Archive for 2012

The Land of Promise to Abraham

This was written for a very sweet Islamic girl named Lena.  Thank you for asking me, “Do your writings say the land belongs to Israel?”

Hebrew Scriptures

First, I use only the Hebrew Scriptures because they are the most reliable of the ancient writings.  Often times people say, well, over the centuries men have changed them and so we don’t know what is true and what is not.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  The Hebrew Scriptures were hidden in 70 A.D.  in some caves near the Dead Sea.  No one knew they were there so no one could change what was written.  In 1948, they were found by an shepherd boy in what is now known as the West Bank.  They are known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.  When compared to the manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures of today, they are identical.   This means that what exists today in the Holy Bible is authentic and has not been changed by anyone.

Even before the Dead Sea Scrolls were put in clay jars in a cave, the Greeks began in 300 B.C. to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into their language.  These writings are known as the Septuagint and they, too, have been compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls and no important differences have been found.

Some people claim that the Jews rewrote the Torah to contradict others’ religious beliefs and books, but this cannot be true as proved by the Dead Sea Scrolls.   If the Jews had changed anything, it would have been found in more modern writings.   If there is a writing or another book that claims to be authentic, it needed to be written before A.D. 70. or compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

For example, the Jehovah Witnesses say they use the Bible.  However, their Bible was translated in the 1800s and has many differences from the Hebrew Scriptures.    I know this for a fact because I’ve looked up Scriptures to find they have been deleted or changed.  These changes and contradictions from the Hebrew Scriptures mean that their holy book is wrong.  Consequently, they view God, His redemption and His people wrongly.  Another example is the King James Version of the Bible written in 1611.    Many Christians won’t use any other translation.    However, King James was a tyrant and the reason many Christians left England and became known as the Pilgrims in North America.  These Christians wanted to flee King James’ translation of the Bible because he used the translation to control the people.  The are many contradictions in the King James translation when compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Another example is the Koran.  It was written between 653 and 656 A.D. a long time after the Dead Sea Scrolls were buried and hidden.  Just like the Jehovah Witnesses and the King James Bible, it, too, like every other prophetical writing should be compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls to verify and authenticate what it teaches.  If it doesn’t agree, then the Koran is flawed and not the Hebrew Scriptures.

There are warnings in the Holy Scriptures about adding to or taking away from the Words or prophecies of God.  These warnings are for everyone: Jew and non-Jew, Israel, and non-Israel, Jehovah Witnesses, Church of England and Islam.   Unfortunately, men love to bring glory to themselves and want power and control over people.  So, they change the Hebrew Scriptures to say what they want them to say in order that they are followed and not Yahweh Elohim – God Almighty.

Everyone has to choose what words of God they will accept, but I am going to use the Hebrew Scriptures because they are the most ancient and proven by the Dead Sea Scrolls to be authentic to explain the Land and the people of Israel.

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6).

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).

Abraham

In Genesis (Bereshit) 12:1-3 Abraham is told to leave his country and go to the land that God (El) wanted to show him.  In this ‘calling out’  from the land of Ur, Abraham is promised to be made into a great nation; he will be blessed and all families on the earth will also be blessed.

“Now Adonai said to Abram, “Get yourself out of your country, away from your kinsmen and away from your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing. 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.”

Abraham obeys – a sign of his great faith – and travels toward the Promised Land.  He has his nephew Lot with him and they realize the land they are in is not big enough for both of their families and livestock.  Abraham allows Lot to decide which land he wants.    Lot chooses the plains to the east of the Jordan River and Abraham stays in Canaan.  We know that Lot eventually moves to the cities of  Sodom and Gomorrah.  Those cities are destroyed for their sin of homosexuality.

In Genesis 13:14-18, after Lot chooses the best and most fertile land, God tells Abraham to look to the north, south, east and west as this is the land God is giving him.  It is known as the ‘promised land.’

“Adonai said to Abram, after Lot had moved away from him, “Look all around you from where you are, to the north, the south, the east and the west. All the land you see I will give to you and your descendants forever,and I will make your descendants as numerous as the specks of dust on the earth — so that if a person can count the specks of dust on the earth, then your descendants can be counted.  Get up and walk through the length and breadth of the land, because I will give it to you.” Abram moved his tent and came to live by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron. There he built an altar to Adonai.”

Now we come to Genesis chapter 15.  There are several key verses in this chapter the explain Abraham’s history and the land of promise.

Verse 7 gives the land to Abraham to possess — Then he said to him, “I am Adonai, who brought you out from Ur-Kasdim to give you this land as your possession.”

El Shaddai (God Almighty) goes on to say that Abraham’s descendants would become slaves (as they were in Egypt) and then  in the fourth generation, they would return to this same land – the land of promise – Canaan.  This is something repeatedly seen in the Scriptures.  The Israelites, no matter what happens to them, they always return to the Land promised to Abraham.

Verse 16 – But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not complete.”

Though there were other people living in the promised land, they did not own it.  Only God owns land and He says that Abraham’s descendants will possess it.  From God’s point of view, just because someone occupies land does not mean they ‘own’ it.  This is because God is the creator of heaven and earth and everything in the earth is His.  If we think we ‘own’ the land, then we deny God as the Creator.  Because Yahweh is the Creator, He can give land to anyone He chooses.  Thus, we have the land promised to Abraham as his possession.

Verses 18-21 – These are the verses that give the covenant boundaries of the promised land.  Though I tend to believe the Israeli flag is a prayer shawl, the other explanation is also valid.   Abraham was given the land between the Nile River and the Euphrates.  This is not a modern-day Zionist threat, this is the actual land boundaries given to Abraham and is a prophecy with a promise.

“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites,Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

Today, this words might read from the river in Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates –Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt!  Though the world would hate this truth and blame Israel for stealing land when they rightfully posses, (even through wars when they give it back) it’s all land given to them by covenant promised contract with Abraham.

Isaac

Genesis chapter 16 records the birth of Ishmael.  Though Sarah was Abraham’s wife, Ishmael became the son of her maid, Hagar.   Several years after Ishmael’s birth Abram’s name was changed by God to Abraham.  The name Abraham means ‘father of many nations.‘  It was at this time the covenant of circumcision was given to Abraham as a  ‘sign’ of his faith.’  Ishmael, along with all the other males in Abraham’s family were circumcised.

