Archive for 2019

The Christmas Question

What are the roots of the Christmas season? Where did the traditions of Christmas originate? Why do wiccans and other pagans celebrate Christmas? Why does Santa Claus come down the chimney? Who is Krampus? Does God tell Christians to redeem the traditions of the world’s cultures? Is celebrating Christmas a sin for a follower of Messiah? How does someone who is redeemed from a life of sin respond to the love of God?

©119 Ministries

Hanukkah Word: Hammer

The dictionary defines a ‘hammer’ as “a tool with a heavy metal head mounted at right angles at the end of a handle, used for jobs such as breaking things and driving in nails.”

The noun ‘hammer’ is found only a few times in Scripture. The first time is found in Judges when Ya’el, the wife of Heber, uses a hammer to pound a tent stake into the head of Sisra piercing his skull and crushing his temple. With this act, she sets Isra’el free from God’s judgment for worshipping idols. The second time is found in the book of First Kings where it is recorded that the stones for building the Temple were prepared at the quarry so that no ‘hammer’ was heard while it was being built.

Though King David lived long before the Maccabean Revolt, Psalm 74 reveals how the sanctuary of Elohim was destroyed when Isra’el was taken captive as judgment by God for disobeying His commands and worshipping idols. Hammers were used by the enemies of God’s people to destroy the Temple, specifically to smash the intricately carved woodwork.

“If a prophet has a dream, let him tell it as a dream. But someone who has my word should speak my word faithfully. What do chaff and wheat have in common?” asks Adonai. “Isn’t my word like fire,” asks Adonai, “like a hammer shattering rocks?” (Jeremiah 23:28-29).”

The Word of God is like a hammer that shatters rocks. Through His Spirit, Elohim changes the heart of stone into a heart of flesh; He shatters the rock-hard heart so that it desires to obey His commandments. However, the prophet Jeremiah speaks about shepherds who lead the people of Adonai astray – shepherds like the false priests who succumbed to the Hellenization of their faith and began to worship other gods.

The Hebrew word for ‘hammer’ is מקבות or maqqebeth or in English, Maccabee. This word is significant to the celebration of Hanukkah as the leader of the Jewish revolt against the Syrian armies of Alexander the Great was called Judah ‘Maccabee’ or ‘the Hammer.’ As a small army of ‘hammers,’ the Maccabees fought against the brutal and overpowering armies of Alexander the Great who wanted to Hellinize Isra’el.

Rather than assimilating into the Greek culture worshipping foreign gods, Judah and his ‘hammer’ rebels fought for their freedom to worship the God of Isra’el. With faith in the ‘Word’ of Elohim, and the help of the ‘Commander of Elohim’s Armies,’ they ‘hammered’ against their enemies for four years in order to regain control of the Temple in Jerusalem and restore it to its original glory and worship.

As hammers were used to destroy the Temple, The Hammer was used to restore it.

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. 

First Night of Hanukkah

First night of Hanukkah excerpt from the study guide, Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts available on amazon.com

Feast of Dedication – Hanukkah

“Then came the Festival of Dedication [footnote: Hanukkah] at Jerusalem. It was winter,and Yeshua was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade” (John 10:22). 

The Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah is not a designated Feast of the LORD, however Yeshua went to the Temple in Jerusalem during this festival and revealed himself to the people.  Hanukkah has its roots in anti-semitism and the leader of a great nation’s desire for the destruction of the Jewish people.  It is celebrated in November/December in the winter.  

The historical account of Hanukkah is found in the inter-testamental book of 1 Maccabees. There are numerous suppositions as to why Maccabees was not included in the canon of Scriptures, but 1 and 2 Maccabees are found in the Septuagint used by the Catholic church and the eastern Orthodox churches.  Whatever the reason for its exclusion from the canon, Yeshua was found in the Temple during the celebration of his nation’s victory over anti-semitism.  

