Posts Tagged ‘menorah’

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

Eight Nights of Hanukkah (Study Guide)

Each night of Hanukkah we light a menorah or Hanukkiah.  Sometimes our family focuses on one aspect of Hanukkah per year: the Persecution, the Deliverance, the Altar, the Menorah, the Oil, the Light, the Miracles, or the Dedication.  (This list is not exhaustive). Other times we look at all the aspects, one each night.  Below are some ideas for celebrating the eight nights (or eight years) of Hanukkah.  There are no right or wrong answers to the questions as they are spring boards to create discussion and learning more about the Feast of Dedication called Hanukkah.

The historical account of the Maccabean revolt is found in the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees.  The account of Yeshua attending the festival in Jerusalem is found in John 10:22-30.

Day 1 – Persecution

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light one candle.

The story of Hanukkah is based in the persecution of God’s people – the Jews.  King Antiochus of Syria was intent on bringing Greek culture and Greek gods into the empire of Alexander the Great.  In order to fulfill his goal, he had to remove all people who refused to submit.  The Jewish people were enemies to his goal as they already had a God: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who gave them different times, seasons, and days of celebrations from the Greek culture.   Along with a Temple in Jerusalem where they worshipped this God of Israel they called Yahweh, they ate differently (kosher foods) and circumcised their baby boys.

The persecution was dreadful for the Jewish people.  If they did not submit, they faced being burned to death.    If they were caught reading the Scriptures, circumcising their sons, keeping the Sabbath, or celebrating a Biblical feast they were murdered.   It really didn’t matter what they did, they were killed for remaining Jewish and refusing to be Hellenized.

We, as believers, are told we will have persecution in this life because of our faith in God, in Yeshua.  We are told to stand firm and not to fear.  We are told, as saints, to have patient endurance.  In America, however, believers do not yet face death for believing in Yeshua and living according to Biblical Truth as many do in other countries around the world.   In fact, many believers in  America, don’t really believe they will ever face persecution that leads to death.  This is unfortunate because it is through persecution that God tests, refines and matures our faith.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  …Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

“Consider it pure joy, by brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-3).

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor with Messiah Yeshua is revealed” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Messiah Yeshua” (2 Timothy 2:3).

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.  For what son is not disciplined by his father?” (Hebrews 12:7).

If anyone is go to into captivity, into captivity he will go.  If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed.  This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” (Revelation 13:10).

“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Yeshua” (Revelation 14:12).

Questions:

1.  Compare today with the time of Alexander the Great and the influence of Greek gods and thought (Hellenization) with the pure Word of God.  Are these influences easily recognized?  Are these influences easily removed from our walks of faith?  Why or why not?

2.  What is the difference between a discipline, a trial and a persecution?

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

4.  Have you ever been persecuted for your faith in Yeshua?  How?

5.  What did the Jewish people want to do to Yeshua at Hanukkah?

 

Day 2 – Deliverance

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light two candles.

The Jewish people were delivered from Syria by a man named Judah Maccabee.  Not only does his name mean ‘hammer’, but his army rode elephants.  Though they were small in number, they did not fear the armies of Syria, but feared Yahweh, His Word and his commands.    The defeat of the Syrians was not quick.  It took years and the death of many Jews for the Maccabees to overcome their enemy.  Yet, they were victorious and were able to reclaim the Temple and return and restore it back to Yahweh.

“Arise, Yahweh, deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (Psalm 3:7).

“My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me” (Psalm 31:15).

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5).

“Yahweh is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

Questions:

1.  What is a remnant?  What are the promises for the remnant (Gen. 45:7, 2 Kings 19:30, Ezra 9:8, Isaiah 10:21, Isaiah 11:16, Micah 2:12, Romans 9:27, Romans 11:5).

2.  Would you consider Judah Maccabee prophet?  Why or why not?

3.  Yeshua is the Hebrew word for ‘salvation‘ and ‘save’.   Read the above Scriptures, change deliver or save to ‘yeshua’.   Does changing the word give you more insight into deliverance and Yeshua?

4.  Syria still exists today.  What is their relationship to Israel?  How is Syria once again attacking the faith of the Jewish people in Israel and the faith of those around the world who love the God of Israel?

 

Day 3 – Altar of Sacrifice

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light three candles.