Genesis chapter 18 records three men coming to visit Abraham.  It is at this time that God promises Abraham a son from his wife, Sarah.    They are both so old in years, that only through faith can Isaac be conceived. Their bodies no longer could procreate a child.  Genesis chapter 21 records the birth of Isaac.

This is when the sibling rivalry begins.  Isaac is the son promised by God through Sarah, Abraham’s wife, while Ishmael was from another woman.  I believe that Abraham loved both of his sons, but because of problems that developed between the child, Isaac, and the young man, Ishmael, Abraham had to send Hagar and Ishmael away.   Yet, Yahweh Elohim does not neglect Ishmael.   Why?  Because Abraham was called the ‘father of many nations’.  In fact, while Hagar and Ishmael were dying of thirst in the desert, God comes to them and promises Hagar that even Ishmael would become a great nation.   He provides a well for them so they have water.    They settle in the Desert of Paran which is considered to be the modern Sinai desert.

“God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

In Genesis 22, Abraham’s faith is tested.  This is where he takes his son Isaac to Mt. Moriah (the mount where the Temple was eventually built by King Solomon).   It is on this mountain that Abraham is asked to offer his son as a sacrifice.  Abraham has great faith in God and trusts that either God will ‘provide himself a sacrifice’ or ‘raise his son from the dead.’  Why?  Because Isaac is the son of a promise.  The account continues that a ram is sacrificed instead of Isaac.  The lamb becomes a substitution for the life of Isaac.

In Genesis 26 the land promise is given to Isaac.  The promise had nothing to do with Isaac, but with the faith of Abraham, his father.  Again, Isaac will have many descendants just as his father was promised.

“The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live.   Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.  I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspringall nations on earth will be blessed,  because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.”

Jacob

Isaac marries Rebekkah and they have two sons, Jacob and Esau.  These two also have sibling rivalry and are separated.  Esau became the Edomites.  Today this nation of people have assimilated into the Arab nations.  This is an historical fact as there are no Edomites today, but they settled in what is known today as Jordan.

In Genesis 28:13-14, Jacob is in the wilderness because of the situation between he and Esau.  Jacob has a dream in which there is a ladder reaching to the heavens.  From the top of the ladder El Shaddai  speaks to Jacob and says that he will give him the land on which he is sleeping.  Jacob names the place BeitEl – House of God.   This place was about 12 miles (19 km) north of Jerusalem, west of Jericho and the Jordan River.  Archaeological findings have the site of BeitEl with the ruins of Beitin, a small village south of Shiloh.

“There above itstood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”

Israel

In Genesis 35:9-15 Jacob returns from Haran in Mesopotamia and an angel comes to him and blesses him.  The blessing includes a change of name – Yisrael.

“After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram,God appeared to him again and blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Yisrael.” So he named him Yisrael.

And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”  Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.

Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. This is the place where God had talked with him – Bethel.”

Jacob had 12 sons.  One of the sons was named Y’hudah.  This is where the word “Jew” or “Jewish” comes from.  The name Y’hudah means ‘praiser of God”.   Over the centuries the Israelites became known as Jews.  Thus, the land promised to Abraham is to be possessed by the Israelites.

Today

As we look today at the problems in the Middle East with Israel and the Arab nations, this is what I see and how I understand it.

Abraham was promised to be the father of  ‘many nations.’  Through Ishmael, there are over 400 million Arabs and they live in many lands.  These are the many ‘nations‘ represented by the name Abraham – ‘father of nations’.     The promise to Ishamel has been fulfilled and continues to be fulfilled.

Abraham was also promised land and a lot of land – from the Nile to the Euphrates River.   The PROMISE of this land did not go to Ishmael, but to Isaac and then to Jacob who became known as Yisrael. Today we know the Israelites as the Jewish people.  In reality Israel is way more than just the descendants of Judah, but the descendants of all of the Tribes of Israel  (the 12 sons),  but today these people are scattered all over the world and have assimilated into other peoples. Someday soon, there is a promise that God will gather all of these children of Jacob/Israel together in the Promised Land.   This will not be man’s doing, but God’s work.

Now, let’s look at the Jewish people.  In 2010, there were 5,703,000 Jewish people living in Israel.  Compared to 400 million Arabs, this is nothing.  This isn’t even the population of the city of Cairo which has 9,120,350.  Deuteronomy 7:7 (one of the books of Moses) says that God didn’t choose the Israelites because they were GREAT in number, but because they WERE SMALL.

“For you are a people set apart as holy for Adonai your God. Adonai your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his own unique treasure. Adonai didn’t set his heart on you or choose you because you numbered more than any other people — on the contrary, you were the fewest of all peoples. Rather, it was because Adonai loved you, and because he wanted to keep the oath which he had sworn to your ancestors, that Adonai brought you out with a strong hand and redeemed you from a life of slavery under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. From this you can know that Adonai your God is indeed God, the faithful God, who keeps his covenant and extends grace to those who love him and observe his commands, to a thousand generations. But he repays those who hate him to their face and destroys them. He will not be slow to deal with someone who hates him; he will repay him to his face.”

God (Yahweh) gave Israel the Promised Land so they would have a place to live among the many nations of the world that would always be bigger than they were and fighting against them because they are a holy people and a people loved by Elohim.  Unfortunately, the sibling rivalry continues, and Ishmael and Isaac are still fighting over a really tiny piece of land.

The Real Battle

Could it be that the land really isn’t the problem, but it’s really a desire to rid the world of a group of people because of a promise?  It was from the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah, that the promise of salvation would come to the world.  This salvation comes through Yeshua.  Without an Israel, Yeshua could not come the first time nor can come the second time.  He was to be born in BeitLechem and he is to return to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.   Throughout the history of the Jewish people, from their slavery in Egypt until the Holocaust in Germany, the world just wants to rid themselves of these people.  Why is that?  Why is it they have had to fight just to stay alive? Could it be that it’s a spiritual battle and not really a physical land battle?  Could it still be a hard-hearted sibling rivalry that needs redemption from the only redeemer, Yeshua?

