Hanukkah 2003: Part 1
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 20 December 2003
NCCG stopped celebrating Hannukah in 2006. To understand why, please click here.
I was talking to an American Pentecostal friend of mine a couple of months and we got on to the subject of the biblical Festivals. "I wish I were Jewish," he said, "so that I could celebrate the Festivals." "Then why don't you?" I suggested to him. "Because," he replied, "I am a Christian and that would go against my conscience." If I had scratched my head as hard as I then wanted to, I would today have a bald patch.
Yahweh did not create the Festivals for the "Jews" or for any other national group but for all men and women who love Yahweh and His ways. He never said that they would end or that they would be done away with. And Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself never said anywhere that He had come to replace them with new festivals like 'Christmas', 'Lent', 'Easter', 'Advent', 'Halloween', and so on. Not only do we find Yah'shua (Jesus) faithfully observing the Festivals of His Father Yahweh, but we find the apostles doing so too. Christianity never abolished Yahweh's Festivals - pagans pretending to be Christians did.
Yesterday evening we began the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah once again. And although the Torah does not command us to observe this festival - since it celebrates an event that took place centuries after Torah was given - it was nevertheless observed by Yah'shua (Jesus) who used it, as you know, as an opportunity to illustrate His teaching. Had the Messiah been opposed to Purim and Hanukkah, which are not in Torah, I am sure He would have spoken out against them as part of His reforming ministry. But He never did, and neither did the apostles. It is for these reasons, then, that New Covenant Christians celebrate them.
I have loved Hanukkah ever since we first started celebrating it in 1999. Since it often takes place at the same time as Christmas, I at first wondered if maybe I was emotionally transferring feelings about that pagan festival over to the Hebrew celebration. However, I have always disliked Christmas for as long as can remember. I have always felt that there was something alien about it, and not until I discovered the true origins of Christmas in the 1980s did I find out that most of its elements come straight out of a Middle Eastern antichrist cult started by the father of cultists, Nimrod. So it would not be true to say that I like Hanukkah because it reminds me of the lights of Christmas or the time of the year of the Catholic festival.
Whenever I think of Hanukkah, I make connections to the writings of the Apostle John about light. And even though Hanukkah originally celebrated a miraculous historical event in the times of the Maccabees, when a cruise of oil in the Temple kept on burning the Menorah when it should have dried up days before, today - for me, at least - it brings to memory the Messiah's teaching which He gave on this very day.
"Now it was the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Yah'shua (Jesus) walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch" (John 10:22-23, NKJV).
Well, here we are, in the middle of winter, on a cold day. Here we are sitting comfortably inside a modern Temple of Yahweh. What was Solomon's porch? Is there any prophetic significance that Yah'shua (Jesus) was there in particular? Since I don't believe anything in the Saviour's life is accidental or coincidental, I am going to assume that there was, and allow the Ruach (Spirit) to instruct us.
Solomon's porch was a small vestibule or entrance hall of the Temple of Yahweh (1 Ki.6:3). A similar gateway had existed in Ezekiel's temple (Ezek.40) and we know also that Solomon's palace included a porch in front and another porch for the judgement throne (1 Ki.7:6-7). To help you visualise the setting, take a look at this first diagram which is a reconstruction of an entrance porch from the remains of a palace in Syria at about the same time Solomon's Temple was originally begun. No doubt the one in Herod's Temple, in which Yah'shua (Jesus) was standing, was more ornate.
Solomon's Porch was a covered walk like this one with two rows of pillars along the east side of the Court of the Gentiles in Herod's Temple (Jn.10:23; Ac.33:11; 5:12), as you can see in this second diagram. We at once see that we are not in the Temple itself but in the Court of the Gentiles, the area where non-Jews were allowed to enter. The context of whatever Yah'shua has to say, then, concerns those who were, at that time, excluded from the full blessings of Israel because they were not of the chosen race. Of the four courts of the Temple, this was the most 'inferior' - inferior to the Court of the Women, the Court of Israel, and the Priests' Court. Long before Yahweh had said through the prophet Isaiah:
"I, Yahweh, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house. I am Yahweh, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to graven images" (Isa.42:6-8, NKJV).
And a little further on He says:
"'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.' Thus says Yahweh, The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One, To Him whom man despises, To Him whom the nation abhors, To the Servant of rulers: 'Kings shall see and arise, Princes also shall worship, Because of Yahweh who is faithful, The Holy One of Israel; And He has chosen You.'" (Is. 49:6-7, NKJV).
And again He says:
"For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But Yahweh will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising" (Isa.60:2-3, NKJV).
And what was it that the old man Simeon was told by Yahweh in the Temple when he laid eyes upon the infant Messiah:
"Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation [Yah'shua], Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel" (Luke 2:29-32, NKJV).
