Monday, December 19, 2011

Hanukkah: History, Observance and Prophetic Implications – Part 2

Yeshua’s Observance of Hanukkah: “Are you the Messiah?”

(There has been a lot of discussion of Hanukkah here and elsewhere on facebook lately.  I think many miss the deeper implications of this minor Festival which Yeshua is recorded as celebrating with His disciples in Jerusalem, John chapter 10)

The book of John records Yeshua going to Jerusalem to observe Hanukkah. Hanukkah begins on 25 Kislev two months and two days after the end of the Feast of Tabernacles.  (This year Hanukkah begins at local sunset on December 20th.) During this Feast of Tabernacles, Yeshua declared that He was the Living Water which was synonymous with declaring that He was the Messiah.

John 7:37-38 MKJV 37 And in the last day of the great feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."

The temple guards who were appointed to arrest Him came back empty-handed declaring that no one ever spoke the way He did (John 7:45-46). He said He was the Light of the World (John 8:12), declared that He existed before Abraham (John 8:58), showed Himself the righteous judge in the case of the woman caught in adultery (john 8:1-12), and healed a man born blind (John 9:1-12).At the end of the Feast of Tabernacles after Yeshua healed the man born blind, the people were divided about who Yeshua was. Some said he had a demon and others believed He was the Messiah.

John 10:19-21 MKJV 19 Then a division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. 20 And many of them said, He has a demon and is insane. Why do you hear him? 21 Others said, These are not words of one who has been possessed by a demon. A demon is not able to open the eyes of blind ones.

When Yeshua returned to Jerusalem two months later for Hanukah, they were still talking about who He was.

John 10:22-24 MKJV 22 And the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's Porch. 24 Then the Jews encircled Him and said to Him, How long do you make us doubt? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.

During Yeshua’s time, they celebrated Hanukkah as the rededication and purification of the temple and as a reprise of the Feast of Tabernacles.  This Messiah the Jewish people were looking for would deliver them like Judah Maccabees did 200 years earlier. They are anticipating and looking for the Messiah who would rid them of Rome and all her false gods. They are asking, “Are you the one? Are you going to deliver us like Judah Maccabees?”

Yeshua’s answer is that He did tell them but they didn’t believe.

John 10:25a MKJV 25 Jesus answered them, I told you and you did not believe.

What exactly did Yeshua tell them? Again, we look back to the Feast of Tabernacles just a few weeks earlier. Like Hanukkah is a reprise of Feast of Tabernacles so is Yeshua’s teaching. He told them He was the Good Shepherd spoken of by Isaiah and Ezekiel and that He would lay down His life for His sheep.

John 10:11-18 MKJV 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 But he who is a hireling and not the shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away. And the wolf catches them and scatters the sheep. 13 The hireling flees, because he is a hireling and does not care for the sheep. 14 I am the Good Shepherd, and I know those that are Mine, and I am known by those who are Mine. 15 Even as the Father knows Me, I also know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep who are not of this fold. I must also lead those, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, one Shepherd. 17 Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I might take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down from Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again. I have received this commandment from My Father.

Isaiah 40:11 MKJV 11 He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those with young.

Ezekiel 34:12 MKJV 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his scattered sheep, so I will seek out My sheep and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

There at Hanukkah, Yeshua told them that they were not His sheep. His sheep know His voice.

John 10:25-30 MKJV 25 Jesus answered them, I told you and you did not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you did not believe because you are not of My sheep. As I said to you, 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give to them eternal life, and they shall never ever perish, and not anyone shall pluck them out of My hand. 29 My Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one!

Yeshua concludes with the statement that the Father gave the sheep to Him and that He and the Father are one. This is prophesied by Isaiah as he writes of the seven spirits of God.

Isaiah 11:1-2 MKJV 1 And a Shoot goes out from the stump of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

In the Revelation, John writes that these seven spirits of God are an integral part of Yeshua the Lamb.

Revelation 5:6 KJV 6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

John the Baptist witnessed and testified that Yeshua is the one prophesied by Isaiah.

John 1:32-34 MKJV 32 And John bore record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven like a dove, and He abode on Him. 33 And I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water, that One said to me, Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon Him, He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. 34 And I saw and bore record that this is the Son of God.

After Yeshua’s statement, the Jewish people questioning Him made up their minds. Yeshua is not the Messiah; He is a false prophet, a false Messiah!

John 10:33 MKJV 33 The Jews answered Him, saying, We do not stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God.

