You don't have to be Jewish to celebrate Hanukkah. There is much in the feast which tells us of Yeshua, and as you go through it, you will see certain parallelisms. Because the Biblical Feasts are dated from the lunar calendar, this year in 2008, Hanukkah's first night of the 8 nights, starts on Sunday, December 21. (The Biblical calendar expresses it as the 25th day of Kislev).
Brief History: Hanukkah's other names are the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication. This feast commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the wicked Greek King Antiochus and the Hellenistic Syrians who were trying to force Jews to bow down to idols, and to stop all Jewish rituals. In 168BCE they seized the Jewish temple, and used it for worshiping Zeus. Some Jews were so full of fear that they did not retaliate, but a small yet tough Jewish family called the Maccabees, led by the priestly Hasmoneans, revolted at Modi'in and stood up for righteousness, thereby saving the Jewish race. One of them called Mattathius, rose up and slew a fellow Jew who had weakened by offering to comply to pagan worship, thereby betraying the Jews. Mattathius also killed the Greek officer who had demanded Jews worship idols and eat pig, both of which are forbidden in the Torah. (If he had not done this, the Jews would have been wiped out, and our Jewish Messiah Yeshua would never have been born to save us.) After this brave encounter, they found much destruction in the temple, so in 165BCE they cleaned it up and rededicated the ransacked temple that Antiochus had used to put a non-“kosher” pig on the altar. The idea of lighting the candles comes from the fact that a real miracle happened after the Maccabees found only one flask of oil left to light the damaged temple “m'norrah”, and it actually stayed lit for 8 days amidst great celebrations!
To Christians, it has a special significance, in that Yeshua (Jesus) was conceived during Hanukkah as the Light of the World! (He was born 9 months later at “Sukkot” - the Feast of Tabernacles). Apparently, the “Magnificat” (Lk.21:46) that Miriam (Mary) sang in response to the Angel Gavriel (Gabriel's) announcement that she would mother a child named Yeshua, was part of the ancient liturgy for Hanukkah itself!
Do keep your commemoration of the event separate from Christmas. That is easy to do when the dates do not collide, but this year they DO!
Here are some guidelines as to how you can celebrate Hanukkah nightly right in your home.
1) Buy or make a “hanukkiah” (ha–noo–KEE-yah). That's a 9 sticked candelabra. Buy enough candles for lighting fresh ones each of the 8 nights = 72. They don't have to be big ones – the little ones are available at Jewish stores, and sometimes at supermarkets. You can buy a “hanukkiah” from a Jewish store on-line. Sometimes you can find them in second-hand stores too. You can even have a contest in which you notify folks 2 weeks in advance to your Hanukkah party (via your e-mailing and phone lists) that they have to make and bring their own “hanukkiah” to the party. There will be quite an astonishing variety that will show up. You can choose a winner, and give him/her a small prize.
2) At nightfall, appoint someone (even a child) to light the first candle (it also can be just you yourself!) – and light the end candle first. Look up the Hanukkah prayers on http://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/103874/jewish/Blessings.htm
After this, put out your match and use the candle, the “shamash” (sha-MASH) , the “servant candle” to light the first candle. (Someitme sit's on the extreme right and sometimes it stands in the centre by itself. Put the “shamash” back into its place. And then stop - don't blow out either candle!) That's all you light the first night. The second night, you add one more, and then the third night, the third one as well, till he last night when ALL the candles are lit – still by the “shamash” which lights all the rest throughout the week – not the SAME candle, as it is fresh each night.) To us as Christians, we see the parallelism in our Messiah Yeshua Who took upon Himself to be a servant to us all, Who “lights” up our lives!
3) Recite the “hallel” - Ps. 11-118.
4) Sing a Hannukah song. Download these from the Internet. Here's one - http://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/600995/jewish/Maoz-Tzur.htm
It has a recording, and Hebrew and English words written out below. Or sing any worship song you know that has to do with LIGHT or DEDICATION or STANDING strong. Merla Watson has written a song for Christians to sing at Hanukkah called “Father of Lights”. Look it up on our web site: www.mervandmerla.co It's listed under “New Messianic Songs” in a book with many feast songs in it.
5) Cook the traditional food (Google this = Hannukah traditional food or recipes), or order from a Jewish delicatessen or supermarket grocery store ahead of time. First the “latkes” (LAT-kuz) = shredded potato pancakes served with homemade apple sauce, and “suvgani'ot” (soov-ga-nee-OHT) = jelly filled donuts. Recipes of both can be found on the Internet. Just Google it. Lots of folks have a “latke” making party beforehand or as even part of their party the same night..
6) Traditionally, small gifts are exchanged during this time as well.
