Hanukkah - "Feast of Dedication" 2023
Shalom Partner and Friend of Israel,
Hanukkah - The Feast of Dedication: This year will fall on the 07th December until the evening of the 14th December, 2023. (Hanukkah does NOT coincide with Christmas this year). Hanukkah is another happy festive, joyous celebration in Israel that begins 75 days after the ‘Day of Atonement’ the 25th day of the ninth month - Kislev - or in our December and lasts for 8 days… and symbolizes freedom from oppression. Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Old Testament, because it began to be celebrated during the period between the Old and New Testament.
The meaning of Hanukkah… is the word in Hebrew for "Dedication." The holiday is so named because it celebrates the "rededication" of the Temple to the Lord after it was desecrated by the Gentiles. The Hanukkah story preserves the epic struggle and the heroic exploits of one of the greatest Jewish victories of all time – the independence from Greco-Syrian oppression in 165 B.C.
Throughout ages, Gentile nations have been obsessed with desecrating the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the "footstool" of our God... It was there where Antiochus erected the image to Zeus. It was there that the Roman emperor Hadrian constructed a temple to Jupiter. Today, the Temple Mount is desecrated with shrines to Allah, the god of the crescent moon! This pattern is to continue, as another Hanukkah is yet future. Scripture teaches that events of Hanukkah are merely a shadow of events at the end of this age. Daniel prophesied that "many" within Israel will again enter into a covenant or security agreement with a Gentile ruler (Daniel 9:27). This wicked ruler is known as "Armilus" by Jewish theologians and Antichrist by Christians. The confirmation of this covenant will start the clock ticking for a 7 year period known as the 70th week of Daniel. This covenant called a covenant with "death" or "sheol" (Isaiah 28:15), will be an outward sign of apostasy of the nation of Israel and in their "blindness" will turn to a Gentile leader for "Shalom" peace… instead of God.
At midpoint, 3 ½ years later, Jerusalem will be captured and oppressed by the Gentiles (Luke 21:20; Revelations 11:2). Then Antichrist will be revealed for who he is and declare himself god and demand the worship of the world (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:12-15). Like Antiochus Epiphanes, he will once desecrate the rebuilt (3rd) Temple with his idolatrous image, rendering it utterly desolate. Our Messiah, Yeshua, spoke of this in Matthew 24:15-16. The line will again will be drawn …either assimilate or be annihilated! Many people will fall away in apostasy and bow down (2 Thessalonians 2:3) but the faithful within Israel will flee to the mountains and the wilderness. Many of the faithful will loose their lives (Matthew 24:22) as Antichrist vents his wrath against the people of God (Revelation 12:13-17). That time of great tribulation (Matthew 24:21) will be like nothing the nation has ever experienced (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1). BUT, God who is faithful will again remember His people Israel and send the Messiah to deliver the remnant of Israel and rise up a new Temple (Zechariah 6:12) to which the Shekinah glory will return (Isaiah 4:5; Ezekiel 43:1-6). And, in that day "The remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, will never again depend on him who defeated them (Antichrist), but will depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth," Isaiah 10:20.
This eight-day festive season commemorates the Jewish victory over the demoralizing and oppressing Syrians and ancient Greeks, who aimed to eradicate Judaism. The revolt against Antiochus Epiphanies, the enemy of the Jews, was started by an old priest, named Mattathias of Modiin, and it continued under his brave son, Judas Maccabee.
The story of Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) begins in strife during the reign of Antiochus IV. At this time, the Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated after it had been defiled by the tyrant, Antiochus IV, king of Syria when he slaughtered a pig on the altar of God to mock Him and the faith and worship of the Jewish people. It is known as "The Festival of Lights" because it celebrates God’s glory in an ancient victory of the Jews over their enemies.
In 165 BC, Antiochus, king of Syria, marched his army of soldiers into the kingdom of Judea with the intent of destroying the Jews and their religion. He insisted that the Jews worship Zeus and Greek gods. He stormed the temple in Jerusalem and completely desecrated it.
Shortly thereafter Antiochus returned to Syria but the soldiers stayed on and continued with their vile ways of disrespect in the very Tabernacle of God. To the Jew this was an act of blasphemy for they worshipped only One God, Yahweh; the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Many refused to obey the king’s decree… holding on to their faith and tradition even to the point of death. Judas Maccabee with a small army of Jewish soldiers eventually recaptured Jerusalem, and immediately set about cleansing the Temple. The road to Jerusalem was opened to them.