And then, after Yah'shua (Jesus) had ascended into Heaven, we find Paul and Barnabas witnessing to the Jews who had rejected their message, declaring this selfsame prophecy, saying:
"I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47, NKJV; see also 26:23).
This, then, is the setting of Yah'shua's (Jesus') Hanukkah Sermon. So let us now listen to what He had to say on this special day:
"Now it was the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Yah'shua (Jesus) walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Messiah (Christ), tell us plainly." Yah'shua (Jesus) answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one"" (John 10:22-30, NKJV).
Here He is - the Son of Man - standing in the Court of the Gentiles in Solomon's Porch telling them that they are NOT of His sheep! Let us read what happened next:
"Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Yah'shua (Jesus) answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?" The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself Elohim (God)." Yah'shua (Jesus) answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are elohim (gods)" (Ps.82:6)'? If He called them elohim (gods), to whom the word of Elohim (God) came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of Elohim (God)'? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him." Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand" (John 10:31-39, NKJV).
What, then, is Yah'shua's (Jesus) Hanukkah message? It is, quite simply, that He is Deity - He is the Son of Yahweh, Eloah, our Heavenly Father. He is Elohim. He is God. Just as Yahweh is Elohim and is God. And anyone who rejects this message is not of His sheep. This He said in the Court of the Gentiles, under the arches of the most famous, powerful, and successful of Jewish Kings, Solomon, as a witness that He would come to be a light to the Gentiles who would receive what His own Jewish people would not receive, until the end-times - our times.
And what do we see today? Jews are once again receiving the Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) but once again, large numbers of them are rejecting His Deity. They are saying that He was just a special human being whom Yahweh has exalted. And when they say this, they are proving that they are not "of His sheep", but are counterfeits. They are displaying the historic Jewish spirit of disbelief.
Yah'shua (Jesus) was not just a mortal man. He was also the immortal Elohim (God). He was God as spirit but man as to the flesh. He was "God-in-the-flesh". And if that was His Hanukkah message, then that should be ours also. Yes, let us commemorate the miracle of Temple lights when the Temple was rededicated in the days of the Maccabees. Yes, let us remember that this persecution was caused by an antichrist, Antiochus Epiphanes, who was hell-bent on forcing the Jews to embrace a worldly Hellenic pagan culture - by murdering them if necessary - in the same way that our governments, under the control of Illuminists, Satanists and other occultists, have, as their agenda, the restoration of a similar antichrist culture, which is already far advanced. Let us remember all these things. And let us remember also that if we are willing to fight for the truth, sacrifice for the truth, and die for the truth, that the Glory of Yahweh will be established. But let us not by any means forget that without the revelation that Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is Elohim, God Incarnate - for this was the message of His Hanukkah sermon as it is mine today - and that there is no salvation apart from Him. Any Hanukkah celebration that omits this must surely by deficient and defeat the whole message of this Festival in this the dispensation of the New Covenant.
From now on let us make Hanukkah a testimony that Yah'shua (Jesus) is Deity and the only way to Yahweh. As the pagans celebrate Christmas - and I mean pagans, and not just orthodox Christians who should know better - let us let the true Light shine forth and expose the false one with its fertility rites dancing around glittering Christmas trees, yule logs, Santa (Satan) Clauses, and all the other trappings of the Nimrodian cult. Let us state loud and clearly that Christmas is an abomination to the Most High, and admonish people do what Yahweh has always commanded us:
"Thus says Yahweh: "Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it'" (Jer.6:16, NKJV).
And what are those "old paths"? They are the commandments of the Elohim (God) which includes celebrating the Festivals which He has ordained, and not the ones that men have invented for themselves.
In this cold and dark season, Yahweh has given us the Festival of Lights. As Bible-believers we really have no excuses for continuing in the pagan practices of our fathers. Do we follow the crowd in order to get their approval, or do we follow the Most High God, Yahweh-Elohim, and get the only approval that actually matters? Or will we be even more foolish by taking a neutral road and committing ourselves to nothing?
I know this is not a problem for members of this Messianic Assembly (Church) - we made our choice many years ago, but to the many of you around the world listening to, or reading, this sermon, I make an appeal at this the season of most important of the pagan festivals which is celebrated by Satanists and Christians who have not broken away from false tradition alike: "ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it. Then you will find rest for your souls".
As I do every year, I intend to really enjoy Hanukkah. The candles are burning brightly to remind us that in the midst of darkness, that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Light of the World (Mt.5:14). He Himself has said:
"I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12, NKJV).
Click here for Part 2
This page was created on 17 November 2003
Last updated on 17 November 2003
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