Rabbi Schneider - Hanukkah, God's Desire for Dedication
♪ Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah let's light the menorah. Let's have a party and all do the hora. ♪
Well, I know I'm not on television to sing today, but I wanted to just introduce you to the Hanukkah spirit. That's a song that we sing during this time of year as we're celebrating the victory that God gave the Maccabees over the Greco-Assyrians that had defiled their temple and taken over Jerusalem. So I'm going to go back now and tell you the story that led to the celebration of Hanukkah, what Hanukkah means.
Father, we just begin today by inviting your spirit into this broadcast. Lord, that your word would go forth clearly, and that you'll use it to draw people to you. For we ask it, Father, in Yeshua Messiah's name, and for the purpose of the building of your saints and your kingdom. Amen.
Well, Cynthia and I are here in Israel, and we say to you Shalom today. And as we're getting ready to celebrate Hanukkah this year, I wanted to begin by telling you the history and then I wanted to bring it forward and show you how Yeshua was celebrating Hanukkah in the pages of the New Testament. So, first of all, what had happened was the Greco Assyrians under Antiochus IV had taken over Jerusalem and the temple of the Jews that God had given Solomon and then was later rebuilt and destroyed in 70AD. What happened was the Greco Assyrians had gone into the temple, and in the year 167 BCE had actually erected an altar to Zeus, the pagan god Zeus, in the temple.
Furthermore, the Greco-Assyrian armies were going throughout Israel in Jerusalem and they were forcing Jewish people to make a sacrifice to Zeus. And unfortunately, some Jewish people were compromising. But it all stopped when the Greco-Assyrian soldiers got to a Jewish settlement called Modi'in. And when they got to Modi'in and tried to get the Jews there to make a sacrifice to Zeus, a priest there by the name of Mattathias said no. And because one of the Jewish onlookers that was gathered with Mattathias was afraid that because Mattathias said no, that the Greco-Assyrian soldiers were going to respond to Mattathias' no by putting them all to death, slaying them, he volunteered, this Jewish onlooker volunteered trying to appease the Greco Assyrian army and said, "Well, I'll do it". Are you getting what I'm saying?
Mattathias the priest said no, so this Jewish onlookers said, "I'll do it" because he was afraid that the Greco-Assyrian soldiers were going to put all of them to death because Mattathias said no. So when he this Jewish onlookers said, "I'll do it," Mattathias turned on the Jewish onlooker and then that's so riled and rallied the other Jews that were gathered there to stand up in solidarity and to resist this pressure to conform or to be Hellenized. That's what the term was it was going on these Greco Assyrians are trying to Hellenized the world, including the Jewish people to worship like them and to adopt their customs.
We read about it, in fact, in the book of Acts, that many of the Jews had been Hellenized. But when Mattathias said no, he so inspired the rest of the Jewish onlookers that they turned on the Greco-Assyrian Army that was in Modi'in, where they were, and they effectively began to drive out the Greco-Assyrians from Modi'in. And this movement that was started by Mattathias' resistance it grew and it grew. And eventually, more and more Jewish people joined the movement. And they began to take place in what is known today as guerilla warfare, where they would hide and they would wait for the Greco-Assyrian troops to come into an area. And then when the Greco-Assyrian troops came into an area, they would come out of hiding and ambush them. And they were able to more and more recovered Jerusalem until they eventually recovered the temple. And then in 164 BCE, they dedicated the temple back to Hashem, back to God.
And that's where we get the name "Hanukkah" from. Jewish people all over the world celebrate Hanukkah every year since 164 BCE, including the time of Yeshua. We're going to see in a second Yeshua was in the temple celebrating Hanukkah with the rest of the Jewish people that were gathered. Hanukkah is the Hebrew word that means "dedication". And so once again, in 164 BCE, the Maccabees that was the army that drove the Greco-Assyrian soldiers out. The word "Maccabees" means hammer, and it comes from the name of the priest's son. Mattathias had a son named Judah, and he was the leader of this movement of driving out the Greco-Assyrians. They named him Judah the Maccabee, Judah the hammer. And so that's the name that's given today to the army that was successfully able to drive out the Greco-Assyrians. We even have a Jewish Olympics called the Maccabee Games, named after the Maccabees that drove out the Greco Assyrians and was able to recapture the temple and dedicate it back to the Lord.
