"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
The Feast of Dedication
A very rare occurrence is taking place this year. On the day universally celebrated as Christmas, Yule and the Winter Solstice - the 8 day long Hebrew Festival called Hanukkah begins.
The word Hanukkah means: "Dedication".
This celebration is also known as The Festival of Lights.
At sundown December 25th, Israelites that practice Judaism and Christians that honor God's Festivals as dictated in scripture and history; will commemorate the stand of the Maccabees against King Antiochus IV and the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem almost 2200 years ago.
Although there are many Christians that comprehend and celebrate Hanukkah, there is an even greater majority of people that profess Christ as Lord but do not understand the meaning of the Festival of Lights or it's significance in reference to the Messiah, Jesus.
This months newsletter is designed to show and clarify the relationship between Hanukkah and Messiah!
To begin with, and contrary to common perception: Hanukkah IS NOT a Jewish "Christmas". Their meanings and significance are completely different.
In the Bible there is a gap of approximately 400 years between Malachi and the Birth of the Saviour as recorded in the Book of Matthew.
It was during this time that a great victory was won by Israelites determined NOT to let the corruption of the false gods of the Grecian influenced Syrians, overtake their belief in Jehovah or their society as a whole.
The account can be found in the Books of Maccabees in the Apocrypha. Although the Apocrypha is not considered "inspired" scripture, that does not take away its historical value.
It is from this description that the story of Hebrew patriots and their Syrian adversaries is told!
As I have said on more than one occasion; taking a quote from times past:
"If one does not learn from history - they are destined to repeat it."!
About 200 years before the birth of Christ, the Hebrew's were under the reign of Seleucid, the King of Syria. They lived in relative peace and were allowed to worship God according to their Law and customs.
But this all changed in 175 BC, when Antiochus IV ascended the throne. He did not agree with the Hebrews worship - or their God; and his design was to gradually change the Israelites adherence to Jehovah and turn them to the false gods he venerated.
History declares that Antiochus was a tyrannical despot that terrorized those he ruled.
Over time - he looted the Temple, massacred multitudes of the Israelites that refused to bow to the false gods of the Greeks and eventually outlawed the religious practices of Judaism. In order to stop the Hebrews from following the Mosaic Law through sacrifice, he desicrated the Temple of the LORD by sacrificing pigs on the altar.
"...(Antiochus) put many of (Jerusalems) inhabitants to death most cruelly. He had soldiers enter the Jewish Temple and slaughter a pig (which is impure by the Jewish law) on the altar of the Lord. They set the pig ablaze and then took the meat and tried to make some Jewish men eat it. The men refused and he cut their tongues out, scalped them, cut off their hands and feet, and burnt them on the altar of the Lord."1
Pigs are unclean according to Levitical Law.
"Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing." Deuteronomy 14:3
" And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you." Leviticus 11:7-8
Not content with defiling the altar, he had a Pagan symbol installed. In 167 BC he ordered a statue of the Greek god Zeus Olympias, be erected in the Temple. Zeus is the Grecian name for the Babylonian sun god, Ba'al Shamayim.
The Old Testament is rife with descriptions of how God views the worship of Ba'al.
"And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there." 1 Kings 18:40
Mattathias, one of the priests of the Temple led a rebellion against Antiochus. Soon after the revolt began, Mattathias died. His son Judas became the leader of the uprising. His fortitude and committment was such that he was given the title "Judas the Maccabee" (Judas the Hammer). Up until this time the surname of the family of Mattathias was Hasmonea, but after their victory over the Syrians, the entire family became known as the Maccabees.
Although they were greatly outnumbered and poorly armed, this small band of Israelites defeated the Syrian army. Determined to restore the practices of their fathers, they spent months cleansing the Temple from the contamination of Antiochus. Judas declared a Festival to re-dedicate the Temple to the LORD to begin on the 25th of the month of Kislev.
He chose that date to corresponded with the third anniversary of the day that Antiochus originally desecrated the Temple.
But the "miracle" that is associated with Hanukkah, is not found in this account in Maccabees. It is revealed in the Jewish Talmud.
According to the Talmud:
For the re-dedication festival, they needed ceremonially pure oil for the 7 branch menorah that stood in the Temple.
Reminiscent of the Biblical story of Creation, the 7 Branch Menorah was lit during the day just before sunset - thus separating the day from the night.
"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." Genesis 1:3-5
Whether it was a rush to celebrate their victory or a lack of investigation to the extent of the contamination by Antiochus, after the date was set they found only enough undefiled oil to burn for one night. The priests of the LORD needed 7 days to purify more oil.
The small amount of undefiled oil that was spared from Antiochus' rage against the Hebrews burned for 8 nights - giving the priests of the LORD the needed time to purify enough oil to keep the lamp burning.
This is the Miracle of Hanukkah!!!
In honor of God's Provision, a nine branched candelabra is lit on the 8 nights of Hanukkah just after sundown! This candelabra in known as a hanukkiah. On each of the eight nights, a single candle is lit that lights the other candles. This candle is called the Shamash; meaning servant. There are prayers that that accompany the lighting of the hanukkiah, but for brevitys sake, I will just touch on the basics.
On the first night of Hanukkah, a single candle is placed to the farthest right in the hanukkiah, then the candle is placed in the branch for the Shamash. The Shamash is then lit, used to light the other candle and placed back in its branch. On the second night, two candles are placed from left to right (again to the furthest right of the hanukkiah) , then the Shamash is set in its place, alighted and then the candles are lit from right to left, again placing the Shamash back in its branch. Each night of Hanukkah another candle is placed in the hanukkiah until the eight nights are fulfilled.