You, my friend,  live in the Land of Israel.  You say it is beautiful.  You say you have freedom there and are treated as an equal citizen.  Yet there are many who hate the Jewish people and rejoice when they are murdered in their own streets and on their own buses.  This confuses me.  Why does the life of a small nation of people create such anger and hatred.  Why does the death of the Jewish people cause rejoicing.  It is not only sick, it is sinful and against God’s will for Abraham’s promise.

Israel,  for all of time, has had to defend herself.  This is nothing new and it will continue until all nations of the world come against her to destroy her.  Even today, only 9 out of 188 nations stood against Palestine becoming a nation.  That’s the world against Israel.  That’s the world against a land covenant given to Israel through Abraham because no one believes in the Hebrew Scriptures and the promises of  God.  They mock Him and destroy His chosen people.

The Scriptures say ‘He who blesses Abraham will be blessed and he who curses him will be cursed.”  I believe the leaders of the world are walking on very dangerous ground and some very terrible things will begin to happen as the world continues to hate and curse Israel.  There are many Biblical and historical accounts of nations that came against Israel and the Jewish people.  They suffered serious consequences.  Most, if not all, of the nations no longer exist.  Many of the modern-day nations like the United States are falling apart because we do not stand with Israel.

To Answer Your Question

Was the land of Israel given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Jewish people?  Yes.  Should there be boundaries that are bigger than what Israel is today?  Yes.  Will politicians and world leaders solve the problem?  No.  Men are sinful, hate God, want power, and covet something they can never own, only possess.    The battle isn’t really with Israel and the Jewish people, it’s with the Creator of the Universe.  Mankind, in all his pride and greed, is waging war with the Creator.  It can only turn out bad for mankind.

Will the situation ever be resolved so there is everlasting peace.  Yes.  I believe the situation will only be resolved when Yeshua returns to the Mount of Olives.   At this moment everyone who pierced his hands and feet will mourn.  He will enter Jerusalem and set up His Kingdom rule.   I also believe that when the time of the end comes and all nations come against Israel, everyone will see the miraculous Hand of Yahweh deliver His people.

©2012 Tentstake Ministries

The Christ Mass Around the World

Every year there is a great American push to put the word “Christ” back in Christmas.  The date for the birth of Jesus Christ has been believed and accepted without much question by people for many centuries as December 25.  The date was probably selected by the church leadership in Rome in the early 4th century in order to meld together Christians and non-Christians, believers and pagans in the Roman Empire.

As this date was selected by the Roman catholic church for the birth of Jesus, it is also known as the Christ Mass. The word ‘mass’  in religious terminology means a ‘death sacrifice.’ How ironic that the very day that the church chose to commemorate the birth of the Savior  is named with a term implying death and sacrifice!

Because we are not catholic, we do not take part in the Christ Mass with its roots in Saturnalia.   Unfortunately, most of Christiandom does celebrate this holiday even while they claim to be anything but catholic.  Many honor the Reformation and breaking away from the Roman catholic church while continuing to celebrate the  traditions incorporated by that same church authority.

The whole Christ-mass concept is catholic and has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus nor is it found in Scripture, but I wanted to see if “Christ” is in Christmas in other languages or just English.

Only a few languages like the Greek Kala Christougenna or Russian С РОЖДЕСТВОМ actually use some form of “Christ”  in the phrase.  Other languages acknowledge a ‘holy birth’, ‘a general birth’ but do not get specific about the birth of Jesus Christ thus making the ‘holy birth’ possible for any ‘god’ one chooses.  Some languages use a phonetic rendering in their alphabet or avoid it altogether with commemorating Yuletide. The few languages that have translated the phrase into Merry Christmas do so because of  missionary influence into their culture, but do not try to put ‘Christ’ back into Christmas.

Arabic – Eid Milad Majeed means ‘Glorious Birth Feast.’  

Armenian – Shnorhavor Soorb Tsnund  means ‘Congratulations for the Holy Birth.’

Chinese Mandarin –  Sheng Dan Kuai Le or 圣诞快乐 means ‘Holy Birth Day, Be Happy.’

Czech – Prejeme Varn Vesele Vanoce

French – Joyeux Noel means  ‘Joyful Birthday.’

Noel comes from the Latin word meaning ‘birthday’.

Danish –  Glaedelig Jul means ‘Happy Yule.’

Yule or Yuletide was a mid-winter 12-day festival observed by Germanic people and some neighboring peoples and became absorbed into and equated with the Christian festival of Christmas.  Scholars have connected the celebration to the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Modranicht.  Yule log, Yule goat (a sacrificial goat for Yuletide), Yule boar (the boar with apple in its mouth) and Yule singing (carols) come from the Yuletide.

German – Frohe Weihnacht means ‘Happy Holy Night.’

Weih is a church-word meaning holy or special.  Nacht is night.

Hawaiian – Mele Kalikimaka means ‘Merry Christmas.’

‘Mele Kalikimaka’  is only a phonetic rendering of Hawaiian sounds, but not a literal translation because there is none in the language.   Christmas is not indigenous to Hawaii.

Hindi (Urdu) – Bade Din ki Mubarak means ‘Happy Nativity.’

Indonesian – Selamat Natal means ‘Happy Birthday.’

Hebrew – Mo’adim Lesimkha, Chena tova means ‘Happy Times.  Happy Week.’  

Italian – Buon Natale means ‘Good Birthday.’

Korean – Sung Tan Chuk Ha means ‘Seasons Greetings.’

Norweigan – God Jul means ‘Good Yule’.

(See Danish above).

Philippines (Tagalog) Maligayang Pasko means ‘Happy Christmas’.

Pasko is the word for Christmas, but actually comes from the Spanish word, Pascoa.  Pascoa refers to Easter, but is a corruption of the word, Pesach or Passover.

Polish – Wesolych Swiat means ‘Happy Holidays.’

This phrase can be used to wish anyone any ‘happy holiday’.

Portuguese – Felize Natal or Boas Festas means ‘Joyous Birth’ or ‘Good Celebration.’

Russian – С РОЖДЕСТВОМ means ‘For the Nativity of Christ,’

Rwanda – Noheli nziza means ‘Good Birthday.’

Scotland – Blithe Yule means ‘Cheerful Yule’.

(See Danish above).

Spanish – Feliz Navidad means ‘Happy Birthday.’

Swedish – God Jul means ‘Good Yule’.

(See Danish above).

