Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.
The Church in Central New York founded and consistently fostered by the GLBTQIS community. Now in our 34th Year of Ministry.
  |  Home  |  About  |  Faith  |  Purpose  |  Sexuality  |  Location  |  Worship  |  Contact  |  Resources  |  Staff  |  Ministry  | Organization

 

We Should Celebrate Hanukkah.  12/24/2016

 

Please allow me, Br. Shawn Benedict, to explain why. 

 

Hanukkah (Chanukah and Hanukah) commemorates the miracle of the holy oil for the Light of Presence in the rededicated Second Temple lasting for eight full days, though it was only enough for one day.  In fact, the word Hanukkah is derived from the Hebrew verb meaning to dedicate.  This is the feast of the Rededication of the Temple.  It is celebrated on the 25th day of the month of Kislev because that is the day the Jewish stopped fighting their oppressors.  This happened during the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire, a Greek Hellenistic state ruled by the Seleucid dynasty from about 312 BC to 63 BC.   

 

This year, 2016, the 25th day of Kislev lines up exactly with the 25th day of December.  The Rose Guide To The Temple actually published the following: 164 B. C. On December 25, Judas Maccabaeus restores Jewish ritual by cleansing and rededicating the temple (first Hanukkah) after a successful revolt against Seleucids. (Rose Publishing- Rose Guide To The Temple, Dr. J. Randall Price, pg. 65 [http://www.rosepublishing.com/Rose-Guide-To-The-Temple-P1038.aspx]).  December 25 is the actual anniversary of this miracle recorded in Holy Scripture.

 

The story is preserved in the books of First and Second Maccabees in precise detail, including the actual lighting of the menorah.  It is found in 1 Maccabees 4:36-61 ďThe Rededication of the Temple.  There are multiple references to Hanukkah in the Mishna (Bikkurim 1:6, Rosh HaShanah 1:3, Taanit 2:10, Megillah 3:4 and 3:6, Moed Katan 3:9, and Bava Kama 6:6), though specific laws are not described. The miracle of the one-day supply of oil miraculously lasting eight days is first described in the Talmud, committed to writing about 600 years after the events described in the books of Maccabees.Ē (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah)

 

The following is a summary found on line of the Traditional view of Hanukkah.

 

When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and services stopped, Judaism was outlawed. In 167 BC, Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He banned brit milah (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple.[23]

Antiochus's actions provoked a large-scale revolt. Mattathias (Mattityahu), a Jewish priest, and his five sons Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus starting with Mattathias killing first a Jew who wanted to comply with Antiochus's order to sacrifice to Zeus and then a Greek official who was to enforce the government's behest (1 Mac. 2, 24-25[24]). Judah became known as Yehuda HaMakabi ("Judah the Hammer"). By 166 BC Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BC the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated. The festival of Hanukkah was instituted to celebrate this event.[25] Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the kohen gadol (high priest) was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish sages to commemorate this miracle.

The version of the story in 1 Maccabees states that an eight-day celebration of songs and sacrifices was proclaimed upon re-dedication of the altar, and makes no specific mention of the miracle of the oil. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah )

 

The Scroll of Antiochus concludes with the following words:

...After this, the sons of Israel went up to the Temple and rebuilt its gates and purified the Temple from the dead bodies and from the defilement. And they sought after pure olive oil to light the lamps therewith, but could not find any, except one bowl that was sealed with the signet ring of the High Priest from the days of Samuel the prophet and they knew that it was pure. There was in it [enough oil] to light [the lamps therewith] for one day, but the God of heaven whose name dwells there put therein his blessing and they were able to light from it eight days. Therefore, the sons of ?ashmonai made this covenant and took upon themselves a solemn vow, they and the sons of Israel, all of them, to publish amongst the sons of Israel, [to the end] that they might observe these eight days of joy and honour, as the days of the feasts written in [the book of] the Law; [even] to light in them so as to make known to those who come after them that their God wrought for them salvation from heaven. In them, it is not permitted to mourn, neither to decree a fast [on those days], and anyone who has a vow to perform, let him perform it. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah)

 

 

Celebrations usually include lighting a unique candelabrum that has nine branches, called the menorah (Chanukia/Hanukiah).  Each night one more candle is lit for the eight days of the holydays.  Usually there is an additional branch up and above the others, called the shamash, Hebrew for attendant, with which the candles are lit.  It should be noted that there are two different traditions (Hillel and Shammai) on how to light the candles.  The Shammai custom starts with 8 and goes to 1, while Hillel custom starts with 1 and goes to 8 candles.  Jewish law and practice decided on the custom of Hillel.

 

In thinking about why we might celebrate this Miracle of God three reasons have come to mind, today, December 24, 2016 while I have been preparing to lead Ray Of Hope Church in worship for Christmas.  We have a menorah in our front window, and tonight I lit the shamash and the first candle.  Here are the three reasons we should celebrate this miracle of God.

