is this ancient celebration about? When and where did it begin? Does this  Jewish celebration have any significance to New Covenant believers? We’ll have to take a look at a little bit of prophecy and history in order to answer these                                               questions. Let’s start by looking into the Old Covenant Book of Daniel, the non-canonical books of the Maccabee’s and the Gospels of Matthew and John. Two other secular books used in this discussion provided some insights and background. Those being: Through Jewish Eyes by Craig Hartman and The Outpouring by Elwood Mc Quaid.

 

PROPHECY and HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

PROPHECY (Dan. 8:14 and 11: 1-4)

The book of Daniel is an extremely fascinating book of prophecy. Chapter two of this book reveals how four different kingdoms would rule over the land of Israel. The first kingdom was Babylon, the second Medo-Persia, the third, Greece, the fourth Rome. Daniel chapter eight prophesied that a future king would do terrible things to the Jewish people. He would attempt a holocaust, outlaw Judaism, forbid temple worship and desecrate the temple. Daniel also prophesied that after 2,300 days the temple would be vindicated and restored. We know from history that those prophecies have been fulfilled exactly as for told.

HISTORY

Israel’s Rule by Greece

We know from history that Alexander the Great ruled most of Asia Minor which included Israel from 356-323 B.C. Alexander died at an early age and his kingdom was divided between three generals, who were also his sons. Toward the end of Greek domination a forth king named Antiochus IV, also known as Antiochus Epiphanes came into power (171 to 165 BC).

As prophesied, Antiochus Epiphanes did very evil things to the Jewish people, and tried to annihilate them. (He is also a picture as an antichrist of who is prophesied as yet to come.) Antiochus had the temple desecrated by sacrificing a pig on the altar of the Jewish temple. This act was done to commemorate Antiochus’ birthday on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev (December).

Just a side note: — The word epiphany means a flash of insight or enlightenment. The shortest day of the year is the twentieth of December. From that day on the days get longer. Ancient Peoples knew that days were getting longer, but weren’t sure of the exact day. They knew that days were definitely getting longer with additional light each day. Many ancient peoples had celebrations commemorating “the lengthening” of days, on or about the twenty fifth of December. This may be why Antiochus wanted to be known as Epiphanes, a flash of insight or light. Isn’t it interesting that we celebrate Christmas on December 25th, even though there is no historical record that Yeshua (Jesus) was born on that day. Could there possibly be a connection with the celebration of the Jewish Chanukkah and Christmas? Did the early Christians want to celebrate “The Light” (Yeshua) coming into the world, with the Hebrew celebration of the Festival of Lights?

Antiochus went about Israel requiring the Jewish people to renounce their religion and instead worship him. He also required synagogue leaders throughout Israel to sacrifice a pig and have all their followers eat the flesh. Eating pork was forbidden by Jewish law.

Seventeen miles Northwest of Jerusalem was the village of Modiin. A retired temple priest lived there. He refused the order to kill a pig and have the people eat the flesh. A compromising citizen rushed forward to slay the pig. Mattathias, the retired priest, killed that man. The sons of Mattathias then killed all of Antiochus’ henchmen. A revolt, in Jewish history known as the “Maccabee Revolt began.

The Maccabee’s were under the leadership of Judas Maccabee (the hammer). This revolt was successful in over-throwing Greek power. The temple in Jerusalem was repaired and rededicated. The period of time between the temple’s desecration and its rededication by the Maccabees was 2300 days, as  propheced in the book of Daniel.

The Israelites initiated an annual feast celebrating the temple rededication. A legend has it that the Maccabees had only enough sanctified oil to keep the lamp, which was located in the room in front of Holy of Holies, burning for one day. However, the lamp burned for eight days. Thus, it was decided to celebrate an annual feast of Rededication for eight days.

Why was lighting the Menorah so important to the Maccabees and the Jewish people?  Specifications for the Tent of Meeting, the Menorah and Sacred Oil were all were given by God to Moses upon receiving the Torah (Law). The Tent of Meeting was where God ministered to His people. Keeping the menorah lighted was a perpetual statue throughout their generations. The menorah light symbolized the presence of God. Thus, keeping the light burning was an important step in rededicating the temple.

Israel’s Rule by Rome

Rome instituted a centralized form of government. A Caesar and a senate were located in Rome. Kings, governors and magistrates co-ruled in occupied territories and other possessions of Rome.

Israel was ruled in the first century A.D. by Rome’s appointed king and a local figure-head, king Herod Antipas the tetrarch of Galilee. Rome was polytheistic, but knew that Israel had religious laws. They therefore exercised control in the religious area by placing a High Priest of their choosing in office.

The temple in Jerusalem during the first century was one of the wonders of the world. Much of the interior was inlaid with gold, and the temple treasury was substantial because of the temple tax levied on the people. The temple tax was over and above the tax levied by Rome. Because of the wealth and the need to maintain order, Rome stationed troops in the temple compound. Rome, however, did not interfere with any of the Jewish customs, laws or worship.

The ruling body or council of religious matters was the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was composed of seventy Jewish men, from two religious groups. One group contented themselves with following only what was written in the Law of Moses. This group was called The Righteous, and became known as the Sadducees. The other group added the constitutions and traditions of the elders to the Law and other religious observances, like the Feast of Rededication or Chanukkah. Both of these groups had their origins around the time of the Maccabee revolt.

Israel’s Rule by King Herod Antipas.

