The oil of Hanukkah
ARTICLE SUMMARY: Hanukkah recounts the miraculous victory of a tiny Maccabean army of warrior priests over the mighty Selucid-Greek Empire in 165 BC. A second, presumed event generally regarded as equally miraculous, celebrates that a minute amount of holy oil kept the fire of God’s lampstand burning for eight days. Today the Holy Spirit wants to keep His fire supernaturally burning in you and me. By the oil of His Spirit, He will empower us for battles of this age resembling those of the Maccabees. (For a foundational overview on Hanukkah, including its relationship to Sukkot and prophecies in Daniel, click here.)
When the Maccabees regained Jerusalem, they began cleansing the heinously defiled Second Temple. Early in the process they discovered a small cruse (jar) of oil with which to light the menorah (lampstand). God had instructed that only “clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to make the lamp burn always” could be used. (Exodus 27:20, Leviticus 24:2) The Scriptural preparation of holy oil was a lengthy process, taking eight full days. Once purified, the oil was poured into a jar, closed with a priestly seal and carefully set aside.
That even one cruse of oil had survived the Temple’s riotous desecration signaled to the Jewish people God’s supernatural, loving provision. That this same oil presumably burned for eight days – the exact time needed for preparing more oil to keep the fire burning – was seen as miraculous.
The earliest recorded account of the oil miracle appears in the Talmud, about 600 years after the events described in the Books of the Maccabees. The Talmud is a collection of rabbinic discussions, debates, insights, historical accounts and legends. It is not the inspired Word of God. Some Talmudic teachings can be spiritually edifying but others clearly are not. Therefore, while traditional Judaism generally regards the Hanukkah oil story as accepted fact, it should not be given the same weight as Scripture. What Scripture does strongly suggest about Hanukkah (“Feast of Dedication”) is that Yeshua observed it along with the other Jews of His day. The direct reference to Messiah at Hanukkah reflects a degree of New Covenant significance for believers today. (John 10:22-23)
The Talmudic text describing the oil of Hanukkah miracle reads as follows: “What is the point of Hanukkah? It is in line with what our rabbis have taught…On the 25th day of Kislev, the days of Hanukkah, which are eight, begin….For when the Greeks entered the sanctuary, they made all of the oil that was in the sanctuary unclean. But when … they [the Maccabees] conquered them, they searched but found only a single jar of oil, lying with the seal of the high priest. But that jar had enough oil only for a single day. But there was a miracle done with it and they lit the lamp with it for eight days.” (b. Shabbat 21b, The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary.)
What could the mystery of the oil of Hanukkah mean for believers today? First, there is the celebration of God’s gracious and miraculous, historic victory over His enemies who sought to annihilate the Jews. Had the Hanukkah miracle never taken place, our Messiah and Savior would never have been born. Second, there is the traditional and possibly very real, inspirational miracle of the oil of Hanukkah. Third, Hanukkah is a set time by which you can – and perhaps should – celebrate the miracle of the oil of the Spirit which keeps the fire of God’s lampstand burning within you. Hanukkah is a time to press in with faith for Him to revive and fan those flames of holy love, “beaten” into purity, within you.
God told His people the menorah fire was to stay continuously lit, fueled daily by fresh oil. He blessed this command as “a statute forever” throughout our generations “on behalf of the children of Israel.” (Exodus 27:21, JPS) Similarly, you and I need daily, fresh Holy Spirit oil to keep our lampstands burning. As in the Hanukkah story, God is faithful to secure and provide the oil you need, supernaturally, at the right time, at all times. One small cruse of oil from heaven can reignite the fire within, cleansing you anew. Because your body is a cleansed temple of God’s Spirit, Hanukkah is also a time to rededicate your flesh-and-blood temple to Him. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
There is even more. The armies overcome by the Maccabees were, at their core, driven by a spirit of anti-Messiah/anti-Christ.Though Maccabee means “Hammer,” these ancient, courageous Jews were not highly trained warriors. Their leaders were actually priests anointed to serve in God’s Temple. It was zeal for their Father’s House that consumed them, propelling them to victory. Their battle was won not by might or power, but by the Spirit of God. (Zechariah 4:6)
Many of the battles you and I fight today are driven by an anti-Messiah spirit not unlike that which the Maccabeean priests had to face. As a New Covenant priesthood you can take courage and gain faith from their example. (1 Peter 2:9) You will overcome not by human might or power, but by the same Holy Spirit as the Maccabees. In truth, God offers you even more than He did them. He offers you not just one small cruse of oil, but “His Spirit without measure.” (John 3:34) So receive the oil of Hanukkah! You need it in these last days. And Israel is waiting to see that holy oil, the Light of the World, burn powerfully in you.