7) Find a small “dreidel” (special spinning top) at a Jewish store, or order one on-line. It has a big Hebrew letter on each side of its square sides, which is an acronym of 4 Hebrew alphabet letters standing for: “A big miracle happened there!” During the time of persecution in ancient history, while the Jews were really studying Torah, if they heard the Greek soldiers at the door, they quickly snatched their “dreidels” from their pockets, pretending to be playing with them, and not reading Torah. There are “dreidel” games and other Hanukkah games on the Internet.
8) Appoint someone to read the story of Hannukah.
9) If you are part of a community, you could have the festivities at a different home each night.
10) Try to involve kids as much as possible – in the lighting of the “Hannukiah”, in baking cookies, in helping with the cooking or baking, in singing along with the songs, and in playing games with the “dreidel”.
That's it! Happy Hanukkah!
- Merv & Merla Watson
In the first century, fundamental changes occurred, which drew the central authority away from the apostolic order into a new philosophical order. As the church of Jerusalem, under the direction of James, lost its effectiveness because of the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion of the believers, the conduct of the church affairs fell under the auspices of more non-Judaistic leadership. The progressive effect of this change of authority was a disintegration of the Hebraic basis for liturgy, and its replacement by Greco-Roman philosophical ideas. Following the second uprising around 135 A.D., there was a purposeful rejection of many of the Judaistic influences that were part of the establishment of the early church.
Among those things rejected were the annual memorials, known as the Biblical Festivals. There was a desire on the part of the early church fathers such as Justin Martyr, to gain the sympathy of the Roman rulers who were profoundly enraged by the last rebellion of the Jews in the second century. Since the early church was regarded as part of the Jewish Faith, the political stigma connected with things Jewish attached itself to the church as well.
The Roman influence instilled in the early Church, fathered a deep abiding resentment towards the Jews. When the first universal Church leader, Constantine, made the Christian church the official religion of the Roman state, he, as emperor of Rome, established practices which completely destroyed any continuity between the fledgling Church, and the roots of the Faith. Instead, pagan holidays were substituted for the Biblical ones, and these are in place today.
Under later leaders, the calendar was changed from the lunar calendar determining time from the moon cycles, to the solar calendar reflecting the sun worship prevalent in Rome. This changing of the calendar completely altered the Biblical time cycle for festivals, and separated, finally, any relationship between the Biblical time scale and that of the Church. The present celebration is a realignment with the early beginnings of the Faith and a memorial celebration as a reminder of what God has done in History.
by Merv Watson
When the Biblical festivals were instituted over 4000 years ago, they were commands, not options. In Leviticus, 23, the Lord outlined the mechanics of the feasts and superimposed this statement: "These are My holy convocations - My feasts."
We, as believing Christians,should still participate in the Biblical feasts, because the Lord Himself marked the feasts with His presence. Each of the five major feasts, He accented with a stunning display of His glory. It is gripping to see the character of Messiah described in Isaiah 9:6: "…Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
These were to be the names of the coming Messiah, coinciding exactly with the character of the Biblical feasts, and even appearing in their right order! God of wonders (Passover), Counselor (Pentecost), the Mighty God (Trumpets), the Everlasting Father (Tabernacles), and the Prince of Peace (Millennium reign) as seen from the eighth day of Tabernacles' time called "Simcha Torah” = joy of the Law (Lord).
What this amazing list of the names and characteristics of Messiah does, is to give a prophetic overview of the unfolding revelation of God's plan of salvation for the world. Through His names, through His feasts, and through His Word, which are all congruent, the Lord connects both past and present events to etch a clear picture of what was, is, and is to come! The combination of past, present, and future is the expression of the Holy Spirit, which is the spirit of prophecy.
One of the shrillest cries from people today is the cry for meaning. One can live longer without food than one can live without meaning! The nature of the creation is that it functions cyclically, with everything having its time and season.
The very fact that creation is cyclical should answer the cry for meaning. There is an obvious system in place, in which everything plays its part in a vast, eternal plan. This elevates all things to a particular place, in an order conceived and executed for the benefit of the highest creature in the plan - man.
Man too, has his internal "cycles", in that he breathes in and out. He has 6 days of work during which he "breathes" in, and one day of being (rest) in which he "breathes" out. This is an echo of Yeshua's admonition that the Sabbath (rest) “was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath!”
The Biblical feasts are yearly Sabbaths and times of memorial - annual "holy days." They are reflective of the lifestyle that God wanted us to have. It has been the custom of Jewish people to follow these Godly injunctions for thousands of years - at least those Jewish people who are serious about their ancient covenants, and have incorporated them into their lifestyle.
One aspect of the feasts that is no longer being done, is the series of offerings that were originally instituted. The offerings for the festivals had to be of the finest quality available. The standards set by God were stunning and demanding! Gifts were costly, and involved much physical and emotional sacrifice.
