Friday, December 30, 2016

A Divine Masterpiece | Parashat Miketz | By His EVERY Word


Miketz מִקֵּץ

“At the end”
“Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream, and behold, he was standing by the Nile.” Genesis 41:1

Torah Portion: Genesis 41:1-44:17

Haftarah: 1 Kings 3:15-4:1

B’rit Chadash/New Covenant: 
Romans 10:1-13



Shabbat | 31 December 2016 |  2 Tevet 5777

Holiday Calendar:
חֲנֻכָּה 
Last Night of Chanukah
The Feast of Dedication / The Festival of Light


2 Tevet 5777 Tevet
Light All 8 Candles Sunset 31December 2016

Chanukah may not be a biblically-commanded holiday, but its message is essential and timeless. Chanukah is the Hebrew word for dedication. The theme of Chanukah is dedication, faithfulness, and the refusal to compromise God’s unchanging standards in an ever-changing world.  
The Temple in Jerusalem had been conquered and defiled by a pagan ruler. Why is this relevant to Christians? Before Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah could come, the Temple had to be restored.
Each of us now house the Holy Spirit of Adonai, being temples formed of earthen substance. Through this eight day celebration perhaps we had time to reflect. Have we allowed a little compromise here and there to defile our temples? May we purpose to cleanse our tabernacles and dedicate our lives fully to show forth the pure light of Adonai, that a lost and hurting world will know that Yeshua, the Light of the World has come!
Read more on Chanukah at the end of Parashat!
Joseph's Roller Coaster
In many ways Joseph's story typifies the chaotic roller coaster ride that often characterizes life ... with more drama and certainly, tremendous prophetic significance.

From favored son of twelve, he is betrayed and thrown into a pit, then sold as a slave to Egypt. Promoted quickly to head of an Egyptian officer's house, he is relentlessly pursued by his employer's wife. When his integrity prevails, he is falsely accused and imprisoned anyway. After ten years in prison, Adonai gives Joseph the ability to interpret the dream of Pharaoh's cupbearer, who promises to remember him when he is released. He doesn't. 

For two more years, Joseph languishes, until Pharaoh has two disturbing dreams that no one in Egypt can interpret and it pricks the conscience of his ungrateful cupbearer. Is life little more than a series of random, meaningless events that we try to make sense of, or is there a grand, divine maestro orchestrating an exquisitely brilliant and infinitely complex multidimensional masterpiece that spans across time? 


The story of our Joseph will help answer that question as its many layers unfold, revealing profound insights to the heart and soul of man along the way. It is as well, a glimpse into the Jewish dilemma of not being able to recognize Yeshua, their own brother and kinsman redeemer, as He, too, has been dressed in garments not His own...


Join us now at the Father’s table as we keep the rhythm of Israel for more than two millennia, anticipating fresh manna from our God and King. As followers of Messiah we have added a corresponding New Covenant portion reflecting the fulfillment and crown of the Torah.

Genesis 41  Randomness...

Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream, and behold, he was standing by the Nile. And lo, from the Nile there came up seven cows, sleek and fat; and they grazed in the marsh grass. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them from the Nile, ugly and gaunt, and they stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. The ugly and gaunt cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. Then Pharaoh awoke. He fell asleep and dreamed a second time; and behold, seven ears of grain came up on a single stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven ears, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up after them. The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. Now in the morning his spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh. Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharaoh, saying, "I would make mention today of my own offenses...” (Genesis 41:1-9)
Modern science postulates a theory of randomness in the universe. In his book, The Drunkard’s Walk (Pantheon, 2008), Physicist Leonard Mlodinow, employs this metaphor to draw an analogy between our lives and, “the paths molecules follow as they fly through space, incessantly bumping, and being bumped by, their sister molecules.” He notes how, “countless random collisions tend to cancel one another out because of the law of large numbers—where improbable events will probably happen given enough time and opportunity—every once in a great while, when pure luck occasionally leads to a lopsided preponderance of hits from some particular direction ... a noticeable jiggle occurs. We notice the improbable directional jiggle but ignore the zillions of meaningless and counteracting collisions.”
It’s often tempting to view life in such a manner. Worse yet is to view it through the choleric lens of the pessimist—in which no good deed goes unpunished, or where 'Murphy’s Law' reigns supreme.

