Archive for the ‘Feast of Dedication – Hanukkah’ Category

Yeshua in 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. 

Helper: Hebrew: Shammes

שמש

The Hebrew words shamash שמש or the Yiddish shammes שמש (spelled identically but with a different vowels) mean ‘helper’ and is used to describe the person who looks after the synagogue. The shamash or shammes also refers to the ‘set apart’ candle on the Hanukkiah that is used to light the rest of the candles for the eight nights of Hanukkah.

Hebrew Word Pictures

ש  Shin is a picture of a ‘tooth’ and means to ‘consume’ and also corresponds to the Shekinah or glory of Elohim

 מ Mem is a picture of ‘water’ and means ‘chaos’

ש  Shin is a picture of a ‘tooth’ and means to ‘consume’

The word pictures can mean ‘consuming the chaos with the glory of Elohim’

Some suggest that because the word shamash has ties to the Babylonian/Assyrian god known for truth and justice or the sun god. The Hebrew word shemesh does mean ‘sun,’ but doesn’t imply that the Jews worshipped the sun god as pagan cultures or that Hanukkah is rooted in a pagan festival and should not be celebrated. When studying the god shamash: he was responsible for maintaining the order of the universe, nothing could be hidden from his bright light which banished darkness and revealed lies. It was said that his ‘eye’ could see everything.

The Jewish people had by the time of the Feast of Dedication been sent to live in foreign cultures. They had been dispersed to Babylon and Assyria and could very easily have incorporated ‘foreign’ words into their vocabulary just as we have with the days of the week. Thursday for Thor, Wednesday for Odin, even Saturday for Saturn. Perhaps even to worship the God of Israel, they used the term ‘shamash’ in order to remain alive. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. What I do understand is the struggle to find ways to express dearly held beliefs in order to fit into an intolerant culture.

From a different perspective, perhaps the multi-god cultures of Babylon and Assyria saw the power of the God of Israel in the Jewish people. Perhaps they saw how He helped His chosen people, remain a light in their midst, and remain faithful to the Truth or Torah. Perhaps they chose the Hebrew word shamash for their god. Remember that Sha’ul saw in Athens idols with names for all manner of gods, but there was one unnamed that they worshipped in ignorance. Of course, he revealed the name of that God, the yod hey vav hey.

In either scenario, one word that means ‘helper’ in Hebrew does not a pagan practice make. With its Hebrew word pictures possibly depicting the ‘destruction of chaos by the glory of Elohim’ presents an extraordinary view of Hanukkah that fits the description found in Maccabees. There was great chaos caused by the Syrians (Assyrians) who murdered the Jewish people for their faith and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple and its altar had to be rededicated back to Elohim and according to the commands in Torah, that dedication must last eight days. For these reasons alone should Hanukkah be commemorated in support of the people and nation of Israel.

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

Bubbe’s Hanukkah Poem

This is a poem I wrote for my grandson’s first Hanukkah.

Hanukkah Word: Tradition

When I think of the word ‘tradition’, I immediately hear Tevye’s booming voice singing “TRADITION”, in “Fiddler on the Roof.” Along with singing the word ‘tradition’ over and over, he discourses during the song:   “Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything: how to sleep, how to eat… how to work… how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer shawl that shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, “How did this tradition get started?” I’ll tell you! … I don’t know. But it’s a tradition… and because of our traditions… Every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”

Keeping Traditions

I remember hearing a statement years ago that went something like “It’s not that the Jews keep traditions; it’s that the traditions keep the Jews.” There is truth in that statement because it’s not the only the Jews who have traditions. Some of us macro-tradition and follow the ways of our ancestors in how we carve a turkey, the ethnic meals we make during holidays or the educational institutions we choose. Some of us micro-tradition with how we launder our clothes, wear our hair or brush our teeth. Traditions not only help us order our daily lives, but they maintain a sense of family identity throughout the generations.

Tevye doesn’t know ‘where’ he received the traditions of keeping his head covered and his little prayer shawl. He doesn’t know ‘where’ the traditions of how to sleep, eat, work and wear clothes came from either. However, Tevye does know that they are expressions of who he is, who God is, and how he is expected to live in God’s design for life. His traditions bring balance to his life and, from what I can tell, Tevye’s traditions do not break any of God’s commandments. In fact, they are expressions of those commandments in his life.

“He [Yeshua] answered, “Indeed, why do you break the command of God by your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3).   “Thus, with your tradition which you had handed down to you, you nullify the Word of God! And you do other things like this” (Mark 7:13).