This article originally appeared on Light of Zion, December 1, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Sandra is co-founder and director, along with her husband Kerry, of Light of Zion Ministries. Light of Zion is an Israeli Messianic Jewish, prophetic intercessory prayer ministry in Jerusalem with humanitarian outreach. Sandra is a prayer mobilizer and network leader, international speaker, prophetic liaison, professionally published author, Bible teacher, and retired attorney.
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When translation becomes over-interpretation
When studying the Bible one very important but often overlooked thing is
(All of the verses I will be using in this article will be from the King James Version.)
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
In this verse, the word Sir is translated from the word “Kurios” while in John 20:28 we see the same word translate
28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
These two verses show the same Greek word translated
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have a
Where is John 20:28 it is clear that Thomas is proclaiming the deity of Yeshua as his LORD.
While some interpretation in transla
Let me provide an example of this. In Hebrews 8:13.
13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the fir
You will notice that in the printed text of Hebrews 8:13 there are two words that are in italics “covenant” and “is.” The reason they are in italics is to identify to the reader that these two words are not in the actual Greek manuscript. These two words were added by the translators, in order to a
Let me explain in the Book of Hebrews the writer begins
10 Called of God a high priest after the order of Melc
20 Whither the forerunner is
11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,)
Then in Chapter 7:12 we find the first mention of something that is going to change and the chapter begins to explain the difference
12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
Chapter 8 begins with these words which continue the same topic that started in chapter 4.
1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum:
Chapter 8 continues to describ
16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is of force after
Also consider Galatians 3:14-17.
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it b
Notice that we are told that when G-D makes a covenant it cannot be disannulled and the example we are given is
One more this to consider is that Hebrews was written somewhere between 65 and 68 CE just before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and with that destruction the priesthoo
So we see that in context the Book of Hebrews is speaking of the transition from the Aaronic Priesthood to the Priesthood of Messiah, a better priesthood. Yet by adding one word of interpre
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, and his most recent book God Has No Plan "B".
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The unexpected significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
It was November, 1947. The learned professor studied the newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls to try and ascertain if they were as important as he dared to suspect. No one had yet identified whether or not they were genuine, or the huge significance held in those ancient and fragile fragments.
“My hands shook as I started to unwrap one of them”, Professor Eliezer Sukenik of Hebrew University wrote in his journal.1 “I read a few sentences. It was written in beautiful biblical Hebrew. The language was like that of the Psalms, but the text was unknown to me. I looked and looked, and I suddenly had the feeling that I was privileged by destiny to gaze upon a Hebrew Scroll which had not been read for more than 2,000 years.”
He took them back to his home in Jerusalem to examine them further. The timing of Professor Sukenik’s eureka moment was almost as significant as the discovery itself. The world was in the throes of deciding whether or not the people of Israel could have a home in the land of their fathers: the UN were voting on the Partition Plan that exact hour, on November 29th 1947.
“While I was examining these precious documents in my study, the late news on the radio announced that the United Nations would be voting on the resolution that night—whether or not Israel would be allowed to become a nation… It was past midnight when the voting was announced. And I was engrossed in a particularly absorbing passage in one of the scrolls when my son rushed in with the shout that the vote on the Jewish State had passed. This great event in Jewish history was thus combined in my home in Jerusalem with another event, no less historic, the one political, and the other cultural.”
