The Feast of Dedication, Channukah 2017 – By The Light On Dry Land. Miracles ARE Everyday.
Tehillim (Psalms) 119;105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106 I have sworn and I will confirm it, that I will keep Your righteous ordinances. 107 I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word. 108 O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me Your ordinances. 109 My life is continually in my hand, yet I do not forget Your law. 110 The wicked have laid a snare for me, Yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts. 111 I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart. 112 I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, even to the end. 113 I hate those who are double-minded, but I love Your law. 114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word. 115 Depart from me, evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God. 116 Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope. 117 Uphold me that I may be safe, that I may have regard for Your statutes continually.
Your words are a candle for my feet
and a light for my path…
With intention I seek to understanding. Not just knowledge. I seek to become better acquainted with Your vision (my God) for this season of celebration. I wish to believe in that which You believe in. I wish to see in the light of each candle the wink, the kiss, the adoration, the reflection of all those who came before me. Show we what they saw and at the same time…may each night be a page in my own personal history – destiny- heritage.
What is the Feast of Dedication?
Chanukah comes from the Hebrew word meaning to dedicate. It is in reference to the Holy Temple. If I believe that in the place of stone and wood and ornate gold…I am a little House of Hashem’s presence in this world- than I could do well to realize that this is a time which was appointed for rededication of the Holy Place. The place where the Korbanot were in sincerity and humility and reverence and repentance lifted up (the offerings- a word and core purpose and essence from the Hebrew meaning TO COME CLOSE-TO DRAW NEAR to Hashem).
John 10; 22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter,
23 and Jesus was walking in the temple courts in Solomon’s Colonnade.
24 So the Jews gathered around Him and demanded,
“How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25“I already told you,” Jesus replied, “but you did not believe.
I believe that the reason my Savior made a point to be in Jerusalem in the Temple courts at the time of the Feast of Dedication was to keep a remembrance of what his people had been through before. In some forms he ‘story’ of Chanukah has repeated itself in history and I believe may again repeat itself again…and again. I seek to rededicate the altar of my heart to Hashem, to my savior, to attempt to see his mind as he walked through the Temple courts, did he hear the sound of battle, the cries of those long since departed? Did he know the source of strife and contention in the world The Place where his shoes touched down as he walked would be TO THIS DAY? Most of all, when I look at the raised up candle, the highest in the center, the one which sets ablaze all the others…I want to see his mission statement and plan for ongoing battle and that which is to come. The purpose of my love and attachment to His Torah, my inheritance forever (as the Psalmist put it), my life, and the light by which I walk.
What is Channukah?
On Chanukah- we get a vision of how God wants it to be- God’s vision of Eternity.
Chanukah is the only mitzvah that requires a HOUSE.
It is centered around the place where learning about Hashem takes place. Where are children are instilled with God’s timeless Torah values. The center, the inside Holy of Holies, from which the Presence of Hashem goes out into the world.
Chanukah is the only mitzvah that “took place” in eretz Yisrael (The Land of Israel). Purim- Persia, Shavuot- Sinai desert, Pesach- Egypt…
Learn to Look- Learn To See- Observance which Transcends the Eyes
Each night has its uniqueness
Each night we discover in the light.
Each night we learn to recognize what we are really thankful for.
Channukah is about so much more than what WAS.
I always take the time to teach my children about the history of Channukah, but this year I pray we can all learn that Chanukah is not centrally about “what happened long ago…”
it’s about the miracle that is Israel in the Land TODAY! It’s about now.
The timing of our President declaring the obvious, that which the world has been holding its breath for, that Jerusalem always was and always will be the Capital city of the land of Israel. The Land given to the Jewish people by the Creator of the Universe.
President Trump did this at an event marking the 70th anniversary of a United Nations vote that called for the establishment of Israel.
This is amazing considering that after nearly 500 years of oppression, of captivity… it was at this time of year, during the time of Chanukah that the Jewish people fought for and won their independence and the Temple mount once more.
Channukah is about yesterday, it is about TODAY and I believe it will hold relevance for tomorrow.
The Central Theme of Channukah?
The Channukiah, the 9 branched candelabrum we now use, is the central theme by tradition. But what was the central purpose for the Holy Temple? The Altar, the offerings and appointed worship of Hashem.