The Bronze Altar was also called The Altar of Sacrifice.  The Hebrew root for altar means ‘to slay or slaughter’.  The altar stood on a mound of dirt and was made of acacia wood and overlaid with bronze.  It was a square that measured 7 1/2 feet and was 4 1/2 feet deep.  Four horns projected from the four corners from which an animal was tied and a bronze grate was inside to hold the animal. It was on this altar that animals were slaughtered.  Only certain clean or kosher (holy) animals like bulls, sheep, goats, pigeons or doves were allowed to be offered on the altar.

Antiochus,  because he hated the Jewish people and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, sacrificed pigs on the altar.  This was an abomination to the Temple ordinances established by Yahweh and to the Jewish people.    Antiochus splattered pig blood everywhere and put it on the Temple articles: the Menorah, the Altar of Incense, the Table of Presence.  In the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was, he set up a statue of  Zeus.

The Jewish priests had a lot of work to do once the Temple was restored back to them.   They had to remove the idols.  They had to clean and scrub the pig blood from everything defiling themselves in the process.   Though they desired the Temple to be ready for the Feast of Tabernacles, they needed more time to complete the task.  It wasn’t until early winter when they were able to re-dedicate the Altar of Sacrifice and the eight-day Feast of Dedication was birthed.

Daniel chapters 7 and 8 describes a future time – ‘the time of the end.‘  Within the interpretations of the vision and the dream, Daniel is given prophetic insight into a future ‘hanukkah’ when the anti-messiah will desecrate the Temple and set himself up as god to be worshipped.  As this event has happened once in the past, we should understand the prophecies and be prepared for it to happen again.

Note from Wikipedia:  Antiochus’ name was originally Mithradates.   He changed his name to Antiochus IV Epiphanes probably after the death of his brother.  He regarded himself as Zeus from which the title “Epiphanes” comes meaning manifestation of the Greek god.  He saw himself as the supreme God which meant he had power over all religions in his realm.  In this way he was a shadow of the coming anti-messiah.  Rabbis regard him as the ‘little horn’ in Daniel chapter 6.

“Listen to me, Levites!  Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the Temple of Yahweh, the God of your fathers.  Remove all defilement from the sanctuary” (2 Chronicles 29:5).

“Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things—they will meet their end together,” declares the Lord” (Isaiah 66:17).

“Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem.  It was winter and Yeshua was in the Temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade” (John 10:22).

 

Questions:

1. What does defile mean?

2. Why were pigs and the blood of pigs such an abomination for the Altar of Sacrifice?  (Read Leviticus 11).

3.  The priests at the time of the Dedication were the Levites.  They had a huge responsibility.   Peter calls us a ‘royal priesthood’.  What are our responsibilities – as priests? as royalty?  Do you think our responsibilities are the same, different, more or less than the Levites?  Why or why not?  (Ezekiel 22:26 for the Levites; 2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1 for the royal priesthood).

4.  From the prophecies in Daniel, what are some of the things that the ‘beast’ will do?  Scripture already says the ‘man of lawlessness is at work’.  What are ways you see that when you read the prophecies in Daniel?

5.  Hanukkah was not one of the seven Feasts of the Lord in Leviticus 23.  Why do you think Yeshua was walking around at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem?

6.  When the Temple is re-established in Jerusalem, what will you do if you see it defiled?  Will you fight for it as the brothers and sisters of Yeshua did?

 

Day 4 – Menorah

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light four candles.

The menorah has an incredible history.  It was the only article for the Tabernacle patterned from the one shown to Moses on the mountain (Ex. 25:39, Heb. 8:5).   It was made out of one talent or 75 pounds of  pure gold.  Rather than poured, its base and shaft was hammered.  Its cups for oil were shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms.  It had six almond branches: three on one side of the shaft and three on the other giving it seven cups.  The menorah was filled with pure olive oil and its wicks were kept trimmed.

The menorah was put in the Holy Place along with the Table of Presence and the Altar of Incense.  These three objects symbolized the sanctification of the priesthood  as they walked in the light, ate the bread of God’s presence, and lifted their hands in prayer as the sweet smell of incense.

During the defilement of the Temple at the time of Antiochus, the menorah had been splattered with pig’s blood.  It was not in good condition.   It was important that the menorah was returned to its glory.  After removing the filth of the desecration, it was ready to be lit and shine its golden light in the Most Holy Place.  It was the rabbis who decided to make the menorah the symbol of Hanukkah by creating the 9-branched Hanukkiah.  Though some consider it a perversion of the original Lampstand, it is an incredible way to remember that the menorah once again shined in the Temple in Jerusalem after being defiled.  It is the  symbol of great victory (and a great way to count the 8 days).   Today, the menorah,  surrounded by an olive branch,  is the emblem of the State of Israel.

