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Thread: Hanukkah

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by sula View Post
    Hey there White, what a beautiful post about the Menorah, the reconciliation between Jew/Gentile......Judah/Ephriam. BRILLIANT!!!! PTL Also, I too have read about the possibility of Jesus being conceived on Hanukkah and being born during the Feast of Tabernacle. Talk about prophetic. Hashem is speaking to HIS people....and drawing them in.
    I agree ... it was an excellent post.

    Woohoo! We all three agree for once!









    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

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  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by White View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RAM
    The idea that the Jews are "God's people" independent of their faithfulness to Him must be rejected as a false and carnal understanding of the Bible.
    Do you see my point? When you declare that UNBELIEVERS are HIS PEOPLE you are denying the Gospel which declares that ALL PEOPLE of any RACE can become HIS PEOPLE by believing in JESUS CHRIST HIS SON. Why would you want to do that? Richard
    Hey Richard,

    Read again what I wrote : John 14:6 : I am the way, the truth and the life, NO one comes to the Father but by ME (Jesus/Y'shua). Nowhere am I denying Christ - in the contrary, I have witnessed to them in person many times, starting at HANUKKAH in 1998 at their Hanukkah Dinner, at Kenesseth Israel Congregation, Orthodox Jewish Synagogue. I have NEVER, NEVER, NEVER denied Christ when I witnessed to the Jewish People (or any other people) I leave that up to Hagee...
    Hello my friend,

    I really hope we can get this simple little thing cleared up. There is no reason for us to be squabbling about something I never said nor intended to imply. I know you love Jesus and do not deny Him!

    Please read my words carefully. I said "The idea that the Jews are "God's people" independent of their faithfulness to Him must be rejected as a false and carnal understanding of the Bible. "

    Do you see that little word in bold red? I never said that YOU as a person would ever deny Christ! I never said that. Again, let me repeat, I never said that. Please try to understand what I did say. I said that the IDEA or TEACHING that the Jews are "God's People" independent of their faith in Christ "must be rejected as a false." Do you see that? I never said you were denying Christ. I said the teaching that ANYBODY could be considered "God's People" apart from faith in Christ is wrong.

    I think we should seek to get over this silly problem with words. I am very careful about what I say, and I really mean what I say. So when I say that we shouldn't go around calling unbelievers "God's People" I mean it. But that doesn't mean that you can't love the Jewish culture and people and minister to them and pray that they see the light and pray that Christians lose whatever antisemitism they may have and even keep shabbat if that's what your heart desires! I never opposed any of that! I only oppose things that really strike a nerve, like saying that Christans should keep the OT law, or that unblelivers are "God's People."
    Quote Originally Posted by White View Post
    Shalom, my brother, keep up the good work in defending all attacks against the TRUE and HOLY NAME of JESUS / Y'SHUA, my LORD & SAVIOR, always!

    Happy Hanukkah
    Shalom
    Monique
    And shalom to you my sister and minister to the Jews for whom all true Christians pray that they might know their Redeemer!

    Richard

    PS: Thanks for taking the effort to talk to me and to write such great post. I pray our God continues to bless you as you serve in His Kingdom!
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  3. #23
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    The Jewish people are Biblically God's "chosen" people. That does not mean that being Jewish means automatic salvation any more than any gentile. Everything that God has offered to people like salvation, etc, has been through the Jews. the new covenant itself is with "Israel." Why the jealousy and personal offense? The wonder is that gentiles are freely offered salvation through Israel's Messiah by faith alone and not conversion to judaism.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by eliyahu View Post
    The Jewish people are Biblically God's "chosen" people. That does not mean that being Jewish means automatic salvation any more than any gentile. Everything that God has offered to people like salvation, etc, has been through the Jews. the new covenant itself is with "Israel." Why the jealousy and personal offense? The wonder is that gentiles are freely offered salvation through Israel's Messiah by faith alone and not conversion to judaism.
    Hello Eliyahu,

    Welcome to our forum!

    I am really glad you have chosen to comment on this issue. The more it is talked about, the better chance we will have to come to a proper biblical understanding.

    I know some of the conversation has seemed a little "emotional" at times, but I don't think there is any "jealousy" and the only "personal offense" that has happened seems to be based on simple misunderstandings.