 

My first reason to celebrate Hanukkah is this miracle is in Sacred Scripture.  The books of 1 and 2 Maccabees are not part of the Tanakh, the Palestinian Hebrew Jewish Bible or canon.  These books, however, are included in the Alexandrian Jewish canon known as the Septuagint.  The Septuagint is widely accepted by 21st Century Jews of all traditions and is referenced and compared against the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin ancient manuscripts of Sacred Scripture by all those who work in the field of research for the most ancient and accurate texts of Sacred Scriptures. We also know the King James Bible of 1611, revered as the Protestant Bible, was originally published with these books in it and that over time printers dropped the so-called deuterocanonical and apocryphal books and thereby gave rise to the so-called Protestant  Bible being different than the so-called Catholic and Orthodox Bibles. (Bruce M. Metzger) This omission, as you can see, is not based on any actual difference of Theology but on the result of publishers omitting 17 or so books and parts of books.  So, in reality, all Christians should celebrate this miracle that is recorded in the Bible.  We rejoice that the God Who is Light (1 John 1:5) demonstrated to the Jewish People after one of their captivity experiences the Divine real presence by sustaining the human crafted Light of God lantern in the Temple for eight days with a one day supply of oil.  This was an act of grace.  Perhaps we can hear the echo of the famous words, My grace is enough for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness, which Resurrected and Ascended Our Lord Jesus said to Paul in a vision. (2 Cor. 12:9)

 

My second reason to celebrate Hanukkah is this year the 25th of the month of Kislev lines up perfectly with the 25th of the month of December.  It is a miracle of lights, a Festival of the Light of God coming into the darkness of the evil of the world of the destroyed Temple during a captivity in the story of Israel, but also into the destroyed Temple of the Earth due the sinful and selfish choices of humanity, and a false desire to be like be like God (Genesis 3:4), and into the individual temple of each heart, mind and soul that is in constant need of rededication to God and being filled with the Light of Christ and the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit.  God is Light and in God there is no darkness at all. (1John 1:5).

 

Now we know that Jesus is the light to the Nations, Gentiles, and the glory of Israel as Simeon declared in the Temple (Luke 2:32).  Jesus is the Light of the World and He has promised that all who follow Jesus will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)  Having received the Light of Christ we are now called to be that Light for all people everywhere. (Matthew 5:14)

 

Now Christ has commanded the church to go to the ends of the earth as a light to the Gentiles, the Nations to bring salvation to all nations. (Acts 13:47 and Matthew 28:19)

 

This year, 2016, is the perfect year when Hanukkah and Christmas properly line up to celebrate the Divine Presence, the Real Presence of the Light of God ever triumphant over sin, destruction, and death.

 

My third reason to celebrate Hanukkah is a fresh understanding I received today.  I have an understanding as to why the miracle lasted eight days, and why there are eight candles to be lit with one more as the servant candle used to light the others.

 

Today, December 24, 2016 it occurred to me during some prayer time that there is actually another reason there are 8 candles and one in the middle as the servant candle.

 

When Peter was discussing the length of time it is taking before Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven in 2 Peter Chapter 3, he referenced Psalm 90:4 where it says a thousand years are like a day come and gone.  Peter writes: Remember this; one day before the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day. 

 

Barnabas in his Letter explains and develops this further when he writes:

Barnabas 14:6
For it is written how the Father chargeth Him to deliver us from
darkness, and to prepare a holy people for Himself.

Barnabas 14:7
Therefore saith the prophet; I the Lord thy God called thee in
righteousness, and I will lay hold of thy hand and will strengthen
thee, and I have given thee to be a covenant of the race, a light
to the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, and to bring forth
them that are bound from their fetters, and them that sit in
darkness from their prison house.
We perceive then whence we were ransomed.

Barnabas 14:8
Again the prophet saith; Behold I have set Thee to be a light unto the Gentiles, that Thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth; thus saith the Lord that ransomed thee, even God.

Barnabas 14:9
Again the prophet saith; The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
wherefore He anointed Me to preach good tidings to the humble; He hath sent Me to heal them that are broken-hearted, to preach release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of recompense, to comfort all that mourn.

Barnabas 15:1
Moreover concerning the Sabbath likewise it is written in the Ten Words, in which He spake to Moses face to face on Mount Sinai; And ye shall hallow the Sabbath of the Lord with pure hands and with a pure heart.

Barnabas 15:2
And in another place He saith; If my sons observe the Sabbath then I will bestow My mercy upon them.

Barnabas 15:3
Of the Sabbath He speaketh in the beginning of the creation; And God made the works of His hands in six days, and He ended on the seventh day, and rested on it, and He hallowed it.

Barnabas 15:4
Give heed, children, what this meaneth; He ended in six days. He meaneth this, that in six thousand years the Lord shall bring all things to an end; for the day with Him signifyeth a thousand years; and this He himself beareth me witness, saying; Behold, the day of the Lord shall be as a thousand years. Therefore, children, in six days, that is in six thousand years, everything shall come to an end.