Sh’mot (Exodus) 29;38 “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two one year old lambs each day, continuously. 39 “The one lamb you shall offer in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight…41“The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it the same grain offering and the same drink offering as in the morning, for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD. 42 “It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 43 “I will meet there with the sons of Israel, and it shall be consecrated by My glory. …45“I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God. 46 “They shall know that I am the LORD their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them; I am the LORD their God.
The Dedication of the Altar is the main aspect of the Chanukah miracle, this is why the sages of old didn’t overemphasize the miracle of the oil. I pray that we will be enabled to keep this meeting with Hashem, memorializing he desire to continually offer worship to Him. To hear what He will speak through the light of Chanukah. To be consecrated by His glory in our lives.
2 Maccabees 13;14 So committing all to God, the creator of the world, and having exhorted his people to fight manfully, and to stand up even to death for the laws, the temple, the city, their country, and citizens: he placed his army about Modin. 15 And having given his company for a watchword, The victory of God, with most valiant chosen young men, he set upon the king’s quarter by night, and slew four thousand men in the camp, and the greatest of the elephants, with them that had been upon him, 16 And having filled the camp of the enemies with exceeding great fear and tumult, they went off with good success. 17 Now this was done at the break of day, by the protection and help of the Lord.
What was the oil ‘miraculously’ lasting really all about?
The people who weren’t willing to forsake the Torah of Hashem, those who believed that He would help a cause that was toward His will in their lives, those who were willing to suffer terrible casualties for the sake of Heaven…fought. They had to take action. They did not rely upon a miracle before they would DO. They took action and trusted that because their intention was based upon reliance upon Hashem and a belief that the Law of the Lord was trustworthy and would lead to life in the end…the believed Hashem would descend as they arose with their swords (of truth). There were many losses, sometimes it may have seemed hopeless, but in the end through the devastatingly hard work and zeal for the Lord…the battles were won. The oil was the verification of Hashem that there was justice in the cause, the oil was Hashem’s indication that it was righteous to stand up to assimilation. The oil was the proof from Hashem that fighting to keep Torah in this world and do the right thing, was His will! The whole point of all the battle was that the Jewish people would do the right thing and arrive at the dedication of the altar… the oil was God’s blessing upon their efforts!
The Miracle is in the Eye of the Beholder
When we look at an oil lamp, if you have burned oil candles…it can burn for quite a long time. The Chanukah lights, the oil burning on and on… that Miracle was not really such a huge and obvious wonder. In reality it may have only been a few who witnessed it. This miracle was very subtle, it might have gone overlooked had we not been paying attention.
Miracles can be obvious, but they can also be very subtle…
The oil was the wink from Hashem.
The oil was when He broke the rules (of nature) to remind us that we aren’t alone.
The oil and the light of Channukah is to remind us that the encounter with God didn’t end in the biblical times. The way God speaks to us and reaches us may be different now, but we can still seek God in our lives. He is also always giving us those winks, and taps on the shoulder. It is in the eye if the beholder whether we recognize it or not.
Sh’mot 14;15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. 16“As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.
The Battle of Channukah was a Spiritual one.
The Greek’s weren’t trying to wipe out Jews, they were happy to let them live among them but they had to assimilate to convert to their beliefs. At first hey didn’t even have to drop or denounce their religion but they also had to mix with the Greek religious rites. Eventually observing the New Moon (which sets our lives to the Feasts of the Lord- the entirety of which tell us about the 1st and 2nd coming of the Messiah Yeshua), Honoring the Sabbath (on the 7th day on Friday Sundown to Saturday sundown- the Day the Creator ‘rested’; not just the day it works for our schedules); Practicing circumcision and perhaps most importantly THE STUDY OF THE TORAH (where we recieve the mission statement as to how to be a people Set Apart for Hashem) was done away with. The consequences were dire and severe.
2 Maccabee’s 2; 4 The Gentiles filled the temple with debauchery and revelry; they amused themselves with prostitutes and had intercourse with women even in the sacred courts. They also brought forbidden things into the temple, 5 so that the altar was covered with abominable offerings prohibited by the laws. 6 No one could keep the sabbath or celebrate the traditional feasts, nor even admit to being a Jew.
Purim- this was a war for life, because they were threatened by obliteration-
to save their physical lives.
The whole point in the battle, the war, of sacrificing their lives was to light the menorah-
the symbol of Jewish life. The whole point was to get into the Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) and Perform the Torah system of Hashem.
For this they were willing to fight.