The story of Joseph could easily be viewed in such a hapless light, but only through a myopic lens. For as his life unfolds, it is impossibly elegant in its intricacy.

From among all his brothers, Joseph is favored by his father and by his God. And the favoritism is not discrete, but somewhat flaunted before his siblings. A special tunic from his father indicates his leadership above his older brothers, and prophetic dreams from Adonai show his brothers one day bowing down to him. In his youthful exuberance, Joseph shared this dream with his less than delighted brothers! 

The very things that indicated Joseph’s favor also sealed his fate, and made him a target for sibling rivalry.

Cruelly cast into a pit and then sold as a slave to Egypt, Joseph did not become desolate, but continued to trust in his God. Thus, the awesome plans of YHVH could unfold in miraculous ways through our beleaguered hero's life. 

As we share Joseph's journey, it will tug at our souls ... at our sense of justice ... and at our hearts. We will wonder at times how he seemingly remained steadfast and trusting when he was terribly betrayed, treated treacherously, and punished for righteousness. Yet, his yieldedness allowed for justice and blessing to be realized, and an unparalleled drama of family restoration and forgiveness to unfold in God's grand redemptive tapestry! Joseph's life gives us hope in a fallen world filled with pain, broken relationships, and injustice. We may just see the Hand of YHVH work something glorious through our circumstances as well, if we yield the throne to Him, trust, and wait.
"The human heart carries hurts through life. We are all scarred, burdened, and broken in different way. Many of these injuries are unavoidable. We cannot escape the losses that life brings. But we can control whether our souls are tied in knots, angry, and gnarled. We cannot control the world, but are each of us the captains of our own souls." Rabbi David Wolpe
He quickly earned the favor and trust of a high Egyptian official due to his integrity. This was a unique position for a Hebrew slave in Egypt! 

This promotion also placed our hero in a trap of temptation. And when Joseph stood up to the temptation, he was falsely accused and imprisoned anyway!
Once again, however, our Joseph was given favor from on high. The chief jailer recognized the special qualities embodied in this young man, and in the dank Egyptian prison, Joseph flourished and rose to a place of prominence and trust.
In prison Joseph shows concern for two prisoners who seem down—which in itself seems peculiar. This is a prison in the ancient world, where all (including the jailers) would have been in abject misery after all! But that’s not the peculiar thing. They came to Joseph’s attention because they had troubling dreams, and Joseph just happens to be a young man with whom Adonai speaks in such a language! 

Joseph makes it clear that it is not himself, but the LORD that will interpret the dreams. When he brings forth the understanding, he asks only one thing: that the cupbearer remember him and that he had been falsely imprisoned. 


“Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” Genesis 40:23

One could ask, “Where is Joseph’s God? Where is the justice?”
If randomness rules, the answer would be bleak indeed—if the story ended here. Joseph is languishing in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and his father believes him to be deadtorn apart by a wild animal. Jacob, Joseph's father has been deceived by the skin of a goat (reminiscent of when he deceived his own blind father with the skin of a goat to receive the blessing that would have been bestowed on his brother Esau!) Joseph's brothers had actually thrown Joseph into a pit from which he was sold to a caravan of Ishmaelites traveling to Egypt, who sold him as a slave, and then presented the bloody skin of a goat to their father, claiming Joseph's death. Injustice, cruelty, and heartbreak!
But here we begin to perceive the exquisite Hand of the Divine delicately crafting a masterpiece from His expansive gallery. 
Out of the Pit, and Promoted Again!



Pharaoh’s cupbearer unburdens his soul about his encounter with the extraordinary interpreter of dreams while he was in prison.

“Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh.” v. 14

Pharaoh tells Joseph he has had a dream that no one can interpret, and that it is known that Joseph can interpret dreams.

Joseph is quick to correct Pharaoh: It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer. v. 16


This is interesting in that most of us—even if we hadn’t just been released from spending years imprisoned unjustly, would have wanted desperately to make ourselves seem indispensable. We would be inclined to take the credit as a prophet, a healer, an interpreter of dreams, etc. Yet Joseph does not waver in his integrity. Even after all he has been through. His trust and reverence is in Adonai—whether in good or bad circumstances.

“favorable answer” in Hebrew is ana shalom  ענה שלום, meaning both a complete answer/interpretation, and will bring him peace through understanding.