But their joy turned into bitterness when they saw the Temple, where pigs had been sacrificed and Greek gods erected. They set to work, tearing down the pagan altars and cleansing the Temple. On the 25th of Kislev in 165 BC their Temple was re-dedicated. So, in essence, this is the celebration of the cleansing and rededication of the Temple to God, and is referred to one time in the New Testament, where Yeshua (Jesus) was present in Jerusalem for Chanukah. "And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch." (John 10:22-23)
It is here where the story of faith and courage begins to burn bright… Mattathias Maccabee, a man of conviction, organized a group of Jewish freedom fighters, which included his five sons to take back the Temple. They fought bravely; using whatever hand made weapons they could devise. They gained in numbers and in strength fighting the enemy anywhere and in any way they could. When Mattathias became sick, his son Judah Maccabee led the group to victory. Maccabee and his followers had one goal in mind, to restore their Holy Temple and to honour the Lord their God and they did so with all their heart, mind and soul. One of their first tasks after their victory was to clean up the Temple and to rededicate it to the Lord. When they restored the holy lamp, the Menorah, to its rightful place… they found only enough clean and holy oil to last one day but "MIRACULOUSLY" it lasted for eight days. Therefore Hanukkah is called the Feast of Lights.
We can see that here lies the Miracle of the story… They lit the Lamp knowing there was just enough oil to last one day… but they lit it anyway, and sent someone to get more oil. The flames of the menorah burned steadily for eight days and with each passing day it is told that the flames grew brighter. The Miracle may seem so simple but it reaches into the very heart of those whose faith is in God, and whose heart for tradition is an act of Worship.
God miraculously provided "unseen oil" to burn in His Menorah for eight days until more clean oil could be brought.
God’s Light shone brightly in His Temple for His people to come and worship Him… Since the days of Judah Maccabee, Hanukkah has been celebrated by the lighting of candles for eight days as a reminder of the miracle. A special candelabrum is used, called a Hanukkiah, which has holders for nine candles. One candle (the middle one) is called a Shamash candle, and is used to light the others: One on the first night, two on the second night, and so on throughout the week. At Jerusalem, the giant Hanukkiah at the Western Wall is set ablaze.
Hanukkah, meaning ‘DEDICATION’ is also called the "Feast of Dedication" or "The Feast of Lights."
The way in which the Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah today is very significant. The customs of this joyous seasons point very definitely to Yeshua (Jesus) of whom all the divinely inspired Jewish prophets of old wrote and revealed in the Old Testament. God’s miracles are commemorated in many festivals… He initiated them and they are described in the Bible, such as; Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. However one festival, Hanukkah, which commemorates a fantastic miracle of the Lord, is not directly described in the Bible because it occurred after the Old Testament canon was closed. Nevertheless, its celebration was incorporated into the calendar, and it was even celebrated by Yeshua (Jesus).
Hanukkah is always 75 days after The Day of Atonement and may be related to an interesting prophecy in Daniel 12:12; "Blessed is he who waits and comes to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days." (M KJV) 1,335 days is exactly 75 days more than the 1260 days that Antichrist will reign. So, if the Antichrist is destroyed on the Day of Atonement, then the extra 75 days lands us directly on the first day of Hanukkah. While this is a subject not delved into, there certainly seem to be more than a few verses in Scripture that indicate that there will be a literal temple one day. In that case Hanukkah has to do with the dedication, or even the rededication, of the Millennial Temple, from which Christ will rule.
Hanukkah and Christmas …
The season of Christmas is a time where many homes and shopping Centres will set up Christmas trees with lights that flicker. It is a time when a wonderful spirit of giving comes upon the world. Family and friends come together to celebrate the most wonderful gift to mankind the gift of Yeshua (Jesus). And, it is also the season of another biblically-connected Jewish holiday; Hanukkah. Certainly, God is not one to be left out of the celebration.
In many ways the Jewish Hanukkah celebration is similar to Christmas… Both were originated in the same land by the same people. Both occur on the same day of their respective months; 25th Kislev and 25th December. On both holidays gifts are exchanged. In the celebrations special songs are sung: "Mo’ Oz Tzur" (Rock of My Salvation) on Hanukkah, and carols during the Christmas season. Both are in commemoration of great historic events that changed the whole cause of mankind. Lights are the order of the day for both Hanukkah and Christmas. In both observances the Servant has the place of prominence; the Shamash (meaning servant), the ninth branch of the Menorah; and the Messiah, the Suffering Servant of Jehovah. Both observances are highly commercialized.
First Century Hanukkah… This happy festival is not mentioned in the Old Testament for the simple reason that the historic event occurred during the 400 year period between the two Testaments. It is mentioned, however in the New Testament (John 10:22). Here it was called the "Feast of Dedication." Hanukkah in Hebrew means "dedication." It is spoken of as the Feast of Lights today.
