The Jacarandas are blooming. Our roads are strewn with purple blossoms. They are a sign that summer is nearly here & Christmas is coming. We know how to look about us & understand the weather but Jesus said: You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don't know how to interpret the present times. Luke 12:56
The sad part about that is that God has given us everything we need to interpret the times we are living in. One of the reasons we have so much difficulty is because we have allowed satan to cut the church off from its root for Paul tells us in Romans 11:18 …You do not support the root, but the root supports you…. & that root is Judaism.
Again in Romans 3:6 we are told
And this is God's plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God's children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.
The Christian Church began as a sect of Judaism & as such, for many years, followed the religious practises of the Jews ~ as did our Lord & saviour, Jesus Christ.
Now we are not Jews & Jesus was very clear: "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. Matthew 5:17
Jesus accomplished the purpose of the Law & because He kept it perfectly we are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. Romans 3:22
2Timothy 3:16 tells us All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right… and yet the church has traded the scriptures for paganism.
You are right to ask: What does it matter whether we called it Easter or Pascha? Whether we celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah? It is a good question but not the right one, therefore I do not wish to talk about that question in this discussion. What I would like to address is what we lose when we forget our root.
We will start in Genesis 1:14.
Then God said, "Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years.
Seasons is the Hebrew word moed. It means appointed times [by invitation]. These became the appointed Feasts of Israel when they came apart from the everyday to spend time with God.
The moed work on 3 levels:
· The 1st is the literal event whether it is Passover or the harvest or Esther approaching a king on behalf of her people.
· The 2nd is the remembrance of the event & its celebration.
· The 3rd is the prophetic prediction & fulfilment of the moed in the person of Jesus Christ.
Each celebration is a precursor & revelation of Jesus Christ. We have looked @ this in detail when we have celebrated Passover & we have studied Sukkot & Hanukkah before but in the weeks leading into Christmas/Hanukkah I would like to study Hanukkah in more detail.
It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication.
Immediately we have a wonderful picture of God’s redemptive Love. Here is Jesus *the Light of the World* walking in the place dedicated to the Living God during Hanukkah. Hanukkah is also known as the *Festival of Lights*. From a Christian standpoint Hanukkah is all about Jesus, & Jesus as the Light of the World.
When Jesus declares He is the Light of the World the Greek word used is phōs ~ & yes, it can be translated light [John 8:12] . It could also be translated radiance for Hebrew 1:3 declares
The Son radiates God's own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honour at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
Here the Greek word used is apaugasma . This compound word comes from apo (from) and augazo (to shine forth, to beam upon). But the Greek noun disguises a Hebrew verb – kavah – to burn. [Skip Moen]
Now we have been educated along Grecian lines so our mind set is Grecian & we will read something like Hebrews 1:3 & immediately put it in the past tense so that it becomes static, a done deal, but that would not be true to the text because, as Paul tells us, He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. [Philippians 3:5] Thus he had a Hebrew mindset & in Ancient Hebrew there is no such thing as a static verb. Hebrew verbs always include the idea of movement. Thus when Paul uses the verb apaugasma he is not thinking of radiance as being an attribute of Jesus. Jesus does not shine. Rather Paul is thinking of it as an action of Jesus. His radiance, His burning, is thus an ongoing action that is continually purifying us ~ because that is the idea of the burnt sacrifice, to purify that which is impure.
This idea is sustained further along in the passage for the word katharismos [purification] refers to ceremonial cleansing. The blood cleans us but it is Jesus who makes us righteous. [1 Corinthians 1:30]
Nothing is static in God’s kingdom. It is either growing or it is decaying ~ & so are we.
Although Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrating the rededication of the temple after its desecration by Antiochus Epimane in 168 BC, its symbols [oil & light] are uniquely Christian. Christians do not celebrate hannukah the same way Jews do for we are looking particularly @ the prophetic & it's fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
The hanukkiyah is the special 9 branched menorah used at Hanukkah. The middle candle is called the shammash, or servant candle & it lights all the others. The shammash represents Jesus, who left His glory & came as a servant according to Mark 10:45 “…For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Now the menorahs were originally oil lamps & oil, always, everywhere in scripture, signifies the presence of the Holy Spirit. Kings were anointed with oil. Priests were dedicated with oil. Prophets were anointed with oil to proclaim the word of God. Jesus title, Messiah, means anointed.
What is interesting about the candles is that once lit they become active. They burn. Thus we are reminded of Christ’s radiance, His purifying power, that He is the light of the world & those who follow Him won’t have to walk in spiritual darkness… [John 8:12]
But there are 8 other candles! Traditionally each candle is a different colour & here again we have a wonderful manifestation of our amazing God & how He saw the end from the beginning & how all things are unified in Christ!
There are 7 colours in a rainbow & when combined those seven colours produce a clear white light. It is only when light is fractured that we see the other colours. Each of those colours represents a covenant God made with mankind & each covenant reveals some aspect of Jesus, & throws open more revelation of the person & nature of God.
Red: The covenant with Adam . Genesis 3:14~17 all about God’s provision of light & its purposes is read.
Orange. The covenant with Noah [Genesis 9:9~17]
Yellow. The covenant with Abraham[ Genesis 12:3~7 & Genesis 17:1~8] symbolised by the stars ~ more light!
Green. The covenant with Moses. [Exodus 24]
Blue. The covenant with David [2 Samuel 7:8~16]
Indigo. The covenant of Redemption [[Matthew 26:26~29]
Violet. The covenant of Peace Revelation 21:1~4; 16~21
White: the Bridal Covenant [John 14:1~3; Revelation 19:6~9]
From the moment Adam & Eve fell into sin in the garden there has been ongoing revelation from God to bring people back into right relation with Him, culminating in the Bridal Feast of the Lamb. When we celebrate Hanukkah we remember, step by step, this ongoing revelation. We see Jesus, the promised redeemer, already prepared, in Genesis, in the giving of the Law hidden in the meaning of Torah [Behold, son of God, nailed to a cross], in the promise to David of an everlasting kingdom, & into the New Testament & the glorious, triumphant return of Christ to claim His bride!
Compare that to a Christmas add presently showing where a small child calls it *Santa’s Day*. You see, satan has been able to meddle with everything the church has borrowed from the culture around it because it was his first, but the things God has ordained he cannot touch.
Now I am not saying you shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. That is not it at all for Romans 14:15~16 says In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honour him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honour the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.
What I am saying is that the Holy days ordained by God Himself are His personal invitation to come & spend time with Him & receive greater revelation. I am sure it is possible to celebrate these days as a secular Jew. I do not believe it is possible to celebrate them as a secular Christian, firstly because to celebrate is to run counter to the culture around us & thus must be very intentional. Its very intentionality means a greater awareness of what we are celebrating & why.
Secondly there are no mixed symbols. Christmas trees, yule logs, even present giving, have their roots in paganism & though most Christians have long since forgotten the origins, here we have a representation of the *two materials* metaphor [Leveticus 19:19], a mixing of the holy & the profane.
Thirdly, there is a subtle trap in Christmas that is not in Hanukkah. When our focus is on a baby in a crib it is too easy to forget, why He came, what He came to do, how He suffered for us, the price He paid & that He will return. All of that is in Hanukkah. God does not let us forget the big picture.
So as we move through this season, however we choose to celebrate it, I will be taking you briefly through the covenants & reminding you that that baby in His crib is still the Lord of Lords & King of Kings who is returning in all His burning radiance, not as redeemer but as judge & conqueror.