Chanukah – The Festival of Lights!

In the “Silent Years”, the 400 years between the old and new covenants, many events occurred which are not recorded in the Holy Book.  Alexander, the Great, came on the scene as the mighty Greek/Syrian conqueror of all the known world. He took everything he wanted and it’s recorded that he cried when he learned there were no lands left to conquer. He died of a broken heart before the age of 33. His empire was divided among four generals, Seleucus and Ptolemy becoming the strongest. The latter went south to headquarter in Egypt and Seleucus took the Syrian or eastern half. These two factions battled continually for supremacy and with tiny unprotected Israel in between, you can imagine the effect the wars had on the country.

About 170 BC, that many years before Y’shua was born, Antiochus IV, a Greek king, attacked Israel killing thousands. He banned all religious activity, especially keeping the Sabbath, the study of Torah and circumcision, the sign of God’s Covenant People. He defiled the Temple on Kislev 25, 168 or 167 BC, (on the Jewish calendar) by bringing in a large sow, slaughtering it upon the altar and pouring broth from it on the Holy Word of God. Antiochus was so vile that he added the name “Epiphanes” to his own – to mean `the visible god’. Anyone found with a new born circumcised baby boy was killed along with the whole family. Many other too-horrible-to-tell events occurred.

The Jews tried to do the best they could to continue to placate the Greeks and yet serve the One God. They invented a little game to play as they taught their children the Hebrew alef-bet. When soldiers came along they said they were just playing a game. It is still played today with a spinning four sided top called a Dreidel – which means “to spin”.

In the little village of Modi’in, just about three miles from Yerushalayim, an old priest named Matityahu lived with his five sons.  He truly loved God with all his heart and did his best to please Him. One day a band of soldiers came and ordered a pig to be sacrificed to Zeus, saying they would kill all who would not obey.  Matityahu refused and killed the first Jew that tried to offer the pig. Then he and his sons killed all the soldiers. It was time to stand for God and country. Many followed the old priest and his sons into the hills where they waged warfare on the Greek rulers. They were so relentless against their enemies that they were nicknamed “the Hammers”, or in the Hebrew “the Maccabees”.  When the old priest died, his son, Yehuda, took over as leader.  After a three year war they actually succeeded in driving out their enemies and taking back the land. This great day was Kislev 25 – again, 165 or 164 BC!  Kislev was a Babylonian name. The Hebrews did not name their months – or the days of the week. Kislev was/is the ninth month.

The Temple was defiled – some of it beyond repair. The old altar was torn down and replaced with new stones. New  vessels were made and all the area was cleansed.  Years before when the Tabernacle was built, God had ordered that the menorah, a seven branched candlestick be fashioned of gold and kept continually burning.  Pure sanctified olive oil was used as the fuel.  At last they were ready to rededicate the Temple for worship to God. All they needed was ritually pure oil!  Legend says only one bottle was to be found with the seal of the high priest still on it.  The people were assembled in victory waiting for the eternal light to blaze forth. It was decided to divide the oil into all the bowls and light them anyway – knowing they could only burn for one night. It would take eight long days to press more olive oil and prepare it for burning. The people did what they could and God took it from there – as He always does! It is said a great miracle occurred! The oil continued to burn for the full eight days. The Sages of that generation decreed that these eight days after the 25th of Kislev should be days of great rejoicing.  God Himself did not order this celebration, but it was done in His honor.   Special menorahs having nine lamps were made and made and everyone was to light their own chanukah menorah (called chanukiah) at sunset on Kislev 25 and for the next seven evenings.  In some families only one is used for everyone. They are placed in the front window for all the world to see.  We should always let every one see and hear of God’s miracles.

The first night the one on the far right is lighted by the shamash or servant candle and both are allowed to burn down (about a half hour). Each night one more candle is lighted until on the eighth night all nine are ablaze.  Special chanukah candles can be purchased in  rainbow colors for the occasion. Blessing are said first each night, thanking God for His mighty miracles.  This is a time to thank the Holy One of Israel  for  ALL  the miracles that He has done for us through the years and in our lives today. Yet to come is another Chanukah when the Temple will again be cleansed from the last Antiochus – the antiChrist – for he will rule for a time there before King Y’shua.

“Chanukah” means dedication.  It is a time to rededicate our lives to Him. This day is also believed to be the day Y’shua was conceived. He is The Light! It is a time to remember that we are to be His light today in a very wicked world.

(By the way, the “Ch” in Hebrew is pronounced
“KHah” with a little clearing of the throat sound…
it is sometimes spelled `Hanukkah’.)

Yochanon, (John) the beloved disciple, tells us in John 10:22 about Y’shua coming to the Temple in winter  (Kislev 25) to celebrate the Feast of Chanukah.  If it was good enough for Y’shua – it’s good enough for me!  If you drive past our house just after dark (and we’re home) any night during Chanukah, you’ll see our chanukiah lights burning in our window. Better yet, come on in and we’ll play dreidel!  We’ll have some potato latkes (fried in oil – to remember the miracle oil…)  some sufganiyot  (Israeli donuts) and praise God together for His great love.