For instance, the offerings that took place during one week of the Feast of Tabernacles celebration would require one family to bring 70 animals of different kinds to be given to the officiating priest. Each family would be required to give according to its means. This would, of course, take from their possessions, stretching their faith materially, while the attachment to the animals would stretch their emotions.
This was particularly true for the children during Passover, because the lamb that had to be sacrificed for the family would be brought home for three days. There it would be examined, loved, named, and emotionally adopted by the whole family! It would then be taken away and sacrificed on Passover Eve.
This wrenching experience was meant to brand on each conscience the terrifying cost of having one's sins covered. Each year the innocent would die - that is, a deeply cared-for animal would suffer, and the children would weep. This was reminiscent of how sorrowful God would be over the destruction of one of His creatures, because of ensnaring sin.
Each of the five major festivals: Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur, Feast of Tabernacles, Passover, and Pentecost, has a distinct character, and fulfills the year's cycle in a poignant, eternal way. Each festival's importance goes beyond the mechanics of its celebration.
The Feast of Trumpets has its message of resurrection, Yom Kippur speaks of atonement (at-one-ment) with the Almighty, the Feast of Tabernacles has its promise of universal salvation for those who will it, the Feast of Passover emphasizes our need of deliverance from evil, while the Feast of Pentecost brings with it the enormous creative event when the creative power of the Godhead was to be contained in the believer's house of flesh.
Designed as reminders of real historical events, the memories that the festivals stirred up were to provide insulation for the people of Israel (and the current Body of Messiah) against forsaking their covenant commitment to the one true living God!
All would be reminded of the overwhelming care and concern of a Holy God for His creatures, and would have the delight of celebrating His generous and loving character - not just once a year, but for a total of 18 "holy days", during which we could consider such Love emanating from the Father's throne.
This love is seldom if ever realized in normal relationships, and even if it has been, it is profoundly important to renew such times by remembering often. It was with man's frail memory in mind that Yeshua said during that fateful, final Passover 2000 years ago: "This do in remembrance of Me, and each time you do this, you show forth My death till I come."
As Christians, we should participate in these eternity-honoured memorials, and have our imaginations stirred up to good works, which are the best memorials of all!
(English transliterations are not the same as for a European language)
⁃ by Merla Watson
Passover = “Pesach” (pronouced “PAY-sach”). The “ch” is not like the “ch” AS in “chair”, but “ch” as in German “ich” or Scottish “Loch Lomond.”
Pentecost = “Shavu'ot” (pronounced “Shaw-voo-OAT”)
Civil New year = “Rosh HaShanna”
N.B. The “o” in “Rosh” is not an “ah” sound as in “calm”, but “o” as in “rose” . If you can trill the “r”, so much the better.
or another name for same day
Feast of Trumpets = “Yom Teru'ah”
N.B. The “o” in “Yom” is not an “ah” sound as in “calm”, but “o” as in “rose” . If you can trill the “r”, so much the better.
Day of Atonement = “Yom Kippur” (pronounced “Yome-kee-POOR”)
Feast of Tabernacles = “Sukkot” (pronounced “Soo-KOTE”), rhyming with “boat”)
The Joy of the Law = “Simchat Torah”
(pronounced “sim-CHAHT tor-AH”. The “ch” is not like the “ch” in “chair”, but “ch” as in German “ich” or Scottish “Loch Lomond.” If you can trill the “r”, so much the better.
Feast of Dedication or Festival of Lights = “Hanukkah”
(pronounced “CHAW-noo-kaw”) The “ch” is not like the “ch” in “chair”, but “ch” as in German “ich” or Scottish “Loch Lomond.”
Feast of Esther = “Purim?” (pronounced “poo-REEM) If you can trill the “r”, so much the better.
- by Merla Watson
YES! CHRISTIANS SHOULD CELEBRATE
THE BIBLICAL FEASTS
- by Merla Watson
First of all – what ARE the Biblical Feasts? Not Advent, not Christmas, not New Year's Eve or day, not Lent, not Good Friday, not Easter – and DEFINITELY not Valentine's Day or not Hallowe'en!! (More about those on another posting.)
The Biblical Feasts we will present in order, starting at the Biblical spiritual new year, which is not Rosh HaShanna, as that is the civic new year. First we have Passover (Pesach) in the spring, then Pentecost (Shavu'ot) early summer, then a long wait till the fall till the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teru'ah or Rosh HaShanna), then the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), then the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), then the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah), and lastly the Feast of Esther (Purim). (We have a separate blog on their pronunciation on our web site.)
All God's greatest acts have occurred on Biblical feast days. (Yeshua's birth was never celebrated by early Christians – not until the Roman Emperor Constantine inaugurated it – as Christmas - in the 4th century.) Shabbat is also a weekly Feast. No, not Sunday – the SEVENTH day! (There's another blog about that on our web site.)