In  a prophecy found in Zechariah 4:1-14, an angel speaks of a solid gold Lampstand with two Olive trees.  The angel says that the seven lights are the ‘eyes of Yahweh, which run to and fro  throughout the earth.’  The Olive trees are the two who bring oil to the Lampstand.

In Revelation 2:1-7 Yeshua speaks to the Congregation of Ephesus as the One who walks among the seven Lampstands.  These menorahs represent the different testimonies of the congregations to whom he is giving messages.  He tells Ephesus that they have forgotten their first love and need to repent or their lamp will be removed from its stand.

“He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left” (Zechariah 4:2-3).

“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,”dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars,and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:12-16).

“If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Revelation 2:5).

“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in god’s unfailing love for ever and ever” (Psalm 52:8).

“After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!” (Romans 11:24).

Questions:

1.  Research how much the menorah would be worth today in gold.

2.  Why do you think it was not ‘fashioned’, but beaten into shape?

3.  Why do you think almond buds, flowers and branches adorned the menorah?

4.  Read Revelation 11:3-5.  Compare the Lampstands and Olive trees to Zechariah chapter 4.

5.  Read Romans 11:13-21.  These verses talk about the Olive Tree.  What is significant about the branches of the Olive Tree?  Are there two witnesses to the Olive Tree?  Why or why not?  If why, what are the two witnesses?

6.  Why do you think there is an olive branch around the menorah in the Israeli emblem?  Do you think it has prophetic significance for you, for the land, for the people?  Why or why not?

7.  Was the menorah present at the Temple when Yeshua was there?  How do you know?

 

Day 5 – Oil

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light five candles.

Oil is generally a Biblical symbol for the Holy Spirit and was used to anoint articles for the Tabernacle, priest and kings.   The foundation of the anointing oil in the Scriptures is olive oil, but spices were added to it to make it holy, consecrated, set apart for anointing the Temple.  Pure olive oil from the first pressing was used in the menorah.

The account of Hanukkah includes a little story about some oil.  Though there is no evidence that the story is true, there is no evidence to say that it’s not.  It is not an impossible event because olive oil was miraculously multiplied for a poor widow by Elisha (2 Kings 4).  Once the Temple was cleansed, the story says there was only enough oil to burn in the menorah for one day.  While it took eight days to consecrate more oil, that one day’s oil lasted eight.

It doesn’t matter if the menorah story is true or not, oil played a significant part in the re-dedicating of the Temple. Without oil, the Temple could not be sanctified and dedicated.  “Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishing and it will be holy” (Exodus 40:9).

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil” (Exodus 30:22-25).

“Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head” (Exodus 29:7).

“So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).

Questions:

1.  Look up the different spices used in the anointing oil. It is possible to buy  myrrh and frankincense candles or incense.  Purchase some in order to enjoy the aroma that would have filled the Tabernacle.

2.  Spices also have special purposes.  What are some of the reasons these spices may have been chosen?

3.  Why do you think the Tabernacle/Temple and the articles inside needed to be anointed with oil? What do you think it signified?

4.  What is the difference between ‘virgin’ olive oil and other olive oils?

5.  Read Matthew 25: 1-13 and the parable about the Ten Virgins.  Why was oil important for them?  Psalm 119:105 says that the Word is a lamp to my feet.  Five virgins had lamps (the Word), but no oil (the anointing of the Spirit) and were not ready for their Bridegroom.  Read John 4:24 and consider why these two ‘things‘ are important.

6.  Was the Holy Spirit present at the Temple during the Feast of Dedication?

 

Day 6 – Light

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light six candles.

Because ‘light’ is a theme throughout Hanukkah, it is sometimes called the “Festival of Lights”.  This comes from the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah for eight days.  With electricity  lots and lots of lights have become a more brilliant way to commemorate the holiday.

Day one of creation, Yahweh said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).  This light was not the light of the sun, moon, and stars, but the ‘light of life’ that he was going to create.

Israel and Jerusalem were to be a light that would draw the nations.  “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of Yahweh rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but Yahweh rises upon you and his glory appears over you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

The Word of God, the teachings and commandments,  are the light to our paths.  “Your Word is a lamp (menorah) to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Yeshua is to be a light for the nations.  “I will keep you and make you a covenant for the people and a light for the gentiles, to open the eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6-7).

