CHANUKAH

_ Feast of Lights/Rededication _

 

Chanukah, while not being a feast given by God in Scripture, is mentioned in the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament):

 

Then came Chanukah in Yerushalayim/Jerusalem.  It was winter, and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s (Solomon's) Colonnade.

  Yochanan/John 10:22-23

 

     This Feast of Lights/Rededication is historically a time to rededicate oneself to God and His purposes.  Many Messianic Jews and Gentiles see this feast time, rather than the modern day of Christmas, as a unique factual Bible time event of miraculous deliverance to be a more fitting time to remember the birth of the Messiah, the Light which came into the world.  In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not suppressed it.  Yochanan/John 1:4–5

 

     THE STORY   Under Syrian rule.  It was in the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, nearly twenty two centuries ago (165 b.c.e./c.e.), that the events took place which we commemorate each year at Chanukah time.  The Jewish people had returned to the land of Israel from the Babylonian Exile, and had rebuilt the Holy Temple.  But they remained subject to the domination of imperial powers, first, the Persian Empire, then later, the conquering armies of Alexander the Great.  Upon the death of Alexander, his vast kingdom was divided among his generals.  After a power struggle which engulfed all the nations of the Middle East, Israel found itself under the sway of the Seleucid Dynasty, Greek kings who reigned from Syria.

 

The 'Madman'   Though at first, the rule of the Seleucids was rather mild and uneventful in Israel, there soon arose a new king, Antiochus IV, who was to wage a bloody war upon the Jews, a war which would threaten not just their physical lives, but their very spiritual existence.  Over the years of Greek domination, many Jews had begun to accept the Greek culture and its self-serving pleasure oriented, pagan/false god way of life.  These Jewish Hellenists became willing pawns in Antiochus' scheme to obliterate every trace of the Jewish religion.      The Holy Temple was invaded, desecrated, and robbed of all its treasures.  Vast numbers of innocent people were massacred and the survivors were heavily taxed.  Antiochus placed an idol of Zeus on the holy altar and forced the Jews to bow before it under penalty of death.  And he forbid the Jewish people to observe their most sacred traditions, such as the Sabbath and the rite of circumcision.   Antiochus went so far as to proclaim himself a god, taking the name 'Antiochus Epiphanes' --the Divine.  But even his own followers mocked him as 'Antiochus Epimanes' --the madman.

 

The Turning Point   In every city and town, altars were erected with statues of the Greek gods and goddesses.  Soldiers rounded up the Jews and forcibly compelled them to make offerings and engage in other immoral acts customary to the Greeks.  As Antiochus' troops tightened their grip on the nation, the Jews seemed incapable of resistance.  It was in the small village of Modi'in, a few miles west of Jerusalem, that a single act of heroism turned the tide of Israel's struggle and altered her destiny for all time.  Mattityahu (Matthew), patriarch of the priestly Hasmonean clan, stepped forward to challenge the Greek soldiers and those who complied passively to their demands.  Backed by his five sons, he attacked the troops, slew the idolaters, and destroyed the idol.  With a cry of  'All who are with God, follow me!' he and a courageous circle of partisans retreated to the hills, where they gathered forces to overthrow the oppression of Antiochus and those working with him (even many Jews).

 

Guerrilla Warfare   The army of Mattityahu, now under the command of his son Yehuda (Judah) Maccabee, grew daily in numbers and in strength.  With the Biblical slogan, Who is like unto You, 0 God, emblazoned on their shields, they would swoop down upon the Syrian troops under cover of darkness and scatter the oppressors, then return to their encampments in the hills.  Only six thousand strong, they defeated a heavily armed battalion of forty-seven thousand Syrians.  Enraged, Antiochus sent an even larger army against them, and in the miraculous, decisive battle at Bet Tzur, the Jewish forces emerged victorious.  From there, they proceeded on to Jerusalem, where they liberated the city and reclaimed the  Holy Temple.  They cleared the Sanctuary of the idols, rebuilt the altar, and prepared to resume the Divine Service.  A central part of the daily service in the Temple was the kindling of the brilliant lights of the Menorah.  Now, as Jewish legend has it, with the Temple about to be rededicated; only one small cruse of the pure, sacred olive oil was found.  It was only one day's supply and they knew it would take more than a week for the special process required to prepare more oil.  Undaunted, in joy and with thanksgiving, the Maccabees lit the lamps of the Menorah with the small amount of oil, and dedicated the Holy Temple anew.  And miraculously, as if in confirmation of the power of their faith, the oil did not burn out —and the flames shone brightly for eight full days.  The following year, Jewish Sages officially proclaimed the festival of Chanukah as a celebration lasting eight days, in perpetual commemoration of this victory over religious persecution.