Switzerland – Schoni Wiehnachte means ‘Happy Holy Night.’

Turkish – Mutlu Noeller means ‘Happy Birthday.’

Welsh – Nadolig Llawen means ‘Merry Christmas.’

 

Saying “Merry Christmas”

Recently I was asked an interesting question.  “Since I do not celebrate Christmas, am I offended when someone wishes me a “Merry Christmas?”

My initial answer to that question is: No, I am not offended if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas.  It is that season of the year and everyone has the liberty in this country to celebrate whatever, whenever.  Most people who know me, know I don’t celebrate the holiday and don’t wish me a Merry Christmas.  Others, like checkers in the grocery store or Walmart, are just being friendly this time of year and doing their job.   The deeper answer to that question is a little more complicated and doesn’t involve the greeting, but how I respond to who is wishing me a “Merry Christmas’?

To my friends or family who have a minimal relationship with God or no relationship and range from atheists to agnostics, I will say, “YOU have a Merry Christmas.”  For them Christmas is nothing more than a beautiful, warm cultural celebration and they are free to celebrate it.  The lights, the delicious foods, the gatherings of family, the parties, the decorated trees, the snow, the gift buying, wrapping, and giving, and everything else that this time of the year entails.  I call these things warm fuzzies.  For them it is a happy holiday season and I wish them all a  season filled with wonderfully made memories.

If it is a Christian who professes faith in Jesus Christ, I’m a little more contemplative with my response.   For people who love the Lord, Christmas is their time for celebrating the birth of Christ.  It is usually these  Christians who are concerned with “Jesus being the Reason for the Season” and putting “Christ back into Christmas.”

Apart from these cute clichés, the activities of most these people don’t seem to express what happens in their lives for weeks before the Christmas celebration.  Seldom, if ever, do I hear Christians talk about Jesus as the central theme to the holiday.   Rarely, if ever, does any Christian I know share their ideas about how they are bringing Jesus more profoundly into a celebration literally void of anything resembling him.  They have their trite explanations for manmade, non-Biblical traditions, but nothing that actually sets the day apart and where Jesus is the central Reality.   Mostly,  I hear about all the shopping they have to do or have done, the gifts they are buying for their family and friends, how busy they are trying to ‘get everything done’, all of the programs at church that fill their schedules, how this year’s tree is more beautiful than last, and some Christians will shock even me by saying, “I just hate this time of year.”

These little clichés  don’t resemble any Christian-themed party I have ever attended.  I remember going to a Christmas party many years ago at a pastor’s home.  The family had napkins, plates, cups, tablecloths, hanging decorations that all said, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”  Yet, no one at that party ever even mentioned Jesus. No one talked about their walk with him.  No one even even mentioned God.  The conversations centered on secular music concerts, the rat race that has become culturally accepted at Christmas, and the stress of the season.

I celebrated Christmas as a child and into young adulthood.    I loved all the warm fuzzies that made this time of the year special.   My family went to a Lutheran church and celebrated Jesus’ birth and sang “Silent Night” with candles at midnight.  I took part in Christmas cantatas and helped plan Christmas cookie exchange parties.   Even my youngest son, because he was an infant, had the part of baby Jesus in a Christmas program.   It was all so beautiful and each year brought more precious memories.  Still, all thoughts of Jesus were somehow lost by the time Christmas morning arrived with revelations of newly fallen snow and a mountain of  gifts under a tree.

Entymology – Word Study

‘Christmas’  comes from two words, Christ and Mass.  These are Roman Catholic terms defining a catholic holiday.  Protestants, such as Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Penecostals will all say that they reject much, if not all, of catholic theology, yet this is where the Christ Mass originated and each denomination embraces the holiday wholeheartedly without a questionable thought.

A deeper look into the word mass is very enlightening.  A mass is a re-presentation of the crucifixion and is a memorial to Christ’s death .    In other words, the Christ Mass has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus, but focuses on his death.   According to Scripture, Christ died once for all;  and he does not offer himself over and over for sins as implied through a Catholic mass. Could this be the reason why Christ-mass was outlawed in America during the years of the Pilgrims until more modern times?   Could it be the early settlers in America understood the catholic connection or that it was not a Biblical celebration?   Could it be that early Christians understood the power of the resurrection and did not want a dead “Christ” always hanging on a crucifix as Jesus is depicted in catholicism?

Again, I am not offended if a Christian wishes me a Merry Christmas, but I do not know how, in good conscience, to respond. Should I be polite and wish them one back?  Should I respond with “Happy Holiday to you?”  Should I enlighten them to some of the truths I’ve learned?  Probably not because I have learned that most, if not all Christians, have no interest in having their minds renewed (Romans12:3).  They love the status quo of their religious lives.

It is sad to me that they have no clue what they are saying – Merry Death to Christ! If they do know, then they deny the very holiday they claim to celebrate.  How unfortunate it is they do not realize the catholic history they reject as Protestants is the same theology they embrace on Christmas.  If they do know, they compromise their own faith.   How tragic it is they are ignorant to the idolatrous roots of the holiday and have succumbed to the ancient cultural trappings that keep the ‘other gods’ alive.  If they aren’t ignorant, they justify themselves with personal platitudes, not Biblical views.  If they know and understand all of these truths and still choose to celebrate, then it’s depressing and heartbreaking.

There is a third group of people to whom I have to respond.  These are the Christians who have asked at one time or another why I do not celebrate Christmas.  I try to answer politely, but they respond to my answers rudely with a condescending attitude and comments like “You have fallen from grace!”   “You have put yourself back under the law!” or “You are Judaizing!”  These comments are very offensive and lack the grace, grace, grace, they preach in my face and shout in my ears.   It  takes an enormous amount of God’s grace and mercy for me to remain polite:

“You don’t celebrate Christmas?” 

No, I don’t.  It’s not in the Bible.

“If you don’t celebrate Christmas, what DO you celebrate?

I celebrate Hanukkah.  Hanukkah is not a substitute for Christmas because they are very different celebrations.  One is about a confused date of  birth; the other is about the Jews fighting the Syrians for religious freedom.

“Well I’m not Jewish.”  

Jesus was Jewish and I have put my faith in the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua.

“You don’t celebrate the birth of Christ?” 

