4 Seests in Paradise
Perhaps you are wondering why we as Christians are
celebrating a historical, Judaic festival. I'm so glad you asked! The
reason is, our Saviour and His disciples were aware of Hanukkah
during His first advent!
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
19 There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.
20 And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?
21 Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?
22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.
24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
The term "Christian" was first used in Antioch according to Acts 11. It literally means "follower of Christ" or "imitator of Christ". I LONG to live up to that name! I know I will never in this body be sinless as He was, but I want to attempt to do what He did...and not do what He didn't do. He is my example, and I live to be His example to others.
The Messiah was in the temple in Jerusalem at the feast of dedication, what today is called Hanukkah. Although the history of Judah of Macabee is not recorded in the Holy Bible, we do have this verse telling us that Jesus (and His disciples, one of whom penned this bit of information in this gospel) were very much aware of the festival.
Are we required to observe this festival to ensure our salvation? NO!!!! A thousand times no. No observance of a tradition, a holy day, or the law saves us or keeps us saved...nor did observing the law save the Old Testament children of Israel. Remember what we're told in Hebrews:
BY FAITH, Abel....
BY FAITH, Enoch....
BY FAITH, Noah....
BY FAITH, Abraham....
And on and on it goes. They had faith in God. Because they had faith, they sought to please the LORD by doing what He told us in His Word was pleasing to Him. They had faith in a promised Messiah, looking forward to His coming. We have faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ--the children of Israel's Messiah Who came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But many did believe...eleven disciples, the many at the upper room at Pentecost, Stephen, the Apostle Paul.... Thanks be to God, for those saved Jews who took the Gospel into the highways and hedges! "To the Jew first, and also to the Greek." That's me! I'm a "Greek"...a Gentile believer! But I do not want to be guilty of Judaizing! Titus 3:5, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost". Even if we could keep the whole law, we could not be saved by our own merit.
The Hanukkah celebration of the miraculous provision of oil also makes me think of Jesus' parable recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew about the 10 virgins, 5 wise and 5 foolish. What made them wise or foolish? Whether or not they had oil in their lamps.
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9 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.
10 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.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
We hear the children singing in Sunday School, "Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning!" What's the oil about anyhow? What does oil have to do with the Feast of Dedication? Why major on the minors?
Because in God's Word, the oil for the light in the temple was not a "minor"...not at all.
Here are a few verses...a very few of the verses on oil:
Exodus 25:6, "Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,"
Exodus 27:20, "And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always."
Exodus 35:8, "And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense,"
The oil in the temple was for the light God commanded was to burn always. It was a week long process to make the special oil for this lamp in the temple. That's what the miracle was about that the Jews celebrate at the Feast of Dedication--they only had one day's worth of oil, but they credit the LORD Jehovah for miraculously blessing them with oil for the light until they had completed the process 8 days later. That's why the 8 candles, the 8 days, the oil. They are remembering God's miraculous blessing of oil for light.
Were the children of Israel saved for keeping the light burning? for their sacrifices? for their hand-washing and special clothing and food abstinance and crop rotations? No, not spiritually. No works of righteousness can save us. Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Him.
BY FAITH, Moses....
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
Moses made a choice. The easy way would be to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season--his lifetime. He chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God. But look at the next verse.
Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt....
And the end of the next verse:
as seeing him who is invisible.
Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ--the promised Messiah--and suffered affliction with the people of God.
These verses tie it all together....
I Corinthians 3:16
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
I Corinthians 6:19 & 20
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
As Christians, our bodies are the temple of God! Our bodies have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in us, making us lights in the world! If we are not saved, our "temple", our body, does not have the Holy Spirit within...no light...no God...foolish. (Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1)
Somewhere, it is written down:
BY FAITH, Jennifer....
Is your body the temple of the Holy Ghost?
Is your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life?
If it is--BY FAITH, through salvation--then you have oil in your lamp...a miraculous provision *_*
What do we do for Hanukkah?
We thank God for His provision, in a more beautiful and fuller way than those who only know the historical story of Hanukkah can celebrate. We decorate with lights and candles and nativity scenes...inside and out. Historically, the eight lights of the menorrah represent the "bonus days" that the Jews, then under seige, were miraculously given eight days of light from a single day's supply of oil.
Because of the LORD providing the oil, many Jews celebrate by cooking foods fried in oil...donuts, potato lattkes, fried chicken.... YUM! They also play a game--Dreidel--with a four-sided top, the sides having the first letters for the words "A Great Miracle Happened There". And of course, if you're playing the dreidel game in Jerusalem *_*, the last letter is for the first letter in the Jewish word for HERE *_*
But these of course are traditions. They're fun, but they're only traditions. The book of Hebrews tells us of a better way, what all the Old Testament temple laws and feasts and fasts and festivals point to...WHOM they point to *_* We have Jesus as our Great High Priest! Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost! The sacrifice for our sin debt has been paid in full by the Lamb of God! Praise the LORD!
We sing "The Light of the World is Jesus", a wonderful old hymn of the faith. Often in the Old Testament, we read of a promise of light to come into the world. And in the New Testament, we read that Jesus is the Light of the World, and we as Christians are also to be lights to the lost around us.
For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.
Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
Isaiah 9:2 & 6
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.
The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
I Peter 2:9
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
What a beautiful picture that during the time of Hanukkah, we celebrate the first coming of the Light of the world!
Here are a few other hymns that refer to Jesus' being the Light and our need to share Him with others:
Carry the Light
Lead, Kindly Light
Send the Light
Speed the Light - Less well known, but beautiful!
Stepping in the Light
Thou Light of Gentile Nations - referring to Simeon in the Temple when he recognized the infant Jesus as the Messiah
Walk in the Light
Ye Are the Light of the World
And the Cyber-Hymnal has Light as a theme as well, with many more hymns listed!
Thinking about the history, it would probably do to sing "Give Me Oil in My Lamp" as well. The LORD has time and again given us "bonus energy" in which to get His work accomplished. We need to give Him the glory for making us effective lights for Him!
The History of Hanukkah - Annie's Hanukkah Page
I saw this when visiting Judaism 101's site on Hanukkah:
"Chanukkah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews (and even many assimilated Jews!) think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. It is bitterly ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on our calendar."
Yet how convicting, too. How much sadder it is that we as Christians would celebrate in such a way as to detract from the Messiah's birth. Is your Christmas all about presents and stockings and trees and baked goodies? Or is it all about the Lord Jesus Christ and sharing the Truth in love with those around us?
A great miracle happened there in Israel....
The Light of the World was miraculously given ... born of a virgin ... born in Bethlehem ... born the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world!
Many Christian celebrations at this time of year have little difference from the world's celebrations, with overspending & materialism, parties, Christmas trees and glitzy decorations...even Santa and elves and reindeer. And there are those Christians who seek to separate themselves and go to the -nth degree, choosing to do nothing at all. They don't decorate with a nativity scene, don't make it a special time for their children, don't give to lost family members, neighbors.... Tastefully, biblically celebrating Jesus' birth is a wonderful opportunity for witnessing to our lost neighbors, friends, and family by being a DIFFERENCE, by keeping our celebration based solely on the first coming of the Messiah - the Light of the World! That gives us the opportunity to also be lights, because Jesus said:
Ye are the light of the world.
Prayerfully rethink your celebration this year with this verse in mind:
I Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink,
or whatsoever ye do,
do all to the glory of God.
For Christ's sake, for testimony's sake,
What would Jesus have you do?
Back to Christmas!