Hanukkah ended December 20th. This year, I have been more interested in this Jewish holiday than I ever have been before. I am not Jewish but a little research about it has led me on a treasure hunt, finding greater revelation and fascination with Jesus. In this season, where so many Christians are focused on the birth of Jesus, why is it important to look at Hanukkah?
Hanukkah means “dedication” and it commemorates the rededication of the Jewish temple after the Maccabean revolt. This deliverance of the Jewish people from the tyranny of the Greeks came over a century before Christ was born. The Jews were greatly outnumbered and God brought miraculous deliverance through a family known as the Maccabees.
I have to admit the first thing that fascinates me about the subject of Hanukkah is the celebration of the multiplication of oil. After the Maccabean revolt in 165 BC, there is a story that appears in the Jewish Talmud that the Jews cleansed the defiled temple and lit the temple lampstand with only one jar of oil that should have lasted only one day. That oil lasted 8 days until more oil could be readied for burning.
At the Lampstand meetings that we host at our house once a month we have talked about pressing out oil for ourselves so that we will have a reservoir filled with oil to burn brightly. What is the “oil” we need in our lives? The oil of a history with God. The oil pressed out by meditation and study of God’s word. The oil of growing devotion and love toward Jesus. Just as in that Jewish legend, we cannot get this “oil” in our own strength. We also need supernatural multiplication of that kind of oil. We offer our small part and He adds the other 99%.
As I began to study Hanukkah even more I began to see that there was a greater miracle that the Jews experienced than the multiplication of lampstand oil. Jesus Himself and what He had come to do as Messiah and Deliverer was the greater miracle.
The only time this holiday is ever mentioned in Scripture is in John 10. This is a fascinating passage in which Jesus is responding to the question asking whether He was the Messiah or not. I came across an article by David Brickner from a Jews for Jesus newsletter in 1998 that gives a simple and clear look at this passage revealing Christ in the Feast of Hanukkah. Below is one excerpt from the article. (The “Antiochus” mentioned was the Greek/Selucid ruler who declared himself “the manifest god.”)
“The rededication of the Temple was a reminder of God’s power to keep His promises and preserve His people Israel. But One greater than the Temple stood on Solomon’s porch that day. And He made an astounding claim. “I and My Father are one” (v.30). Remember, this is Hanukkah. Fresh in my people’s minds was the fact that they had rightly rejected the false claims of Antiochus. Now here is Jesus, standing in the Temple asserting His own claim to deity. The reaction of my people was predictable. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him” (v.31). And if He hadn’t been who He claimed to be, they would have been absolutely right to do so.”
To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.
The truth is Jesus is the Messiah, and He is everything He claimed to be, yet was missed as the “greater miracle” to the Jewish people. He was the one who could deliver them from more than the threat of Roman tyranny; He had come to deliver them from the guilt and punishment of their sin and to bring them back into right relationship with Father God.
We have a great opportunity to pray for Israel and join with the apostle Paul’s desire that all of Israel would be saved. Let us pray for the Jewish people in this Hanukkah season that they would see the Light of the World, Jesus as their Messiah who is the one who still has the power to keep his promises and preserve His people Israel.
I am so thankful for these time to get together for the purpose of beholding and worshipping the Lord and pressing out oil to fill the reservoir that our flame draws from.
It is so valued and valuable to spend time in praise and worship, thanksgiving and adoration of the Living God. Not only does He greatly value it, we join with the worship that is happening around His throne day and night. It is not a superfluous activity to fill time or simply a means to make ourselves feel better. Worship is something He is worthy of and time spent doing it honors Him. Yes, it does change our hearts and encourage us as we do it, but ultimately worship is about Him. Oh, that our worship would get bigger!
This Lampstand, Ian Wilson led us in worship, it was a time of engaging with the Lord and He manifested His presence.