Barnabas 15:5
And He rested on the seventh day. this He meaneth; when His Son shall come, and shall abolish the time of the Lawless One, and shall judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun and the moon and the stars, then shall he truly rest on the seventh day.

Barnabas 15:6
Yea and furthermore He saith; Thou shalt hallow it with pure hands and with a pure heart. If therefore a man is able now to hallow the day which God hallowed, though he be pure in heart, we have gone utterly astray.

Barnabas 15:7
But if after all then and not till then shall we truly rest and
hallow it, when we shall ourselves be able to do so after being
justified and receiving the promise, when iniquity is no more and all things have been made new by the Lord, we shall be able to hallow it then, because we ourselves shall have been hallowed first.

Barnabas 15:8
Finally He saith to them; Your new moons and your Sabbaths I cannot away with. Ye see what is His meaning ; it is not your present Sabbaths that are acceptable [unto Me], but the Sabbath which I have made, in the which, when I have set all things at rest, I will make the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another world.

Barnabas 15:9
Wherefore also we keep the eighth day for rejoicing, in the which also Jesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended into the heavens.

SOURCE: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/barnabas-lightfoot.html

 

Thus, taken together, Peter, and more specifically Barnabas put forth the idea that the Church age is the Sixth Day, and when it is over, the Seventh Day the Millennial Rest shall come in, and the Book of Revelation shows that to be for 1, 000 years, or One Day.  After the Seventh Day, the Sabbath Rest, the Millennial Rest, the Eighth Day will begin, the New Heavens and the New Earth are brought in and God is All In All as stated in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 where Jesus hands over the Kingdom to God.

 

1 Corinthians 15:24-28. -- "Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith, All things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him, that God may be all in all."

 

Once again we will see the perfect manifestation of their being one God of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:6) In the glory of the Eighth Day Revelation Chapter 21 gives a detailed description of what we should expect, including; And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with humanity, and God will dwell with them, and they shall be Godís people.  God will personally be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

 

Here is what I have come to understand today, now the 25th of December.  There are EIGHT candles on the menorah, one for EACH DAY, each dispensation and the tall candle in the middle, the shamash, Hebrew for attendant, is God the Light passing that Light to each and every age of the human story through presenting the Divine Self in service to the creation.  Look at this analogy:

the First candle represents the First Dispensation = Innocence (to the fall of Adam and Eve)

                                                          (Genesis 1:26 to 2;23)

the Second candle represents the Second Dispensation = Conscience  

                                       (Genesis 3 to 7)   (to the flood of Noah)

the Third candle represents the Third Dispensation = Human Government

                   (Genesis 8:1 to 11:9)   (to the building of the Tower of Babel)

the Fourth candle represents the Fourth Dispensation = Promise - Abraham

                   (Genesis 11:10 to 15:21) (to the falling into Egyptian slavery)

the Fifth candle represents the Fifth Dispensation = Law  - Moses

                              (Sinai -  Exodus 19:1-8 to Jesus declaring It is finished

                                      while He was speaking from the Cross)

the Sixth candle represents the Sixth Dispensation = Church

                   Pentecost to the coming of Christ in the air, the resurrection of

                   the believing dead and the transformation of the believing living,

                   to meet the Lord in the air and the revealing of the Man Of Sin

                   and the Tribulation period of seven years to the Return Of

                   Christ to the earth to judge the living nations.

the Seventh candle represents the Seventh Dispensation = The Millennial                            Rest, the Kingdom of Christ on Earth until the Great White

                   Throne Judment also called The Second Death in Scripture

the Eighth candle represents the Eighth Dispensation = New Heavens and

                   New Earth, Creation renewed and restored to holiness.

 

With these three reasons, 1) Hanukkah is in Sacred Scripture and therefore a miracle for all of the People of God, 2) the 25th of the month of Kislev lines up perfectly with the 25th of the month of December where we celebrate the birth of Jesus The Light of God has come into the world, and 3) my personal newly understood parallel between the 8 candles with the 8 dispensations with the 9th being the very God Who is Light serving us as Godís own created creatures as an act of Love to smash the rule of sin and darkness and bring all creation to the very Being of the Loving God as an action of salvation; it is clear to me we are called to celebrate Hanukkah.

 

 

 

 

 

1st night 12/25/16
1st Dispensation
Innocence
2nd Night 12/26/16
2nd Dispensation Conscience
3rd Night 12/27/16
3rd Dispensation
Human Government
4th Night 12/28/16
4th Dispensation
Promise
5th Night 12/29/16
5th Dispensation
Law
6th Night 12/30/16
6th Dispensation
Church / Grace
7th Night 12/31/16
7th Dispensation
Kingdom
8th Night 1/1/2017
8th Dispensation
New Heavens
New Earth
God is "All in All"
Eternity
Page updated
1/1/17