In the Bible, the history of humanity is one of failure, with some notable exceptions due to God’s grace. That is true of the history of the Gentiles. It is also true of the history of Israel. In choosing their own direction, all peoples have failed to fulfill God’s purpose.
The Biblical history of Israel, the most blessed of peoples, demonstrates what is true of all mankind. During her history, Israel rejected God’s Redeemer (Moses), His provision (manna), His land (Canaan), His Kingship, His Covenant, and His messengers (the prophets). (Ex. 5:21, 16:3; Num. 11:5-6, 13:31-14:10; 1 Sam. 8:7-8; Neh. 9:34-35; Dan. 9:6) Yet despite all this, the Lord remained faithful.
The children of Israel turned away from the Lord to live for their own purposes. (cf. Is. 53:6) They wanted leeks and onions rather than the Promised Land. (Num. 11:4-6) In reviewing their history, God said through Jeremiah that Israel had not heeded His prophets, but continued to do evil. (Jer. 7:25-26)
In the wilderness, Aaron yielded to the people and made for them an idol of gold. God told Moses that He would punish the people and make a great nation of Moses. (Ex. 32:7-10) Yet Moses was not seeking a name or inheritance for himself at Israel’s expense. Moses, like God himself, loved Israel. So he pleaded with God to change His mind. (Ex. 32:12-13) The Lord listened to the entreaty of Moses, and spared Israel. Even though His people had forsaken Him, God remained faithful.
Later, Israel sinned by rejecting the Lord as King. Samuel, the servant of the Lord, rebuked the people, but at the same time he assured them of God’s eternal faithfulness: “Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. . . . For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” (1 Sam. 12:20, 22)
But Israel continued in infidelity. After God had sent the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity, He said, “And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.” (Jer. 3:8) Nevertheless, God still loved His people and remained true to His promise. “‘Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness. . . . If you will return, O Israel,’ declares the Lord, ‘Then you should return to Me. And if you will put away your detested things from My presence, and will not waver, and you will swear, “As the Lord lives,” in truth, in justice, and in righteousness; then the Gentiles will bless themselves in Him, and in Him they will glory.'” (Jer. 3:22, 4:1-2)
Throughout the book of Hosea, the Lord compares Israel to an unfaithful wife who must be judged and sent away. Yet He says, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, all my compassions are kindled. . . . I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; He will blossom like the lily.” (Hos. 11:8, 14:4-5; cf. Dt. 29:23)
God declared that there would be distress and exile because of the infidelity of Jacob’s children, but went on to promise restoration. “‘And fear not, O Jacob My Servant,’ declares the Lord, ‘And do not be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. And Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and no one shall make him afraid. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord, ‘to save you. For I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely. But I will chasten you justly, and will by no means leave you unpunished.'” (Jer. 30:10-11) The judgment is what God’s people deserved; the redemption and restoration are the fruit of His love and grace.
In unfaithfulness, Israel refused to be separate from the goyim (Gentiles), so God drove them into exile among the goyim. Because of God’s faithfulness, He promised to bring them back to their own land.
“For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Mal. 3:6) As long as God does not change, the sons of Jacob will endure.“For neither Israel nor Judah has been widowed by his God, the Lord of hosts, although their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.” (Jer. 51:5) In the midst of Moses’ prophecy of Israel’s future unfaithfulness, God’s judgment upon it, and her eventual restoration, the Lord promised Israel, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6, 8)
Psalm 106 reviews Israel’s history of sin and unfaithfulness. It describes the anger of the Lord toward His people, and His judgments upon them. But then it concludes: “Nevertheless He looked upon their distress, when He heard their cry; and He remembered His covenant for their sake, and relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness. He also made them objects of compassion in the presence of all their captives.
“Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles, to give thanks to Thy holy name, and glory in Thy holy name, and glory in Thy praise. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting even to everlasting. And let all the people say, ‘Amen.’ Praise the Lord.” (Ps. 106:44-48)
The sin of Israel was great; but nevertheless God, in judgment, remembered mercy.
This is a topic that has been debated behind closed doors in the Jewish community for millennia.
The definition accepted by the Jewish community today is anyone who has at least a Jewish mother or has converted to Judaism is Jewish. We would have to disagree with that – to a point.
First, the scriptures teach that the Jewish people are a nation. A scattered nation but, nevertheless, a nation. A nation that has physically descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So a person with two Jewish parents will always be a Jew no matter what they believe.
