Archive for 2014

Hanukkah and Purim: Tradition or Prophetic

“At the beginning I announce the end, proclaim in advance things not yet done; and I say that my plan will hold, I will do everything I please to do” (Isaiah 46:10).

This year, like the past few, I have heard a lot of discussion about Hanukkah being a ‘manmade’ or ‘traditional’ holiday rather than one of God’s Appointed Times like Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.  Because it has been judged by some as just a ‘tradition’ that men created, they have chosen to opt out. To each his own, however, I wonder if that is really is a wise decision based on Scripture and prophecy about Israel, the Jewish people and the coming Temple.    

In Mark 7, Yeshua only rebukes the leaders for a tradition that nullifies the commandments.  If a tradition doesn’t nullify a commandment, then it  isn’t sin.  Consider that Yeshua uses ‘traditional blessings’ when he blesses the five loaves and two fish.   Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:1, commends the Corinthians for holding to the traditions that he taught.  He wouldn’t have had  to teach the traditions to Jews for they would already know them, but  he had to teach them (and explain them) to those non-Jews in Corinth who had no clue (as he does with the head covering).  

What about the un’appointed times’ of Hanukkah and Purim?  If Yahweh didn’t command them and Yeshua isn’t central to them, should we just consider them nothing but manmade traditions without importance?  I believe not.

In John chapter 10, Yeshua was at the Temple with his brothers and sisters during the celebration of Hanukkah.  He didn’t reubke them as he did the leaders in Mark 7.  He didn’t condemn them for celebrating a ‘manmade’  holiday that broke the commandments.  In fact, he used the Feast of Dedication to reveal himself as the Messiah, the Good Shepherd who has listening sheep.   While standing in Solomon’s Colonnade, a part of the Temple that had been rededicated only 165 years before after the Syrian desecration, he said,  I am the good shepherd; I know my own, and my own know me —  just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father — and I lay down my life on behalf of the sheep.  Also I have other sheep which are not from this pen; I need to bring them, and they will hear my voice; and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” 

imagesYeshua says that there are two pens of sheep.  One pen is obviously gathered at the Temple (the Jewish people),  the others are not (the gentiles).  However, he says those of the nations will hear his voice, leave their pen of the world, be brought to him at the Temple and become one flock with the sheep already there.  What could be more prophetic than some future Feast of Dedication at the Temple established by Yeshua? 

Purim and Hanukkah are the revelation and celebration of God’s deliverance of the Jewish people from the Adversary himself.   They are central to the survival of the nation of Israel and especially the Jewish people without whom our salvation would have never been born, lived, died, resurrected, ascended and soon to return.  Without the events surrounding Purim and Hanukkah, the Jewish people would have been annihilated and we would still be dead in our sins – the ultimate goals of haSatan and his ‘kingdom of this world’.  

In the account of Purim, the Adversary uses a man named Haman.  Though God sent His people into exile for disobedience to the commandments and spiritual idolatry, it was never His intention that they be massacred and annihilated – only refined until they were willing to return to Him with their whole hearts.  Esther was chosen by God to put an end to Haman’s schemes.   She became Queen of Persia (modern day Iran)  ‘for such a time as this’.  She fasted and prayed for the lives of her people in spite of great opposition and possible failure.  Through her, a mere woman chosen by God for a great purpose,  those in captivity were saved and eventually set free to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city and the Temple.     

In the account of Hanukkah, the Adversary uses a man named Antiochus Epiphanes.  His purpose was not only to annihilate the Jews, but to destroy the foundation of their faith, lifestyle and worship through assimilation into Greek culture.  He understood quite succinctly that someone who wants to destroy the Jewish people begins by forbidding their sacrifices, denying their appointed times, keeping them from circumcising their children and then defiling their Temple in Jerusalem.   Defiling the Temple is also a direct attack against the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Israel, the Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey Himself.  After all, Antiochus Epiphanes does mean ‘antichrist in the flesh’.    Judah Maccabee was chosen by God to put an end to Antiochus’ schemes.  God raised up a man, the son of a Levite priest, to gather together a small rag tag army of 100s to defeat the armies of Alexander the Great.  Through him, a mere man, the control of the Temple was regained, restored, and rededicated back to the God of Israel.  

The central theme to both of these holidays is anti-semitism and it is at work in the hearts of foreign peoples, the gentiles in Persia, Syria, and in all the known world at those times.   The leaders of these nations hated the Jewish people who lived differently from them and their gods.  They hated their customs and traditions that united them as a people.  They hated their religious practices that glorified YHVH. They hated their God and wanted Him removed from the culture.  As foreigners joined to God through faith, we need to make sure that we do not embrace the same anti-semitism and stand against God’s people with nations that continue to come against them seeking their destruction.   