God’s remarkable timing to reveal his secrets
Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, suggestions had been arising that the Jewish people had fabricated the Bible, and that they had no real connection to the land. Just as the people of Israel faced great obstacles entering the Promised Land the first time round, so they faced great opposition in the twentieth century. But now a shepherd boy in the desert of Qumran blew those doubts about the Bible out of the water with his accidental discovery… just in time for the birth of Israel in 1948! God’s timing was perfect, as always.
“On the very day, the very day, that Israel’s rebirth was confirmed, a Jewish professor confirms the existence of ancient Israel. You really have to intellectually dishonest if you are going to claim that God was not behind Israel’s dramatic rebirth,” says Ron Cantor, a Messianic Jewish pastor in Israel.2
This amazing discovery shows us that the Biblical texts were passed down with extraordinary accuracy. The scrolls were 1000 years older than any text we had before the discovery, yet the book of Isaiah you have in your Bible is the same as the one found in that ancient jar in Qumran, with only a few letters changed.
What the Dead Sea Scrolls bring us today
As well as solid evidence that the Biblical text has not changed for two millennia, we now have invaluable insights into Jewish culture and lifestyle at the time of Yeshua and the birth of the church. We can also see how minor changes made to letters in the Biblical text by Medieval rabbis covered up some Messianic prophecy pointing to Yeshua! Today, Jewish people can examine the ancient texts and decide for themselves what – or who – the Biblical prophets were referring to. More than that, the scrolls show us that there was significant Messianic expectation among the Jewish community in the century right before Yeshua was born. They were expecting a Messiah whom heaven and earth would obey – one who would be the very Son of God!
(Above: Excerpts from a fascinating conversation with one of the leading New Testament scholars of our time, and an authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Craig Evans.)
And the findings continue: More recently, remains of an ancient Torah scroll were found in a burnt synagogue by the Dead Sea, and only this year, another cave in Qumran was found to contain evidence of more scrolls.
“The Dead Sea Scrolls made for a symbolic birthday gift for the state still struggling to survive out of utero. The texts are celebrated icons of Israel’s heritage”, writes Shelley Neese in her book, The Copper Scroll Project. “The Egyptians have their pyramids and the Chinese have their wall… but the Jews have their scrolls, monuments built from words rather than mortar”. These ancient scrolls symbolize the people of Israel and their great contribution to the world: the Oracles of God.
In short, the Dead Sea Scrolls were an absolutely extraordinary discovery, full of invaluable treasures for us today.
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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The light of the world (Chanukah)
One of my favorite things to do during Chanukah is taking a walk in the “older’ neighborhoods of Jerusalem. One of the customs is to put the Chanukah lights in a place where it is visible to those who pass by. Many people put their candles in the window sill. But when you go around the streets of Jerusalem you’ll see lots of little glass boxes with a menorah in it. The boxes are put on the low stone walls that surround the apartment buildings where many people live. Putting your lights outside makes them visible. The glass boxes prevent the wind from blowing out the lights. For eight nights the special menorah is lit. Each day another candle is added. Every day there is more light.
Scripture indicates that also the Lord Jesus celebrated this special holiday when we remember the provision of God after the temple was desecrated and rededicated.
Then came the Festival of Dedication[b] at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. John 10:22-23
The miracle of Chanukah was that there was enough oil for a whole week, the time it took to prepare more oil. The menorah in the temple could stay lit. There was light. And light is what we are showing the world.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:14-15
We are also in the season of Advent. Each Sunday leading up to Christmas we add another candle. Each week there is more light. And also at Christmas we celebrate the provision of God. It is the miracle of Jesus, the Light of the World who came to set us free from all Darkness forever and ever.
And just as we put our Chanukah candles in a place where those around us can see the lights. The Lord Jesus encourages us to make His light be seen.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
How can you show shine your light in this season and show the world that the Lord always, always provides? What are the good things in your life that glorify our Father in heaven? How do you celebrate this season of light?