In 167 BCE (Before Common Era), King Antiochus (Greek: anti-christ) of Syria desired to Hellenize (make everything Greek) the empire of Alexander the Great.    He made Judaism illegal.  This caused a conflict between the Greeks who had their own gods and culture and the Jews who worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and lived according to the Torah commands. 

Initially, Antiochus desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem by sacrificing pigs on the Altar and putting their blood all over the Holy Place.   He ordered the Levite priests to make sacrifices away from the Temple and demanded the Jewish people follow Greek sacrificial rituals and customs.  When the Jews continued to read Torah, keep the Sabbath, eat according to God’s dietary instructions and circumcise their sons, they became enemies of the state.  If they were caught following any of God’s commands, they had the choice to submit to the new governing authority or die.  

One Levite priest, Mattathias, was commanded to sacrifice to Zeus on an altar away from the Temple.  He refused.  A nearby Jewish man stepped forward and obeyed the soldier’s order.   Mattathias killed the man and the soldier.  Thus began what is known as the Maccabean revolt.  

Mattathias had a son named Judah.  He was given the nickname Maccabee, meaning ‘hammer.’  With the realization they would have to fight the Syrian armies in order to regain control of the Temple, maintain their customs and survive as a nation, Judah put together a small army that fought for years against the massive Greek armies.  After seven years of war, Judah and his army defeated the Syrians and regained control of the Temple in Jerusalem.  He located faithful Levite priests to restore the Temple and to rebuild the Altar.  Once everything was cleansed and restored, it was ready to be rededicated back to God.  According to the instructions in Torah,this process would take eight days.

There is a story in the Talmud (the oral law) that says when the priests went to light the great Menorah, they found only enough consecrated oil to last one day.  Miraculously, the oil lasted the full eight days, the time required for consecrating new holy oil, and thus came forth the miracle of the oil. It is from these events that the Feast of Dedication or the eight nights of Hanukkah came to be established.

Eight Nights of Hanukkah

Each evening of Hanukkah as the sun sets, a special menorah or Hanukkiah is lit.  A Hanukkiah can be bought online or simply created from 9 candles on a table; however make one significantly different to be the shamash or ‘helper candle.’    The activities for Hanukkah are designed for one topic every day for eight days, however, one topic can be developed to last the entire week of Hanukkah;  thus giving this section an eight-year outline of study.

First Night of Hanukkah – Anti-semitism & Persecution

“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” (Deuteronomy 7:6). 

Family Study and Activity:

On the first night of Hanukkah, light the most separate candle or shamash on the Hanukkiah.  From the shamash, light the first night’s candle.  After you light your Hanukkiah, place it in a window to show your solidarity with the chosen people of God. 

Define shamash:

Persecution is not new to the Jewish people.  They have been persecuted since their time of slavery in Egypt! There will always be anti-semitic people like Haman, Antiochus, the Romans, the Crusaders and Hitler who want the destruction of God’s chosen people.  The greatest persecutions demand the Jewish people stop being Jewish by disobeying the instructions of Yahweh in the Torah.  This is not something they would ever do and, in spite of severe consequences, have faithfully guarded the Word of God throughout the millennia with their lives.  It is because of their steadfastness to the Torah and the Prophets that we have the Bible today.  It is because of the courageous actions of the Maccabees protecting the lineage of Judah that Yeshua, our salvation, could be born.

1. Read Matthew 5:10-12, James 1:2-3, 1 Peter 5:6-7, 2 Timothy 2:3, Revelation 13:10 and Revelation 14:12.  How did each of  these Jewish men deal with persecution from their own people?  People from the nations?

Peter:

James:

John:

Sha’ul:

Timothy:

Yeshua:

2.  Read Romans 11:16-20.  Discuss the warning Sha’ul gave to the church in Rome.  Did the Roman church heed the warnings?  Why or why not?

3.  How has Rome influenced the church today?  Are these influences easily recognized?  Why or why not?

4.  Should Roman influences be removed from a pure walk of faith?  Why or why not?

5.  Read Revelation 3:15-16. Hot and cold in these verses refer to mixing the holy ‘hot’ with the profane ‘cold’ as in the golden calf account in Exodus 32.  How has the influence of the Roman church made the Body of Christ ‘lukewarm’?