    As for your statement that "The Jewish people are Biblically God's "chosen" people" that is as far as it goes. Indeed, the Lord declared that He chose them in many verses, perhaps the most famous being this:
    Deuteronomy 7:6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

    Folks can dispute whether God was speaking of all the physical children of Israel or only those who believed. But that is not a question any more now that Christ has come and sealed the New Covenant in His blood. God now declares that only those who believe in Him are counted as "seed." He declares Chirstians to be His "chosen people":
    1 Peter 2:9-10 But ye [Christians] 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: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
    The people of God are now defined soley as those who believe in Jesus Christ. But don't be confused. God didn't quit the Jews and start up with the Christian! Indeed, all the first Christians were true Jews who believed in YHVH. The unbelieving Jews were broken off the Olive Tree, and believing Gentiles were grafted in. God's people are defined as all who are in the Olive Tree. The carnal unbelieving children of Abraham are explictly stated to be "children of the flesh" and "not the children of God." (Romans 9:6-8).

    I would be delighted to discuss this with you if you disagree with validity of my statements.

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  5. #25
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    2nd eve of Hanukkah

    VIRTUAL CHANUKAH
    POSTED 05 DECEMBER, 2007

    Chanukah for the Two Houses of Israel

    by J.K. McKee
    editor@tnnonline.net


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The subject of what Messianic Believers are to be doing for the Winter holiday season can be very controversial. On the one hand, Messianics cannot, and should not, celebrate Christmas because it is non-Biblical and was created to be a replacement for the Biblical appointments of Leviticus 23. On the other hand, should Messianic Believers celebrate Chanukah, or the Feast of Dedication? Within the emerging Two-House Messianic community, as it is often described, there is debate over whether or not we should celebrate Chanukah. Primarily the debate surrounds the fact that oftentimes the celebration of Chanukah can become a replacement for Christmas, and the fact that Chanukah is not a Biblically mandated holiday.

    If there is anything we must consider per this debate it is two things: (1) We must have an attitude that brings glory to our Heavenly Father, and (2) our actions must foster unity and understanding between Jewish and non-Jewish Believers. Sadly, like many of the issues that we face, the subject of whether or not we should celebrate Chanukah has two extremes: there are those who vehemently oppose its observance, and perhaps might even consider it a 'gross Jewish error.' And, there are those who go overboard in encouraging its celebration, in an effort to prove that they are 'better' than Christians who celebrate Christmas in ignorance. Neither one of these positions is right.

    In this article, we examine the historical origins of the celebration known as Chanukah, Chanukah and Yeshua, and Chanukah as a special time for those who believe in the end-time restoration of all Israel.

    The Prophecies of Daniel and the Rise of Antiochus

    Before we can examine the issues pertaining to the celebration of Chanukah, we must first understand the historical origins of it, which actually precede the time of the Maccabees in Second Century B.C.E. Israel, going back much further to the exile of the Southern Kingdom to Babylon in the 500’s B.C.E. While in Babylon, the Prophet Daniel was shown visions of the future, which included both the immediate future concerning his time as Babylon would be overtaken by Persia, as well as the far distant future. One of these prophecies included the vision of the four beasts, representative of the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome (and revived Rome in the end-times). The third kingdom, Greece (Heb. Yavan, !wy), would arise and would conquer the Persians:

    'The he-goat, the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between its eyes is its first king' (Daniel 8:21).

    Most expositors are agreed that this prophecy is a reference to Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king whose father Philip II had conquered the Greek Peloponnesus. Alexander continued his father’s legacy by extending his military campaign into Asia Minor, Egypt, Persia, and all the way into India. Alexander, however, died at the age of 33 in 323 B.C.E. in Babylon. After his death, his empire was divided among his four generals who took control of Macedonia, the Greek Peloponnesus, Egypt, and Syria. It is not surprising to know that ancient history tells us that these four kingdoms became rivals and often fought among themselves:

    'As for the broken one, in whose place four arose, four kingdoms will arise from one nation, but lacking its strength' (Daniel 8:22).