Yeshua did not claim that He was the Father, but that He and the Father were one. In Yeshua’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prays that believers may be one as He and the Father are one.

John 17:22-23 MKJV 22 And I have given them the glory which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one, 23 I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.

He lived in submission to the Father.

John 7:16 MKJV 16 Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.

John 5:19 MKJV 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself but what He sees the Father do. For whatever things He does, these also the Son does likewise.

John 14:10 MKJV 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak of Myself, but the Father who dwells in Me, He does the works.

His actions are the actions of a true prophet; He speaks only the words the Father gives Him and does the work God gave Him to do. In contrast, the priests who advocated Hellenism and supported Antiochus IV Epiphanes fit the description of false prophets.

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 MKJV 1 If a prophet rises among you, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder which he foretold to you occurs, saying, Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us serve them, 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 5 And that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slaves, to thrust you out of the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put the evil away from the midst of you.    

Yeshua’s actions and words fit the description of the prophet like Moses that God would raise up for them.

Deuteronomy 18:17-20 MKJV 17 And the LORD said to me, They have spoken well what they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brothers, one like you, and will put My words in His mouth. And He shall speak to them all that I shall command Him. 19 And it shall happen, whatever man will not listen to My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who shall presume to speak a word in My name which I have not commanded him to speak or who shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

Yeshua answered His detractors by quoting Psalm 82:6.

John 10:34-36 MKJV 34 Jesus answered them, Has it not written in your law, "I said, You are gods?" 35 If He called those gods with whom the Word of God was, and the Scripture cannot be broken, 36 do you say of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, You blaspheme, because I said, I am the Son of God?

Psalm 82:6 is referring to those put in authority over others, specifically judges who oppressed the poor, orphans and widows.

Psalms 82:1-8 MKJV 1 A Psalm of Asaph. God stands in the congregation of God; in the midst of the gods He judges. 2 How long will you judge unjustly and lift up the faces of the wicked? Selah. 3 Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4 Deliver the poor and needy; save them out of the hand of the wicked. 5 They neither know nor will understand; they walk on in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. 6 I have said, You are gods; and all of you sons of the Most High. 7 But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit in all nations.

Yeshua is saying that those who act as representatives of God are commonly called gods or sons of God, so how can they say He blasphemes by calling Himself the Son of God? In this Psalm, the judges are called gods and sons of the Most High. Most High is another name for God. Yeshua could have picked other passages that referred to judges as gods and those in authority as sons of God but He picked this passage because it contrasts those who judge wrongly with the judgment promised by the Messiah. It is another way of saying the same thing Ezekiel did about the good shepherd and the bad shepherds. The passage in Isaiah about the seven spirits resting on the Branch of Jesse continues to say that He, the branch, will judge righteously.

Isaiah 11:3-4 MKJV 3 And He is made to breathe in the fear of the LORD. And He shall not judge according to the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears. 4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and shall decide with uprightness for the meek of the earth. And He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.

Yeshua reaches out one more time to those who are not His sheep that perhaps they will hear His voice and come to Him for everlasting life. He tells His questioners to observe and believe the works that He does.

John 10:37-38 MKJV 37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me. 38 But if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works so that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.

But the works that the Jewish people were looking for were those of a conquering king like Judah Maccabeus the hero of Hanukah. Judah’s actions are described in 1 Macabbees.

1 Macabbees 3: 3-9 He extended the fame of his people. He put on the breastplate like a giant and girded on his war harness; he engaged in battle after battle, protecting the ranks with his sword. He was like a lion’s whelp roaring over its prey. He pursued and tracked down the renegades, he consigned those who troubled his people to the flames. Renegades were abashed for terror of him, all evildoers were utterly confounded, and deliverance went forward under his leadership. He brought bitterness to many a king and rejoicing to Jacob by his deeds, his memory is blessed for ever and ever. He went through the towns of Judah and utterly destroyed the infidels in them, turning wrath away from Israel. His name resounded to the ends of the earth and he rallied those who were on the point of perishing.

They were not looking for a Messiah who would suffer and die for them. Yeshua left and went down to the Jordan where many joined Him and believed in Him there. As we celebrate Hanukkah, we can proclaim our faith in Yeshua. We can light the Hanukkiah to celebrate the miracle of new birth displaying the light for all to see. Just like Yeshua told his questioners to examine the works He does and see if they are from the father, we too need to do the good works the father gives us to do.

Matthew 5:16 MKJV 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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