So even an atheist, with two Jewish parents, is still Jewish. Nothing can ever change the fact that this person is a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Nothing.
Second, what about a person who has only ONE Jewish parent?
As stated above, the modern Jewish community looks to the mother for nationality if only one parent is Jewish. But do the scriptures teach this? No.
A clear example is found in Leviticus 24.10-12:
”Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite.”
Notice that Moses makes a clear distinction between these two men. The latter is called ”an Israelite” (ie. a Jew) and the former (with a Jewish mother and an Egyptian father) is said to have went out ”among the Israelites”. Notice they were both living in the same camp, but only one is called ”an Israelite.” It is the one with the Jewish father.
Third, what about someone with a Jewish mother only?
Again, we need to see how scripture treats this…. And historically we have a first century example with Paul and Timothy.
”Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek.” (Acts 16:1)
Notice how Paul treats this when taking along Timothy for his outreach trip. He has Timothy circumcised.
”Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.” (Acts 16:3)
Notice in the first century, this young man, Timothy, had a Jewish mother, YET Paul was sure the people who he went to talk with would accuse Timothy of being “not Jewish” even though he had a Jewish mother. And of course being uncircumcised did not help either.
So it appears that a person who has a Jewish mother has *the choice* whether or not to identify with the Jewish people. It is up to them. Timothy chose to identify with the Jewish people and so Paul circumcised him. Paul obviously thought his would be helpful when speaking to the Jewish community who would no doubt inquire as to Timothy’s external status.
Notice that when Paul takes the gentile Titus along, he would not circumcise him for he had no Jewish parents and that would be sending the ”wrong message” – for hearing/sharing the good news of the Messiah has nothing to do with being circumcised or not.
”Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.” (Galatians 2:3)
Yet it does have everything to do with who will hear you. Paul wanted Timothy and him to be heard when sharing the good news of Messiah so he had Timothy circumcised. Yet, Titus was not Jewish and therefore it was completely unnecessary to circumcised him.
Fourth, are converts to Judaism Jews?
Modern Judaism says, yes.
However the Bible says no.
Any gentile (non-Jew) who decides to follow Judaism – well that makes him/her a ”proselyte”.
Remember, a Jew is a physical decendanthood. Judaism is open for anyone to follow, but that does not make them Jewish.
Historical case in point – Matthew 23:15 where a convert to Judaism is called a ”proselyte.”
”Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte.” So notice Jesus called these gentiles who “convert” to Judaism “proselytes.”
Also Acts 13:43 says the same thing:
”Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas:”
Again, notice in the first century, the Biblical author uses two different terms from his time period. ”Jews” and ”proselytes.”
So what is the point of all this? There are two extremes.
1) Many times we hear over zealous Christians come up to us and say they are ”Jewish!” by virtue of their faith in Jesus.
While we applaud them finding the Messiah, that did not make them Jewish. It makes them grafted into the nation of Israel. ”….fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,” (Ephesians 2:15) They share in the exact same blessings of Israel as they have now been grafted in. (Romans 11:11) But they are not ”Jewish.”
And the other extreme is when Christians say 2) ”there are no more Jews and Gentiles!”
And they will always quote Galatians which says, ”There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28)
Notice that they never push hard on the end part of that verse which says there are no more males or females. So I guess we can all use the same bathroom if we are believers in Messiah!
We should just build one large unisex bathroom in new church construction since there are no more men and women according to Galatians.
But they misread Paul. Here is what Paul means. A believing man or woman has a standing before God that is exactly the same – both have salvation!
In Messiah, our gender identity remains, and so does our ethnic (national) identity. Jews and Gentiles remain as they were born (despite the foolishness of Gentiles trying to be Jewish and Jewish believers being wrongly told that they are now Gentiles), but our right to stand in the presence of our Heavenly Father is equal, regardless of male or female gender because of Yeshua. That is what Paul was trying to say.
And the real issue ultimately is not who is a Jew externally, but is your heart circumcised.
“Circumcise yourselves to the LORD And remove the foreskins of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.. ” (Jeremiah 4.4)
The Ark of the Covenant
When Israel came out of Egypt, one of the first things God instructed Moses to build was the Tabernacle. This would be the place where God’s presence was with them in a special way. And the heart of the Tabernacle was the Holy of Holies. Inside that place was the ‘Ark of the Covenant.’