    A notable part of Alexander’s conquering of the ancient world was not only the extension of his rule, but also the exposure of the Greek language and culture into foreign areas. Macedonia itself, not considered to be Greek by the Greeks, had been Hellenized during the childhood of Alexander, who was tutored by Aristotle. Part of Philip’s, and later Alexander’s, military campaign, was to spread the way of life that had made Macedonia the power that it was. But, not everyone in the ancient world desired to be Hellenized or forced to become like the Greeks.

    Prior to Alexander the Great, the Southern Kingdom of Judah returned from their Babylonian exile to the Land of Israel. Most of the Northern Kingdom of Israel/Ephraim had been dispersed into the ancient world, although some maintained their Israelite heritage and became assimilated into the Southern Kingdom. Israel was a vassal state of the Persian Empire, but later became engulfed in Alexander’s empire and became a province of Syria. Greek culture was slowly influencing the Jews, with many Jews abandoning the Torah and its commandments in favor of Greek customs and philosophies. It became increasingly more difficult for the Jews to maintain a Torah-obedient lifestyle with the policies of the Syrian Greeks.

    Things got out of control when Antiochus IV of the Selucid dynasty came to power. He was called Epiphanes or 'God manifest.' Antiochus made it illegal for the Jews to practice the Torah, perform circumcision, follow the kosher laws, and worship in the Temple. He moved his troops into Jerusalem and desecrated the Temple by sacrificing a pig and erecting a statue to the god Zeus in it. This, and the subsequent events following, are recorded in the Apocrypha in the Books of 1-4 Maccabees:

    'And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and feasts, to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, so that they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die' (1 Maccabees 1:44-50).

    Many commentators are generally agreed that Antiochus was an ambitious man, and he was making a political power play, demonstrating that he was more powerful than the Ptolemic Greeks of Egypt. 1 Maccabees 1:16-20 indicates that after defeating Ptolemy, he sought to subdue the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, solidifying his rule:

    'When Antiochus saw that his kingdom was established, he determined to become king of the land of Egypt, that he might reign over both kingdoms. So he invaded Egypt with a strong force, with chariots and elephants and cavalry and with a large fleet. He engaged Ptolemy king of Egypt in battle, and Ptolemy turned and fled before him, and many were wounded and fell. And they captured the fortified cities in the land of Egypt, and he plundered the land of Egypt. After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred and forty-third year. He went up against Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force' (1 Maccabees 1:16-18).

    The Maccabbean Era

    As you can imagine, the actions of Antiochus were not well received by the majority population of the Land of Israel. Lead by the retired priest Mattathias, many Jews opposed the oppression of the Syrian Greek invaders and sought to see them pushed out of the Land of Israel. Many of the Jews, fearing for their lives, succumbed to not following the Torah and would not follow the rite of circumcision or eat kosher. Many of them adopted Greek religion and wanted to 'blend in.'

    As Antiochus’ army entered into the town of Modin, where Mattathias and his five sons were living, they tried to persuade them to forsake the Law of Moses and sacrifice to the Greek’s gods. Mattathias refused to give into their demands and proclaimed his loyalty to the God of Israel and to His Instructions:

    'But Mattathias answered and said in a loud voice: ‘Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to do his commandments, departing each one from the religion of his fathers, yet I and my sons and my brothers will live by the covenant of our fathers. Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances. We will not obey the king’s words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left’' (1 Maccabees 2:19-22).

    Mattathias then declares that any Jew succumbing to these demands was a traitor to the covenants and to the God of Israel, and he calls all to join him in a revolt:

    'When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice upon the altar in Modein, according to the king's command. When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him upon the altar' (1 Maccabees 2:23-24).

    He then began a military revolt against the Syrian Greeks, killing those who opposed him. 1 Maccabees 2:26-27 describes his zeal like that of Phinehas in the wilderness:

    'Thus he burned with zeal for the law, as Phinehas did against Zimri the son of Salu. Then Mattathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying: ‘Let every one who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me!’'

