Rabbi Schneider - Hanukkah, Revealing the Son of God
Rabbi Schneider: Baruch Hashem, bless the name of the Lord. Honey, as we're celebrating Hanukkah this year, I'm reminded of some of the special times that our family has had celebrating Hanukkah. Particularly when you bought me the drum set out of the blue. I was already playing the bass guitar, and I came home one day and there was a drum set set up in our living room.
Cynthia Schneider: Yep! Rabbi was playing the bass guitar and I just knew it wasn't quite him. But I kept seeing him in front of those drums, playing the drums, so I bought him, secretly I bought him a whole set of drums, had them all set up in our living room for when he would walk in the door, he'd see these drums. And I'll never forget it. You walked in, and you looked over in that corner, and you were just shocked, like "What are these drums doing there"? And I said, "Happy Hanukkah! This is your present, cause you are a drummer". And I'll never forget it, you just took to those drums just like that.
Rabbi Schneider: I was awesome, honey. You know I think about for kids growing up, our kids, when I grew up, celebrating Hanukkah is such a fun time of year. Because, you know, kids love to receive presents and Jewish parents didn't want the non-Jewish parents to outdo them, you know, kids get Christmas presents in the gentile world. So the Jewish parents said well we're gonna give our children presents for eight days, that way they won't be jealous. And so it's fun to celebrate Hanukkah, but today we're gonna learn about the spiritual significance and the historical significance of this very important holy day.
Shalom alechem, peace to you beloved ones. My name's Rabbi Schneider. Welcome today to Discovering the Jewish Jesus. We're gonna be focusing on today's episode on the holiday called Hanukkah. Now many of you when I say Hanukkah, you're thinking oh that's just a Jewish holiday. Well you know what? Yeshua, Jesus, celebrated Hanukkah. We're gonna read it in the scriptures today in John chapter 10. It's called the Feast of Dedication in English. You know, growing up we sang a very happy song during this time, because Hanukkah's a happy occasion as we're gonna learn today. The song goes like this, "Oh Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah. Let's have a party, we'll all dance the hora. Gather 'round the table, we'll give you a treat. Sevivon to play with and latkes to eat. And while we are playing, the candles are burning low. One for each night, they shed a sweet light, to remind us of days long ago. One for each night, they shed a sweet light, to remind us of days long ago".
Father in Yeshua's name, in Jesus' name, we ask you Father God, come and illuminate our hearts and minds by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. And Father we pray that you'll cause Hanukkah and its meaning to be relevant to each one of us. In Yeshua's name, it's for Your glory we pray, Abba. Amen and amen and amen.
Well, one of the things that we do during Hanukkah is we light a menorah. You'll notice that in the menorah here we have eight candles, and then one on top called the shamash candle. And what we do is we light the shamash candle and then each night of Hanukkah we light one on the first night, then on the second night we light two, and then so on and so forth. And the reason that we light the menorah on Hanukkah is we're proclaiming the miracle, that when the Jewish Maccabees, the soldiers, the first ones that we know of that practiced guerilla warfare, liberated the temple in Jerusalem from the Greco-Assyrians and rededicated it, they only had enough oil when they first lit that menorah in rededicating the temple to burn for one day. But our tradition tells us that rather than the oil in the lamp just lasting one day, it supernaturally lasted eight days.
So Hanukkah is a season of miracles. The miracle is once again not just that we were able to drive out the huge army of the Greco-Assyrians, a little band of Jewish guerilla warfare soldiers, but that also when they rededicated the temple, beloved ones, that oil supernaturally burned for eight days, when legend tells us it should have just burned one. So we proclaim what God did back in the second century BCE by lighting the menorah every year at Hanukkah, and then we place the menorah in a window in our home. Why? Because we're publicizing that God did a great miracle. So I'm gonna light the menorah now. And I'm gonna light the whole menorah as if it was the eighth day of Hanukkah.
Now, you'll notice that generally speaking in the western world, we go from left to right, but in Judaism we go from right to left. Now we're gonna light the menorah, I'm gonna begin by lighting what we call the shamash candle. This is the servant candle. And we light this each night in order to light the other eight. I'm gonna also sing the blessing that we sing each night as we light the candles. It goes like this: "Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotov v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Hanukkah". We also say every night, "Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time". And then we say, the first night, "Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu veyikimanu vehigianu lazman hazeh. Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season".