Back in 164 B.C., the question arose as to what should be done with the old desecrated altar upon which a pig had been sacrificed. It was decided to pull down and store the stones of it in a convenient place; "until there should come a prophet to give an answer concerning them" (a Maccabees 4:44-46).
The way in which Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah today is very significant...The customs of this joyous season point very definitely to "the One" – Yeshua (Jesus) of whom all the divinely inspired Jewish prophets of old wrote, "the One" revealed in the New Testament. God is the author of history! About two centuries later, on the anniversary of this event, the Messiah was in the Temple courts, no doubt celebrating Hanukkah with His fellow Jews. Recognizing that He, Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth, was a great Prophet, they remembered the question raised years before about the Temple stones. He gave the answer, not merely about the stones of the desecrated altar, but concerning "the stone" (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 118:22; Acts 4:11-12).
As C.S. Lewis once wrote, "A small stone may determine the course of a great river… I may be that stone at this moment of history!"
Yeshua (Jesus) observed the celebration ‘Feast of Dedication’ / Hanukkah, in the Temple during the winter of AD 29 (John 10:22-39). Just prior to this account, two "illustrations" (10:6) of Jesus as the Good Shepherd (10:1 - 5 and 10:7-10) were given and then Jesus' interpretation of these parables (l0:11-18). Jewish readers would immediately pick up the messianic connotation of these Scriptures "The Davidic Messiah would be a Shepherd (Ezekiel 34). This was the appropriate time for the Disciples to ask this question, for it was during the celebration of Israel’s national deliverance of the days of the Maccabees. In language that could not be misunderstood, Yeshua (Jesus) claimed to be a greater Maccabee (Hammerer); One who would bring about a deliverance not only for a time, but for eternity: He claimed to be "that Prophet" who was to come (Deuteronomy 18:15 – 19; Acts 7: 37), even the Promised Messiah (John 4:25 – 26), the Son of God (John 10:29 – 30).
The True Light … Since Hanukkah is also known as "The Feast of Lights" let’s consider some similarities of "Lights: The true Shamash - the Servant of God, Yeshua (Jesus) said; "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12) Just as the Shamash on the Hanukkah Menorah lights all the other branches, Yeshua is the true Light who gives light to all who believe in Him!
Simeon… "Lord, now You will let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word. For my eyes have seen Your Salvation which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel." (Luke 2: 29 – 3) Yeshua the Messiah came the very time Moses said He would come (Genesis 49:10), and He of the tribe Moses foretold (Genesis 49: 8 – 9). He came the way Isaiah said He would come, by the way of the virgin’s womb (Isaiah 7:14), and again His suffering (Isaiah 53).
And He was born in the very city that the Prophet Micah predicted, Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
Hanukkah celebrates both a military and a spiritual victory. Proverbs 20:27 says, "The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord." In each generation God looks for men and women who will receive His light within them and let it shine out upon their world. The Maccabees believed in a God who cared for His people and who gave ultimate victory to those who put their trust in Him. Some of the Jewish family died in the conflict but others lived to recapture Jerusalem to rededicate the Temple.
The purpose of Israel's Temple was that deity should dwell within and that Israel would know the glory of God was present with them… And the purpose of the body of Yeshua (Jesus) was that deity should dwell within and that through it divine glory was manifested. John 1:18, "No one has ever seen God, except the uniquely born Son, who is at the Father's side (the place of intimacy), he has made him known." In other words, the glory of the invisible God could be seen in the visible Son and Hebrews 1:3 describes Yeshua (Jesus) was an outshining of God's glory and an exact representation of His nature. The glory of God shone out of the Temple and the glory of God shone out of the flesh of Yeshua. So close was the relationship between the Temple on Mount Moriah, in which God dwelt, and the body of Yeshua (Jesus), in which deity dwelt, that when He was pressed for a sign to authenticate His life and teaching to the Jewish leadership, Yeshua said in John 2:19, ".....destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." And this commentary is added in John 2:21.
The Temple had housed the glory of God, and the body of Christ housed the glory of God. That is why, in a description of the New Jerusalem, Apostle John wrote in Revelation 21:22; "And I saw no temple in it; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it."
The glories of ancient Greece are long past, but the influence of the Greek Philosophy still affects our age… The Greek world view glorified man and gave us gods made in the image of man. What a contrast to the God of the Bible:
The Hebrew God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, 1) existed in Glory and Majesty before the world began, 2) spoke and brought an ordinary universe into existence and 3) disciplined and guided His children as a good Father. This God was unknown to the Greeks. God looks for servants who will share His light to a dark world. Pray that in Israel and in the entire world He will find many who will stand for righteousness when it is costly, who believe in a God who does miracles, who are willing to cleanse and dedicate their lives to His worship and service.