I (Matthew) shared briefly from Zechariah 4, continuing to remind us that it is the supernatural supply of oil that we need. We do our part to press out that oil and God supplies it supernaturally. What an encouragement Zechariah 4 is! Zechariah was a prophetic encouragement to those God chose to lead the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem in that day when the Jewish exiles had returned to the land. God was going to help! He promised He would be the supply. He does that for us in the assignments He gives us. We depend on His supply and we are “wow”ed when He comes through.
Julie shared more from Revelation 4, specifically about the ministry of the living creatures around the throne. They sing, the great song of heaven, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, “
The beauty of the heavenly throne room is truly our reality and it is so valuable to stand before this powerful picture and ask questions. Why these details? Why living creatures? Why 4? Why wings and eyes? Why these 4 faces?
One possible connection is that the Spirit is linking the 4 faces of the living creatures with the 4 aspects of Jesus revealed in the 4 Gospels. Each Gospel have things in common yet each has a unique purpose and message and they correspond to the faces of the Living Creatures around the throne.
These creatures never cease beholding the Lord and declaring what they are seeing. We have a similar calling as worshippers to BEHOLD Him and to DECLARE!
This kind of beholding and declaring produces a response; it brings forth the response of the elders falling down before the thrown and casting down their crowns and singing a new song!
The elders sing of the worth of Jesus. We can’t even imagine what it cost Him to be slain UNTIL we know the Beauty He lived in BEFORE He was slain!! We look at what He descended from and where He is exalted to and everything shifts for us!
We prayed for impartation for each individual! I love these times where everyone participates in encouraging one another through prayer. It was an especially sweet time for us (Matthew and I) as parents to see Issachar stepping out to pray for individuals and share encouragement.
Stay tuned for the December Lampstand as we are going to be doing something different and talking about Hanukkah and the miracle of oil!
We had the awesome privilege of having our friends, Samuel Knopp and his son Ethan join us for the Lampstand. Samuel led us in worship and it was a powerful time lifting up the name of Jesus. We truly were positioning ourselves before the throne and beholding the Lord!
I love the powerful way the Lord can bring agreement as we worship. I love that the Holy Spirit will speak the same thing to two different people in order to highlight something He wants us to see or understand.
The Lord was speaking to my heart during worship about being a Bride who has made herself ready. I was reading Rev. 21 and 19:7. Kim Ellis also came to Matthew during worship feeling a similar stirring from the Lord. She shared that in thinking about Jesus coming back it is like engagement. When people were engaged in Biblical times the man would go to prepare a home for his Bride, which is what Jesus is doing now! And, women who are engaged do things to prepare for their wedding! As the Bride of Christ, what are we doing to prepare? Are we "waiting" for Him to come? Like Esther who prepared for an entire year before going to the king...we need to be preparing ourselves with sweet fragrances of prayer, weeping for our loved ones, being prepared with oil.
Howard carter shared Psalm 77:11-14. I so appreciate the Lord stirring His word in people's hearts.
We have been focusing in these Lampstand meetings on getting oil, being fueled, learning to live with our hearts alive and connected to the Lord with His Word alive in our hearts. We have specifically been pressing into Revelation 4 and 5 for the last several meetings because we feel like gazing at this "beauty realm" fuels and steadies our hearts in a powerful way.
How many people can claim they have had a heavenly vision experience? It certainly does happen, but it isn't necessarily a common experience. Yet, we have this incredible gift in the Word of God of a "heavenly vision experience"! We can choose to "go there" by asking the Spirit to open up understanding of this passage! I'm going there!! I want the reality of what is going on around the throne to touch my life. I want to live daily connected to this heavenly reality!
At this Lampstand meeting, Matthew shared about Revelation 4 and how we get oil from gazing on the beauty of God revealed in this throne room picture. He walked through the details that are included in this heavenly description and how and why these things are significant.
How can we respond to this consideration of God and His beauty other than in worship? We took time to lift up our gaze and our voices again in song!
More on Revelation 4 in November....
Matthew or Julie Wine