Yeshua says he is the light of the world.  “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Yeshua calls those who hear his words and obey them, the light of the world. “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp (menorah) and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”  

The glory of God is the light in the New Jerusalem.  “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp (menorah)” (Revelation 21:23).

Questions:

1.  What is light?  Learn about the spectrum of colors that make light.

2.  How is light like a thread woven throughout the Scriptures?

3.  Do you think the light changes or it is the same light?  Explain.

4.  Read John chapter 1.  It is all about light.  What do you learn about light, life, darkness, men, and the world?

5.   “Yahweh is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1). How are light and salvation connected in this verse?  (Remember Yeshua means salvation.)

6.  Yeshua told Ephesus that their lamp could be removed from its stand thus removing its light from the world.  What do you think he meant and what would their reward be if they repented?

 

Day 7 – Miracles

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light seven candles.

In John chapter 10, Yeshua speaks of the miracles that he had done in his Father’s name while at the Feast of Dedication.  One of the miracles of Hanukkah is the deliverance of the Jewish people from the Syrian conquest.  Another miracle of Hanukkah was the re-dedication of the Temple.  Another miracle of Hanukkah could be the one day of oil lasting eight days.

Mary, the mother of Yeshua, had a miraculous encounter during the Feast of Dedication.  Following the time frame in Luke for the birth of Yeshua, the angelic visit to Mary would have occurred in ‘winter’.  The angel tells Mary that she will conceive a son through the power of the Holy Spirit/Ruach ha Kodesh.  Though she is troubled at the words of the angel, she responds by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant” thus dedicating her life and the life of her unborn child to the Lord.  Mary was given the incredible honor of carrying the Son of God, the Light of the World, Yeshua (salvation) at Hanukkah.

Years later when Yeshua is in Solomon’s Colonade, he speaks of the same miracle.  He plainly tells his Jewish brothers and sisters,  “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).  To the Jewish people, this is blasphemy and he should be stoned.  But to those sheep who know the Father’s voice, they know Yeshua is the real miracle of Hanukkah – Light of the World.

Luke 1:26-38 “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 5:9).

“I will remember the deeds of Yahweh; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago” (Psalm 77:11).

“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples” (Psalm 77:14).

“And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” (Matthew 13:58).

Questions:

1.  What was Mary’s Hanukkah miracle?

2.  What are some of the miracles that God performed long ago displaying His power to the Israelites?

3.  How is Isaiah 9:6 related to the miracle of  “I and the Father are One?’ (John 10:30).

4.  If Yeshua means salvation, how does the following verse also support John 10:30. “Yahweh is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1).

5.  Why do you think Yeshua spoke of His Father’s miracles at the Feast of Dedication?

6.  Play the dreidel game.

 

Day 8 – Dedication

Light the helper candle or shamash and with it light all eight candles.

Hanukkah as the Feast of Dedication is a memorial to the dedication the Temple.   This is the not the Temple that Solomon built for the name of God, but the one that was rebuilt by Ezra and Nehemiah.   Yeshua claims to be the Temple and says that if it is torn down, three days later he will raise it up.   Paul tells us that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  There will be one more Temple, Ezekiel’s Temple that will stand during the Millennial Reign of Yeshua from Jerusalem.  That Temple will also be dedicated and used by the Levitical priests and the royal priesthood together as the spiritual and the physical reign together.

“Now I am about to build at temple for the Name of Yahweh my God and to dedicate it to him for burning fragrant incense before him, for setting out the consecrated bread regularly, and for making burnt offerings every morning and evening and on Sabbaths and New Moons and at the appointed festivals of Yahweh our God.  This is a lasting ordinance for Israel.  The temple I am going ti build will be great because our God is greater than all other gods” (2 Chronicles 2:3-5).

Yeshua answered them, ‘Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19).

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

“For seven days they are to make atonement for the altar and cleanse it; thus they will dedicate it” (Ezekiel 43:26).

Questions:

1.  How did Solomon dedicate the Temple?  What was going to happen in the Temple after it was dedicated?

2.  The Second Temple (Herod’s Temple) was destroyed in A.D. 70.  Did the destruction of the Temple end the celebration of the Feasts of Yahweh?  Why or why not?

3.  Read Colossians 2:17.  Take a flashlight and shine in on something to create a shadow.  A shadow cannot be made without a reality.   In the same way, if you have a reality, if there is light, it will cast a shadow.  The two, the reality and the shadow are entwined together.    How is Yeshua the light that brings the Reality to the Shadow and the Shadow back to the Reality?