So once again the menorah, lit, goes in front of the window, cause we're proclaiming to all the world the miracle that the God of Israel did for the Jewish people in 164 BCE when He liberated Jerusalem from the pagans, and it was rededicated back to Him. Now, another thing that we do during Hanukkah, just bringing you up to speed on some of the customs, is we play a game with the dreidel. Now, the dreidel has four Hebrew letters on it, a noon, a gimel, a hey, and a shin. And these four Hebrew letters stand for these words. The noon stands for the word nes, which means miracle. The gimel stands for the Hebrew word gadol, which means great. The hey stands for the Hebrew word hayah, which means was. And then the shin stands for the Hebrew word sham, which means there. What we're proclaiming is, a great miracle happened there, a great miracle was there.
And the reason that we play the dreidel is because during the time that the Greco-Assyrians were suppressing the Jewish people, making it illegal for them to practice their religion, illegal to study the Torah, what the Jewish people did was they gathered in little buildings, study houses, and they studied the Torah. But they always had somebody looking outside the door to make sure that a Greco-Assyrian soldier wasn't coming. If they saw a Greco-Assyrian soldier coming, they would hide their Torah portion, put it where it couldn't be seen, and they would then bring out a little top. This is what the dreidel is, it's a little top. And when the Greco-Assyrian soldier walked into the room, they wouldn't see the Jewish children and the Jewish people studying the Torah, instead they would see them playing with a little top on the table. And so this dreidel reminds us of how they were able to camouflage their adherence to scripture and their love for God even when they were in the process of being oppressed.
Now I wanna take you to the Bri't Chadashah, the New Testament. We're going to the gospel of John, chapter number 10. Because in this section of scripture, we find that Yeshua, Jesus Himself, participated in celebrating Hanukkah, even going into the temple. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but beloved the Word of God abides forever. Hear the Word of God. "At that time," beginning in verse 22. "At that time the Feast of the Dedication," which is Hanukkah, "took place at Yerushalayim or Jerusalem". See, Hanukkah is the Hebrew word meaning dedication. Why is it called the Feast of Dedication in John 10:22? Because they were celebrating the rededication, Hanukkah, of the temple. "At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem. it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, 'How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ,'" if you're the MaShiach, the Anointed One, the Messiah, "'tell us plainly.'"
So I'd like to point out very clearly here that on Hanukkah, the season of miracles, Yeshua plainly declared He was the Messiah to the Jewish people. Jesus isn't the savior of the gentiles. Jesus is the savior of the world and the Messiah of Israel. "Jesus answered them, 'I told you'". They said tell us if you're the Messiah. Yeshua said "I told you". In other words "I told you I am the Messiah". Jesus said "I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep". It's really interesting that when we carefully study the Word of God, we understand that Yeshua realized that the people whom His death on the cross would save are those that the Father had given Him. Jesus said "I know my sheep, my Father has given them to me".
In John 17, the high priestly prayer, the prayer that Yeshua prayed before going to the cross, Yeshua prayed in John 17, "Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom you have given me". Yeshua's saying the same thing here. He's speaking of the sheep that the Father gave Him. Let's look again. Verse number 26. "But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them". You see Yeshua taught us in John chapter 6 that everyone that hears and learns from the Father comes to Him. And so this is what's going on. Jesus said "My sheep hear my voice". Everyone that the Father reveals Himself to comes to the understanding that Jesus is the Messiah.
I was reading a tremendous book the other day, coming from traditional Judaism. So much revelation in the book because there's an anointing on the Jewish people. But the author said this in the book. All this revelation, all this insight. But then the author said this in the book, that revelation has stopped. That God is no longer revealing Himself to people. People can only be inspired. But beloved, when we're in relationship with HaShem, when we're in a relationship with Father God through King Jesus and the Holy Spirit, God continues to reveal Himself to us. Revelation hasn't stopped. God is continuing to reveal Himself to His people. Jesus said to Peter, "Who do you say that I am"? Peter said, "Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the Living God". Yeshua said, "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven". And then Yeshua continued, "And on this rock I'll build my church".
What was the rock? The rock is revelation. That the Father continues to reveal Jesus to people and draws them to His Son. And so Jesus recognized obviously that this was how the Kingdom of God operates, this is the way the Father operated. And so Yeshua said, "You're not my sheep," verse 27, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me," notice that phrase, "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand".