    Mattathias would not live through his campaign to see the final victory over the Syrian Greek oppressors. The mantle would pass onto his son, Judas Maccabeus, who would lead the Jews in a revolt against the Seleucids that would take around three years. He was nicknamed 'Maccabee' which means 'hammer.' During this time, a guerilla-type warfare was carried out against the Syrian Greeks, while the Jews sought allies in the Egyptian Greeks or Ptolemies, the Spartans, and the Romans. Their military challenges and triumphs are discussed in the Apocryphal Books of 1-4 Maccabees.

    The rise of Antiochus Epiphanes and the events of the Maccabbean Era were prophesied by Daniel after speaking about the division of Alexander’s kingdom into four regions. Daniel rightly prophesied that Antiochus would arise to expand his own kingdom, would come against the faithful ones, but would not die in battle:

    'In the latter period of their rule, when the transgressors have run their course, a king will arise, insolent and skilled in intrigue. His power will be mighty, but not by his own power, and he will destroy to an extraordinary degree and prosper and perform his will; he will destroy mighty men and the holy people. And through his shrewdness he will cause deceit to succeed by his influence; and he will magnify himself in his heart, and he will destroy many while they are at ease. He will even oppose the Prince of princes, but he will be broken without human agency' (Daniel 8:23-25).

    Antiochus was unable to stand against the Jews, many of whom faithfully resisted any attempt to Hellenize them, namely getting them to reject the Torah, circumcision, kosher eating, and the Temple service, and instead practice Greek religion. Antiochus believed himself to be a god, but later wasted away and died not in battle, but from a flesh-eating disease:

    'But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him an incurable and unseen blow. As soon as he ceased speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels for which there was no relief and with sharp internal tortures—and that very justly, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange inflictions. Yet he did not in any way stop his insolence, but was even more filled with arrogance, breathing fire in his rage against the Jews, and giving orders to hasten the journey. And so it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along, and the fall was so hard as to torture every limb of his body. Thus he who had just been thinking that he could command the waves of the sea, in his superhuman arrogance, and imagining that he could weigh the high mountains in a balance, was brought down to earth and carried in a litter, making the power of God manifest to all. And so the ungodly man's body swarmed with worms, and while he was still living in anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away, and because of his stench the whole army felt revulsion at his decay' (2 Maccabees 9:5-9).

    The Miracle of the Oil

    The Maccabees drove the Seleucids out of the Land of Israel in the month of Kislev 165 B.C.E., which is in about the month of December. They had the task of cleaning up the mess that the Seleucids had left, notably in the city of Jerusalem and in the Temple complex. Antiochus’ forces had completely ransacked the Temple and made it into a haven of idolatry. The Temple needed to be cleansed of its defilement and restored to its previous position so proper sacrifices could once again be performed. Of all of the items of Temple furniture that had to be cleansed and rededicated, one of the most important was the great lampstand or menorah (hrAnm). The menorah required special consecrated oil in order to be lit.

    As many of you are no doubt aware, modern observance of Chanukah is commemorated by the lighting of a chanukia, or a special nine-branched menorah. This is different from the menorah that was in the Temple that had seven branches. It is used because when the Temple was rededicated there was only enough oil to be lit for one day. However, the oil remained lit for eight days, allowing time for newly consecrated oil to be produced. Today a ninth candle or servant candle is used to light the eight candles of the chanukia to commemorate the eight days the menorah was lit. Chanukah (hKnx), meaning 'dedication,' became the nation’s commemoration of this miracle. The miracle of the eight days of oil is spoken of in the Talmud:

    'What is [the reason of] Hanukkah? For our Rabbis taught: On the twenty-fifth of Kislew [commence] the days of Hanukkah, which are eight on which a lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils therein, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they made search and found only one cruse of oil which lay with the seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient for one day’s lighting only; yet a miracle was wrought therein and they lit [the lamp] therewith for eight days. The following year these [days] were appointed a Festival with [the recital of] Hallel and thanksgiving' (b.Shabbat 21b).[1]

    What would have happened if the Maccabees had not stood up to Antiochus and his armies? Not only would they have succeeded in wiping out the Jewish people, either through military defeat or cultural assimilation, but Israel, in any form, would not have existed to give rise to Messiah Yeshua. We have ample reasons to celebrate Chanukah as Believers in Yeshua today, the foremost of which being that if the miracle of Chanukah had not taken place, there would be no miracle of Yeshua!

