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 explains the purpose of traditions:   “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 truth in that statement because it’s not the only the Jews who have traditions. Some of us macro-tradition and follow the ways of our ancestors in how we carve a turkey, the ethnic meals we make during holidays, or the educational institutions we choose. Some of us micro-tradition with how we wash our clothes, wear our hair, or brush our teeth. Traditions not only help us order our daily lives, but they maintain a sense of family identity throughout the generations.

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

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

Hanukkah and the Temple

In John chapter 10, it is winter and the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah has arrived. Yeshua is walking around in Solomon’s Porch, the covered area on the far eastern side of the Temple. It joined with the Court of the Gentiles where non-Jews would come to the Temple to worship the God of Isra’el as God-fearers. It was in this area that Yeshua’s Jewish brothers surrounded him and demanded that he reveal his identity as Messiah … or not.

This is a dangerous confrontation because they have already seen that Yeshua has no problem rebuking anyone when they are living or speaking contrary to the will of God. He had already chastised some of the Jewish leaders 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 a manmade tradition that nullified the commands of God, he would have spoken up and clarified that point. He would have marched over to the Altar and rebuked the priests. He would have entered the Holy Place and overturned the Temple Menorah. He would have cried out in a loud voice for all of the men and women in the Temple area to hear, charging them with great sin in their idolatry of manmade traditions in the Temple. He would have reprimanded them for commemorating the re-Dedication of His Father’s House when it wasn’t in Torah.

Instead of acting like the anti-Messiah and a 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 Hanukkiah, played dreidel, or ate latkes, no one knows. But, we do know he did not rebuke anyone for being in the Temple at Hanukkah.

A Jewish Heritage

Yeshua’s own Jewish ancestral history is tied up in the miraculous victory of Judah Maccabee and his small army over the Greeks. His own cultural history included the desecration and restoration of the Temple in which he was now standing! He knew better than anyone that had Antiochus Epiphanes annihilated the Jewish people, he wouldn’t be standing in their presence speaking about his sheep and bringing eternal life.

His Father’s House

Yeshua is the Son of God, the Temple is his Father’s House, the place where he spent time instructing those in Jerusalem who had ears to hear. Had the Maccabees not had victory over the Greeks, the Temple would have remained a desecrated and unholy place. There would be no account of a young Yeshua teaching in the Temple at Passover nor would he have overturned the tables of the money changers. He would never have been able to quote the prophets that his Father’s house is a ‘house of prayer for all nations’ (Isaiah 56:7, Matthew 21:13).

The Altar of Sacrifice

The re-dedication of the Altar had great significance to Isra’el and the Jewish people. Without an Altar there could be no place for the burnt offering, grain offering, guilt offering, fellowship offering or sin offering – all offerings that brought atonement and fellowship with God. And, all of these offerings through the high priests pointed to the coming One, the ultimate sacrifice of the Messiah ben Yosef, the suffering servant written about in Isaiah 53. As the ‘Lamb of God,’ Yeshua would one day soon because the ultimate offering for sin and bring fellowship with his Father on his Altar of Sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The Menorah Miracle

Yeshua is the Word in the flesh, the Living Torah (John 1:14). According to Psalm 119:105, the Torah is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. The Living Torah is the Menorah of Yeshua walking around the Temple in the flesh. Within him dwelt the fullness of God’s Spirit. Whether the story of one flask of oil lasting eight days is true or not, it is recorded that the Menorah stood in the body of Yeshua inside the Court of the Gentiles during the Feast of Dedication and revealed to the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’ his identity, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30).

The Voice of God

Yeshua is God’s prophetic voice to Isra’el and the world. He uses the very events of the days of Antiochus and the Maccabean Revolt to give light and understanding for the time of his return and the end of days (Matthew 24:15). He says there will be another ‘abomination of desolation’ in the Holy Place of his Father’s House. According to Yeshua, we need to understand the prophetic vision which comes from knowing the historical events surrounding the days of Judah Maccabee. Without that prophetic knowledge and understanding, the coming darkness can envelope us until we fall into the end times great deception.

Together in Traditions!

According to the actions of Yeshua, the ‘tradition’ of Hanukkah does not nullify the commands of God. Traditions define us as individuals and join us as family. As part of the commonwealth of Isra’el, lighting an eight-branched menorah unifies the family of God as ‘one new man’ as He intended.

We should never forget the power great world leaders have to challenge and even subdue our faith in the God of Isra’el along with our traditions. As we spin the dreidel with its Hebrew letters, remember how many centuries of Jewish men, women, and children lived, fought the forces of evil, and even died so ‘salvation could come from the Jews’ (John 4:22). From their persecutions, many ‘traditions’ have arisen that have kept them alive and united as a nation for millennia.

Yeshua is our Jewish brother, Jewish Savior, Jewish High Priest and Jewish King. He celebrated Hanukkah with his Jewish brothers and sisters. Along with his words in Solomon’s Colonnade, all of the history and traditions around Hanukkah, become part of our spiritual history, journey, and prophetic vision.

Nes Gadol Haya Peh, ‘A Great Miracle Happened Here!’ May these words be our victory cry whenever we are persecuted for our faith in the Jewish Messiah, keeping Jewish traditions, or for standing with our Jewish brothers and sisters. Nes Gado Haya Sham, “A Great Miracle Happened There,’ May these words remind us that Yeshua, the Menorah, revealed himself to be ‘one’ with the Father in the Temple in Jerusalem at the Feast of Dedication – the greatest miracle of all.

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