The Ark of the Covenant was a kind of chest, measuring two cubits and a half in length, a cubit and a half in breadth, and a cubit and a half in height. Made of incorruptible acacia wood. It was overlaid within and without with the purest gold, and a golden crown or rim ran around it. At the four corners, very likely towards the upper part, four golden rings had been cast; through them passed two bars of setim wood overlaid with gold, to carry the Ark. These two bars were to remain always in the rings, even when the Ark had been placed in the temple of Solomon. The cover of the Ark, termed the “propitiatory” (the corresponding Hebrew means both “cover” and “that which makes propitious”), was likewise of the purest gold.
The ark was an item that pointed Israel to her Messiah.
** The ark was made out of both wood and gold. So, in a sense, was the Messiah made out of both wood and gold. Wood is made from the dust of the earth. So was the Messiah. He was human. Gold is a symbol of Deity. So was the Messiah. He is Deity incarnate.
** The ark held the Law of God inside. The Ten Commandments were inside the ark. So too, inside the Messiah, was the Law of God. He never broke a single command His entire life.
** The ark held Aaron’s dead staff which came back to life. So was the Messiah. He was dead and came back to life.
** The ark held a pot of manna – the bread used to sustain Israel. So was the Messiah. He literally fed thousands (Matthew 14) and also spiritually is called the Bread of Life. (John 6). Our spirit feeds off of Him daily.
** The ark had a place for mercy – the Mercy Seat. Sacrificial animal blood was sprinkled on this seat annually and when done properly, Israel received forgiveness from her sins. So too with the Messiah. His blood (much better) is the place where we receive mercy and forgiveness for our sins. The substitute has paid the penalty. We are forgiven. Hallelujah.
We sometimes wonder how our contemporary Jewish Brethren would fare up against those Israelites brought out of Egypt about 3,400 years ago.
We can only imagine a dialogue between those two groups. What would happen if they met up in some kind of imaginary time warp between the two ages. Perhaps a fictional meeting between these two groups would go something like this….
Modern Jewish community: ”Our Rabbis said you people walked across the Red Sea on a sandbar and Moses knew when it would be low tide.”
Exodus Jewish people: ”Sandbar? Low tide? Is that what they’re teaching you about us now? Well if that were true, then God did an even greater miracle for us. All of our Egyptian taskmasters drowned in water only six inches deep.”
Modern: ”Are you trying to tell us that God really did part the Red Sea for you? Did you really did kill a lamb and put its blood on your door post? Didn’t you guys ever hear about the anti-cruelty society?”
Exodus: ”We followed the exact directions of Moses who heard directly from God. Those special lambs died so that we might live. Their blood protected us from judgment. We were protected that way. If we had not followed God’s way, we would be dead now too.”
Modern: ”Blood…. Doorpost… Yuck…. Listen, you guys are getting way to fanatical about this Passover stuff. Sit down now and have a nice bowl of matzo ball soup. Don’t you know that many of those Egyptians probably came from dysfunctional families. They couldn’t help themselves. You know those Gentiles. My Rabbi says that…..”
Exodus: ”Wait a sundial minute! We were there. We saw the plagues. Moses was our mediator before a Holy God. If we had spoken to God directly we would most definitely have been slain by His Holy presence.”
Modern: ”Mediator, schmediator….. What, do you really have labor strikes in Egypt too? They’re the only ones who need a mediator. We are Jews and Jews don’t go need a mediator to go before God.”
Exodus: ”And what are we? chicken soup? We are Jews too, and we needed a mediator. In fact, Moses even told us himself that God would send another mediator, a prophet just like Moses, to a future generation. He promised that to you in a chapter of the Bible you now call Deuteronomy 18.”
Modern: ”Well you can believe what you want. We Jews today are a tolerant and open-minded people. There are many paths to God. Astrology, yoga, cosmic oneness with the universe. Haven’t you heard about Jubu’s (Jewish Buddhists)? Don’t be so narrow-minded.”
Exodus: ”We follow Moses! You can be so open-minded that your brains are going to fall out one day.”
Well with that, we will close our little eavesdropping session on my Jewish brothers across time. We wanted to give you an idea of how to pray for the Jewish people today – most of whom are not religious. Most do not believe their Bible.
Most are not even aware of the Holiness of God and their need for a mediator.