    Chanukah and Yeshua

    But what about Yeshua the Messiah? As Chanukah was established as a celebration in the mid-Second Century B.C.E., did our Lord and Savior celebrate it?

    John 10:22 tells us 'Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter' (CJB). The Greek source text actually uses the word egkainia (egkainia), which in most Bibles is rendered as the 'Feast of Dedication.' BDAG defines it clearly as 'festival of rededication…known also as Hanukkah and the Feast of Lights, beg. the 25th of Chislev (roughly=November-December) to commemorate the purification of the temple by Judas Maccabaeus on that date in 165 B.C.'[2] So what was Yeshua doing in Jerusalem during this time?

    '[I]t was winter, and Yeshua was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, ‘How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Yeshua answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.’ The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him’' (John 10:23-31).

    Yeshua was present in Jerusalem during Chanukah. We may assume by His presence in the holy city that He was celebrating whatever was commemorated at that time. Notice that during Chanukah some Jews ask Him if He was the Messiah. Yeshua tells them that He has already demonstrated His Messiahship to them by His actions and that they do not believe. The quintessential statement made here is 'I and the Father are one.' The Hebrew word for 'one' used frequently in the Tanach is echad (dxa), and its Greek equivalent is heis (eiß). Echad is used in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4: 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!' In proclaiming that He and the Father are one, Yeshua was proclaiming Himself to be Divine and to be of the same substance as God. By doing so, the Jews present wanted to stone Him as they believed He was committing blasphemy.

    Celebrating Chanukah and understanding that Yeshua was in Jerusalem at this time is very important. It is especially important when we understand what Yeshua was doing and the questions that He was asked regarding His mission.

    To be continued in next post

  6. #26
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    2nd eve of Hanukkah Con't.

    Cont' from previous post:

    Chanukah and Scattered Ephraim

    But what about Chanukah and the scattered House of Israel/Ephraim? The events surrounding the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple in the Second Century B.C.E. primarily pertain to the Jewish people. The Northern Kingdom of Israel/Ephraim had been well scattered into the nations at least 400 years prior to the events of the Maccabees. Aside from a few Northern Kingdom Israelites who had joined themselves to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, there were no Northern Kingdom Israelites involved with the Maccabbean revolt or any of these events. Or were there?

    The reason that there are no Northern Kingdom Israelites specifically mentioned in the account of the Maccabees has many non-Jewish Believers in the Two-House community wondering if the celebration of Chanukah is justified. This is because, believing themselves to possibly be of scattered Israel/Ephraim, they feel left out, as the focus on Chanukah is largely on the Jewish people. Others, because of Jewish pride that can possibly evidence itself in some, are offended at Chanukah and want nothing to do with it.

    Neither attitude is fostering unity in the Messianic community today. The Jewish people have been the only faithful torchbearer of being recognizable Israel since the dispersion of the Northern Kingdom of Israel/Ephraim in 722-721 B.C.E. by Assyria. Our Jewish brethren have experienced several dispersions, persecutions, excommunications, forced relocations, pogroms, and a Holocaust. Yet, because of the tenacity of the Maccabees, and many other figures in Jewish history, they have remained faithful to the Torah and to the oracles of God. Non-Jewish Believers in the Messianic community today should be very thankful to rejoice in these Jewish triumphs—because they are all our triumphs. Furthermore, if we examine the account of the Maccabees, we will find that there were indeed a few scattered Northern Kingdom Israelites involved in the events.

    Consider the fact that in the Biblical record, it is attested by the Jewish religious leaders that there were scattered Israelites among the Greeks: 'The Jews then said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He?’' (John 7:35). Certainly, as we know that the seed of scattered Israel/Ephraim would be 'a multitude of nations' (Genesis 48:19), we cannot limit these nations to an exclusive nationality. They were to become engulfed among the Gentiles and be indistinguishable from the Gentiles. However, the Greeks are pointed out by name as being one of those nationalities. It is only to be expected, as when the Northern Kingdom was under siege, many of those people no doubt left the Land of Israel to avoid capture. One of the first places they could have escaped to would have been to territory immediately north, i.e., Asia Minor and the Greek Peloponnesus. An argument could be made that these people, although mostly rebellious against the Torah and the ways of the Lord, brought godly wisdom with them that influenced classical Greece of the Sixth-Fifth Centuries B.C.E., which emerged approximately 100 years following the conquering of the Northern Kingdom.