There is a ‘man of lawlessness’ at work in the world and his followers practice lawlessness and sin (2 Thessalonians 2:1-7, 1 John 3:4).   This lawlessness not only denies Yeshua as the Son of God, but also tries to remove the Jewish people from the world.  I have witnessed that same ‘lawless spirit’ in the body of Messiah under the guise of the ‘grace doctrine’ that promotes ‘freedom from the law’.     There is a falling away of knowing Yeshua as the Word of God, the Jewish Messiah, as well as a denial of God’s eternal calling on the Jewish people.  This falling away refutes their traditions that have united them as a nation and condemns their Biblical way of worship.

The events surrounding Purim, which are found within the Book of Esther,  could be likened to Nazi Germany and the wicked Adolf Hitler.  The events surrounding Hanukkah could be likened to the Spanish Inquisitions and the Roman catholic church that gave the Jews the choice of forced conversion to pagan idolatry or death.  Saying that these holidays aren’t God-inspired is like saying that the Jewish people aren’t worthy of God’s deliverance and protection from the likes of Haman, Antiochus, Queen Isabella,  Adolf Hitler and the coming ‘man of lawlessness’ who is already here.   The Scriptures say something quite different.  They have God’s eternal promises of acceptance and salvation. 

“This is what the LORD says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:37).  

What does the Bible say about Hanukkah?  Though people say that Hanukkah isn’t in the Bible, it is.  Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew word chanak כנח and means ‘dedication.’  This word is found eight times in Scripture regarding the  dedication of the Tabernacle, the wall in Jerusalem, the Temple and the Altar. 

Numbers 7:11 “The leaders brought the offering for dedicating the altar on the day it was anointed. The leaders brought their offering before the altar, and Adonai said to Moshe, “They are to present their offerings to dedicate (chanukah) the altar, each leader on his own day.”

Nehemiah 12:27 “At the dedication of the wall of Yerushalayim, they sought out the Levites from wherever they had settled to bring them to Yerushalayim and celebrate the dedication (chanukah) with hymns of thanksgiving and with songs accompanied by cymbals, lutes and lyres.”

Psalm 30 “ A psalm. A song for the dedication (chanukah) of the house. By David.

2 Chronicles 7:8-9 “So Solomon celebrated the festival at that time for seven days, together with all Israel, an enormous gathering; [they had come all the way] from the entrance of Hamat to the Vadi [of Egypt].  On the eighth day they held a solemn assembly, having observed the dedication (chanukah) of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days.” (Note the eight-day celebration for dedicating the altar. It always took eight days because the number 8 has the significance of ‘life’ and ‘new beginnings.’)

Was it not at the Altar that the sacrifice for sin was made?  Is it not the Altar of Sacrifice that will once again be dedicated chanukah in Ezekiel’s vision of the Temple?

The account of the dedication of the altar for eight days is found in the first book of Maccabees.   I know there are those who say that because the book of First Maccabees isn’t in the Bible, it has no validity.  However, many Biblical scholars and teachers of Scripture use the historian Josephus to show historical events as authentic, and he’s not in the Bible either.  Josephus lived during the days of Yeshua and his historical records of the times are considered honest and accurate accounts of Jewish history.

“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” (1 Maccabees 1:63-64).

eikon_1132Though the miracle of the oil may not be found in the account of Maccabees, who is to say it didn’t happen?  In 2 Kings 4:1-7, Yahweh performed a miracle of oil through Elijah when the widow’s oil did not run out and she had enough to sell and pay her debts.

Hanukkah is a memorial about miracles: the miracle of a small group of people defeating the largest known world armies, the miracle of the deliverance of the Jewish people from assimilation into Hellenism, the miracle of regaining the Temple of God, the miracle of the menorah being lit once again in the Holy Place along with the restoration of Temple worship through the Altar of Sacrifice. 

What does Josephus, the historian, say about Hanukkah?

“Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days; and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon: but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honoured God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights.”

Those who have joined the commonwealth of Israel through faith in Yeshua claim to  accept Biblical history as their own and prophecy as their future expectations,  but what about history not found in the Bible but proved by historians?   Do we, as gentile believers, bring reproach again on Israel? Do we deny the parts of destruction and restoration because we really don’t want to endure the persecution that will ultimately become part of our lives when we graft into the chosen people?

