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Hanukkah
 

Radio teaching notes from Rabbi Jeremy Storch


Monday

Today, I'd like to talk to you about the Jewish Feast of Chanukah. The word “Chanukah” itself means “dedication. The traditional Jewish observance of Chanukah celebrates the miraculous “rededication” of the Temple in Jerusalem after it had been desecrated by the enemies of Israel .

The Chanukah story begins with the rise to power of Alexander the Great several centuries before Yeshua (Jesus) was born. At that time, the world was unified into one common government and culture called “Hellenism”. After Alexander died at an early age, his kingdom was divided into four different provinces. The Israelites lived in the province of Syria under the leadership of a “mad tyrant” named Antiochus Epiphanes.

In his quest for power and to secure “Hellenism” as the only way of life, Antiochus did the following:

He marched his troops into Jerusalem on the 25 th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev in the year 168 BC and desecrated the Temple . He defiled all the sacred objects in the Temple , erected a statue of the Greek god Zeus and then sacrificed a pig to it on God's holy altar.

In addition, Antiochus decreed that all practices of Judaism were forbidden including the observance of Shabbat (the Sabbath Day), circumcision, the biblical dietary laws and the reading of the laws of Moses (God's Torah).

The Jewish people were now also forced to partake in pagan rituals or die. This included the eating of pigs flesh publicly to prove their loyalty to “Hellenism”.

Finally, one brave family from a little town called Modi'in, led a rebellion against Antiochus and his Syrian army. The rebellion was originally led by an old Jewish priest named Mattithias, who killed a fellow Jew, whom he caught sacrificing a pig. After also killing several Greek soldiers, Mattithias and his five sons fled to the hills and began a “guerilla warfare” campaign against the Syrian army. Before he died, Mattithias passed the leadership to one of his sons, Judah the Maccabee, whose name means “the hammer”.

Though facing unbelievable odds, being totally outnumbered by the enemy, Judah and his men won a total victory over Antiochus and his entire army. Then on the 25 th day of Kislev in the year 165 BC, exactly three year to the day after the Temple had been defiled, Judah and his men cleansed the Temple and rededicated it to the God of Israel.

An eight day celebration began as the Temple lamp stand was illuminated. However, there was only enough oil to keep the lamp stand burning for one day but God performed a miracle and kept the lamps burning for eight full days so the Israelites could fully celebrate the victory that God gave them. For this reason, Chanukah is also known as the “Season of Miracles”.

Tune in tomorrow at this same time as we take a closer look at the biblical account of the Jewish Feast of Chanukah and see how it applies to all believers in Jesus whether Jew or Gentile.
 

Tuesday

Yesterday we began to take a closer look at the Jewish feast of Chanukah. The word “Chanukah” itself means “dedication and in yesterdays teaching, we say that Chanukah celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, after it had been defiled and desecrated by Israel's enemies. We also saw that after the Temple was cleansed and rededicated to the God of Israel, a great eight day celebration began, which included the lighting of the Temple lamp stand. However, there was only enough oil to keep the lamps burning for one day but God did a “miracle” and supernaturally stretched the one day supply of oil to keep the lamps burning for eight full days. This is why Chanukah is also call the “season of miracles”.

The Chanukah story itself is found in the two books of the Maccabees, which are part of the Apocrypha. The fourteen books of the Apocrypha are not included in the canonized bibles of Judaism and Christianity; however, they are included in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the books written by Jewish scholars for the Greek speaking Jewish people. The Septuagint was originally compiled about 250 years before the birth of the Messiah, with the books of the Maccabees being added approximately in the year 100 BC.

However, there is an accounting of Chanukah in the canonized book of the prophet Daniel in Daniel, chapters 8 and 11 and also in the Brit Hadashah (New Covenant) in the gospel of John, chapter 10 where we see Yeshua (Jesus) himself attending the Feast of Dedication, which is Chanukah.

In Daniel 8 and 11, we see the rise and fall of Antiochus IV, who is the villain of the Chanukah story, being prophesied by Daniel about 400 years before Chanukah itself. Antiochus is also a type of the Anti-Christ who will be revealed in the last days, which we are certainly in. He, too, will desecrate the Temple (Daniel 9:27 and 12:11 ) which says “He shall bring an end to the daily sacrifice and offering and on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate.” (I suggest you read Daniel, chapters 8-12 for more insight on this entire matter.)

In John 10:22-38, we see Yeshua appearing at the Temple during the Feast of Chanukah in the very place where the Chanukah “miracle of the oil” took place only 200 years earlier. By no coincidence, He speaks about the “miraculous” good works that He does in His Father's Name and He plainly reveals Himself to the Pharisees as the Messiah and the Son of God.

By virtue of the fact, that Yeshua himself attended the Feast of Chanukah, we too as believers in Him (Jew or Gentile) should observe the Feast of Chanukah also. After all, we are called to be imitators of the Messiah (1 st Corinthians 11:1) and if it's good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us!

Add to this, the fact that Chanukah is also known as “The Festival of Lights”. Due to the miraculous “illumination” of the Temple lamp stand for 8 full days, even though there was only a one day supply of oil. In John 8:12 Yeshua said, “I am the light of the world, he who believes in Me shall not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In Matthew 5:14-16 He also told us that “we too are the light of the world” and that we must “let our lights shine before men that they may see the good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.

Tune in tomorrow at this same time and see how all of this is typified by the lighting of the Chanukah menorah during the 8 days of Chanukah.
 