    Another important reference occurs in 1 Maccabees 12:6, 19-21. The high priest Jonathan is trying to secure the support of the Spartans, one of the dominant Greek city-states and a rival of the Seleucids, the Syrian Greeks: 'Jonathan the high priest, the senate of the nation, the priests, and the rest of the Jewish people to their brethren the Spartans, greeting…This is a copy of the letter which they sent to Onias: ‘Arius, king of the Spartans, to Onias the high priest, greeting. It has been found in writing concerning the Spartans and the Jews that they are brethren and are of the family of Abraham’' (cf. 1 Maccabees 14:20). He plainly attests that they were of 'the race of Abraham' (New Jerusalem Bible).

    If it is indeed true that there were members of the scattered tribes of the Northern Kingdom present in the Greek areas, then some were indeed involved in the events of the Maccabees. Sadly, many of them would have been involved in the suppression of the Jews and the defilement of the Temple. Consider the fact that one of the reasons that Jews have a great disdain of swine and pork is because of what happened to the Temple. Alfred J. Kolatch states in The Second Jewish Book of Why, 'scholars have associated the deep Jewish aversion to the pig with the Hasmonean period in Jewish history (second century B.C.E.) when the Syrian-Greeks, led by Antiochus Ephiphanes, dominated the Palestine scene and tried to force Jews to sacrifice pigs in the Temple and to eat of their flesh.'[3]

    This is one of the major errors of Ephraim: 'They shall not live in the land of [the Lord]. But Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria' (Hosea 9:3, LITV). The House of Israel/Ephraim is said to have a tendency toward unclean things in the Scriptures.

    If there is anything that non-Jewish Messianic Believers must understand in regard to Chanukah is that Chanukah is the Festival of Dedication. It should not only be a time for us to rededicate ourselves to the Lord and to confess sin and cleanse ourselves of unrighteousness, but it should also be a time for us to reconcile with our Jewish brethren and realize that if it had not been for the steadfastness of Mattathais and his sons, there would have been no operating Temple during the time of Yeshua. The Jews might have been assimilated into the Seleucid Syrian Greek milieu and there would be no recognizable remnant of Israel today. We all must rejoice in the triumph of our Jewish brethren over evil and pledge ourselves to stand by their side.

    Today’s Dilemma: Encountering Hellenism

    One of today’s serious dilemmas is how Chanukah is handled in the emerging Two-House Messianic community. Because Chanukah often occurs in close proximity to Christmas, many people say Chanukah is a more Biblical celebration than Christmas, even though both holidays are not mandated in Scripture. Many, in wanting to expose the pagan nature of the Christmas tree, become vehemently opposed to commemorating the birth of Messiah Yeshua. Certainly, if Yeshua’s birth is to be commemorated, it is to be commemorated during the time of His actual birth, which many Messianics are agreed was probably during Sukkot or Tabernacles, making His conception sometime around Chanukah. But celebration of Chanukah should not be viewed as a replacement for Christmas. Celebrating Chanukah should be an occasion where we rededicate ourselves to God and to one another, as the Maccabees did to the Temple some 2,200 years ago.

    Another serious problem is that Chanukah often becomes a time for unwarranted 'Greek bashing,' which oftentimes manifests itself in criticism and denial of the inspiration of the Greek Apostolic Scriptures. Hellenism, or Greek philosophy, is by no means something that we endorse, but definitions of Hellenism vary. As it concerns the time of the Maccabees, there are some very distinct definitions of Hellenism that must be taken into account that the Seleucid Greeks forced upon the Jews:

    'And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and feasts, to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, so that they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die' (1 Maccabees 1:44-50).