For a more detailed account of lighting the hanukkiah, click on the link provided: http://judaism.about.com/cs/chanukahgeneral/ht/hol_chan_light.htm
On each of the eight nights, gifts are given to one another, these gifts are usually something made by an individual (cookies, small articles of clothing, etc). They are meant to be something of a very personal nature, and are given as a celebration of God's provision as well.
Children are taught the story of Hanukkah by a game played with a spinning top called a dreidel. On each of the four sides are Hebrew letters:
........ meaning a "Great Miracle Happened Here".
The Messiah in Hanukkah
Is there a correlation between the Messiah and the celebration of Hanukkah?
The hanukkiah has nine branches.
There are nine fruit of the Holy Spirit.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23
The light produced by the hanukkiah, is said to be the "Light of the Torah." The Torah refers to the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These books contain the Commandments of God.
"For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life." Proverbs 6:23
Also called the Five Books of Moses or the Pentateuch; they are the written law of God - the Word of God.
In the Bible, Jesus is called the Word of God.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." John 1:1-2
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..." John 1:14a
He is also the "Light of the World."
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light." John 1:6-8
The hanukkiah is to be set in the open, that all may see the light.
In teaching His disciples, the Lord said to them:
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16
The single candle that lights the others is called the Shamash - the servant.
Jesus is the servant that lights all men!
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." John 1:9
"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." Philippians 2:7
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28
"For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth." Luke 22:27
Although candles are the main source of light for the hanukkiah in our day, it was oil that lit the menorah in the Temple.
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." Matthew 25:1-13
Zeus in the Temple
To defile the Temple of the Lord, Antiochus erected a statue of the Greek god Zeus. In that so-called bastion of "Christianity" called the Vatican; the popes of Rome took the statue of Zeus and renamed it the Apostle Peter.
Mirroring King Antiochus, it is believed by many that the Vatican is in possession of sacred items from the Second Temple that was sacked by the Romans in 70 AD.2 And although the relationship between Catholicism and Paganism is irrefutable, and was known and preached about for centuries - gradually the belief that Catholicism is Christian has come to be ingrained in the minds on today's believers.
Unlike the Maccabees, the godly kings, the righteous rulers and the biblical judges of old; modern leaders of Churchianity (Billy Graham, Paul Crouch, Benny Hinn etc) have chosen to commit harlotry with Rome. They have not only allowed this gradual overtaking but have encouraged it - rather then stand for God and drive those that defile the Temple of God far from them.
"And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven." 2 Kings 23:4-5
In ancient times, the Temple was the "dwelling place" for the LORD. Now it is those that surrender wholeheartedly to the Lordship of Christ.
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16
It is from Catholicism that we get the modern celebration of Christmas; for it is the same Babylonian sun god that was worshipped on December 25th.
(For more information on the relationship and ties between the Roman Catholic Church, the Babylonian sun god and Christmas click on the following links: www.thewildernesscry.com/page14.html and www.thewildernesscry.com/page10.html).
It is also from the ancient religious practices of sun god worship that we get the Christmas tree! To blur the line of truth for those that practice Hanukkah and the adherents of Christmas celebrations, we now have the "Chanukah Bush"!
A Christmas tree with a Yiddiah accent!
There is no doubt that the tradition of erecting a Christmas tree or Chanukah Bush of any sort is forbidden in scripture.
"Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." Jeremiah 10:1-4 (emphasis mine)
We have even been given a new word to describe the compromise of Christmas and Hanukkah - "Christmukah"!
Just as the word Christmas is a combination of Christ and Mass (the Mass being the wafer god of Catholicism); Christmukah is a combination of Christmas and Chanukah. (Chanukah being an alternate spelling of Hanukkah).
Christmukah is complete with the same type of paraphernalia you find for Christmas. Trinkets such as Reindeer hanukkiahs and tree decorations called "menoraments".
In the forth century the Emperor Constantine used religious tolerance as the platform to mix the Pagan rites of sun god worship with the basic tenets of Christianity. The result of that union is The Roman Catholic Church.
"Those that don't learn from history are destined to repeat it."
Now we have the melding of Hanukkah with Christ-Mass.
The mix of:
Christmas: The Mass of Christ
Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights
Kwanzaa: The African American First Fruits Holiday
al-Adha: The Muslim Feast of Sacrifice
All of these celebrations fall on or about the same time of year!
Melding all religions into one is a necessary step for the one known as the anti-christ to come into power!
"And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." Daniel 7:25 (emphasis mine)
As we approach the Christmas season, already the spirit of greed and lust for "stuff" has grabbed people's souls. The day after Thanksgiving incidents of people being injured in fights for "stuff" was well publicized. One example was a woman robbed at gunpoint for the new X Box 360 she just purchased!
The modern Christian Church observes all of this commercialism and cries out: "Keep Christ in Christmas"!
Keep Christ in Christmas??!! He was NEVER there!
However it is obvious in scripture that (John 10:22-23) that Jesus was in the Temple of God at the Feast of Dedication. This is a celebration that the Messiah observed.
Anyone that has read The Wilderness Cry or "Blinded by the Sun" knows where I stand on the celebration of Christmas. I wholeheartedly believe that it is something that EVERYONE who professes the Name of Christ should avoid and distain!
This is not just opinion.
There is absolutely no scriptural justification for participating in Christmas! The Bible backs up that assessment!
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Ephesians 5:11
As the glow of the hanukkiah brings light to the darkness; may the the True Light, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah), bring the Light of Truth into your life concerning the harlotrous practice of celebrating the reincarnated sun god through the ritual known as Christmas.
1. Wikipedia.com; Antiochus IV Epiphanes