I have actually heard Messianic non-Jewish believers say that they ‘circumcised their Hanukkiah’  – cut off the shamash or ‘attending light’ – because God never designed such a menorah and it is an abomination to Him.     How shameless!  What mockery not only to God and his commandment about circumcision,  but also to the chosen people of God who have suffered millennia of persecution in order that we may have have the Scriptures!  These same people ended up denying Yeshua as the Messiah because God will not be mocked nor will he allow His people to be put to shame.   The Hanukkiah was not designed to take the place of the menorah in the Temple, but created as a way to remember the eight-day dedication of the Altar and the Temple.   It is a lampstand lit to remind the world that the lives of the Jewish people have not been snuffed nor will they ever be.   Because of their existence for millennia, salvation has come to Israel and all the world.  And, it is these same Jewish people who will light the menorah in a Temple and will call for Messiah to return when the prophecies of Daniel come to pass in these last days. 

“So when you see the abomination that causes devastation spoken about through the prophet Daniel standing in the Holy Place” (let the reader understand the allusion),  “that will be the time for those in Judah to escape to the hills. If someone is on the roof, he must not go down to gather his belongings from his house;  if someone is in the field, he must not turn back to get his coat. What a terrible time it will be for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that you will not have to escape in winter or on Shabbat.  For there will be trouble then worse than there has ever been from the beginning of the world until now, and there will be nothing like it again![b] 22 Indeed, if the length of this time had not been limited, no one would survive; but for the sake of those who have been chosen, its length will be limited” (Matthew 24:15-22).

The days of persecution and defilement are coming upon the world again.  Anti-semitism is at its highest worldwide since Nazi Germany.  It’s not Haman or the German people who are screaming to the world on the daily newscasts ‘death to the Jews’, it’s the followers of Mohammed and Islam.  It’s not Antiochus Epiphanes and his armies who have an idol to a foreign god on the Temple mount and are demanding Israel and the world assimilate into their religious system, it’s the Muslims. 

3rdTempleThose who take part in lighting their menorah or hanukkiah at Hanukkah are not only remembering  a story of great sacrifice and courage, they make a statement to the world of their stand with God’s chosen people and their eternal calling.   By playing dreidel, eating latkes, reciting the blessings and reading  the historical account, those who celebrate Hanukkah show everyone they are not anti-semitic and want to be part of the commonwealth of Israel – to protect her Scriptures no matter what the cost to themselves or their families.  Those who understand the battles and victories surrounding around Hanukkah  will join with our Commander-in-Chief, Yeshua, who will defeat all of Israel’s enemies and set up His Kingdom in Jerusalem for a Millennial Reign.   Celebrating Hanukkah is nothing more than a mikrah or dress rehearsal for a  future millenium when Yeshua’s Temple will be established and for eight days will be dedicated to Yahweh by the Levites along with Yeshua’s royal priesthood.   

“But you, Daniel, keep these words secret, and seal up the book until the time of the end. Many will rush here and there as knowledge increases” (Daniel 12:4).

©2014 Tentstake Ministries Book Nosh

Miriam’s Hanukkah Miracle

Did you know from Biblical study, we can figure out that Yeshua/Jesus was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall?    This means that he would have been conceived 40 weeks earlier which just ‘happens’ to be the days of Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication.  I am always reminded at this time of year of how Miriam (Mary) experienced the Miracle of all Miracles.   Through the Spirit of God, she conceived a child, the promised Seed of the woman, the Light of the World, the One who would restore all things.  Such a miraculous conception was the desire of every woman from the beginning of time, but she was the ‘chosen one’ to give birth to the coming Messiah!

mary-is-visited-by-the-angel-gabriel2

It was during the days of Hanukkah that the miracle of God becoming flesh began.  It was during the days of Hanukkah that Miriam dedicated herself, her body, her life to becoming the mother of the Savior of the world.  It was during the days of Hanukkah that she left home and visited her cousin Elizabeth causing her baby to leap in its womb.  And, it was while all these things were happening in a small village called Nazareth that many people of  Israel were in Jerusalem remembering the rededication of the Altar of Sacrifice in the Temple, the miracle of the oil in the Temple Menorah, and hoped for the One who would be the Light of the World and become the sacrifice to bring them complete and final redemption.

“How blessed are you among women! And how blessed is the child in your womb!” (Luke 1:45).

Apart from the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem from its defilement by the Greeks,  apart from the end times’ prophecies in Daniel about the coming ‘anointed One’ to rededicate a Temple in Jerusalem, a sometimes overlooked ‘reason for the season’ is found in Miriam’s response to Elizabeth’s words, 

“My soul magnifies YHVH; and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior, who has taken notice of his servant-girl  in her humble position.  For — imagine it! — from now on, all generations will call me blessed!  The Mighty One has done great things for me! Indeed, his name is holy;  and in every generation he has mercy on those who fear him.   He has performed mighty deeds with his arm, routed the secretly proud, brought down rulers from their thrones, raised up the humble, filled the hungry with good things, but sent the rich away empty.  He has taken the part of his servant Israel, mindful of the mercy which he promised to our fathers, to Avraham and his seed forever” (Luke 1:46-55). 