    The Hellenism that the Maccabees fought against included:

    Following the Greek religion, which included the worship of multiple gods and images, and making sacrifices to them with unclean animals

    A prohibition on animal sacrifices and prescribed offerings according to the Torah

    A prohibition on keeping the seventh-day Sabbath

    A prohibition on circumcision

    A prohibition on studying the Torah and its ordinances, so the people would forget their covenant status with the God of Israel

    Hellenism, as the Maccabees understood it, included these things. Are there Christians, and indeed liberal Messianics, that adhere to some of these things? Yes. There are those who believe that the Torah is unimportant, that the seventh-day Sabbath was done away with, that eating kosher is unimportant, that circumcision is unimportant, and that the Temple service is unimportant. I am not one of those who believes these things to be unimportant. These things are being restored to the Body of Messiah as we rapidly approach His return.

    However, in fair balance to First Century history and the time of Yeshua, Greek language and Greek philosophy did exist in the world of the Messiah. Hebrew and Aramaic were the local languages of the Land of Israel, but Greek became the standardized language of the Eastern Mediterranean. NIDB states it correctly in saying that 'The fact that Greek became the language of literature and commerce throughout the ‘inhabited world,’ for example, was of inestimable importance to the spread of the gospel.'[4] If it had not been for Alexander the Great, the Apostles would have had a very difficult time in going out on missionary journeys, as there would have been a whole host of local languages they would have had to learn, rather than one standardized language. A Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, was widely disseminated and was helpful in many non-Jews converting to Judaism prior to the First Coming of Yeshua.[5] The use of Greek in the First Century is no different than how the expansion of the British Empire in the Nineteenth Century, and American television in the Twentieth Century, have helped make English the dominant language of today. We should be thankful that English has the widespread usage that it has today; otherwise the restorations that are being accomplished to the Body of Messiah may not be taking place as easily as they are through communication with Believers worldwide.

    Our Chanukah celebrations should not be a time for 'Greek bashing.' Those who would do so need to understand the history of the ancient world. Our Chanukah celebrations need to focus on the unity of all of Israel, that non-Jewish Messianic Believers need to repent of sins and rededicate themselves to the Lord and to their Jewish brethren, and that individually we need to clean our personal temples of any defilements that we may have.

    Conclusion

    As we focus on the Festival of Lights, we must not forget the Light of the World, Messiah Yeshua, and we must not forget the hardships and trials that the Jewish people have had to endure. We must be inspired by the dedication of the Maccabees to stand, fight, and even die for the truth of God. We must not succumb to the temptations of the popular culture, but stand for what we know is right, just, and godly. As all Israel is in the process of being reunited, non-Jewish Believers must remember their position, and the potential involvement of the Northern Kingdom Israelites in the events of the Maccabees. They must repent for past sins of persecution of the Jewish people. Jewish Believers must recognize their repentance and welcome them into the fold, and all of us must join together and rejoice in the miracle that the Lord God performed those many centuries ago as the menorah was lit for those eight days.

    If you have been blessed by Outreach Israel Ministries and TNN Online this year, please consider helping us with a Special Year End Offering.

    NOTES

    [1] The Soncino Talmud. Judaic Classics Library II. MS Windows 3.1. Brooklyn: Institute for Computers in Jewish Life, 1996. CD-ROM.

    [2] Frederick William Danker, ed., et. al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, third edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 272.

    [3] Alfred J. Kolatch, The Second Jewish Book of Why (Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David Publishers, 1985), 318.

    [4] Brewster Porcella, 'Alexander the Great,' in Merill C. Tenney, ed., New International Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), 33.

    [5] Consult Messianic author Tim Hegg’s comments on pp 39-42 of his book The Letter Writer (Littleton, CO: First Fruits of Zion, 2002). Hegg suggests that the Apostle Paul, while being a Rabbinical scholar and student of the Jewish Sage Gamaliel, likely also studied Greek language and philosophy at the same Rabbinical school. If indeed true, this would correspond with the historical understanding that Pharisaical Judaism was an active proselytizing religion (Yeshua condemned their manner of proselytizing in Matthew 23:15). Paul would not have studied Greek language, philosophy, and culture just for the sake of learning it, but for the sake of converting Greek-speakers to the religion of the God of Israel. The same should be our goal if any of us is called to the mission field: we must know about the people grouping to whom we are called.

  7. #27
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    Hey there Susan,

    Thanks for posting this. Its a good read.