Would there have been a Jewish community to nurture Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, Elizabeth and Simeon and Anna if the Maccabees had not been faithful to defend Jewish life 160 years earlier? God only knows, but it is important for us to know that our choices matter.
Christmas… It is often mistaken by some Christians that Hanukkah is the Jewish alternative to Christmas. There really is no historical connection but there is the connection of light. Hanukkah dispels the darkness of the evil world created by pagans who hated God, and tried to thrust their evil ways upon Israel and the Jews. What dispelled the darkness is symbolized by a little lamp that God kept burning for eight days. This miracle inspired and galvanized the people to finish the job that Judah Maccabee began. Christmas, which celebrates an event that occurred about 165 years later, is when God sent His Son into the world as a light to dispel the greater darkness out of the entire world.
In the Hebrew alphabet we can see the Aleph/Tav/Hey representing Yeshua (Jesus)… Interesting that the Hebrew letter "Hey" means "behold or reveal or breath." PROPHECY FULFILLED in Acts 13:33 Elohim hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that He hath raised up Yeshua again; as it is also written in the Psalm 2:7; "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten You."
How Jewish is Christmas…? Whose birth is celebrated during this happy season? The Messiah of Israel! The prophecies concerning the birth of this Holy One of Israel are found in Old Testament Scriptures. The record of His birth is found in the New Testament Scriptures, which are also Jewish. The forty writers of the Bible were Holy Jewish men of God (Psalm 40:7; Hebrews 10:7). It was Jewish shepherds who were startled years ago in Bethlehem by a message of good tidings that completely changed their lives (and ours) and has passed down through the halls of time (Luke 2:8 – 11). It was Jewish shepherds who first believed in Him and who proclaimed the message of salvation. It was Jewish men who became His (Yeshua’) followers, His disciples. It was Jewish people who were the Church in the very beginning.
Yeshua (Jesus) was born according to Scripture:
1. He was to be the seed of the woman. Every other person ever born is the seed of a man (Gen. 3:15; Galatians 3:16).
2. He was to be born at a specific time in history (Gen. 49:10).
3. He was to come from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Hebrews 7:14).
4. He was to be the Son of Abraham and the Son of David (2 Samuel 12; Matthew 1:1).
5. He was to be called the Son of God (Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 9:6; Proverbs 30:4; Luke 1:32).
6. He was to be born of a virgin. That is the only way He could be the seed of a woman (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1: 18 – 23).
7. He was to be called Emmanuel (God with us) (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).
8. He was to be born in Bethlehem (House of bread) (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1).
The date of birth… It is quite evident that Yeshua (Jesus) was not born on the 25th December. Yet it is a well known fact that early Christians, including Messianic Jews, observed this date as a special day as far back as AD 98. Clement of Alexandria, at a very beginning of the 3rd Century records the keeping of this date. Therefore it has been fairly well established that December 25th is the date of conception. The perfect period of human gestation is 280 days. That would make September 29th the date of the birth of the Son of God. If this is correct, in all probability the Messiah of Israel was born about the time of the Feast of Tabernacles… perhaps on the very date, Tishri 15th! "The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt (tabernacled) among us." (John 1:14) The Feast of Tabernacles fittingly symbolizes the dwelling of God among men. The birth of the Messiah was not a miracle as the angels announced the begetting. The great emphasis is to be placed in Scripture is upon the conception! That was the miracle!
The correct rendering in Matthew 1:18 where the writer was showing that Yeshua was conceived in a different way than all others in his genealogy, as well as all human beings that has ever come into the world.
Why the Messiah could NOT be BORN today…? Some Orthodox Jews believe the Messiah will come any day in fulfilment of the Messianic Hope. Is it possible for Him to be born today?
NO! Because He must come from the seed of Abraham, from the house of David, and from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 11:10 – 32; 49: 8 – 10; 2 Samuel 7:12 – 14). Since the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, all authentic genealogies (of genuine origin) respecting the twelve tribes of Israel have been lost. No one today could prove his or her identity authentically.
NO! Because, He must die by crucifixion according to, Psalm 22. That mode of capital punishment is not practiced today in Israel or any place in the Middle East.
NO! Because, He already came over 1900 years ago, according to all Scripture and History; "The fullness of time" was come (1900 years ago), God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law" (Galatians 4:4 - 5).
We hope that you enjoy and become more informed by our work. We serve an awesome God and we are humbled by this opportunity to bring you this information.
Alf & Julie Saunders
02nd January, 2023
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