Shalom  Shalom!
December 26, 2005  -   Kislev 25, 5766

Breshit 1 – Genesis 1

Starting ‘the New Year” (on the Jewish calendar) with the first book of the Torah (Bible). Here are a few thoughts from the first chapter of Breshit (say Bray-sheet):  (from the NKJV)

1. “In the beginning God created…”
It is G-d, always G-d. He is the beginning, the center, and the ending of everything.

2. “The earth was without form and void…”   (void =  not occupied, vacant, not inhabited, deserted) The earth was a big ball of mud. G-d doesn’t create ‘junk’, leading me to believe the condition of the earth at that time was the result of a disaster – perhaps a destroyed earlier creation? G-d was doing a ‘make-over’.  Many scholars subscribe to the “gap theory” – an extended period of time between the first and second verses, therefore giving credibility to the ‘millions of years’ talk.

Day One:
3. “…God said, “Let there be ‘light’, and there was light.”   What was that light? Did you ever wonder about that?  God hadn’t yet created the sun or the moon – so what light? G-d IS light, so His light was already present. What light appeared when He spoke it into existence? “The evening and the morning were the first day.”  Notice the first day started in the evening or at sundown. Man later changed the new day to begin at midnight!  We always know so much better than G-d, right?   Not!

Day Two:
6. “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” (firmament =  the expanse of space that seems to be over the earth like a dome – or the heavens) I understand there are three ‘heavens’. The first ‘heaven’ – expanse above the earth filled with air. The second heaven, which is where the sun, moon, stars and planets are and the third heaven which is
G-d’s home. I believe we are talking about the first heaven here. G-d says He divided the firmament (first heaven) with a water barrier. At that time there was a band of waters above the earth. I also believe that the water acted as a ‘greenhouse’ effect upon the earth. There were no seasons, no polar ice, and we had protection from the sun’s harmful rays. At the time of the flood, that overhead band of water was released onto the earth, which tipped slightly, and everything changed into how we know the earth to be today.

Day Three:

9. “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together in one place, and let dry land appear… let the earth bring forth grass, the herb…….. and the fruit tree……..”  This is the day G-d caused the land to produce vegetation. But remember – there was no sun to make things grow. Makes me realize G-d really did His creative works in six real 24 hour days.

Day Four:
14.  “Let there be lights in the …… heavens ……. and let them be for signs and seasons…….. and to give light on the earth. …….He made the stars also.”  The heavenly bodies are for light and we understand that.  But for “signs and for seasons”?  What signs? What seasons? We need to search this out and try to understand what He meant. The Book of Revelation speaks of “the moon turning into blood” Some have said that means the moon will be inhabited and there will be bloody wars up there, some say horrific modern pollution will cause the atmospheric conditions to show the moon to look red. We have seen red moons and they usually seem to be ’a bad sign’.  Requires more study, Huh?

Day Five:
20. “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth …….”  So G-d created all the fish and sea creatures and all the birds that fly. Think ahead to the Flood in the time of Noah. Who died? All humans but eight, all animals and birds save two of the unclean ones and seven of the clean ones. Evidently this destruction did not apply to anything that lived in the sea. Noah took no sea creatures into the ark. There are so many myriads of sea creatures and more are being discovered every year.  Nothing was lost of them in the flood while only a few animals and birds escaped. Take dogs for instance. How many breeds of dogs are there in existence today? From Chihuahuas to Saint Bernards. They weren’t all on the ark! No, there was only one pair and from these two all other breeds “evolved”. This is the only kind of evolution I believe in. A dog is a dog – great or small, snub nose or long nose, short hair or long, 3 pounds or 200 pounds. They are all dogs and they all came from just the first two after the Flood. All animals are identifiable in their species, dogs, cats or whatever.  There has never been a fossil found that is half dog and half cat, etc. Each is fully preserved in it’s own species.

Day Six:
24. “Let the earth bring forth …… cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to it’s kind.”
26. Then God said, ‘Let Us make Man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over ……. all the earth……..’
27. “………male and female He created them.”
28. “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”   G-d called upon all creation to reproduce itself. He gave mankind the job of caring for His creation. ‘Having dominion over’ does not mean rule with an iron hand or be tyrannical in our actions. G-d is love and He deals with His creation in a tender, loving way. He expects us to do what is necessary to keep the earth and it’s creatures in good form. Yes, we are superior to all other creatures but that does not give us the right to be unfair or unkind. We are to be careful with our environment and use it in the best way possible but it does not mean we are to ‘worship’ it. I believe the environmentalists have gone too far. Moderation and common sense go a long ways! Let’s pattern ourselves after the Ruler of the universe and treat our world and what’s in it the way He would.

29. And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.
30. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”;  In the beginning, all creatures were vegetarians. There was no death – nothing was killed for food – either by man or animal. Man was not given permission to eat flesh until after the flood. Man was told in the New Testament to not abstain from the eating of meat as some taught. I believe one day we will all be vegetarians again!

31. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.  There you have the six days of creation. Have you ever memorized them?
It’s time to do that now.

1. LIGHT
2. FIRST HEAVEN
3. LAND, VEGETATION
4. SECOND HEAVEN WITH SUN, MOON AND STARS
5. SEA CREATURES, BIRDS
6. BEASTS, BUGS AND HUMANS

See you next time,

Shalom,  Sharaka

WordPress Themes