Pharaoh tells Joseph his dreams, and Adonai gives Joseph clear understanding. Both dreams are the same, just using different imagery. Pharaoh has been warned by God of what He is about to do. There will be seven years of abundance, and seven years of famine so severe that the abundance will be forgotten. The time of abundance is to begin immediately.

“Now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance. Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh's authority, and let them guard it. Let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land will not perish during the famine.” vv. 33-36

Joseph Once Again Cloaked in a Garment of Favor

Pharaoh looked to his servants and asked, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?” v. 38 

In other words, he recognized the Divine within Joseph—had they seen any other like him anywhere in Egypt? (No!)

“So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.’ Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck.” vv. 39-42

Can you hear the old Frank Sinatra song, That’s Life: “That’s life, that’s what all the people say, you’re riding high in April, shot down in May...” Okay, not very spiritual—from the sublime to the ridiculous. But Joseph’s life is truly a breathtaking roller coaster ride of extremes!
And here’s the amazing thing: had he not been unjustly imprisoned, Joseph would not have met the cupbearer to interpret his dream. And because the cupbearer did not keep his word, his conscience was pricked just when Pharaoh spoke of his dream, causing him to remember Joseph and tell Pharaoh about him. He was still in prison, so he could easily be found and brought forth for such a time as this!

And this is just the beginning of the plan. Joseph was not placed second only to Pharaoh just because Adonai decided to bless him for his faithfulness. Joseph was being positioned for the grand drama that was about to unfold.

For this amazing performance, Joseph had to be exalted beyond all reason.
Pharaoh had Joseph ride in his second chariot and commanded all, “Bow the knee!” before him throughout Egypt. “Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.’” vv. 43,44

v. 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph a new name, Zaphenath-paneah, which means treasury of the glorious rest, and he gave him an Egyptian wife, Asenath, who was the daughter of a priest of On.

v. 46 Joseph was thus both fully honored, and transformed outwardly by Egypt after spending twelve years in prison. 
During the seven years of abundance, Joseph oversaw the gathering and the storehouses. His presence brought blessing upon the land of Egypt such that the abundance became far too much to even measure, “like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure.” v. 49

His wife bore him two sons before the years of famine came. “Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household.’ He named the second Ephraim, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.’” vv. 51, 52

Hebrew commentary explains the idiomatic understanding behind Manasseh's name. Joseph has forgotten, or forgiven the suffering caused by his father’s household—he has not forgotten his kinsmen.

At the end of the seven years of great abundance, the famine came with a vengeance. The people of Egypt cried out and Pharaoh told them to go to Joseph.
The famine spread throughout the earth, and thus people began to come to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph.... vv. 53-57



Genesis 42  Trying Times ...

“Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt ... He said, ‘Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt: go down there and buy some for us from that place, so that we may live and not die.’ Then ten brothers of Joseph went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, ‘I am afraid that harm my befall him.’ Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph's brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he disguised himself to them and spoke to them harshly. And he said to them, ‘Where have you come from?’ And they said, ‘From the land of Canaan, to buy food.’ But Joseph had recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him. Joseph remembered the dreams which he had about them...” vv. 1-9

Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to seek salvation from the dire famine that had spread (not unforeseen) across the land. He kept Benjamin behind, who had now become his favorite—the remaining son by his beloved wife, Rachel.


The brothers come before Joseph, and as was customary, they bow low before him. They don’t recognize him. He is fully shaved, unlike the Hebrews and dressed as an Egyptian. 

Joseph recognizes his brothers, however, and remembers his prophetic dreams of just such a scene ... but one brother is missing. Joseph begins to put his brothers through a series of tests to try their hearts.

v. 13 He first accuses them of being spies. They protest their honesty, claiming to be twelve brothers, of which “the youngest is with our father today, and one is no longer alive. 

Joseph doesn’t bite—he doesn’t question about the one who is no longer alive... But he devises a test to see if they are telling the truth about Benjamin or if they have also done away with him as well.

The brothers are to be imprisoned for three days, after which one will be left behind in prison while the others retrieve Benjamin.