Herod Antipas ruled Galilee (Israel) from about 4 B.C. to 39 A. D. Herod was a vile, treacherous and adulterous murderer. (These were his good qualities.) During Herod’s reign our Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) was born.

Magi from the East came to pay homage to Yeshua the “New Born King”. They ask Herod where this king could be found. Herod asked the scribes and the chief priest, and they replied that The King was to be born in Bethlehem of Judah, as proclaimed by the prophets. Herod asked the Magi to let him know where He was located when was found. This was done so that Herod would have the child killed. He wanted no competition to his claim as king. The Magi did not return to give Herod that information. However, Herod found out and decreed that all the male children up to two years were to be slaughtered. Yeshua’s parents had fled to Egypt before the massacre occurred, and the “Coming King” was safe. His parents moved back to Israel after Herod’s death.

 

Yeshua’s Ministry

 Yeshua began his public ministry after being immersed in the Jordan River      by “John the Immerser”. As Yeshua came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God descended upon Him, and God proclaimed Him as “My Beloved Son”.  (God’s Promised Messiah.) Matt.3:16-17. Thus, His public ministry began. The Sanhedrin and temple leaders denied He was the promised Messiah and set out to find a way to put Him to death because they claimed He was blasphemous, and making Himself out to be God. They would not believe He was the Messiah.

Yeshua proclaimed “I Am the light of the world” (John 8:12). This proclamation was considered blasphemy by the Jewish leaders.  Why was it considered to be blasphemy? Well, let us take a minute and look back into some more of Israel’s history, and at a little bit of the Greek language.

  • First, we have to go back to the time God talked to Moses out of the burning bush. Moses wanted to know Gods name. God told him to tell the children of Israel that He is “I Am that (who) I Am”. This expression in the Hebrew Language is like a verb of being, meaning “I exist”. That’s all Israel needed to know, for the time being. The One who exists would be with them and deliver them out of the hands of Egypt.
  • The expression translated into English from the Greek is just “I am”. However, in the Greek it’s really three words I and I am. (pronounced eago eeme) This is really saying “I the I Am”. Yeshua’s statement means that He and God are a plurality.

Yeshua’s accusers wouldn’t believe Him, saying His testimony wasn’t true because He was testifying about Himself. He continued ministering to the common people and proclaiming Himself to be their Messiah.

Yeshuas Celebrates Chanukkah. (John 10: 22-40)

Scriptures tell us that it was winter and Yeshua went up to the temple to celebrate Chanukkah. He went up on the “Last Great Day of the Feast”. This is the night when all eight bowls of oil were lighted. Giant torches were erected in the temple compound. The light of these menorahs could be seen for miles. The Jewish leaders met Yeshua there and demanded that He tell them plainly if He was the Messiah. He responded, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness to me.” He told them “I give eternal life to them (His followers), and they will never perish, and no one can snatch them out of my hand. I and my father are a plurality”. That made it very plain to the Jewish leaders what He was asserting himself to be God. So, they plotted to have Him put to death. Soon after Chanukkah, He convincingly displayed He is God by performing miracles which only God can do. Things like raising someone back to life after having been dead for four days, and opening the eye’s of a man born blind. Yeshua did these and many more miracles (John 11: 1-37).

      Conclusion:

Wow! That took a long time to answer the questions of what is Chanukkah and       where did it begin? The answer to the question “should we as believers in Messiah celebrate Chanukkah” will require a little more discussion, so stick with me.

First let’s look at the Scriptures:

NIV Translation (John 10:22-30)

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus (Yeshua) was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade (Women’s Court).The Jews gathered around him saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ (Messiah) tell us plainly.”

Jesus (Yeshua) answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me. But you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.”

Remember, the Jewish celebration has to do with rededication and restoring the light in the temple. Scriptures (1 Cor.3:16 and 1Cor.6:19) tell us, that our bodies are temples of God and of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit). Chanukkah is a time of remembrance. Remember the coming of “The Light of the World” Yeshua our Messiah, and a time to rededicate our lives to Him.

We know that once obtained, we cannot lose our salvation. (We can’t be snatched out of His hand.) However, while here on earth we will continually sin (continually fall short of what He requires.), and must confess this to God the Father to be cleansed. Our whole body doesn’t need cleansed.

Since our bodies are temples and we get dirty (sin), and our light grows a little dim as we travel through life. Chanukkah is a good time to rededicate our life to Him so the “light of the world” can shine brightly through us. We of course need to be washed and cleansed from sin on a daily and hourly basis. However, it is nice to set a season aside right before we celebrate Yeshua’s birth, to commit and rededicate ourselves to Him.

You see it doesn’t have to be either Chanukkah or Christmas, it’s good to remember and celebrate both the Light coming into the world and into our hearts.

Here is an example of what can be done to celebrate Chanukkah. Each of the seven (or Eight) nights on which you light a Menorah candle, say a simple prayer of thanksgiving, and remember what Yeshua has done and is doing in your life. During Chanukkah focus on the following undeniable things in preparation for celebrating His birth at Christmas:

  1. He is the “Light of the World, in Him there is no darkness at all”.
  2. We are his sheep.
  3. He promises believers in Him eternal life.
  4. Nothing can snatch us out of His or the Fathers hand.
  5. He and the Father and the Holy Spirit are One, a plurality.
  6. He is the only one which can forgive sins and trespasses.
  7. He is coming back again.

God Bless and Happy Chanukkah.

Visioneering-ak