Wednesday

For the past few days, I've been speaking to you about the Jewish festival of Chanukah.

The basics of the Chanukah story include the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem on the 25 th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev in the year 168 BC, three years to the day after it was desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes and the Greek-Syrian arm in 165 BC. Also the miraculous eight day supply of oil to keep the Temple lamp stand burning even though there was only enough oil for one day, enabling the Israelites to celebrate the victory God gave them for the eight full days of Chanukah. We've also seen how Yeshua (Jesus) Himself attended the Feast of Chanukah, which means “dedication”, according to John 10:22-38 shortly after He said in John 8:12, “I am the Light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” He also said in Matthew 5:14 that we too, as believers in Him, are the “light of the world”. Emanating the light of God is one of the dominant themes of Chanukah, which is also called the “Festival of Lights”.

The lighting of the Chanukah menorah (also called a “Hanukkiah”) during the eight days of Chanukah is not only rich in Jewish tradition but has great Messianic insights as well. The Chanukah menorah is a nine branched menorah, different than the seven branched menorah or “lamp stand” that was in the Holy Place in the Tabernacle of Moses and in the Temple of Solomon . Eight of the branches are for the candles that represent the eight days of Chanukah. One of the branches is reserved for what is called in Hebrew the “Shamash” candle (Shamash means “servant”). The “Shamash candle” is always lit first and then it is used to light the other candles, adding an extra candle each evening as the festival progresses until all the candles are lit on the eighth night of Chanukah. However, it is always the Shamash candle that is lit first and then it in turn lights the other candles.

The Shamash or the “servant” candle is, of course, symbolic of Yeshua. Not only is He the “light of the world” that has “illuminated” all of us with the glory of God but He is also the “servant” of God, for He said to us in Mark 10:45 “for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but “to serve' and to give His life as a ransom for many”.

Like Yeshua, we too are called to be servants of the Most High to bring the “light of God” to a dark world and to be “servants” to mankind by demonstrating good deeds which brings glory to our Father in heaven. This is expressed by the love of God which has been shed abroad in our hearts through the power of the Ruach Ha Kodesh, the Holy Spirit! Freely we have received, freely we must give!

This is the profound meaning to Chanukah as we light the candles of our Chanukah menorah each evening of the festival. “That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life!”

Please turn in tomorrow at this same time for more on the Feast of Chanukah and if you're interesting in obtaining a Chanukah menorah for your home, please contact our Temple office.
 

Thursday

During the last few days, I've been teaching on the Jewish Feast of Chanukah. Often, I'm asked the question “Is there a connection between Chanukah and Christmas. Honestly speaking, there is very little connection between the two, however there are two important concepts we should take note of. The world and traditional Christianity recognize Christmas as the time of the “miraculous” birth of God's Son, who is also the “Light of the world”.

Chanukah, which generally falls around the same time of the year as Christmas is called the “Festival of Lights” because of the “miracle of the oil” which took place enabling the Temple lamp stand to burn brightly for eight full days, instead of only one. Therefore, the theme of “light” and “miracles” are connected here between Chanukah and Christmas.

However a more important connection that we should consider is this. If Antiochus Epiphanes, the villain of the Chanukah story, would have succeeded in exterminating the Jewish people altogether in the middle of the 2 nd Century BC, the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world never would have been born. In other words, without Chanukah, there would be no Christmas. Chanukah had to come first so that the Son of God might be born. For this we must eternally be grateful not only to God, but to a small band of brave Jewish men known as the “Maccabees” who defeated Antiochus and his army, before they could destroy the Jewish people.

Now, during these teachings, we have seen that the Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication”, commemorating the cleansing and “re-dedication” of the Temple by the Maccabees after it had been polluted and defiled by Israel 's enemies.

The theme of “dedication” and “God's Temple ” is very important to us as believers in Yeshua. In John 2:19, Yeshua said “Destroy this temple and I will build it again in three days”, speaking of His body which was resurrected after three days of being in the ground. As believers in Him, we are His body. In 1 st Corinthians 3:16, Paul said, “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's Temple , and that God's Spirit lives in you”. If anyone defiles the temple, God will destroy him! In 1 st Corinthians 6:18 -20 Paul again says, “Flee from sexual immorality . . . do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit . . . therefore honor God with your body” and again in Ephesians 2:21, Paul says, “in Him (Yeshua), the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple to the Lord, and in Him (Yeshua) you too are being built together as a dwelling place where God lives by His Spirit.”

For us as believers, whether Jew or Gentile, the Feast of Chanukah represents the dedication and re-dedication of our lives and our physical bodies to the God of Israel. By analogy, it all comes back to two men in the Chanukah story. Mattithias, a faithful Jewish priest who would not compromise when it came to keeping God's Temple holy and led a rebellion against those who desecrated it and a fellow Jew, who under the influence of a “worldly spirit” sacrificed “pigs” on an unholy altar. Both had the same covenant promises but one refused to defile God's Temple while the other did!

We have the same choice today; to defile God's temple with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the cravings of sinful man or to keep it holy as unto the Lord. Which person are you?

 

 

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"The Tabernacle" is an outreach of Tabernacle of Praise Ministries, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
The Tabernacle is led by Messianic Rabbi Jeremy Storch and is located in Branson, Missouri.
If you have questions or comments, please email us at: info@TheTabernacleInBranson.com