4.  How can you offer your body, your Temple of the Holy Spirit, as a living sacrifice?

5.  Read Ezekiel chapter 43.  What do you learn about the coming third Temple?

6.  Dedication means to ‘set something apart’ for God.  This is also the meaning of the words ‘holy’ and ‘sanctified’.  Look up the words ‘holy’ and ‘sanctified’ in a Bible concordance.  What do you learn about these words in regards to God, His people, His Land, and you?

7.  Do you think Yeshua re-dedicated the Temple at Hanukkah?  If so, how?

©2012 Tentstake Ministries Book Nosh

This study is included in the book Journey With Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive. 

Days of Dedication – Hanukkah

Menorahs and Hanukkiahs for Feast of Dedication

Menorahs and Hanukkiahs for Feast of Dedication

“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…. We will not obey the king’s word by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left” (Septuagint*, 1 Maccabees 2:19-22).

Most people have heard of the holiday called Hanukkah or Chanukkah.  Some actually think that it is the Jewish alternative to Christmas.  However, these two celebrations have nothing in common.

In Hebrew the word chanak means ‘dedicate’ making Hanukkah an an eight-day celebration centering around the days of dedication.  During Hanukkah, a special menorah called a hanukkiah is lit and put in the window of Jewish homes.  It holds nine candles.   Each of the eight nights  of Hanukkah one candle is lit by using the ‘extra helper candle’ or shamash until all eight (nine) candles are burning brightly.

The account of Hanukkah is not found in our modern Bibles.  It was removed from the canon of Scriptures by Martin Luther due to the fact it conflicted with his anti-semitic theological views.   However, the complete events surrounding the days of dedication are recorded by the historian Josephus and the Septuagint book of Maccabees.  According to both accounts,  the eight days of dedication were to be held every year in memory of the cleansing and re-dedication of the Temple and the Altar of Sacrifice.

“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.  … 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 4:56-59).

“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. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that hence was the name given to that festival” (Josephus 12:5).

A Little History

Hanukkah is the memorial to a period of time beginning in 167 B.C.E. when the Greek Antiochus Epiphanes became king over the Seleucid Empire that included Israel.  His name meant ‘antichrist god incarnate’, and as such, he attacked the God of Israel.  In order to have a one-world religious and cultural system, his goal was to force Hellenistic pagan gods and customs on everyone in his empire including the Jewish people. He wanted to  nullify the Torah, invalidate the Levitical priesthood, cancel dietary laws, outlaw circumcision, and remove  the Sabbath… everything Jewish.

The battle for independence from Syrian Greek rule began when a Levitical priest named Mattathias was commanded by a Greek official to make a sacrifice to a Greek god.  He not only refused, but killed a Jewish man with him who began to do so.  He also killed the official.  When an edict for his arrest was sent out, Mattathias hid in the Judean wilderness with his five sons and called for other Jews to join him.  Many did follow him into the wilderness and with the leadership of his son Judah, a small band of Jewish men began to revolt. 

“Let everyone who has zeal for the Torah and who stands by the covenant follow me!” (Septuagint 1 Maccabees 2:17). 

As the Greek armies went on their conquest,  other Jewish men, women and children succumbed to Antiochus’ commands. Those who didn’t follow his orders were imprisoned or murdered.  The Jewish people feared for their very existence.  Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, this lawless man didn’t succeed with his ultimate plan or there would have been no lineage from which the Messiah could come!

Judah was given the nickname ‘hammer’ or Maccabee, also an acronym for mi komocho ba’alim Hashem, “who is like you among the powers O God,” – the battle cry of the rag tag Jewish resistance.  The Maccabees who numbered under 12,000 with little to no training or equipment fought courageously against the Syrian armies who were highly trained,  rode elephants and numbered over 40,000.

“But Judas said: “Many are easily hemmed in by a few; in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between deliverance by many or by few; for victory in war does not depend upon the size of the army, but on strength that comes from Heaven” (1 Maccabees 3:18-19).

After three years of fighting, tearing down pagan altars, circumcising uncircumcised boys, and rescuing Torah scrolls from the hands of the enemies,  Judah Maccabee and his little army miraculously regained control over Jerusalem.  They went to the Temple and saw its defilement.  The courts had bushes and thickets, the gates were burned, and the priests chambers destroyed.  Pigs had been sacrificed on the Altar and their blood sprinkled throughout the Holy Place.  The Temple Menorah was missing, either stolen or melted down for its gold.  A statue of Zeus sat in the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant should have been.   They mourned the desecration and tore their clothing.  They blew the shofar and cried out to God. 

