Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Hanukkah “Alternative” vs. Christmas

For many Biblical reasons, our family stopped celebrating Christmas many years ago.  Our relatives didn’t understand our reasons, but accepted the decision as best they could.  One side still sent Christmas presents that we reminded our children to accept with gratefulness because ‘every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).   The other side began wrapping Christmas gifts in Hanukkah paper.  Though that was their way of respecting our decision, Hanukkah is not a Jewish substitute, replacement or alternative to Christmas.  Hanukkah and Christmas have two very different historic backgrounds and have nothing in common with one another.

The roots and traditions of Christmas can be found in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia on which the Catholic church sprinkled holy water,  incorporated the birth of a non-Jewish Jesus, and created the Christ Mass (which ironically means ‘death sacrifice’).   Those who embrace Christmas believing it as Jesus’ birthday  are doing nothing more than acknowledging catholicism as the roots of their faith (even if they are protestants who reject everything catholic).   In fact, all of Christiandom and secular society for this one day of the year become catholic in their celebration and promote the idolatrous Saturnalia with a holiday of stars, greenery, and gift giving.  

The events surrounding Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication (John 10:22), are found in the Apocrypha and are rooted in Jewish history during the time of Alexander the Great when he wanted to Hellenize the world.  It was during this time that the Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea to the Greek/Latin Palestine in order to expedite the destruction of the nation and people of Israel.  Alexander’s cohort Antiochus Epiphanes (means ‘antichrist manifest’) went about ‘Palestine’  forcing the Jewish people to renounce their faith in the God of Israel or die.  He sought to destroy the people and the lineage through whom the Messiah would come. They were not allowed to circumcise their children, celebrate Passover or any of God’s other holy days or offer sacrifices in the Temple.  This is the same Temple that today Muslim world leaders claim never existed; the same place where an Islamic mosque stands.   As Antiochus’ armies entered Jerusalem, they desecrated the Most Holy Place in the Temple with pig’s blood.  

Our family is not nor ever was Catholic thus we do not take part in the Christ Mass.   Our children were raised to understand the historical roots of Christmas and have never felt like they were missing anything.   Instead, they were taught about Hanukkah and the anti-semitism of the Greek/Roman world, the same anti-semitism that still exists today in much of the church due to its catholic heritage along with the growing ideology of hatred for Israel in Islam. 

As they are all grown and have their own lives, each still remembers the Maccabees and their fight to free the Jews from being Hellenized with paganism.   They light their menorahs for eight days to remember the re-dedication of the Temple Altar back to Yahweh.  Each night with the candle light they look forward to the day when the Messiah Yeshua returns, sets His feet on the Mount of Olives, enters the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem and the Temple area.  On that day he will cleanse a newly-built  Temple from the coming ‘abomination of desolation’ (Matthew 24:15-26, 2 Thessalonians 2:4). He will restore Jerusalem and the nation of Israel to the eternal glory that is promised in the Holy Scriptures.  

Hanukkah is not a Jewish alternative to Christmas.  Changing the wrapping paper on a present or saying “Happy Hanukkah” rather than “Merry Christmas” changes nothing about the deeply rooted differences.  One is a celebration with unBiblical roots and decorated to entice the world into idolatry; the other is a memorial to those who fought against anti-semitism in order to protect the Temple in Jerusalem and to stand against the destruction of  their faith in the God of Israel.   Unlike the Roman catholic-based Christmas, Hanukkah is a reminder from a century before the birth of Messiah that nothing and no one, especially a modern ‘antiochus’ can destroy the Lion of the Tribe of Judah through whom the redemption of the world will come.

“You people don’t know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know, because salvation comes from the Jews” (John 4:22).

This year, 2016, Hanukkah begins the evening of December 24 and lasts 8 days.

©2015 Tent Stake Ministries

Journey With Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive

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To Purchase

“Treat the Messiah as holy, as Lord in your hearts; while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you —” (1 Peter 3:15).

Journey with Jeremiah is a compilation of reasoned responses written to answer questions regarding a ‘gentile’ walk of faith in the Jewish Messiah of Israel. It will challenge a gentile’s spiritual attitudes and how they live out their love for the God of Israel and His Son, Jesus (Yeshua). It will move the non-Jew from a crossroads in their faith onto the ancient paths bringing nourishment to the wild olive.