As we are in this Passover season, we are thankful for the mediator Moses who God gave to the Jewish people back then. But we are even more thankful for our mediator today, Yeshua (Jesus), who stands before a Holy God in heaven to plead our case.
He is our Passover Lamb who protects us from the execution of God’s righteous judgment on our sins. That is what the lamb did. He took our placed and died for us. Hallelujah.
What is a “Messianic Passover Haggadah”
What is a Passover Haggadah for Christians and Jews?
And what does “Messianic” even mean?
For a quick recap of why we even have a Haggadah, let’s start at the beginning….
About 1,450 years BCE (before the common era) the Israelites were held in Egyptian slavery. The book of Exodus gives us details as to what it was like for the Israelites during that time.
“So they [the Egyptians] put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor….” (Exodus 1:11)
It was not a very good situation for the Israelites. They cry out for deliverance and ultimately Moses (Hebrew: Moshe) is sent by God to deliver His people from Egypt.
Pharaoh, at first, seems to think this is all a joke. His own magicians can duplicate some of the things Moses is doing. But as the miracles (think plagues) become bigger and bigger, Pharaoh’s magicians realize that this is “the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19), but Pharaoh’s heart is hard and he will not let them go free.
Plague after plague occurs over time and still, he will not let them go.
Finally, the last plague (and worst one) was slaying of the firstborn son.
In one night, all the firstborn sons of Egypt were found dead. The Israelites were protected, however, because they put the blood of a spotless lamb on their doorposts the evening before. This made God “Passover” their houses and protect them from judgment.
After this plague, the nation of Israel was told by Pharaoh to pack up and finally “Leave!”
Yet, when Pharaoh comes to his senses and realizes his work force has just vacated his land, his heart is hardened yet again and follows Israel to the Sea.
God does a miracle there and the sea opens after a powerful wind blows “all that night.”
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Exodus 14:21-22)
Of course, when Pharaoh and his army try to follow, they are drown and that is the last Israel will see of their taskmasters.
And this is where the Haggadah comes in…. God told the Israelites to have a commemorative event each year on the anniversary date.
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.” (Exodus 12:14)
And the Haggadah is just that… a booklet which takes you through the service remembering the above Exodus details with food and song!
So what is a “Messianic” Haggadah you may ask?
Well, a growing number of Jewish people believe that the Messiah has come to Israel and that His name in Hebrew was Yeshua. (That is the Jewish name of Jesus. He was Jewish and lived in Israel after all. You did know that, right?)
And as you might have guessed, the word “Messianic” comes from the word “Messiah.” Therefore, a “Messianic Jew” is a Jewish person who believes that the Messiah has already arrived and His name is Yeshua (Jesus)!
Our “Messianic” Haggadah follows the same pattern as the traditional Jewish ones, however, we additionally show how Yeshua (Jesus) celebrated it with His disciples (Hebrew: talmidim – תלמידםtalmidim) at what is commonly called “The Last Supper”.
We also believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the fulfillment of the lamb that was slain to protect people from judgment.
One final note: Notice the lamb’s blood was placed upon the Israelites doorposts and lintel. Dripping from the top, in a very real sense – it would have formed a cross. Today, it is the blood of the Lamb of God, Yeshua / Jesus, placed upon the doorposts of our hearts today that protects us from the judgment of God. (And trust that God knows EVERYTHING about you and I that deserve judgment, but He would rather “Passover” you, than judge you.)
And that is why He sent the Messiah!
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter…” (Isaiah 53:7)
Written seven centuries before Yeshua (Jesus).
So let’s recap – In Egypt, the “spotless” lamb died and its blood was placed on the door. Only then did no judgment enter. And that, my friend, is why Jesus being the Messiah is so, so important. The Messiah died so that we would not have to endure God’s judgment for our sins after death. He was our substitute.
Do you believe this? If not – then you are not saved from His judgment.
OR – Are you willing to let Yeshua (Jesus) be the servant He was foretold to be by Isaiah and let Him be your Passover lamb.
Just say this simple prayer from your heart and lips… “God, I am living apart from You. I am sorry for my sins. I turn from them. I need the Passover lamb – the Messiah in my life. Yeshua (Jesus) I believe you are alive and I ask You to enter into my heart right now. I trust in You to save me from my sins, both now and forever. Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer – let us know so that we can rejoice with you!