6.  Compare how the Maccabees dealt with the Hellenization of their faith with that of the Romanization of the faith the actions of believers.

7.  Read the requirements for being a saint in Revelation 14:12.  Are you a saint?  Why or why not?

8.  What does it mean for a saint to ‘patiently endure’?

9.  Have you ever experienced persecution for your faith in Yeshua/Jesus?  In what way?  By whom?

10.  What is the difference between a trial and persecution?  

Define trial:

Define persecution:

11.  If you celebrated Hanukkah do you think you would be persecuted by Jews? Friends? Christians? Why or why not? 

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. 

Pebble in My Shoe

When I was in junior/senior high, I was part of a Christian singing group that traveled around the east coast performing evangelistic folk musicals. We also included a small medley from the popular Godspell that had “By My Side” as one of the songs.

I never really understood the words “I’ll put a pebble in my shoe and walk” when I was young. Who would make themselves uncomfortable when they walk? As an adult those words took on more meaning when facing struggles in my life from miscarriages to persecutions from other believers. I always knew that Yeshua was ‘by my side,’ and I would sing praises to him to encourage myself through the struggles. Eventually with time the pebble would wear down or it would be shaken out of my shoe.

When reading about the encounter between Jacob and the ‘angel of the LORD,’ in Genesis 32 that pebble took on a more intense purpose. During their wrestling match, the ‘man’ touched Jacob’s hip which caused him to limp.

The ‘pebble in his shoe’ was never removed nor did it wear down, it caused him to limp for the rest of his life! It was this ‘pebble’ that changed him from being a carnal man to a spiritual man. It was this pebble that revealed his ‘walk with Elohim‘ to the world in which he lived. He could never hide his faith nor the the personal encounter with the man of ‘salvation’. It was obvious to everyone he encountered from that moment on – he limped.

He limped when he met Esau the next day. He limped when he met with Shechem to discuss the rape of his daughter, Dinah. He limped to Beth-el with his family where he received the blessing of faith from Elohim. He limped when he grieved the loss of his beloved Rachel. He limped when his sons brought him the bloodied garment of his son, Joseph. He limped all his days in Canaan. He limped to Egypt. With that limp, he met his ‘resurrected’ son Jospeh and his grandsons. With that limp he entered the presence of the Pharaoh of Egypt as the patriarch of a nation called Isra’el. With that limp no one who met him would ever forget the God of Abraham and Isaac was ‘by Jacob’s side.’

“Therefore, to keep me from becoming overly proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from the Adversary to pound away at me, so that I wouldn’t grow conceited. Three times I begged the Lord to take this thing away from me; but he told me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is brought to perfection in weakness.” Therefore, I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses, in order that the Messiah’s power will rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

Sha’ul too had a ‘pebble in his shoe.’ He called it a ‘thorn in his flesh.’ It was given to him by the Adversary to keep him from becoming arrogant. Though there are many speculations about what that thorn was, it was a thorn, a pebble that challenged him every day of his life. As would be common for any man or woman, he prayed for its removal, but Elohim told him that ‘His power is brought to perfection in weakness.”

The Scriptures do not suggest that the limp that Jacob received was from the Adversary, but Jacob, whose name means ‘may God protect,’ struggled with the Adversary against the plans of Elohim for his life. It was only through his years of struggle and God’s protection that the truth of the Messiah became a real and vibrant prophetic vision in his life.

Through Sha’ul, the message of Messiah Yeshua came to the nations. Through Jacob, Isra’el became the nation from whom salvation comes. The next time Elohim would put a ‘pebble in my shoe,’ I’m not going to pray for the day it is removed or wears down, but stop and give thanks for the blessing that He sees me as a vessel for His purpose and a powerful reminder that Yeshua is ‘by my side.’

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

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