“Then said Judas and his brothers, “Behold, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it” (1 Maccabees 4:36).

This is what they did.  Judah chose some men to fight against those remaining in the city.   He chose priests who were devoted to the Torah to clean the Temple.  They removed the defiled stones and replaced them with uncut ones, they tore down the Altar of Sacrifice and built a new one.  They made new holy vessels and brought them into the Temple.  They burned incense on the Altar, put bread on the Table of Presence and lighted the lamps on the Menorah. 

Whether or not it’s a true, a story is told in the Talmud about the Menorah. When the Levitical priests went to light the newly made Menorah in the Most Holy Place, they found only enough pure oil to last one day.  To consecrate more oil would take eight days.  Then, a miracle happened.  The one vial of oil lasted eight days and the Menorah burned brightly and continuously just as God commanded for an eight day dedication.   

“Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year,  they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law 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.  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…” (1 Maccabees 4:52-56).

A Gambling Game

During the years of  Greek persecution, unwanted and surprise visits by the Syrian soldiers often came when Jewish men were studying the Torah.  If found, the Torah scroll would be shredded into pieces and those studying would be put to death.  According to tradition, a way of protecting their scrolls and their lives  during an invasion was invented with a gambling game played with a top.  If suddenly disrupted by soldiers, they would hide their torah scrolls,  pull out their tops and begin gambling.  This tradition is remembered today with a top called a dreidel that has four letters: Nun, Gimel, Hey and Shin.  The letters are symbolic for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham or “A Great Miracle Happened There.”   In Israel, however, the dreidels have one different letter, the Peh, signifying “A Great Miracle Happened HERE.”

Yeshua and Hanukkah

Hanukkah is mentioned in the Gospels in John 10:22-39 as the Feast of Dedication.   It was winter and Yeshua was walking in Solomon’s Colonnade or porch.  Though Hanukkah was a celebration about the re-dedication of the Altar in the Temple of Jerusalem,  the focus  of the Jews wasn’t on sacrifices and offerings, but on the miracle of the oil and the light.  They began asking Yeshua if he is the promised  Messiah.   Since they are celebrating miracles, Yeshua reminds them of all the miracles he has done ‘in his Father’s name.’

“I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand…” (John 10:25-29).

The greatest miracle stood in front of the Jewish people right there in the Temple.  The golden Menorah had become flesh and blood.  Just as the oil miraculously burned in the Menorah, the Spirit of God filled Yeshua and his light illuminated the Temple during the Festival of Lights.  He no longer remained silent about his identity, but answered their question clearly giving them no doubt as to who he was: “I and the Father are one.”  They struggled with his declaration and picked up stones to kill him. 

Hanukkah for Us

“I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please him; it is the logical “Temple worship” for you” (Romans 11:1).

Paul teaches that because we have been bought with price of Yeshua’s blood, we are to honor God with our bodies because they are the temple of God’s Spirit.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our temple worship is to offer our lives as a holy sacrifice.  This is the essence of the season of Hanukkah and cleansing the Altar of Sacrifice from everything that contaminated and defiled God’s holy dwelling. On that same altar we are to offer ourselves.

“Therefore, my dear friends, since we have these promises [and miracles], let us purify ourselves from everything that can defile either body or spirit, and strive to be completely holy, out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

The eight days of Hanukkah are the perfect time for believers in Messiah to do some temple house cleaning.  In order to hear the voice of our Shepherd more clearly, we, like the Jewish people at the Temple, must turn from spiritual idolatry that perverts a pure worship of God.  We must cleanse everything causes physical contamination to our temples in order to be completely holy and rededicated back to God.

Each night of Hanukkah Yeshua’s light is present in the helper candle, the shamash, that kindles each individual wick on the hanukkiah.    He is the golden Menorah from where the holy oil of God’s Spirit flows and illuminates those hidden and not so hidden areas of our lives that need to be purged and burnt up on the altar of sacrifice.    By the eighth evening of Hanukkah, our hearts and minds should be completely purified out of reverence for God reflecting each miracle that occurred during the days of Judah Maccabee: the rededication of the Temple, the Altar of Sacrifice, and Holy Oil in the Golden Menorah.

*The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures from 2 B.C.E.  The two books of the Maccabees are found in this translation as well as the Apocrypha.

©2012 Tent Stake Ministries (Chapter from Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive that has more teachings on the Feasts of the LORD and how to celebrate them in your home or with others.)