Notice this partnership here between the Father and the Son. The Father reveals Jesus to His elect. He draws them to Yeshua. Jesus said in John 6, "No one comes to Me unless the Father draws them". Jesus knew that the Father had given him an elect people to save. Jesus called them here, "My sheep". Jesus said "I know my sheep, and they know me. You're not believing because you're not my sheep. But my sheep, My Father has given them to me, and they'll never perish, because no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. No one is able to snatch them out of my hand". And then Jesus said "I and the Father are one". It's interesting, on the one hand Jesus said "The Father is greater than all," and yet He also said, "I and the Father are one".
Let's continue on, verse 31. "The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, 'I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?' The Jews answered Him, 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.'" You see, Jesus was not just a man. Yeshua was God Himself that clothed Himself in humanity. Yeshua, when He spoke of the end of the world and of His return, referred to the book of Daniel. And when we go to the book of Daniel, we see that Daniel talked about a vision he had. And Daniel said he saw at the end of time there was one like a Son of man, who came up to the Ancient of Days, and when this one like the Son of man came up to the Ancient of Days, Daniel said, the Son of man was given a kingdom, and he was gonna rule forever. This Son of man is Yeshua. The Father is in Yeshua, and Yeshua is in the Father.
You see, our most famous declaration as Jewish people is called the Sh'ma. "Sh'ma Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Ehad". Ehad is the Hebrew word that is often translated "one". So in English it would be "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One". But when the Lord spoke about His oneness in the book of Deuteronomy, from where we get the Sh'ma, He wasn't saying that He's only singularly dimensional. But He's saying rather that He is the only God. There's nobody else in His category. There is only one God, and He is God, and He's life, and He can manifest Himself multidimensionally. And it's a mystery, it's in the spirit. God's Spirit does not line up with our logical senses. God can manifest Himself as Father. He can manifest Himself in the person of the Son. He can manifest Himself as Spirit.
God is one, and Yeshua is God Himself clothed in humanity. "The Jews answered Him, 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.' Jesus answered them, 'Has it not been written in your Law, "I said you are gods"? If he called them gods, to whom the word of 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 God"'"? In other words Yeshua was saying to the Jewish people, your scripture calls you gods, speaking to the Israelites, little g, they're created in the image of God. A little while lower that the angels, scripture tells us mankind is.
So Yeshua's saying "If the scripture called you gods," not meaning God like the one supreme God, but those that God's created in His image, "why are you so upset if I, the one coming from Heaven itself, call Myself the Son of God"? And in fact, this claim to be the son of God was not unique. We see often times in the scriptures kings referred to as sons of God. Let's continue on, verse 37. "'If I do not do the works of My Father,'" Yeshua said, "'do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.' Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp. And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He was staying there".
Now listen to these next few verses. "Many came to Him and were saying, 'While John performed no sign,'" speaking of John the Baptist, "'yet everything John said about this man was true.'" And I love this final verse. "Many believed in Him there". You see Yeshua's claims were undeniable because of the power that was on Him. Every where Yeshua went He was like in the Spirit, the sea split, because everywhere He went, power was unleashed. When they tried to argue with Him with their logic, Yeshua silenced them with His superior logic. And not only that, Yeshua was able to back up His word, beloved one, with power, culminating with the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Yeshua HaMashiach is the Messiah.
The Jewish historian Josephus documented His life, and even said there was sorcery that He was practicing. Of course Jesus didn't practice sorcery. But the point is Josephus attested to the fact there was all kinds of miracles that surrounded Jesus' life. That was the testimony that was going on around Him. It was like when Jesus healed the man that was born blind. And the Pharisees started to object, and gang up on the man and his parents. The man that was born blind that had been healed said this is crazy! This is a funny thing. Since the beginning of the world, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone that has been born blind. And Yeshua just did it, and you guys are throwing us out of the synagogue for believing in Him.
In other words, the power of Yeshua was so manifest that it was literally meshugena not to recognize who He was. But those that rejected Him had an agenda. They rejected Him, not because He didn't prove He was the Messiah. His power proved it. His words proved it. The Spirit and words that emanated from Him proved it. Finally Him rising from the dead irrefutably proved it. But when you don't wanna believe something, you can have all the proof in the world, and you won't believe it, not because there's not adequate proof, but because you've already made your mind up. I wanna challenge you today. If you've not fully given yourself and dedicated yourself to Yeshua, now's the time. This Hanukkah's the time. I promise you, you will never regret it. It's the most important decision of our lives.