    Quote Originally Posted by sula View Post
    VIRTUAL CHANUKAH
    POSTED 05 DECEMBER, 2007

    Chanukah for the Two Houses of Israel

    by J.K. McKee
    editor@tnnonline.net


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The subject of what Messianic Believers are to be doing for the Winter holiday season can be very controversial. On the one hand, Messianics cannot, and should not, celebrate Christmas because it is non-Biblical and was created to be a replacement for the Biblical appointments of Leviticus 23.
    Most of the article is fine, but unfortunately is started off with this gross error. Christians made Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ our Savior. It was not created as a "replacement" of any Levitical "appointments" as should be obvous because there aren't any Levitical appointments in December! Granted, some Christians tried to avoid celebrating Easter on exactly the same date as Passover because of fights between them and some Jews, but that's a different issue. I find this divisive spirit of some Messianics to be very disturbing. But I am glad he understands the importance of unity, as demonstrated by his words I highlight red bold below:
    Quote Originally Posted by sula View Post
    On the other hand, should Messianic Believers celebrate Chanukah, or the Feast of Dedication? Within the emerging Two-House Messianic community, as it is often described, there is debate over whether or not we should celebrate Chanukah. Primarily the debate surrounds the fact that oftentimes the celebration of Chanukah can become a replacement for Christmas, and the fact that Chanukah is not a Biblically mandated holiday.

    If there is anything we must consider per this debate it is two things: (1) We must have an attitude that brings glory to our Heavenly Father, and (2) our actions must foster unity and understanding between Jewish and non-Jewish Believers. Sadly, like many of the issues that we face, the subject of whether or not we should celebrate Chanukah has two extremes: there are those who vehemently oppose its observance, and perhaps might even consider it a “gross Jewish error.” And, there are those who go overboard in encouraging its celebration, in an effort to prove that they are “better” than Christians who celebrate Christmas in ignorance. Neither one of these positions is right.

    <snip of good discussion of the origin of Hanukkah>

    Yeshua was present in Jerusalem during Chanukah. We may assume by His presence in the holy city that He was celebrating whatever was commemorated at that time. Notice that during Chanukah some Jews ask Him if He was the Messiah. Yeshua tells them that He has already demonstrated His Messiahship to them by His actions and that they do not believe. The quintessential statement made here is “I and the Father are one.” The Hebrew word for “one” used frequently in the Tanach is echad (dxa), and its Greek equivalent is heis (ei&#223. Echad is used in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” In proclaiming that He and the Father are one, Yeshua was proclaiming Himself to be Divine and to be of the same substance as God. By doing so, the Jews present wanted to stone Him as they believed He was committing blasphemy.
    AMEN! I love it when Messianic believers understand who Jesus really claimed to be.
    Quote Originally Posted by sula View Post
    Celebrating Chanukah and understanding that Yeshua was in Jerusalem at this time is very important. It is especially important when we understand what Yeshua was doing and the questions that He was asked regarding His mission.

    To be continued in next post
    OK - I'll continue there ....

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  8. #28
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    My family and I are Gentiles and we are celebrating Hanakah. We have for a few years now and it is a rich time of blessing and celebration. I also see much eschatological signifigance in it.

  9. #29
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    In re to RAM way back there. For sake of clarity I did not mean any person in particular when I said "personal offence" or "jealousy." Forgive me for my brashness. I am trying to jump in somewhere.
    I do not say that the Jews are more spiritual or even saved based on their ethnicity. I do not think you beliefe that sort of thing either. I just would say that the whole issue of the promise being to the "seed" does not supersede the fact that the new covenant is made with Israel. If they respond in faith to the good news of the new covenant in Jesus' blood than they are added to the church in addition to their being part of Israel. Gentiles conversly are added to this new covenant with Israel by the same faith in Jesus. That is the mystery that Paul spoke of: that Gentiles are grafted in along with the believing in Israel by faith! This makes them children of Abraham and also to be "seed" in Messiah by faith. The seed will inherit the promises.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by eliyahu View Post
    My family and I are Gentiles and we are celebrating Hanakah. We have for a few years now and it is a rich time of blessing and celebration. I also see much eschatological signifigance in it.
    I would be intersted to hear more about the "eschatological signifigance in it."
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

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