Posted by: forfreedomalone | 21/12/2016

Christmas or Hanukkah?

On the evening of the 24th of December around 6, 208,000,000 people in the world will mark an event which has deep significance to their communities.
It is a moment of freedom, of light and of dedication; but it is not one event for all.
About 6 billion of the above regard themselves as Christian and will commemorate the birth of Christ.
About 6 million are Jews and will commemorate the rededication of the Temple.
So what on earth could those two festivals have in common?
They are so very different it is hard to believe there is anything linking them, but there is.
In the beginning, God created the world and everything which is in it. Very quickly it was defiled and required cleansing.
The man who was responsible was sent out of the garden.
However, the land was equally quickly defiled by sin and the one responsible was sent out of the land to another place, a place of wandering.
This is the story of Adam and Cain.
Removed from the Garden of Eden (Adam) and then from the land of Eden (Cain) to the land of Nod (wandering).
But it is also the story of the cleansing of the Temple, thousands of years later.
The earth represents the Courts, the Land the Holy Place and the Garden the Holy of Holies.
In 168 BC the ruler of Syria, a tyrant by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes sent soldiers to Jerusalem, who defiled the Temple.
They installed Hellenistic priests, sacrificed pigs, worshipped Zeus in the Temple and forced Jews to convert or die.
A family of the priestly class organised a rebellion and, against all odds, defeated the Syrians.
They were lead by Judah Maccabee.
2 Chronicles 7 tells us about the dedication of the Temple by Solomon its’ ‘builder’ and it is most likely that the Maccabees followed this pattern when they rededicated it. Although it should be noted that the term “rededication” is not used, but “dedication”, as though the acts of the Syrians had erased all knowledge, experience and effect of the dedication by Solomon.
Although not mentioned in their own writings, the legend of one jar of oil lasting for 8 days had been associated with the Maccabees and the Feast of Dedication or, Hanukkah as we know it.
It is also, by reason of the miracle of the oil, known as the Feast of Lights.
Here, we see the Temple, in its three parts, being cleansed and dedicated to God.
Jesus attended this Feast in Jerusalem, as John tells us in 10:22.
Interestingly, it is the Christian, and not the Jewish, scriptures which mention this festival.
Jesus, the cleanser of the ultimate temple of God, the heart, came to cleanse and dedicate at the time of the Festival of Hanukkah.
In fact, the origins of Christmas are not in one or many pagan festivals, but in a Jewish one, Hanukkah.
All the first ‘Christians’ were Jews; their winter festival was Hanukkah and they were in no wise inclined to give up their Judaism.
As we submit to the cleansing power of God in our lives we are cleansed in the inner man, the Holy of Holies; the mind, the Holy place and the body, the Courts.
The pattern of cleansing is repeated over and over throughout the Bible, from Eden to our hearts today.
There was enormous shedding of blood to achieve the dedication of the Temple of Solomon and its rededication in the time of Judah Maccabee. It took only the blood of one Lamb, the perfect Lamb of God, to take away the sin of the world and cleanse us. But what a HUGE sacrifice it was.
As the result of the cleansing, light could shine in the Temple again in the form of the ner tamid, the Eternal Light which burned constantly in the Holy Place.
The Eternal Light came in the flesh so that we could see and understand the effect that Eternal Light was meant to have on us.
This year Hanukkah starts at sundown on the 24th Dec, just as many Christians are attending services.
Remember your Jewish roots as you sing the carols and listen to the readings of Christmas and consider the pattern of cleansing and dedicating which God has enacted from the beginning.
A pattern to lead us to this place and this understanding; what is seen in the physical is hiding, yet representing, that which is in the spiritual.

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