Here is a list of what happened on those feast days – prophetically.
Feast of Passover: Yeshua's death
Feast of First Fruits: Yeshua's resurrection
Feast of Pentecost: coming of the Holy Spirit
Feast of Trumpets: (only feast not fulfilled) – when Yeshua will return)
Feast of Tabernacles: when Yeshua was born (that's when we SHOULD be celebrating that!)
All my life I have known the Lord, having given my heart to Him when I was only 8 years old! Being born into a wonderful evangelical family of committed faith was a great spiritual impetus to me. From early childhood I read the Bible – especially meaningful to me was the Old Testament.
I am sure that if you have read the scriptures over a period of years, you will have come to the same discovery that I have – i.e. a verse or chapter read at one time will take on further revelation at another point later on. Such was the case with Isaiah 56, which I feel is the mandate for Christians celebrating the Biblical Feasts, along with the Jewish people. Why did I not SEE this years ago? Probably because – very simply – God has a timing in these personal revelations.
Although there are other hints throughout the Bible to substantiate Christians celebrating the Biblical Feasts, I think Isaiah 56 is the best. Read the passage below – but first you must understand some definitions that will help you.
1) In verse 4, where it uses the word “sabbaths” - it refers to not only the Biblical yearly feasts which were called ”sabbaths” , but also, of course, the Biblical weekly sabbath – the SEVENTH day.
2) In the old Testament, when the term “sons and daughters” is used, it refers to the Jewish people.
3) When the term “strangers and foreigners” is implemented, it means Gentiles (like Ruth) who embraced the faith of Israel, which now to us in this day and age, means those who have come to faith in the God of Israel through the acceptance of the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua. We are grafted into WHAT?? The commonwealth of ISRAEL!! That means that THEIR promises are not ONLY theirs, but OURS too. Certainly NOT INSTEAD OF - as that would be what is called “Replacement Theology”, a heresy to which many denominations subscribe, but of which we have no part whatsoever!
Now it's time to read that scripture: (Isaiah 56:1-8)
1 - Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation [is] near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. 2 - Blessed [is] the man [that] doeth this, and the son of man [that] layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. 3 - Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I [am] a dry tree. 4 - For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose [the things] that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 5 - Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 6 - Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; 7 - Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices [shall be] accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. 8 - The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather [others] to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.
Does this not BLESS you???
THE EARLY CHURCH AND BIBLICAL FESTIVALS
by Merv Watson
by Merv Watson
In the first century, fundamental changes occurred, which drew the central authority away from the apostolic order into a new philosophical order. As the church of Jerusalem, under the direction of James, lost its effectiveness because of the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion of the believers, the conduct of the church affairs fell under the auspices of more non-Judaistic leadership.The progressive effect of this change of authority was a disintegration of the Hebraic basis for liturgy, and its replacement by Greco-Roman philosophical ideas. Following the second uprising around 135 A.D., there was a purposeful rejection of many of the Judaistic influences that were part of the establishment of the early church.
Among those things rejected were the annual memorials, known as the Biblical Festivals. There was a desire on the part of the early church fathers, such as Justin Martyr, to gain the sympathy of the Roman rulers who were profoundly enraged by the last rebellion of the Jews in the second century. Since the early church was regarded as part of the Jewish Faith, the political stigma connected with things Jewish attached itself to the church as well.
The Roman influence, instilled in the early Church, fathered a deep abiding resentment towards the Jews. When the first universal Church leader, Constantine, made the Christian church the official religion of the Roman state, he, as emperor of Rome, established practices which completely destroyed any continuity between the fledgling Church, and the roots of the Faith. Instead, pagan holidays (Christmas, Lent, Good Friday, Easter) were substituted for the Biblical ones, and these are in place today.
Under later leaders, the calendar was changed from the lunar calendar, determining time from the moon cycles, to the solar calendar, reflecting the sun worship prevalent in Rome. This changing of the calendar completely altered the Biblical time cycle for festivals, and separated, finally, any relationship between the Biblical time scale and that of the Church. Commemorating Biblical Feasts is a realignment with the early beginnings of the Faith, and a memorial celebration as a reminder of what God has done in History.
THE TRADITIONAL CALCULATION DATESIn other words, there was no such thing as Good Friday or Easter. Both commemorations were an invention of the Roman Emporer Constantine in the 4th century. One cannot calculate 3 days and 3 nights from Friday to Sunday morning.
OF YESHUA’S CRUCIFIXION & RESURRECTION
OF YESHUA’S CRUCIFIXION & RESURRECTION
According to most recent calculations by Biblical scholars, Yeshua was crucified Wednesday afternoon, and He rose at midnight Saturday.
Easter was a pagan celebration, giving homage to the goddess Ashtar.