Yes. I just don’t honor his birthday at Christmas.  The gospel of Luke explains the timing of events and so I remember Jesus’ birth according to this account.

“I know Christmas isn’t Jesus’ birthday, but that’s when the church has decided to celebrate it.”

What if the church has been deceived?   I have never seen anywhere in the Bible that the majority is right.

“I know Christmas isn’t Jesus’ birthday, but it doesn’t matter to God. He knows my heart.”

God is a jealous God and He wants your heart – your whole heart.  This is why He gave you a new one so you would not follow after ‘other gods’ and their holidays.

“I understand there are pagan roots, but that’s not how I celebrate it.  I focus on  Jesus’ birthday.”

There is no record that the Jews, the early Church or even Jesus celebrated Christmas as his birthday in the Bible or historically.

“Yes, but we don’t exactly when he was born so I celebrate it at the time the church has decided to celebrate his birthday.”

It is outlined in the Gospel of Luke, Chapters 1 and 2.

The conversation list could go on indefinitely about Biblical commands (other gods), manmade traditions that nullify God’s word  (cutting down trees), and historical background (Saturnalia) that all negate honest dialogue.   Christmas with all of its glitter, commerce, sleighs, elves and Santa is not in the Bible.

Biblical Birth

In the Scriptures, the birth of Jesus is a season of joy blended with tranquility.  In Bethlehem, Jewish women and children fill rooms in the overflowing inns because of a census taken near the harvest time.   They catch up with family and friends who have gathered for the Feast of Tabernacles near Jerusalem.    Somewhere outside the murmuring city,  in a sukkah, a young woman moans in labor until the cries of a newborn are muffled as she brings him to her breast to nurse.  On a hillside near Bethlehem called the Midgal Eder, there are shepherds quietly watching sheep in the deep hours of the night.   These were the shepherds who raised the sheep for the Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem.   The serenity is broken only by a message from angelic beings who break into the natural world and speak a message:  “In the highest heaven, glory to God! And on earth, peace among people of good will!”

This time of year, like any time of year, is perfect for sharing the message of peace and good will that comes only through Jesus/Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel.   Without his birth in Bethlehem, he would have had no childhood in Nazareth, become a Jewish rabbi teaching the Word of God throughout Israel, died on Passover in Jerusalem as the King of the Jews or risen from the dead on Feast of Firstfruits to show us there is life after death.   Without his birth, we would not have the hope  this world needs today – hope of salvation, hope of peace, hope of fullness of life here and eternally.

If this is what Christmas is all about, then there should be no rat race, no stress, no credit card debt, no mascots, but peace and tranquility as we fellowship with the family of God and make Jesus central to the season apart from paper plates and cups.   If this is what the Christmas story truly is then we should see Yeshua being embraced by millions around the world at this time of the year.    We should see hope in the world; we should see lives changing.  Words like joy, peace, love and hope should bring revelation of divine intervention into a lost and dying world instead of being catch phrases used by humanists who seek world peace without the One who brings peace.  Yet, every year the holiday period grows longer and longer, multi-colored light shows at homes and church buildings become brighter and more intricate with sounds and music; evergreen trees become more elaborately adorned.  Every year I see less and less of the religious aspect of the holiday not only in the world, but especially among those who embrace Jesus.

Why does ‘the Reason for the Season’ continue to disappear  – now behind the limelight of  elves sitting on shelves? If “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, why has Christmas decayed into a cultural celebration rather than a growing spiritual powerhouse holy day?  Has Christianity  become so culturally religious that it can no longer be a  spiritual expression of God’s true salvation?   Could all of the manmade traditions be pointless and have no connection with Christ at all?  Why are people who claim love Jesus blending the birth of the divine with a cultural holiday mixing the holy with the profane as was the golden calf?  Why do Christians vainly cry out for putting Christ back into Christ-mas while they involve themselves in the cultural trappings of Christmas and neglect the ‘reason for the season?”  Could God be tiring of the ignorance and trying to reveal the real ‘reason for the season’ in these last days?

I am not offended when I’m wished a ‘Merry Christmas’, but I have had to think seriously and deeply about my response.  In light of the understanding that I have been given, I have to keep a clear conscience between myself, God, and men.

Yeshua, my salvation, my Messiah, the King of the Jews was not catholic. He did not celebrate this holiday culturally nor did he institute it Biblically.   There is no ‘shadow’ of him as the substance;  he’s just not ‘in it’.   There are no references in the Scriptures and there are no outlines  for its celebration.  Consequently, I have concluded that I must respond the same way Yeshua did, individually, to those who did not know him, accept him, understand him, follow him, learn from him, and even to those who overtly reject him:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other … and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Messiah rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace….  Let the word of Messiah dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…. (Colossians 3:12-16).

Finally … 

For those who celebrate Christmas with a cultural focus, ‘May the snow fall, the elves dance, and your stockings be more stuffed than you (with delicious desserts).   As you spend your holiday with family – children and grandchildren –  and friends,  may your gatherings be blessed with new and fun moments that become cherished memories.”

For those who celebrate the Christ-mas as the birth day of Jesus, I am going to quote from an article about Christmas written by Marcello M. Guimaraés a Messianic Jewish Rabbi in Brazil:

“Fique, portanto, no coração de cada um esta mensagem. Ore a D’us, peça para entendê-la bem. Julgue também a palavra. Mas, tenho certeza que grande libertação virá na sua vida e com certeza você se sentirá mais livre das tradições mundanas, não sendo cúmplice e nem comungando com outros “espíritos” os quais não testemunham da verdade, que é o próprio YESHUA !  Seja sábio! Não saia agora por aí condenando tudo e todos. Você nasceu para ser luz onde há trevas.

No Verdadeiro Shalom do Messias, Yeshua HaMashiach. Amém.”

Translation – 

“Stand therefore, each of you in the heart of this message.   Pray to God,  ask to understand it well.  Judge also the word.  But I’m sure that great deliverance will come into your life and certainly you will feel freer from worldly traditions, and not be complicit or communing with other “spirits” which do not testify to the truth, which is itself  YESHUA!  Be wise! Do not go out there now condemning everyone and everything. You were born to be light where there is darkness.

In the true Shalom of Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach. Amen”

©2012 Tentstake Ministries

Hanukkah Account (Apocrypha)

“Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with gladness and joy for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.”

