©2016 Tentstake Ministries
“Many peoples will go and say, “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob! He will teach us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of Adonai from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).
Watching a documentary last night on the history of Hanukkah, it became so clear that the Jewish people did not want to assimilate into the Greek Hellenistic culture being forced upon them and lose their identity, their Biblical calling as the people of God and a light to the nations. My husband and I talked about how we had to come out of Rome and leave behind all the doctrines of Roman catholicism that the evangelical/protestant church has embraced. It was difficult leaving behind cherished family traditions that were actually contrary to the Word of God. Sometimes it felt as difficult as the rag tag Jewish army fighting the great and mighty Syrian military on elephants. Our families didn’t understand; moreover, our church brothers and sisters denounced us as legalists fallen from grace. Some said we even ‘left the fellowship of God’!
The documentary stated that the 4-year battle was more than a fight to regain the Temple in Jerusalem and the ordinances given by God of Sabbath and circumcision in the Torah, it was a battle for the existence of the state of Israel. Without an Israel, there could never have been the birth of the Messiah, Yeshua. Without an Israel today, there can never be his return. The battle still rages.
As we watched the documentary, we could see how Christiandom, by negating the history of the Jewish people from their canon of Scriptures, have lost the understanding of what Yeshua/Jesus meant when he spoke of the ‘abomination of desolation’ and the ‘man of lawlessness’ that is at work already in this world. They create their own prophetic western perspective rather than seeing that he was referring to the days before Hanukkah and the battle of assimilating into a world religious system that is contrary to the Hebrew Scriptures. It is much easier to assimilate and give rationalizations for assimilating into the culture around us and its expressed idolatry than to stand as Mattathias did against the Syrian generals who wanted him to sacrifice to a false god with a pig or to fight as the Maccabees did with few weapons, or to follow the Lion of Judah.
“I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
Many years ago I was listening to a Messianic Jew and non-Jew discuss the Biblical roots of the Christian faith on a talk radio show. A woman called in and said, “If I had know Jesus was Jewish, I would not have become a Christian.” Anti-semitism.
When our family began celebrating the Feasts of the LORD in Leviticus 23 along with Purim and Hanukkah, we were asked if we were becoming ‘Jewish’. What is wrong with becoming ‘Jewish’ when all of our Scriptures were written by Jews (aka physical descendants of Abraham, Issac and Jacob) and our Savior is Jewish? Anti-semitism.
In the past few years I hear many say that we shouldn’t listen to the rabbis, the sages, the Jews, because they added to the Torah, the created the Talmud, they don’t know Messiah. I often wonder if these same people realize where these Jewish men came up with all of their rules and regulations. It was their heart to obey God even in the smallest ‘jot and tittle’ and so they spent hours and days, months and years, studying the commandments of the LORD and outlining the best ways they could understand for obedience. Their intention was not to add burdens upon the people even though that is what many of their ideas became when others made them equal to commandments. They were just men trying to obey the God of Israel to the best intent of their heart and mind. We can learn a lot from those who went before us and we should. Rather than calling everything that has bound the Jewish people together for millennia ‘manmade traditions’, we should seek to understand their reasonings. With the Spirit of God in our lives, we should be able to discern which traditions nullify God’s Word and which traditions do not (Mark 7). When we as non-Jewish believers put as many years into study and obedience to the best intent of our new hearts and minds, perhaps then we can make judgmental assumptions. Otherwise it’s anti-semitism.
Anti-semitism is a lurking disease in the darkness of this world, but when it appears in the hearts of those who carry the Light of Messiah Yeshua, it needs to be dealt with however subtle it may appear to be. It is anti-semitism to believe that the myriads of Christian denominations, Hebrew Roots groups, Torah Observant groups and the plethora of other religious delineations have more understanding than the Jewish people from whom God chose to bring salvation. The Word says they have a veil over their eyes. It needs to be removed, not judged. It is anti-semitism to read a Hebrew Bible, written by Jewish people over many centuries, and not love those same people who gave their lives to protect it so they could be the light to the nations they were called to be. Anti-semitism in the heart of Antiochus Ephiphanes led to the near destruction of the Jewish people, their Torah and their Temple. But our great God, Yahweh Elohim, by empowering a mighty deliverer, Judah Maccabee, along with a small army of courageous, spiritual men, gave His people victory over anti-semitism and restored them to their Land, their Biblical ways and even their traditions.