Now, our tradition tells us that when they came into the temple, everything, of course, was desecrated. And one of the things that they found there was the oil that had been used to light the menorah in the temple that burned perpetually. And according to our tradition, there was only enough kosher oil in the temple when it was recaptured to burn for one day. But instead of burning for one day, our tradition tells us it's supernaturally burned for eight days. And so a Hanukkah Menorah has eight different candles, plus an extra ninth candle which is called the servant candle. And so the way we celebrate Hanukkah is we put the menorah in front of a window of our home or apartment. And the reason we put the menorah in front of a window is because we're proclaiming to the world God did a miracle here.
And so we light the menorah... we first of all light the servant candle, the ninth candle, we light that on the first night, and then we take that servant candle and we light one other candle. And we do the same thing for a day. The second day we light the servant candle and then we take the servant candle and we light the first candle and then the second candle for the second day and thus it goes all through the eight days of Hanukkah. It's interesting that Jewish people are so galvanized by Hanukkah you'll see these menorahs even televise all over the big cities of the world where different Jewish groups will like rent a huge space in London and some place in Australia. And all over the world there'll be thousands of Jewish people gathered together to celebrate the lighting of the menorah. They have a huge menorah up on a big stand, and they'll light the candle each night.
So Hanukkah is a huge galvanizing holiday for the Jewish people. But interestingly, the holiday of Hanukkah is nowhere mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures. It's nowhere in the Jewish Bible. Of course, the whole Bible is a Jewish Bible. But I'm talking about the Old Testament. The only place that Hanukkah is written about, beloved one, in the scriptures is in the Brit Chadasha or the New Testament. So we read about Hanukkah in the Gospel of John 10, again, the only place in Scripture. So let me read for you beginning in the 22nd verse of Yochanan, we say in Hebrew, John 10. "At that time," John writes, "the Feast of Dedication..."
Why does he say dedication instead of Hanukkah? Because dedication, once again, is the English translation of the word Hanukkah. It's the same thing. One is Hebrew, one is English. "At that time..." We could say Hanukkah took place at Jerusalem, but because the New Testament for us is written in English, it's written as the Feast of Dedication took place in Yerushalem or at Jerusalem, where we're at right now. "...it was winter, and Yeshua was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him and we're saying to Him, 'How long will you keep us in suspense? If you're the Anointed One..." Meaning the Messiah. Of course, our Bible says Christ. If you're the Christ. But Christ is just the Greek word for the Hebrew Mashiach, which means Anointed One. So they said to Him, "If you're the Mashiach, tell us plainly. Yeshua answered them, 'I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do and My Father's name, these testify of Me. But you did not believe, because you're not My sheep.'"
I want you to notice two things here. If someone doesn't want to believe, beloved ones, you can argue with them till you're blue in the face. If they don't want to believe, they're not going to believe. They said to Yeshua, "If you're the Christ, if you're the Mashiach, tell us plainly". Yeshua said, "I told you but you didn't believe Me". And then He said, "And the works that I do, all the miracles that you've seen, they testify of Me". But then He said, "But you do not believe because". in verse 26, "you're not My sheep". It's good for us to keep that in mind. That it's not up to us to save people. It's just up to us, beloved, to be a witness. Whether they believe or not, that's up to the Father. Even Yeshua didn't expect that he was going to save everybody. He said in John 10, "You believe not because you're not My sheep".
Notice what He said next in the next verse. He said, "My sheep..." He knew He had sheep. He knew that the ones that were not believing were not as sheep. But He also knew He had sheep. The same thing with you. Some people you share with will not listen. It's okay. Same thing happened to Yeshua. Some people will. Yeshua said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand". He continues, "My Father, who has given them to Me..."