Here are a few sample pages from our Messianic Haggadah. We have also included transliteration (Hebrew spelled in English letters) for the main blessings and songs for the Seder.
So there you have it.
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Though not a major holiday, Purim is celebrated around the world by Jewish people as the time when they remember how God delivered them from annihilation at the hands of wicked Haman. The holiday has even been nicknamed the Jewish Mardi Gras because of all the celebrating done!
The story of Purim is found in the book of Esther. And while God is not mentioned by name in the book, His hand is seen clearly working behind the scenes. The story takes place in ancient Persia (now known as Iran) and while it is too long to give all the details here, the basic overview of the story is this:
— God places a beautiful young Jewish girl on the throne of Persia through a series of unique events.
— ”Esther” (her actual Hebrew name was Hadassah) becomes the King’s favorite and secretly hides her nationality from the King.
— Her uncle ”Mordechai” is the one who raised her and still has connections with the Queen. He also is a devout person and refuses to bow before one of the King’s leading men – Haman. Haman is an Amalekite who are descendants of Esau. (Genesis 36:12; 1 Chronicles 1:36) As a people, the Amalekites are identified as a continual enemy of the Israelites.
— Haman cannot stand being around Mordechai – (the feelings were probably mutual), but it was not enough to let things be. Haman devises a plot to have Mordechai AND all his people killed in a violet day of rioting and looting!
— Through another ”coincidence” (God working) Mordechai gains the favor of the King and is required to be honored by Haman – which is humiliating for Haman.
— Mordechai learns of this plot to destroy the Jewish people and convinces Esther to barge in on the King for such urgency of the matter. In that time period, barging in on the King was a capital offense.
–Esther does it, makes her eventual plea before the King at a dinner with Haman as a guest. (Haman has no idea Esther is among the people he requested to annihilate). The King wants to know who wants her killed? She point to ”This wicked Haman!”
–While the king steps out for a moment to process all this – Haman literally begs for his life at the foot of the Queen. The King returns in and sees this and you can guess what he thought Haman was trying to do. The soldiers put a cover over his head and take him away – immediately.
–The King issues another decree that the Jewish people can now fight for their lives on that day with impunity and the King’s blessing!
Well they do and the day this all happens is called ”Purim” which means ”lots” because Haman had thrown ”lots” to determine the day he would destroy the Jews. Little did he realize it was the date THEY destroyed their enemies! And all this would never have happened if he just kept his big mouth shut.
Today – the entire book of Esther is read in Synagogues around the world. Jewish children dress up as the story characters. Like a costume day. Boys dress up as Mordechai and girls like Queen Esther. The carnival-like holiday is celebrated with parades and costume parties all over the world in Jewish communities.
On the basis of Exodus 17:14, where the Lord promised to ”blot out the name” of Amalek, it is customary for the audience to make noise and shout whenever ”Haman” is mentioned, in order to desecrate his name. Loud shouts of ”BOO’s!!!” will happen whenever Haman is mentioned. And loud cheers for our heroes Esther and Mordechai happen as well.
One of the traditional foods are called Hamantashen cookies. Three pointed cookies that hide the filling inside. ”Tash” in Hebrew means ”weaken.” Thus, the hamantash celebrates the weakening of Haman and our wish that God always save us by weakening our enemies. The filing inside is covered by the triangular tops. It is hidden, yet sweet – just as God is hidden in the story of Purim, but sweet to the taste.
This Purim, as we follow tradition and blot out the name of Amalek, Haman and their like, we might also consider the claims of the Messiah, Yeshua whose very name actually means ”salvation.” He offers life and peace to all, both Jews and gentiles, who trust in his name. And all who follow Yeshua (Jesus the Jewish Messiah), according to the New Covenant, will have their own names written in the book of life.
Our ”Haman” called ”death” is a now defeated foe for all who trust in Yeshua. We will gain everlasting life on that day!
Jesus and Hanukkah? Are you crazy? (Nope, just read on….)
First of all the basics.. Hanukkah (alternately spelled Chanukah) is the Jewish celebration which remembers the military victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. And that is what the word “Hanukkah” means – “Dedication”.
So to put it in more modern terms – Their armies took over and made life miserable for us. We eventually kicked them out…. they left us a mess (oy!) and we cleaned up and relit the Temple Menorah. Yeah!
That part is history. But here is where a bit of a legend comes in. The pure oil we found to relight the menorah was only enough to last one day. But miraculously it lasted for eight!
