Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Hanukkah of 2012

Happy Hanukkah of 2012
A little background of Hanukkah &
a few thoughts from Israelprayer
Hanukkah, known as the Festival of Lights and in John 10 is referred to as the Feast of Dedication, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.  Miracles have a strong theme in this commemoration of the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC.

The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique nine-branched candelabrum, the Menorah or Hanukiah.  This is different from the seven-branched menorah in the Temple. The Hanukiah Menorah consists of eight branches with an additional branch that is raised above the others.
The extra light is called a shamash, which in Hebrew means servant.  It is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest.

On the first night of Hanukkah, after sundown, the Servant/shamash candle is lit, which in turn is used to kindle one other candle in the Menorah. The second night, we light the shamash again and use it to light two candles. This continues through the eight nights of the Hanukkah until all the candles are lit - like the apostle Paul declared in Romans 11:26, "And so all Israel shall be saved."

Only the Servant candle can kindle the other candles in the menorah - each candle lit on its own ordained day, in a progressive order.  Yeshua, who called Himself "the Light of World" is that Servant candle, that kindles the light in the Jewish people, each in the day that God has ordained in the salvation of Israel.

This is a laser generated Hanukiah projected on a mound in a converted landfill which is the centerpiece of the Ariel Sharon Park near Ben Gurion airport.

Instead of Hanukkah and Christmas being at odds, surely God has positioned the observance of these two holidays that point to the Messiah of Israel and the Light that has enlightened the world, in close proximity for His own purposes.  We need not wrestle over these holidays, but let the wonder of His great love amaze us again for both Jew and Gentile.

Here are important passages that point to the 'Reason for the Seasons' in the plan of God to redeem not only the Gentile world but to once again kindle the Light of the World in Israel, among the Jews.

And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.
Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, 
How long will you make us to doubt? If thou be the Messiah, tell us plainly.  
John 10:22-24

Therefore they could not believe, because as Isaiah said again,
He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; 
that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, 
and be converted, and I should heal them.
These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory, and spoke of Him. 
 John 12:39-41

I say then, Has God cast away his people? God forbid. . . .
God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. 
Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah,
how he pleads with God against Israel . . . . 
But what does the Divine response say to him? 
"I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men 
who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 
Even so then, at this present time 
there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Rom 11:1-2, 4-5

What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; 
but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. 
Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, 
Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, 
To this very day."  
Rom 11:7-8

I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! 
But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, 
salvation has come to the Gentiles.
Now if their fall is riches for the world, 
and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!  
Rom 11:11-12

For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, 
what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?  
Rom 11:15

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery,
 lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part 
has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 
"The Deliverer will come out of Zion, 
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them, 
When I take away their sins."  
 Rom 11:25-27

Wishing you all a new season of enlightening in the plan of God by the Light of the World as we all come to the unity of the faith in Messiah, our King.  Donna Diorio

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chanukah and Christmas: A Message from Heaven?

An excerpt from 1 Maccabees 3:17-19 Jerusalem Bible to go with the graphic: 
‘How can we, few as we are, engage such overwhelming numbers? We are exhausted as it is, not having had anything to eat today.’ ‘It is easy,’ Judas [Maccabaeus] answered, ‘for a great number to be routed by a few; indeed, in the sight of heaven deliverance, whether by many or by few, is all one; for victory in war does not depend on the size of the fighting force; it is from heaven that strength comes…’

This morning one of the emails I received from a ministry couple in Israel opened with this statement that gave me a selah moment (pause to consider): 

"As many of you are preparing to celebrate the Lord's birth, many here in Israel are looking forward to Chanukah, which tells of the story of victory over apostasy and lawlessness. Even Yeshua honored this Feast as we see in John 10. Hebrews 11:33-38 includes the people involved in the Chanukah story in its list of the heroes of faith."

It has been my observation over the past 30 years that God speaks in the still, small voice more often than the burning bushes. Meaning, when I see a subtle thing like this, it catches my attention and I wonder if God is not telling us to draw a spiritual truth from the juxtaposition of Christmas and Chanukah that we have not considered before. Instead of the annual spiritual mud wrestling over the holidays, maybe we should mull over the significance of the above statement.

The New Testament is pretty clear about the lawlessness within the people of God that will exist, like Matthew 7:21-23, where Jesus says to people who are actually doing wonders in His name, prophesying and casting out out demons in His name, "depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" There is another good place to pause and mull over what the Word actually says, not what we have been preaching instead.

What I am seeing in the paragraph sent from a Mt Carmel ministry couple - the man fighting the good fight of faith against cancer - is that maybe Christians SHOULD pay attention to the story of the Macabees. If the Hebrews "Hall of Faith" sees fit to list them, and if Yeshua Himself honored the Feast in John 10, then it probably does hold some meaning for those of us who abide in our calling to God through Jesus as Gentile Christians. Certainly, we hear very little preaching about the state of lawlessness that the New Covenant scriptures speak of as being among US in the last days. 

I don't think Paul was just talking about the unsaved when he wrote to Timothy (2Ti 3:1-5):

 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

We stand in faith by grace, but we excuse ourselves so easily. What Jesus said in Matthew 7 really should stop us in our tracks to carefully judge ourselves.