“Now Joseph said to them on the third day, ‘Do this and live, for I fear God: if you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined in your prison; but as for the rest of you, go, carry grain for the famine of your households, and bring your youngest brother to me, so your words may be verified, and you will not die.’ And they did so.’” vv. 18-20
Suddenly the brothers are struck with their guilt over what they did to their young brother Joseph so many years ago—their deafened ears now hear his cries and their hardened hearts now feel his fear and pain: “Truly we are guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the distress of his soul when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen; therefore this distress has come upon us.” v. 21
Reuben reminds them that he pleaded with them not to sin against Joseph but they would not listen, and “Now comes the reckoning for his blood.” v. 22

The brothers don’t know Joseph can understand them, but he is deeply moved by their contrition, and turns away weeping.
vv. 24-27 Joseph followed through with the test, binding Simeon before their eyes to hold him until they return with Benjamin, the youngest brother. Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain and give them provisions for their journey ... and then he had their money returned to their sacks. 

This was not discovered until en route home. Terrified, “...their hearts sank, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, What is this that God has done to us? v. 28

When they returned home, they told their father Jacob of the events in Egypt. Jacob was desolate. “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin; all these things are against me.” v. 36

Jacob was adamant that Benjamin would not return to Egypt with them. v. 38
We often think we have control over circumstances and people, 
but we haven’t read tomorrow’s script...
Genesis 43  Back to Egypt
Is it a Trap?

“Now the famine was severe in the land...” v. 1

Intense need has a way of softening a man’s resolve. When they ran out of grain, Jacob told his sons to go back to Egypt to buy some more.

After a bit of bickering and recriminations, Israel (Jacob) relents with regards to sending Benjamin, “Take your brother also, and arise, return to the man; and may God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man, so that he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” vv. 13-14

“When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his house steward, ‘Bring the men into the house, and slay an animal and make ready; for the men are to dine with me at noon.’ So the man did as Joseph said, and brought the men to Joseph's house.” vv. 16-17

Joseph was overwhelmed by the sight of his young brother, Benjamin—and perhaps relieved that he was still alive.

The brothers, still consumed with guilt, were frightened at being brought to Joseph’s house, thinking it a trap. They sought out the steward and attempted to explain finding the money in their sacks, but are met with unexpected graciousness: “He said, ‘Be at ease, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.’ Then he brought Simeon out to them.” v. 23

Joseph’s Dream Fulfilled
“When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which was in their hand and bowed to the ground before him. Then he asked them about their welfare, and said, ‘Is your old father well, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?’ They said, ‘Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.’ They bowed down in homage.” vv. 26-28
v. 29 This time all eleven of his brothers were before him, bowing, just as in the dreams of his youth. When Joseph saw Benjamin, he blessed him and then rushed out to his chamber and wept.
He returned once he composed himself and their meal was served. He astonished the brothers by seating them in perfect order from youngest to oldest.
The text notes that Benjamin (the youngest) was served five times as much as the others. The Hebrew commentary postulates that perhaps Joseph was testing his brothers to see if he would detect any jealousy arise toward young Benjamin that had been displayed toward him.
Genesis 44  Not So Fast...

“Then he commanded his house steward, saying, ‘Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man's money in the mouth of his sack. Put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his money for the grain.’ And he did as Joseph had told him. As soon as it was light, the men were sent away, they with their donkeys. They had just gone out of the city, and were not far off, when Joseph said to his house steward, ‘Up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good?’” vv. 1-4

It seemed all had gone well and the brothers were on their way home, intact, and with as much food as they could carry. 

Not quite! Joseph had another test.

He had his special silver goblet planted in Benjamin’s sack and then sent his house steward after the brothers to search their sacks!


The guilt these brothers carry over what they did to Joseph is weighing heavily upon them. Although they are innocent of each of the things they have been accused of, there is an expectation that this is the time they are to pay for their profound sin against their brother.


Judah wails, “‘What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; behold, we are my lord's slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found.’” v. 16


The steward has not found the iniquity of taking the cup, but GOD has found the iniquity that they carry from their sin against their brother.

The brothers would soon find themselves in a familiar situation. Will they abandon their youngest brother, who is also favored like Joseph was, and save their own lives and freedom, or return to Egypt and defend him, risking all of their lives?

To be continued...