1 Maccabees1: 1-15, 20-64

After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated Darius, king of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.) He fought many battles, conquered strongholds, and put to death the kings of the earth. He advanced to the ends of the earth, and plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted, and his heart was lifted up. He gathered a very strong army and ruled over countries, nations, and princes, and they became tributary to him.

Antiochus Epiphanes

137 B.C.E.

After this he fell sick and perceived that he was dying. So he summoned his most honored officers, who had been brought up with him from youth, and divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive. And after Alexander the Great had reigned twelve years, he died.  Then his officers began to rule, each in his own place. They all put on crowns after his death, and so did their sons after them for many years; and they caused many evils on the earth.  From them came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.

 

In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us.” This proposal pleased them, and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom,  and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.  

143 B.C. E.

The Syrian Army in the Temple

After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred and forty-third year. He went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force.  He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the golden altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils. He took also the table for the bread of the Presence, the cups for drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the gold decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off.  He took the silver and the gold, and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures which he found.  Taking them all, he departed to his own land. He committed deeds of murder, and spoke with great arrogance.

Israel mourned deeply in every community, rulers and elders groaned, maidens and young men became faint, the beauty of women faded. Every bridegroom took up the lament; she who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning.  Even the land shook for its inhabitants, and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.

Two years later the king sent to the cities of Judah a chief collector of tribute, and he came to Jerusalem with a large force. Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed him; but he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Israel.  He plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls.  And they took captive the women and children, and seized the cattle.

Then they fortified the city of David with a great strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel.  And they stationed there a sinful people, lawless men. These strengthened their position;  they stored up arms and food, and collecting the spoils of Jerusalem they stored them there, and became a great snare.   It became an ambush against the sanctuary, an evil adversary of Israel continually.  On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood; they even defiled the sanctuary.

Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled; she became a dwelling of strangers; she became strange to her offspring, and her children forsook her.  Her sanctuary became desolate as a desert; her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into a reproach, her honor into contempt.  Her dishonor now grew as great as her glory; her exaltation was turned into mourning.

Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that each should give up his customs.  All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.  And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land,  to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and feasts, to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals,  and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane,  so that they should forget the Torah and change all the ordinances. “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.”

In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. And he appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the cities of Judah to offer sacrifice, city by city.  Many of the people, every one who forsook the Torah, joined them, and they did evil in the land;  they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.

25 Kislev 145 B.C.E.

Now on the fifteenth day of Kislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding cities of Judah,  and burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets.  The books of the Torah which they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire.  Where the book of the covenant was found in the possession of any one, or if any one adhered to the law, the decree of the king condemned him to death. They kept using violence against Israel, against those found month after month in the cities.

And on the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar which was upon the altar of burnt offering.  According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks.  But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food.  They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. And very great wrath came upon Israel.

1 Maccabees 2:1-70

Matthathais, Priest

In those days Mattathias the son of John, son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib, moved from Jerusalem and settled in Modein.  He had five sons, John surnamed Gaddi, Simon called Thassi, Judas called Maccabeus,  Eleazar called Avaran, and Jonathan called Apphus. He saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem, and said, “Alas! Why was I born to see this, the ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city, and to dwell there when it was given over to the enemy, the sanctuary given over to aliens?  Her temple has become like a man without honor;  her glorious vessels have been carried into captivity. Her babes have been killed in her streets, her youths by the sword of the foe.  What nation has not inherited her palaces and has not seized her spoils?  All her adornment has been taken away; no longer free, she has become a slave.  And behold, our holy place, our beauty, and our glory have been laid waste; the Gentiles have profaned it.  Why should we live any longer?”  And Mattathias and his sons rent their clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned greatly.

Then the king’s officers who were enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modein to make them offer sacrifice.  Many from Israel came to them; and Mattathias and his sons were assembled. Then the king’s officers spoke to Mattathias as follows: “You are a leader, honored and great in this city, and supported by sons and brothers.  Now be the first to come and do what the king commands, as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah and those that are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons will be numbered among the friends of the king, and you and your sons will be honored with silver and gold and many gifts.”

But Mattathias answered and said in a loud voice: “Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to do his commandments, departing each one from the religion of his fathers, yet I and my sons and my brothers will live by the covenant of our fathers. Far be it from us to desert the Torah and the ordinances.  We will not obey the king’s words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left.”

When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice upon the altar in Modein, according to the king’s command.  When Mattathias saw it, be burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him upon the altar.  At the same time he killed the king’s officer who was forcing them to sacrifice, he tore down the altar.  Thus he burned with zeal for the Torah, as Phinehas did against Zimri the son of Salu.  Then Mattathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying: “Let every one who is zealous for the Torah and supports the covenant come out with me!”

And he and his sons fled to the hills and left all that they had in the city. Then many who were seeking righteousness and justice went down to the wilderness to dwell there,  they, their sons, their wives, and their cattle, because evils pressed heavily upon them.  And it was reported to the king’s officers, and to the troops in Jerusalem the city of David, that men who had rejected the king’s command had gone down to the hiding places in the wilderness.

Many pursued them, and overtook them; they encamped opposite them and prepared for battle against them on the sabbath day.  And they said to them, “Enough of this! Come out and do what the king commands, and you will live.” But they said, “We will not come out, nor will we do what the king commands and so profane the sabbath day.”

Then the enemy hastened to attack them.  But they did not answer them or hurl a stone at them or block up their hiding places, for they said, “Let us all die in our innocence; heaven and earth testify for us that you are killing us unjustly.”  So they attacked them on the sabbath, and they died, with their wives and children and cattle, to the number of a thousand persons.

When Mattathias and his friends learned of it, they mourned for them deeply.  And each said to his neighbor: “If we all do as our brothers have done and refuse to fight with the Gentiles for our lives and for our ordinances, they will quickly destroy us from the earth.” So they made this decision that day: “Let us fight against every man who comes to attack us on the sabbath day; let us not all die as our brethren died in their hiding places.”

Then there united with them a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly for the Torah.  And all who became fugitives to escape their troubles joined them and reinforced them. They organized an army, and struck down sinners in their anger and lawless men in their wrath; the survivors fled to the Gentiles for safety.