Let’s remember that God says curses and blessings come from how we treat the ancestors as well as the brothers and sisters of Yeshua. They were human like each of us desiring to obey the commandments of God through the grace and mercy of salvation.
“Indeed, if someone gives just a cup of cold water to one of these little [Jewish] ones because he is my disciple — yes! — I tell you, he will certainly not lose his reward!” (Matthew 10:42).
Many years ago, I was the turkey mascot for the National Home Brewing Association. One year for a shock effect at their national convention in Denver, I had to ride an elephant into a huge convention center room. Yes, I rode an elephant, named Stoney, in a turkey costume. According to Chazal, a Tamuldic sage, “When we are lucky enough to see an elephant we should bless God and say, “Blessed is the One who varies the creatures.” I was very blessed to not only see Stoney, but to have the privilege to ride him.
Elephants are really unique creatures. Apart from being massively large and very smart, they are social, gentle, and loyal. Stoney was trained to kneel down almost laying flat on the ground so I could get on him. His gait was gentle and he lumbered slowly from side to side. I grabbed onto him to stay secure and felt the tiny stiff hairs all over his body. And social? He loved the attention he received from the awe-struck crowd. The flashing of cameras didn’t bother him at all and sometimes he would try to ‘hug’ with his trunk.
Throughout history, elephants were used like military tanks in Asian warfare. Though they were not native to the Middle East, the Seleucids rode elephants to terrify the Jewish fighters during the Maccabean Revolt.
“His [Antiochus’] army numbered a hundred thousand foot soldiers, twenty thousand cavalry, and thirty-two elephants trained for war” (1 Maccabees 6:30).
“Each elephant was outfitted with a strong wooden tower, fastened to it by a harness; each tower held three soldiers who fought from it, besides the Indian driver” (1 Maccabees 6:37).
“All who heard the noise of their numbers, the tramp of their marching, and the clanging of the arms, trembled; for the army was very great and strong” (1 Maccabees 6:41).
At this first encounter, Judah Maccabee and his men defeated 500 men and killed one elephant, but had to retreat. They were not expecting elephants in their battle plans. Perhaps it was at this time that the Maccabees began to say “stronger and smarter than an elephant” as they prepared for further military encounters with these massively strong and smart animals.
Sometime later, “a Greek army of one hundred and ten thousand foot soldiers, fifty-three hundred cavalry, twenty-two elephants, and three hundred chariots armed with scythes” came to the Judean village of Moedin (2 Maccabees 13:2).
At this second encounter Judah left “the outcome to the Creator of the world, and exhort[ed] his followers to fight nobly to death for the laws [Torah], the temple, the city, the country, and the government…. Giving his troops the battle cry “God’s Victory,” he made a night attack on the king’s pavilion with a picked force of the bravest young men and killed about two thousand in the camp. He also stabbed the lead elephant and its rider. Finally they withdrew in triumph, having filled the camp with terror and confusion. Day was just breaking when this was accomplished with the help and protection of the LORD” (2 Maccabees 13:14-17).
There are those who say these elephant stories never happened or were embellished. Others say they were a metaphor for God’s Hand in the battles. Whatever is the truth, there is always that ‘elephant in the room’ that needs to be addressed – its loud voice. Let’s see what the Hebrew word pictures say.
In Hebrew, elephant is Pil פיל. The individual letters symbolize “mouth, finished work, shepherd staff” suggesting to me that these mighty blessed elephants were God’s trumpeting mouthpiece prophesying the finished victory through the miraculous hand of the Shepherd of Israel bringing forth the restoration and re-dedication of His Temple in Jerusalem – Hanukkah.
©2016 Tentstake Ministries