Haftarah  Miketz
1 Kings 3:15-4:1


Well, we have just finished reading about Joseph and how a dream given him by God many years before was now coming into play. He had indeed ascended into a position of authority over his brothers. And the evil they had perpetrated against him so long before was now coming back to haunt them. How true Scripture is when it says, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23

The Haftarah reading is about another God-given dream had by yet another prominent figure in the Old Testament period. In 1 Kings 3:15-4:1, we find a very young King Solomon newly ascended to the throne of Israel. His father David, though not having lived a totally exemplary life before his God or his subjects, has set the bar very high for Solomon.

David had brought the Twelve Tribes of Israel together under one authority. He had brought peace to his kingdom by beating back its enemies. And he had prepared for Solomon materials necessary for the building of the holy Temple. To Solomon was handed over all the necessary elements for a successful reign. All he had to do was keep them in place and see that each operated in a synchronized fashion. I can only imagine that Solomon saw all of this as a mind-boggling and extremely difficult calling.

Now God prepares His first test for Solomon as King over His chosen people. It would set the tenor for his reign to come. This test would cement—at least for a time—where Solomon’s heart was, and who it is he would serve.

1 Kings 3:3ff tells us what Solomon’s heart condition was as he began his reign. It says, “Now Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David...”  So as Solomon slept one night after worshiping Adonai, God came to Him in a dream, and said to him, “Ask what you wish me to give you.” v. 5

Solomon could have asked for anything; fame, pleasure, fortune, long life. You name it. It could have been his. But he asked for none of these things. 

Instead he humbly asked for wisdom, wisdom to do the job God had called him to do:

“You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" vv. 6-9

And what is the Lord’s response? He gives him that and so very much more. God’s gift was evidenced so abundantly and in so many ways throughout Solomon’s life. Our Haftarah text goes on to include the story of the two women and the one baby, and Solomon’s transcendent wisdom in determining who the child actually belonged to. From this point on there was no end to the spreading of Solomon’s fame.

I believe this is just one more way for Adonaiour Creator, the planner of our lives, the caregiver of each of usto tell you and me through this story that at all times our lives must be turned over to Him.


By simply trusting in Him He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4) and guide us in all our ways (Proverbs 3:5-6). I think the question for us today is, “Are we really trusting in Him for all things?... Are you?

B’rit Chadashah  Miketz
Romans 10:1-13

The B’rit Chadashah, or New Testament portion for this week is Romans 10:1-13. We don’t have an account of a dream here as we have in the two previous sections of Scripture we’ve looked at this week. What we do have though is the heart of the Apostle Paul and his great desire to see his beloved Jewish people saved through a relationship  with the Lord.

If we stretch just a little we might see some similarities between Joseph and the Messiah. While I know of no where in Scripture where Joseph is said to be a “type” of Yeshua, it is genuinely difficult not to see some of these likenesses. Lets name just a few and see if you can add more to the list yourself.

  • Joseph was a revealer of secrets. Messiah revealed the Father. John 1:18
  • Joseph was beloved of his father. The Father says of Messiah, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matt. 3:17 
  • Joseph’s brothers hated him. Messiah was hated without a cause. Jn. 15:25 
  • Joseph was in a sense a savior feeding the hungry around him. Messiah is the true and only Savior of the whole world. Jn. 3:16 & Acts 4:12 
  • Joseph was the redeemer of Israel. Gen. 47:23 
  • Messiah is the redeemer not only of Israel but of all mankind. Acts 5:31 and 1 john 2:2

The Apostle Paul was instructed by Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) and was a Pharisee, a teacher of the Law. He knew the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) backwards and forwards so I believe Paul must have spent time mulling the commonalities between Joseph and Jesus. We will never know if he sermonized on the comparisons—Scripture doesn’t say—but considering his background it is hard not imagine that he did.

We do know that the Holy Spirit brings Paul’s focus to his beloved Jewish brethren as he writes of what is to come. Romans 9,10 and 11 In 10:1-13 Paul addresses Israel’s need for salvation and says it can only come through Yeshua, by recognizing Him as Lord (deity) and believing that God (the Father) raised Him from the dead. Paul says this message is not just for the Jew, but for, “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord...” Rom. 10:13 That individual, Paul says, “...will be saved.” Rom. 10:13


This is the SEASON of GIVING. 

Let's not weary in diligently sharing this LOVE STORY with the world.

This message is for every one, to the Jew first, and also the Gentile. Romans 1:16

God's expression of LOVE is GIVING...

...For GOD SO LOVED the WORLD 

that HE GAVE 

HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON...

that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, 

but have eternal life.