And Mattathias and his friends went about and tore down the altars; they forcibly circumcised all the uncircumcised boys that they found within the borders of Israel.  They hunted down the arrogant men, and the work prospered in their hands.  They rescued the Torah out of the hands of the Gentiles and kings, and they never let the sinner gain the upper hand.

Now the days drew near for Mattathias to die, and he said to his sons: “Arrogance and reproach have now become strong; it is a time of ruin and furious anger.  Now, my children, show zeal for the Torah, and give your lives for the covenant of our fathers.  Remember the deeds of the fathers, which they did in their generations; and receive great honor and an everlasting name.  Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness? Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt.  Phinehas our father, because he was deeply zealous, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood.  Joshua, because he fulfilled the command, became a judge in Israel.  Caleb, because he testified in the assembly, received an inheritance in the land.  David, because he was merciful, inherited the throne of the kingdom for ever.  Elijah because of great zeal for the Torah was taken up into heaven.  Hannaniah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame.  Daniel because of his innocence was delivered from the mouth of the lions.

“And so observe, from generation to generation, that none who put their trust in him will lack strength.  Do not fear the words of a sinner, for his splendor will turn into dung and worms. Today he will be exalted, but tomorrow he will not be found, because he has returned to the dust, and his plans will perish.  My children, be courageous and grow strong in the Torah, for by it you will gain honor.  Now behold, I know that Simeon your brother is wise in counsel; always listen to him; he shall be your father. Judas Maccabeus has been a mighty warrior from his youth; he shall command the army for you and fight the battle against the peoples.  You shall rally about you all who observe the Torah, and avenge the wrong done to your people.  Pay back the Gentiles in full, and heed what the Torah commands.”  Then he blessed them, and was gathered to his fathers. He died in the one hundred and forty-sixth year and was buried in the tomb of his fathers at Modein. And all Israel mourned for him with great lamentation.

1 Maccabees 3:1-60

Judah Maccabee

Then Judas his son, who was called Maccabeus, took command in his place.  All his brothers and all who had joined his father helped him; they gladly fought for Israel.  He extended the glory of his people. Like a giant he put on his breastplate; he girded on his armor of war and waged battles, protecting the host by his sword.  He was like a lion in his deeds, like a lion’s cub roaring for prey.  He searched out and pursued the lawless; he burned those who troubled his people.  Lawless men shrank back for fear of him; all the evildoers were confounded; and deliverance prospered by his hand.  He embittered many kings, but he made Jacob glad by his deeds, and his memory is blessed for ever.

He went through the cities of Judah; he destroyed the ungodly out of the land; thus he turned away wrath from Israel.  He was renowned to the ends of the earth; he gathered in those who were perishing. 1But Apollonius gathered together Gentiles and a large force from Samaria to fight against Israel.  When Judas learned of it, he went out to meet him, and he defeated and killed him. Many were wounded and fell, and the rest fled.  Then they seized their spoils; and Judas took the sword of Apollonius, and used it in battle the rest of his life.

Now when Seron, the commander of the Syrian army, heard that Judas had gathered a large company, including a body of faithful men who stayed with him and went out to battle. He said, “I will make a name for myself and win honor in the kingdom. I will make war on Judas and his companions, who scorn the king’s command.”  And again a strong army of ungodly men went up with him to help him, to take vengeance on the sons of Israel.  When he approached the ascent of Beth-horon, Judas went out to meet him with a small company.  But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judas, “How can we, few as we are, fight against so great and strong a multitude? And we are faint, for we have eaten nothing today.”

Judas replied, “It is easy for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between saving by many or by few.  It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven.  They come against us in great pride and lawlessness to destroy us and our wives and our children, and to despoil us;  but we fight for our lives and our Torah.  He himself will crush them before us; as for you, do not be afraid of them.”  

When he finished speaking, he rushed suddenly against Seron and his army, and they were crushed before him.  They pursued them down the descent of Beth-horon to the plain; eight hundred of them fell, and the rest fled into the land of the Philistines.  Then Judas and his brothers began to be feared, and terror fell upon the Gentiles round about them. His fame reached the king, and the Gentiles talked of the battles of Judas.

When king Antiochus heard these reports, he was greatly angered; and he sent and gathered all the forces of his kingdom, a very strong army. And he opened his coffers and gave a year’s pay to his forces, and ordered them to be ready for any need.

Then he saw that the money in the treasury was exhausted, and that the revenues from the country were small because of the dissension and disaster which he had caused in the land by abolishing the laws that had existed from the earliest days.  He feared that he might not have such funds as he had before for his expenses and for the gifts which he used to give more lavishly than preceding kings.  He was greatly perplexed in mind, and determined to go to Persia and collect the revenues from those regions and raise a large fund.

He left Lysias, a distinguished man of royal lineage, in charge of the king’s affairs from the river Euphrates to the borders of Egypt.  Lysias was also to take care of Antiochus his son until he returned.  And he turned over to Lysias half of his troops and the elephants, and gave him orders about all that he wanted done.

As for the residents of Judea and Jerusalem, Lysias was to send a force against them to wipe out and destroy the strength of Israel and the remnant of Jerusalem; he was to banish the memory of them from the place, settle aliens in all their territory, and distribute their land.

Then the king took the remaining half of his troops and departed from Antioch his capital in the one hundred and forty-seventh year. He crossed the Euphrates river and went through the upper provinces.  Lysias chose Ptolemy the son of Dorymenes, and Nicanor and Gorgias, mighty men among the friends of the king, and sent with them forty thousand infantry and seven thousand cavalry to go into the land of Judah and destroy it, as the king had commanded. So they departed with their entire force and when they arrived they encamped near Emmaus in the plain.  When the traders of the region heard what was said to them, they took silver and gold in immense amounts, and fetters, and went to the camp to get the sons of Israel for slaves. And forces from Syria and the land of the Philistines joined with them.

Now Judas and his brothers saw that misfortunes had increased and that the forces were encamped in their territory. They also learned what the king had commanded to do to the people to cause their final destruction. But they said to one another, “Let us repair the destruction of our people, and fight for our people and the sanctuary.”  And the congregation assembled to be ready for battle, and to pray and ask for mercy and compassion.  