 

Chanukah Traditional Kindling Blessings     * This 9 post ‘Chanukiah’ is not the biblical 7 post Menorah, Sh’mot/Exodus 25:31-37

 

    1 Bah-rookh Ah-tah Adonai Eh-loh-hay-noo Meh-lehkh Hah-ohlahm Ah-shehr Keh-deh-shah-noo Beh-mehtzoo-tahv Veh-tzeh-vah-noo Leh-had-leehk Nehr Shehl Khah-noo-kah.  Blessed are You Adonai our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments, and allowed us to kindle the lights of Khanukah.

 

    2 Bah-rookh Ah-tah Adonai Eh-loh-hay-noo Meh-lehkh Hah-ohlahm Sheh-ah-sah Neh-seem Lah-ah-voh-tay-noo.  Bah-yah-meem Hah-hah-eem Bahzeh-mahn Hah-zeh. Blessed are you Adonai our God, King of the universe, who did miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.

 

     The following blessing is said traditionally only on the first evening:

 

    3 Bah-rookh Ah-tah Adonai Eh-loh-hay-noo Meh-lehkh Hah-ohlahm Sheh-heh-kheh-yah-noo Veh-keh-yeh-mah-noo Veh-heh-gee-ahnu Lehz-mahn Hah-zeh.    Blessed are You Adonai our God King of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this season.      

 

     After kindling the lights  recite:

 

    We kindle these lights to commemorate the saving acts, miracles and wonders which You have performed for our forefathers, in those days at this time, through Your holy Cohanim/Priests.  Throughout the eight days of Chanukah,

  

Lessons For Today The Chanukah lights are more than simply a reminder of God's deliverance and miracles in days gone by.  They provide inspiration for us, in our times, to enrich our lives with the Light of Messiah Yeshua and in remembering the greatest miracle of all, His birth!  In ancient times, the Jewish people rededicated the Temple with the Menorah.  Today, we rededicate ourselves to the Lord and to the salvation of this world.  For I am not ashamed of the Good News, since it is God’s powerful means of bringing salvation to everyone who keeps on trusting, to the Jew especially, but equally to the Gentile.    Romans 1:16

 

Chanukah Festivities - Foods, Games, Fellowship

 

THE KHANUKAH DREIDEL  The Origin of the Dreidel

 

    The Syrians decreed that the teaching or studying of Torah was a crime punishable by death or imprisonment.  But the children defiantly studied in secret; and when Syrian patrols were spotted, they would pretend to be playing an innocent game of dreidel.

 

Playing Dreidel   The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top, also called a svivon in Hebrew.  On each side is a Hebrew letter:  'Nun'  'Gimel' 'Hay' and 'Shin'.  The letters stand for the phrase "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" --a great miracle happened there.  It is traditionally used to play a lively Chanukah game.   Each player places some raisins, candies, or nuts into a kitty, and the players take turns spinning the dreidel.  Nun means nothing --you win nothing, you lose nothing.  Gimel means you take all.  Hay means you win half of what is in the kitty.  Shin means you lose, and must put more into the kitty.

 

Thank God for sending Yeshua/Jesus ....

 

but when the appointed time arrived, God sent forth his Son.

He was born from a woman, born into a culture in which legalistic

perversion of the Torah was the norm, so that he

might redeem… Galatians 4:4, 5a

 

 

How about you?

Have you received your Redeemer, the Stone whom the builders rejected?

In Him is life, light and joy and in His sacrifice is forgiveness of sin.

He, the Messiah is the way to Eternal Shabbath, Yom Shekulo Shabbat!

- The Messianic Age  Day of Total Shabbat -

Eternal Paradise/Heaven, of the world to come.

Is that of one long extended, unending eternal Sabbath Day.

 

 

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