John 3:16

In Messiah's love,
His EVERY Word Ministries


חֲנֻכָּה Chanukah ... חֲנֻכָּה Chanukah חֲנֻכָּה Chanukah ... חֲנֻכָּה Chanukah ...
חֲנֻכָּה Chanukah


חֲנֻכָּה Chanukah
The Feast of Dedication
The Festival of Light

24 Kislev 5777 (for 8 Days)
1st Candle Sunset 24 December 2016

8th Candle Sunset 31 December 2016


Yeshua (Jesus) Celebrated Chanukah

Chanukah may not be a biblically-commanded holiday, but its message is essential and timeless. Chanukah is the Hebrew word for dedication. The theme of Chanukah is dedication, faithfulness, and refusal to compromise God’s unchanging standards in an ever-changing world. The Temple in Jerusalem had been taken over and defiled by a pagan ruler. Why is this relevant to Christians? The Temple had to be restored before Yeshua could come. He acknowledged this holiday as we read in the apostolic scriptures, whereas he bitterly rebuked the leading Jewish authorities for non-biblical aberrations. 
“Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem. Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade. Then the Judean leaders surrounded Him, saying, ‘How long will you hold us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us outright!’” John 10:22-24 TLB*
This was the opening description of a discourse by Jesus the Messiah, just before He was to reveal that it is His works that bear witness of who He really is.

Few realize that this took place during the Chanukah celebration in Jerusalem. It was here in the Temple, more than 150 years earlier, that an event had taken place that was essential for Jesus to come, for it restored the Temple and Jerusalem to Israel. Therefore, it is easy to understand why Jesus would share in the celebration even though it is not one of the commanded biblically appointed times of the LORD from Leviticus 23.

The event that precipitated the Chanukah commemoration occurred around 168 B.C. Jerusalem had been conquered and the Holy Temple had been defiled by Antiochus Epiphanes IV and his Syrian army. Thousands of Jews had been slaughtered and Antiochus had set up an idol in the Temple, declaring himself to be god. His coup de grâce was sacrificing a pig on the altar. 

He then outlawed the reading and study of Torah, God’s sacred Word, under penalty of death. Observance of the biblical commandments, the Sabbath and holy days, and avoiding pork and non-kosher food, were also forbidden. These prohibitions have been characteristic of God’s enemies throughout history. For the Jewish People this has proved to be a stumbling block of monumental proportions when it comes to Yeshua. Christians have presented Jesus and these prohibitions as one and the same, and that is a grievous error.

To survive the tyranny of Antiochus, some Jews surrendered to his pagan religion, but a small family, led by Judah Maccabee (which means “hammer”) refused to bow their knee to a pagan god, and fled to the mountains. This tiny group of Maccabees eventually routed the Syrians and reclaimed Jerusalem and the Temple.

Restoring the Eternal Light
“...command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. ...It shall be a statute forever to their generations...” Exodus 27:20-21
Their first order of business was to cleanse the Temple. Traditional Jewish history records the story of how only enough sanctified oil was found to keep the Temple Menorah burning for one day. It would take eight more days to prepare the necessary amount of sanctified oil to keep the Temple Menorah burning continuously. But a miracle occurred and the menorah burned for the full eight days at which time the additional supply of oil was ready. 

This is why Chanukah is an eight day holiday. And why a special nine-branched menorah is also used, called a chanukiah. It has eight candles -- one for each night, and a ninth candle, the shamash, which means servant, is used to light the rest. The shamash reminds us that we are servants of the LORD Most High. We are privileged to carry His Name, His Light before men, bringing that light into a dark and wicked world. 

The story of Chanukah is also told through traditional foods, which are fried in oil: potato pancakes (called latkes), and in Israel, jelly doughnuts (called sufganiyot). The oil used in the  traditional chanukiah and to fry the traditional foods help to tell the story to the next generation. Oil was a precious commodity in the ancient world, and was often scarce in poorer areas of the world in times past. However, on Chanukah, we use it extravagantly to demonstrate our trust in God to supply the oil today just as He did so long ago, as well tell the story of His faithfulness to every generation. 