“Father God, we thank you for your miracles. Thank you for always providing. We ask you that you show us how we can shine you light and see your name glorified. Thank you for the miracle of Chanukah.”
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, November 27, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Since its establishment in March 2012 CBN Israel has helped thousands of people through its various operations. As the foundation of Project Light Shine, CBN Israel gives help to the community through three avenues; Humanitarian aid, education and economic development. CBN Israel serves with a spirit of humility and love. Their mission is to prepare the Land and the people of Israel for the coming of Messiah Yeshua and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The vision of their work is to see the hungry fed, the needs of the needy met, businesses established and to improve the spiritual, physical and financial situation of the local body.
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His perfect plan
PARASHAT VAYEISHEV (AND HE DWELT)
BERESHEET (GENESIS) 37:1–40:23
This week’s reading brings us to some very rich and important passages; we learn of the story of Joseph, and the deep connection between Joseph’s story and Messiah Yeshua’s story. We also learn of the roots of the terms “Messiah Son of Joseph” and “Messiah Son of David” which are key concepts to understanding the two eras of Messiah in Jewish thought (Messiah the suffering servant, and Messiah the King). If you want to read more about this topic please read my blog from last year on this portion Parashat Vayeishev (And he dwelt). As a quick summary, I previously wrote on a few key elements that Joseph and Messiah Yeshua share in common such as the Father’s love, the jealousy of the brothers, prophetic truth, the plot to kill Joseph, the woolen coat, being betrayed for money, and the empty pit.
However, as I was reading the portion again, I noticed that sandwiched in between Genesis 37 and 39-40, which are devoted to the account of Joseph, is Genesis 38, which is devoted to a completely different story. This is not just any story, but rather a story that on the surface is full of ungodliness, lies, immorality, etc. I have to admit that for the first time, I had to stop and think about why this account is included here, in the middle of Joseph’s story, which is so clearly about God’s incredible plan of redemption.
While I encourage you to read the entire portion by yourself, let me remind you of the account we read in Genesis 38. Judah breaks away from his brothers, marries a Canaanite woman, and has children with her. Judah then takes a wife for his firstborn (Er) named Tamar. The LORD puts Er to death and leaves Tamar both a widow and childless. According to law, Judah’s second son, Onan, is supposed to marry Tamar and have children with her. Onan refuses to do so, does evil before the LORD, and dies. Since Shelah (Judah’s third son) is too young, Judah tells Tamar to go away to her father’s house, and wait until he grows up so that he can marry her.
In short, Tamar does not marry Shelah, and after Judah’s wife dies, the scripture tells us that he was traveling on the road, sees Tamar, and since she covered her face, he thinks she is a harlot and has relations with her, not knowing that she is Tamar. She becomes pregnant, and when Judah hears about it, he commands her to be burned. However, she was smart and took from him his signet, cloak, and staff, as protection from being accused by Judah. Tamar proves to him that it was he who had relations with her, to which Judah has to admit. As a result, Tamar ends up giving birth to two sons, Perez and Zerah.
So what do we make of this? In this story, we find evidence of God’s truly amazing grace and His sovereign plan. Both His grace and sovereignty were evidenced to Tamar; He had a specific plan to continue the genealogy of Judah in a very specific way. Judah tried to do it in his own power through his own agenda. However, God did not accept it, and chose a different way! It was through Perez that the line of Messiah continued all the way to Joseph, the husband of Miriam, who was the mother of Yeshua our Messiah.
I believe that this story appears in the middle of Joseph’s story to emphasize the importance of God’s sovereign will, and the fact that it cannot be thwarted. God’s plan was for Messiah to fulfill two roles, of which Joseph and King David were very important forerunners (Messiah Son of Joseph, Messiah Son of David). King David was a direct descendant of Perez, who was the son of Judah, from which the Redeemer was prophesied to come. Isn’t it amazing to see God’s plan come to fruition, even in ways that we cannot possibly foresee?
Be encouraged that what He has willed will come to be. Rest in His promises!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.