I pray for that kind of strength in times to come, on a much smaller scale but in many ways I have needed it. Being slandered and judged, losing family, friends, connections and more have been an outcome for my personal belief in fighting
to Safeguard the Eternal (the Torah of Yesuha.)
Tehillim 119; 129 Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul observes them. 130 The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. 131I opened my mouth wide and panted, For I longed for Your commandments. 132 Turn to me and be gracious to me, After Your manner with those who love Your name. 133 Establish my footsteps in Your word, And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. 134 Redeem me from the oppression of man, That I may keep Your precepts. 135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes. 136 My eyes shed streams of water, because they do not keep Your law.
War for the sake of Faith!
The Greek’s were creating an empire, entirely materialistic reasons. To conquer and rule the world. The Jews were motivated by their values- their values give way to their passions and then they are able to go to war for the sake of their faith! These wars were not motivated by destruction. Mind—> emotion—> to-action….and God responded.
Revealed Miracles- every single day.
One day a man woke his wife and family. “Get up get up, get your Shabbo’s best on! Hurry we must be ready. Look your best, come on now!” It was just before dawn and it was only a Tuesday. What in the world is going on, his wife and children thought. They hastily readied themselves… “What kind of a Tsaddik (righteous one) has come to town that has father so excited!” The man and his family, dressed in their Sabbath best, walked up the path from their home to a hill overlooking a valley. In the distance the sun was just beginning to rise. “Incredible. It’s a miracle. Just look.” The father said as he looked off into the sunrise.
Will we wake up in the morning with this kind of excitement! Do we have this kind of thrill when we are fulfilling the commandments of God? Do we recognize that we have been chosen to be the ‘partner’ with the Most admired, Most important ‘being’ that ever was?! How motivated should we be then to ‘love our job’ every single day of our lives. Will we see the miracle?
Sh’mot 14; 21Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. 22 The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left… 29 But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
When the light goes out, when the waters close up
Miracles are around us every single day, we have forgotten to treat them as such.
That we breathe is a miracle, that we can walk. When the Israelites were passing through the split parts of the Sea of Reeds, what was the miracle? Incredible shows of dominion and majesty- Even the simplest person could point and see- it’s a miracle.
But what happens
when the waters close up?
Can we feel God’s presence on dry land? Not dry land in the middle of the ocean but on the street in the middle of the city, the chaos or the monotony of daily life.
It’s a miracle that I can pick up my feet and walk, that I can breathe.
The highest level is when we can realize I am as much with Hashem on the dry land after the obvious miracle has passed, as when the walls of water have closed up.
The real test is when we have been given a glimpse
of something so big and are still enabled to transition
back into our everyday lives with the light of Hashem in the same way.
Tehillim (Psalms) 8;1O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength… 3When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; 4What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?… 7All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, 8The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. 9O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!
The last night of Chanukah is known as Zot Channukah- which means “This is Chanukah”.
The last night is when we can begin to take in what we have received.
This is the threshold of going back to ‘ordinary life’ only…will we see it as mundane or will we take the miracle of Chanukah and see the wonders and favors and active involvement of God in our lives every day (a true miracle!) Will we recognize:
My whole life is one big miracle. When the sea closes up I am still walking!
Hashem’s presence is active in my life at this moment. And the next, and the next….
What is Emunah (faith)? Loving and basking in lights and revelation of Chanukah.
Emunah Shlemah (Complete faith)- He is with me when I am making dinner, driving down the road, reading a book, brushing my child’s hair…
The world is surrounded with wondrous things waiting for us to realize it.
Sometimes Hashem gives us those extraordinary moments in order to get our attention.
This is what Chanukah is.
The challenge from Him in those times is, will you learn to recognize the not so noticeable miracles that I create for you every moment of your life?
King David doesn’t writes with complete wonder at the open miracles??
David writes with amazement at the clouds, the birds, the stars… ‘nature’
That which we tend to take for granted, that which we have been given as a miracle created by God every single day.
May you be blessed with the desire to seek the light at this special set apart season and at every season of your lives. When you come to light the lights of yesterday, today and tomorrow I pray a blessing of vision- that you can see the vision Hashem has for your life by His light. I pray that there be rededication to Yeshua in a way that will last much longer than these wondrous eight days and nights. I pray for discernment to realize that there is a battle worth fighting and fight we must. That the Eternal testimony of Hashem is lives by His unchanging words and everlasting commandments, I pray that you will recognize Him winking, the subtle miracles just waiting to be attended to, to encourage you as you celebrate on the field of victory.