Dedication
The Chanukah celebration was taking place as Jesus spoke and proclaimed that it was His works that really told who He was. In John 10:25 Jesus said, “...the works that I do in  my Father’s name, these bear witness of me.” How fascinating to consider that it was works (dedication/faithfulness) that defeated the Syrians, and that it was works that restored the Temple, and re-instituted the sacrifices. We see that God rewarded faithful men with His own miraculous work -- victory over a vastly superior army, and possibly the sign of His Light in the Menorah that burned for eight days. How fitting that James says it is works that identify each of us as being a part of God’s family. (cf. James 2)

Works do tell who we are, don’t they? Each year around the world for eight days, the candles of the Chanukiah are lit in commemoration and celebration of what true dedication is. This was illustrated by a few men who stood for God against an evil generationSee what they accomplished--and how God honored their faithfulness with the miracle of His light! 

As we reflect on that story why don’t we take stock of our own Temples ... “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

Do we not face similar forces in our time … forces that compel us to compromise rather than stand for God’s holiness? 

Do we not defile our temples daily rather than standing boldly for righteousness and the sanctity of His Name? Is the call of Joshua not still ringing out, urging us to be bold, and be strong in God’s Spirit?
“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:5
May the LORD God of Israel bless you with the strength and grace of Judah Maccabee and his brothers to walk as lights in your generation. May you contend earnestly for the testimony of Adonai and be zealous for His Temple -- He dwells todays in vessels of clay -- the followers of Messiah! May your temple be cleansed and undefiled that your lamp will burn brightly with His Presence, piercing the darkness of this age, amen!
Be strong in the Lord, and courageous, God is with you! 

Deut. 31:6, Josh. 1:9, Eph. 6:10 
    Richest blessings to you and yours as you celebrate the Light of the World!
We Bless the LORD as We Light the Candles

ברוך אתה  אֲדֹנָי אלוהינו, מלך העולם 
Ba-rookh atah Adonai, El-o-hei-noo, meh-lekh hah-o-lahm
Blessed are you, LORD, our God, King of the Universe,

אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו 
ah-sher kid-shah-noo b'mitz-vo-tahv vitz-ee-vah-noo
Who has sanctified us with His commandments and blessed us

להדליק נר של חנוכה
l'hahd-leek ner shel Chah-noo-kah. (Amein)
to light the lights of Chanukah. (Amen)


Quick Facts of Chanukah 

NAME: Hanukkah, which means 'Dedication', 'Establishing', or 'Consecration' in Hebrew.
HEBREW NAME: חֲנֻכָּה or חנוכה
TITLE: Festival of Lights, Festival of Dedication
THEME: Be strong in the Lord, and courageous, God is with you! Deut. 31:6, Josh. 1:9, Eph. 6:10
DEFINITION: An eight-day Jewish Holiday celebrated every year during the winter.
RELIGION: Ancient Holiday of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism.
HOLIDAY: A joyous, family-centered Jewish religious festival pre-dating Christianity by nearly 200 years.
FOUNDER: Judas Maccabaeus and his fellow Maccabee brothers.
RECOGNITION: A perpetual, yearly celebration marking the retaking, purification, and rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by the rebel Jewish forces of the Maccabees who defeated the Pagan Greeks. 
BEGINNING: First established and celebrated in Jerusalem on the 25th of Kislev, 165 BC.
DATES: Always begins on the 25th of Kislev and ends on the 2nd or 3rd of Tevet (Hebrew Calendar).
DURATION: Lasts for eight days with an additional candle being lit after sunset for each passing day.
LONGEVITY: Annually observed by Jews from around the world for the past 2,181 years. 
TRADITIONS: Ritual candle lighting, religious singing, specific prayers, gifts of money and games.
RECITALS: Hallel, Al-ha-Nissim, Hanukkah addition (Prayers), Brachot (Blessing), Ma'oz Tzur, Hanerot Halalu (Hymns), and Psalms 30, 67, 91, Numbers 6:22 through 8:4, Zechariah 2:14-4:7, I Kings 7:40-50 (Readings).
SIGNIFICANCE: Represents one of the most miraculous, statistically impossible, and highly implausible series of military victories in the history of the world.
REFERENCE: First Book ot the Maccabees 4:36-59, Second Book of the Maccabees 10:1-8, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XII, Ch. 5-11, by Flavius Josephus, 
Scroll of Antiochus, (Megillat Antiochus), The Gospel of John, mentioned in John 10:22 
*Tree of Life Bible