Jerusalem was uninhabited like a wilderness; not one of her children went in or out. The sanctuary was trampled down, and the sons of aliens held the citadel; it was a lodging place for the Gentiles. Joy was taken from Jacob; the flute and the harp ceased to play.   So they assembled and went to Mizpah, opposite Jerusalem, because Israel formerly had a place of prayer in Mizpah.

They fasted that day, put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads, and rent their clothes.  And they opened the book of the Torah to inquire into those matters about which the Gentiles were consulting the images of their idols. They also brought the garments of the priesthood and the first fruits and the tithes, and they stirred up the Nazirites who had completed their days; and they cried aloud to Heaven, saying, “What shall we do with these? Where shall we take them?  Thy sanctuary is trampled down and profaned, and thy priests mourn in humiliation. And look, the Gentiles are assembled against us to destroy us; you know what they plot against us.  How will we be able to withstand them, if you do not help us?”

Then they sounded the trumpets and gave a loud shout.  After this Judas appointed leaders of the people, in charge of thousands and hundreds and fifties and tens.  And he said to those who were building houses, or were betrothed, or were planting vineyards, or were fainthearted, that each should return to his home, according to the Torah. Then the army marched out and encamped to the south of Emmaus.  And Judas said, “Gird yourselves and be valiant. Be ready early in the morning to fight with these Gentiles who have assembled against us to destroy us and our sanctuary.  It is better for us to die in battle than to see the misfortunes of our nation and of the sanctuary.  But as his will in heaven may be, so he will do.”

1 Maccabees 4:1-59

Now Gorgias took five thousand infantry and a thousand picked cavalry, and this division moved out by night  to fall upon the camp of the Jews and attack them suddenly. Men from the citadel were his guides.  But Judas heard of it, and he and his mighty men moved out to attack the king’s force in Emmaus  while the division was still absent from the camp. When Gorgias entered the camp of Judas by night, he found no one there, so he looked for them in the hills, because he said, “These men are fleeing from us.”

At daybreak Judas appeared in the plain with three thousand men, but they did not have armor and swords such as they desired. And they saw the camp of the Gentiles, strong and fortified, with cavalry round about it; and these men were trained in war. But Judas said to the men who were with him, “Do not fear their numbers or be afraid when they charge. Remember how our fathers were saved at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh with his forces pursued them. And now let us cry to Heaven, to see whether he will favor us and remember his covenant with our fathers and crush this army before us today. Then all the Gentiles will know that there is one who redeems and saves Israel.”

When the foreigners looked up and saw them coming against them, they went forth from their camp to battle. Then the men with Judas blew their trumpets and engaged in battle. The Gentiles were crushed and fled into the plain, and all those in the rear fell by the sword. They pursued them to Gazara, and to the plains of Idumea, and to Azotus and Jamnia; and three thousand of them fell. Then Judas and his force turned back from pursuing them, and he said to the people, “Do not be greedy for plunder, for there is a battle before us; Gorgias and his force are near us in the hills. But stand now against our enemies and fight them, and afterward seize the plunder boldly.”

Just as Judas was finishing this speech, a detachment appeared, coming out of the hills. They saw that their army had been put to flight, and that the Jews were burning the camp, for the smoke that was seen showed what had happened. When they perceived this they were greatly frightened, and when they also saw the army of Judas drawn up in the plain for battle, they all fled into the land of the Philistines. Then Judas returned to plunder the camp, and they seized much gold and silver, and cloth dyed blue and sea purple, and great riches.

On their return they sang hymns and praises to Heaven, for he is good, for his mercy endures for ever.  Thus Israel had a great deliverance that day. Those of the foreigners who escaped went and reported to Lysias all that had happened.  When he heard it, he was perplexed and discouraged, for things had not happened to Israel as he had intended, nor had they turned out as the king had commanded him. But the next year he mustered sixty thousand picked infantrymen and five thousand cavalry to subdue them. They came into Idumea and encamped at Beth-zur, and Judas met them with ten thousand men.  When he saw that the army was strong, he prayed, saying, “Blessed art thou, O Savior of Israel, who didst crush the attack of the mighty warrior by the hand of thy servant David, and didst give the camp of the Philistines into the hands of Jonathan, the son of Saul, and of the man who carried his armor. So do thou hem in this army by the hand of thy people Israel, and let them be ashamed of their troops and their cavalry.  Fill them with cowardice; melt the boldness of their strength; let them tremble in their destruction. Strike them down with the sword of those who love thee, and let all who know thy name praise thee with hymns.”

Then both sides attacked, and there fell of the army of Lysias five thousand men; they fell in action. And when Lysias saw the rout of his troops and observed the boldness which inspired those of Judas, and how ready they were either to live or to die nobly, he departed to Antioch and enlisted mercenaries, to invade Judea again with an even larger army.

Capturing the Altar of Sacrifice

Then said Judas and his brothers, “Behold, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it.”  So all the army assembled and they went up to Mount Zion.  And they saw the sanctuary desolate, the altar profaned, and the gates burned. In the courts they saw bushes sprung up as in a thicket, or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins. Then they rent their clothes, and mourned with great lamentation, and sprinkled themselves with ashes. They fell face down on the ground, and sounded the signal on the trumpets, and cried out to Heaven.

Then Judas detailed men to fight against those in the citadel until he had cleansed the sanctuary. He chose blameless priests devoted to the Torah, and they cleansed the sanctuary and removed the defiled stones to an unclean place. They deliberated what to do about the altar of burnt offering, which had been profaned.  They thought it best to tear it down, lest it bring reproach upon them, for the Gentiles had defiled it. So they tore down the altar,  and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until there should come a prophet to tell what to do with them. Then they took unhewn stones, as the Torah directs, and built a new altar like the former one.

They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the temple, and consecrated the courts. They made new holy vessels, and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. Then they burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps on the lampstand, and these gave light in the temple.  They placed the bread on the table and hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.

25 Kislev 148 B.C.E.

Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Kislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year,  they rose and offered sacrifice, as the Torah directs, on the new altar of burnt offering which they had built.   At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals.  All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them.

Feast of Dedication

So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and offered burnt offerings with gladness; they offered a sacrifice of deliverance and praise.  They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and furnished them with doors. There was very great gladness among the people, and the reproach of the Gentiles was removed.  Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with gladness and joy for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev. 

Revised Standard Version/Apocrypha

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