Many years later, during the week of Hanukkah, Yeshua went to the Temple in Jerusalem where everyone was remembering the miracles of God.  Strange as it may seem, he was also marking the time of his miraculous conception in the womb, the moment when he humbled himself, gave up his glory, and began life a human being – a human being who would be born to a Jewish woman, grow as a Jewish child,  live as a Jewish man, die as a Jewish man, resurrect as a Jewish man and would return as the promised heir of the eternal kingdom from Judah and King David.  In the midst of this memorial celebration to the rededication to the Altar, Yeshua proclaimed himself as the Messiah.  The Miracle of Miracles, the Light of the World, the true Menorah of God’s deliverance stood among his own and said ‘I and the Father are One’ (John 10:30). 

“Though he [Yeshua] was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be possessed by force. On the contrary, he emptied himself, in that he took the form of a slave by becoming like human beings are. And when he appeared as a human being, he humbled himself still more by becoming obedient even to death — death on a cross as a criminal!  Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow — in heaven, on earth and under the earth —  and every tongue will acknowledge  that Yeshua the Messiah is LORD — to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

When celebrating the days of dedication, consider more than the amazing account of the Maccabees victory, the miracle of oil in the Menorah, and the rededication of the Altar.   Meditate on Miriam’s personal Hanukkah Miracle. The dedication of herself as the temple that carried the Savior of the world.  Without her humility and willingness to treasure everything in her heart, there would be no sacrifice for sin, no forgiveness of sin, no redemption for Israel, and no hope of an eternal future in the world to come with Israel’s Messiah, King Yeshua.  

©2014 Tent Stake Ministries

December 7, 2014 – What does it profit a man?

Thoughts on this Yom Rishon, first day of the week: What does it profit a man to know all 619 Torah commandments, but neglect the widow and the fatherless? What does it profit a man to know all the pagan roots of the holidays, but neglect the hearts and souls of the those in the nations who are lost and dying? What does it profit a man to know all the shadows and realities of the Biblical appointed times, but to judge the Jewish people who have guarded them for centuries with their lives? What does it profit a man to question everything ever written in Scripture, every prophet, every disciple, every apostle, but never actually put their faith in Yeshua who is the Word of Life? What does it profit a man to become part of the commonwealth of Israel, but never enter the Kingdom of God through the Spirit and water now (and in the future)? “What good will it do someone if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life?” (Matthew 16:26)

November 24, 2014 – Cultural Overload

With all of the race riots being incited by leaders because of Ferguson, the executive orders being done unconstitutionally by a senseless president that jeopardizes our national security , the kidnapping of children by Child Protective Services in order to vaccinate already unhealthy children, the Muslim takeover of the US through the ignorance of a generation’s zeal for cultural tolerance, school murders because of mental illness caused by pharmaceutical drugs and unchecked aggression, the acceptance of marriage between two people of the same sex who cannot biologically procreate by becoming one flesh, the supposed war on the women that allows them to kill babies in the womb and up until 5 years of age and personhood,  the push toward losing our inalienable rights as American citizens with freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, the protection from search and seizure, I’m watching 2 Timothy 3:1 coming to pass right before my eyes, and sometimes I just like watching it snow on my chickens.    

“Moreover, understand this: in the last days will come trying times.  People will be self-loving, money-loving, proud, arrogant, insulting, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, uncontrolled, brutal, hateful of good,  traitorous, headstrong, swollen with conceit, loving pleasure rather than God, as they retain the outer form of religion but deny its power.

Stay away from these people!  For some of them worm their way into homes and get control of weak-willed women who are heaped with sins and swayed by various impulses,  who are always learning but never able to come to full knowledge of the truth…. They are people with corrupted minds, whose trust cannot pass the test.  However, they won’t get very far; because everyone will see how stupid they are ….

But you, you have closely followed my (Paul’s) teaching, conduct, purpose in life, trust, steadfastness, love and perseverance —  as well as the persecutions and sufferings that came my way in …. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.  And indeed, all who want to live a godly life united with the Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted,  while evil people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves.

But you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, recalling the people from whom you learned it; and recalling too how from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which can give you the wisdom that leads to deliverance through trusting in Yeshua the Messiah.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; 17 thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work.”

Bo Mashiach, Come Quickly Yeshua.

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