I want you to notice this. Jesus knew who His sheep were. And according to Yeshua's own words, His sheep, get this now, beloved ones, were the ones that the Father had given to Him. This was the same thing Yeshua was talking about in John 6, where Jesus said, "Don't grumble amongst yourself". He was speaking to the ones that didn't believe in Him. He said, "Don't grumble amongst yourself. No one can come to me," He continued in John 6, "unless My Father draws him. All the Father gives Me," Jesus said, "will come to Me. And he that comes to Me, I will lose none".
So think about what I just said. In John 6, Jesus said to the ones that didn't believe, "Hey, listen, don't grumble. You think you're over Me? You think you're over Me, judging Me, critiquing Me"? Jesus said, "No, don't grumble among yourselves". He said, "No one comes to me, unless the Father draws them. And all that Father gives Me shall come to me. And all He gives me, I will lose none". Compare what Yeshua said in John 6 with what He's saying right here. He's saying, "You do not believe because you're not My sheep. My sheep hear my voice and I know them. I give them eternal life, and no one will ever snatch them out of My hand". Verse 29, "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch some out of the Father's hand". And then He made this remarkable statement. He said, "I and the Father are one".
So when we see the love of Jesus, we see the love of the Father. When we see the compassion of Yeshua, we see the compassion of the Father. When we hear the parables of Jesus, about Him going after the one lost sheep, we hear the heart of the Father desiring to save. I want you to hear me though, beloved, as I shift back for a moment. If you believe in Yeshua, is because the father chose you, according to the book of Ephesians, before the foundation of the world, and He drew you to Jesus. The Scripture tells us that we were chosen in the Father, Ephesians 1, by the Father, before the foundation of the world. And then the Scripture says we were predestined to the Father, to Yeshua, so that we could enter into the Spirit of adoption, of sonship with the Father. And so, God chose you and I to be His sons and daughters before we were born. That's why He sent Yeshua.
See, the Bible says that we were chosen before the foundation of time. And then in the fullness of time, the Bible tells us in Galatians 4, in the fullness of time, the Father sent His Son and gave us the spirit of adoption. So it's such an awesome thing I'm just wanting to bring back. Yeshua is in the temple, in the Gospel of John 10, celebrating Hanukkah, revealing the mystery that you and I that are His sheep, were given to him by the Father. And this revelation comes to us in the word of God during Hanukkah. Yeshua was in the temple on Hanukkah when He gave us this penetrating revelation.
So I want to strengthen you today to know that you're in the mind and in the heart of God, before you were even born. Like the psalmist said, he knew you when you were in your mother's womb. He knew you when you were yet unformed. And He had a destiny for your life before you took your first breath. So if you and I want to come into alignment and find out who we really are, we have to give ourselves to the one that, number one, created us, and secondly, redeemed us through Yeshua a Messiah for a purpose. And that purpose is to be His, to walk with Him, not as slaves, not as those that are under the law, but as those who cry for, through the spirit of adoption, "Abba Father".
And so I speak freedom and liberty over you this Hanukkah season. Even as Yeshua liberated His people in coming, even as those Maccabees in 164 rededicated and liberated the temple so I speak to you today liberation and freedom in the Spirit. And I challenge you in the love of God to dedicate yourself just as that temple in 164 was dedicated to the Lord. I encourage all of us this Hanukkah season to truly dedicate every area of our life to Hashem.
The words we speak, the foods we eat, how we spend our time, the friendships we have, how we spend our money, what we let into our ears, what we watch with our eyes, let's live as sons and daughters that are fully dedicated of the Lord, knowing what our purpose is. God has created good works for you and I to walk in. And Yeshua is returning quickly, He said, to reward to each and every one of us for what we've done. We only have a short time, beloved, on this planet. Let's use it wisely, and let's dedicate ourselves spirit, soul, and body fully to Him.