Posts Tagged ‘traditions’

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.”
 
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 great 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 or the educational institutions we choose. Some of us micro-tradition with how we launder our clothes, manage 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 got 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 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 wouldn’t 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 is in the Bible. 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 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 and 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, we don’t know. 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.
 
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’.
 
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 is 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).
 
Because Yeshua is the Torah in the flesh (John 1:14). He is the Living Word that is a Menorah to our feet and a light to our path (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 his identity. That miracle in itself is worth celebrating!
 
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’s 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 faith in the God of Israel. When we spin the dreidel and remember how many Jewish men, women and children were willing to die so that we could have the Hebrew Scriptures, “A Great Miracle Happened There” becomes our victory cry when we are persecuted for adhering to the Scriptures. 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

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