Part One explores many of the misunderstood doctrines in historical Christianity: the new covenant, the problem in Galatia, the law vs. the Law, Peter’s vision, and the timing of Jesus’ birth. Part Two brings the ancient shadows into the reality of Yeshua giving prophetic insights into the unexplained ‘Jewish festivals’ that leave holes in the pages of the New Testament. Part Three gives simple recipes, study guides and crafts to use when celebrating the Biblical holidays.

Note: Purchases are made through CreateSpace and Amazon.com with a credit card.  If you need to purchase through Paypal, please contact me directly: julie@tentstakeministries.

Kindle Edition

Comments from those who have read the book:

“This book is so good I can’t put it down.  Everyone should have a copy!” D. Carlson

“My Bible study group could learn so much from this book.” A. David

“I am going to buy a copy of this book for everyone in my family.”  K. Pilger

“I am so excited that all of your writings are now in one book that I can read and reread.” P. Nelson

“Thanks so much for writing this book.  I look forward to joining you on your Jeremiah Journey!”  D. Griffith

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

Chrismas is Yours, Not Mine and They’re Okay

Christmas is not our holiday.  It just isn’t.  It hasn’t been for over 20 years.  It’s just that simple.   Every year when one of my adult children says this to someone who does celebrate the holiday, they are invariably asked, “How has that affected you?” making them feel like they have been deprived of something grandiose or that their parents are mean green ogres.

This year has been interesting to listen to their responses and reactions.  One said they ‘love’ this time of year because they don’t have to be stressed out like everyone they know trying to buy gifts, getting them wrapped and attending parties.  One specific one said she has LOVED wrapping gifts at her job knowing she’s helping to relieve some of the stress of those who do celebrate!?   Another one said, they’ve never really thought about what they missed because there’s nothing to miss.  The discussion drifted into the conversations they have had with those people and not one person ever  mentioned a spiritual connection to the holiday – not one.  And, we live in a town where there’s a church on every corner!

Though I know that everyone at the doctor’s office yesterday meant well when they wished me, “Have a Merry Christmas”, I wonder what they thought when I said, “YOU have a Merry Christmas, our family does not celebrate.”  I know from their silence every one of them was dumbfounded.  Probably in their minds they were thinking,  ‘who would be so humbug to not celebrate this holiday of cheer?’  But then again, “How has not celebrating Christmas historically affected the Jews?”

You see, we have never felt comfortable about lying.  We especially have never felt comfortable lying to our children about a hopping rabbit that lays chocolate eggs, the little lady with fluttering wings who steals from them while they sleep, or the jolly man from the north pole who flies a sleigh through the sky led by eight wingless mammals with antlers.  And, really, he comes down the chimney?  We don’t even have one!

More than feeling uncomfortable, we realized we would begin the cycle of lying.  With the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, we were subtly teaching our children that when they grew up and realized that they’ve all been a make-believe sham, they would begin to question us as an authority on truth or lies.   As parents, we wanted to set an example – a lifetime example.

The most important Truth to us was our faith in the God of Israel and the birth, life, death. resurrection, and soon return of our Messiah.  To think that someday our children would doubt Yeshua as the Savior of the world, His Lordship in their lives because we fabricated cutesy games about other beings they couldn’t see, feel, touch, or hear was just not worth the price of their spiritual well-being – now or in eternity.  Lies are lies.  Not bearing a false witness is a commandment.  And, there was going to be someone other than their mommy and daddy being the ‘father of lies.’

Some celebrants may not include Santa and his reindeer in their holiday festivities because they honestly do want to honor the time as Jesus’ birthday.  If you have read my other blog posts about Christmas, you’re  probably already aware that we don’t celebrate Yeshua’s  birthday at this time of year.  At one time we did, but then we learned that’s another lie based on the lie that ‘we don’t know when he was born.’  When we were made aware of the timing of the Messiah’s birth through Scripture, we were honest with our first two children at the time  (4 and 2 at the time – now 26 and 24, 19 and 16) about our own deception.  We repented and removed the lie from our lives and our hearts.   So, Christmas became ‘not our holiday’.  It may be yours, and our children are okay.

Back to the original question from a different perspective, “How has not celebrating Hanukkah, Passover or Feast of Tabernacles affected your children, spiritually?”

©2013 Tentstake Ministries