According to many, celebrating Hanukkah is a manmade Jewish tradition, not a Levitical Biblical holy day, and therefore should not be celebrated. Their rationale is that all traditions, because they are manmade, are contrary to God’s commands. Yet, Yeshua is clear that not all traditions nullify the Word of God. If that were the case, Yeshua would not have fit into the basic Jewish culture in which he lived: what he ate, how he dressed, where he went to school, and how he passed his mother onto John with his dying breath.

Hanukkah and the Temple

In John chapter 10, it is winter and the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah has arrived. Yeshua is walking around in Solomon’s Porch. Solomon’s Porch was a covered area on the far eastern side of the Temple area. It joined with the Court of the Gentiles where non-Jews would come to the Temple to worship the God of Israel as God-fearers. It was in this area that Yeshua’s fellow Jews surrounded him and demanded that he reveal whether or not he is the Messiah.   This is a dangerous confrontation because they already know that Yeshua has no problem rebuking anyone when they are living or speaking contrary to the will of God. He had already chastised some Pharisees regarding the ceremonial hand washing. He called other Jewish leaders blind fools and white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones. He completely discouraged the rich young man who wanted to follow him on his own terms. And, he told Peter, “Get behind me Satan.”

If Yeshua believed that Hanukkah was only a manmade tradition that nullified the commands of God, he would have spoken up at this very moment. He would have marched over to the Altar and rebuked the priests. He would have entered the Holy Place and overturned the Temple Menorah. He would have cried out in a loud voice for all of the men and women in the Temple area to hear, charging them with great sin in their idolatry of manmade traditions. He would have reprimanded them for celebrating the re-Dedication of His Father’s House when it wasn’t in Torah.

Instead of acting like the anti-Messiah and a fanatic lunatic, he speaks to them of sheep hearing his voice, the miracles he has done in his Father’s name, and his Oneness with his Father. Whether he lit a menorah in his house or played dreidel, no one knows. But, we do know he did not rebuke anyone, including those in the Court of the Gentiles, for being in the Temple at Hanukkah.   Why?   Because Yeshua is Jewish. His own ancestral history is tied up in the miraculous victory of Judah Maccabee and his armies over the Greeks. Had the Jewish people been annihilated by Antiochus Epiphanes, he wouldn’t even be standing among his Jewish brothers and sisters. They would have all been destroyed.

God’s Son

Because Yeshua is the Son of God, the Temple is his Father’s House, the place where he spent his time instructing those in Jerusalem who had ears to hear. Had the Maccabees not fought off the Greeks, the Temple would have remained a desecrated and unholy place. There would be no account of young Yeshua teaching in the Temple nor would he have been able to call His Father’s house a ‘house of prayer for all nations.’

The Lamb of God

Because Yeshua is the Lamb of God, the re-dedication of the Altar has great significance to Israel and the world. Without an Altar there is no place for the burnt offering, grain offering, guilt offering, fellowship offering or sin offering. It is only through blood that there was forgiveness of sins and it came through the shed blood of the Lamb, not the blood of unclean animals like the pigs (Hebrews 10:22).

The Torah

Because Yeshua is the Torah in the flesh, he is the Living Word that is a Menorah to our feet and a light to our path (John 1:14, Psalm 119:105). Whether one flask of oil lasted eight days is recorded or not, it is recorded that the Light of the World stood inside the Court of the Gentiles during the Feast of Dedication revealing to the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’ his identity. That miracle in itself is worth celebrating!

Prophetic Voice

Because Yeshua is God’s prophetic voice to mankind, he uses the very events of the Maccabean Revolt to allude to the time of the end and his return (Matthew 24:15). There will be an ‘abomination of desolation’ in the Holy Place of His Father’s House.

It is unfortunate that the books of Maccabees are only in the Apocrypha (removed from the Protestant canon) because according to Yeshua, we need to understand the ‘allusion’ which only comes from knowing the historical events surrounding the days and times of Judah Maccabee. Without that knowledge, we could very well become part of the great deception of the end times.

Traditions, as long as they do not nullify the commands of God are not an abomination to God; they are not going to be judged by God. Instead, they define us as individuals as well as join us together as family. As part of the commonwealth of Israel, lighting an eight-branched menorah unifies Jews and non-Jews as the family of God in a stand against those who would destroy our walk of faith in the God of Israel. As we spin the dreidel, we remember how many Jewish men, women and children were willing to die so that we could have the Hebrew Scriptures, we honor “A Great Miracle Happened There” becomes our victory cry when we are persecuted for standing with the Jewish people. Because Yeshua is our Jewish brother, our Savior, our High Priest, Our King, Hanukkah becomes part of our spiritual history and has great prophetic significance to strengthening our walk of faith in the days to come.

©2016 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.  

Archives

You are currently browsing the archives for the Feast of Dedication – Hanukkah category.