And again, to put it in modern terms….. You’re on a desert island, your cell phone (which you use as a flashlight at night) had only 4% power left on the battery, yet somehow it lasted for eight more nights until you are rescued!
Well – there is a lot more to Hanukkah than that, but you get the basic idea.
Today, Jewish families will light the Hanukiyah (a nine branch menorah) as a way to commemorate that event. Eight candles are lit (one per night) with a “Shamash” or “servant/worker” candle being the first one lit each night. It, in turn, will be used to light all the others.
Food is a big one. Since the miracle of Hanukkah centers on oil, foods fried in oil are a center piece. Potato pancakes (called latkas in Yiddish and livivot in Hebrew) and fried doughnuts (sufganiyot in Hebrew) filled with jelly are traditional Hanukkah treats.
Children also play a game called “Drediel” where a top with four Hebrew letters is spun. The Hebrew letters on it are: nun, gimmel, hey and shin. These are an acronym for nes gadol hayah sham, “a great miracle happened there.”
The game is usually played for a pot of chocolate coins (called gelt), or peanuts, or maybe M&M’s, which are won or lost based on which letter the dreidel lands on when it is spun. There is even a classic song about the dreidel that children everywhere sing. The chorus goes like this, “Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay, and when it’s dry and ready, then dreidel I shall play.” Of course there are variations of this tune….
But when you get right down to it, Hanukkah focuses on one thing… Light.
Light is a good thing. After all, living is darkness is usually frowned upon wherever you go in the world.
As Messianic Jews, Jewish people who believe that Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) is the Jewish Messiah, we love to celebrate Hanukkah as well.
We believe that the Messiah Himself is our “Light” and even the Jewish prophet Isaiah foretold this hundreds of years before the Messiah came to earth.
“And now the Lord says— he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself….. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles….” (Isaiah 49: 5 & 6 portions)
Notice this Servant has two jobs. 1) to bring the Jewish people back to God and 2) be a light to the Gentiles. That is a fancy way of saying his job is to tell Israel and the rest of the world about the God of Light!
Funny, that was exactly the goal of Jesus (Yeshua) living and teaching in Israel.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
And did you know that Yeshua (Jesus) celebrated Hanukkah? Yep. It was written down by one of His Jewish followers named Yochanan…..
“The Festival of Dedication [ie. Hanukkah] then took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s portico” (John 10:22-23).
So there you have it. Hanukkah in Jerusalem with the Messiah of Israel. This is what Messianic Jews believe happened.
Let us close asking you this… Does your soul need light?
Have you realized that apart from a relationship with God – through the Messiah of Israel, you are living in spiritual darkness.
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you…” (Isaiah 59:2)
Are you willing to let Yeshua (Jesus) be the servant He was foretold to be by Isaiah and let Him bring light into your soul.
Just say this simple prayer from your heart and lips… “God, I am living apart from You. I am sorry for my sins. I turn from them. I need the light of the Messiah in my life. Yeshua (Jesus) I believe you are alive and I ask You to enter into my heart right now. I trust in You for light, both now and forever. Amen.”
While most all of Christianity calls the first part of their Bible ”The Old Testament”, the Jewish people have never called it that. Why? Because that implies there is a ”New” Testament – and to the Jewish people, there never was a ”New” testament.
Additionally – the word ”Testament” itself is a misnomer. ‘Testament’ is a Latin word used in English Bibles and the last time we checked, Jewish people do not speak Latin, nor did God ever write scripture in Latin.
The word God uses in scripture for this concept is ”Covenant.” He makes ”Covenants” with people.
So there is an ”Old” and ”New” Covenant that God made with Israel (see Jeremiah 31:31)
So why do the Jewish people call it the ”Tanakh” (also spelled Tanach). Well, Tanakh is actually an acronym. Ta-na-kh (also spelled Tanach) is the three parts to this acronym. And that is because the Hebrew Bible is broken down into three parts….
”Ta” is short for…. Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible)
”Na” is short for…. Navi’im (the major Prophets of the Hebrew Bible – like Isaiah)
”Kh” is short for….Ketuvim (the Poetry books like Psalms)
So the Jewish people have spoken of their Bible like this for over two thousand years.
Even Jesus spoke of the Hebrew Bible this same way.
”Then he said to them, ”These are my words t hat I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)