Christmas vs. Hanukkah…
This year Hanukkah overlapped Christmas. Even though news organizations, political parties and a few stores recognized Hanukkah, it was definitely overshadowed by Christmas. Christmas is observed with a triumphal performance.
What are the origins of both? And are both mentioned in the Scriptures?
Christmas briefly: December 25 was first identified as the date of Jesus’ birth by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221 and later became the universally accepted date. One widespread explanation of the origin of this date is that December 25 was the Christianizing of the dies solis invicti nati (“day of the birth of the unconquered sun”), a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun, the casting away of winter and the heralding of the rebirth of spring and summer. Indeed, after December 25 had become widely accepted as the date of Jesus’ birth, Christian writers frequently made the connection between the rebirth of the sun and the birth of the Son. One of the difficulties with this view is that it suggests a nonchalant willingness on the part of the Christian church to appropriate a pagan festival. (Encyclopedia Britannica).
Is Christmas in the Scriptures? No.
Question: Does Christmas have anything to do with God?
Hanukkah briefly: The events that inspired the Hanukkah holiday took place during a particularly turbulent phase of Jewish history. Around 200 B.C., Judea—also known as the Land of Israel—came under the control of Antiochus III, the Seleucid king of Syria, who allowed the Jews who lived there to continue practicing their religion. His son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, proved less benevolent: Ancient sources recount that he outlawed the Jewish religion and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. In 168 B.C., his soldiers descended upon Jerusalem, massacring thousands of people and desecrating the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls. Led by the Jewish priest Mattathias and his five sons, a large-scale rebellion broke out against Antiochus and the Seleucid monarchy. When Matthathias died in 166 B.C., his son Judah, known as Judah Maccabee (“the Hammer”), took the helm; within two years the Jews had successfully driven the Syrians out of Jerusalem, relying largely on guerilla warfare tactics. Judah called on his followers to cleanse the Second Temple, rebuild its altar and light its menorah—the gold candelabrum whose seven branches represented knowledge and creation and were meant to be kept burning every night. (History Channel).
Is Hanukkah in the Scriptures? Yes, John 10:22-30.
Question: Does Hanukkah have anything to do with God?
Remember, there are many versions of the truth, but only one Truth. If you observed Christmas this year, I would encourage you to seek The Truth, seek what God would have us do. Ditch tree and have a latke!
God of My Fathers...
Throughout Scripture we read of the declaration: ‘God of my father.’ This is a powerful statement, a proclamation, a revelation. It is a title, a universal code and an explanation of faith.
Genesis 31:42 ‘If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, so He rendered judgment last night."
Exodus 3:6 ‘He said also, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob " Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Acts 7:32 references this ‘'I AM THE GOD OF YOUR FATHERS, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC AND JACOB.' Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look.
Usually it appears as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But God is also referenced as God of Elijah.
2 Kings 2:14 ‘Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.’
Daniel 2:23 ‘To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, For You have given me wisdom and power; Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You, For You have made known to us the king's matter."
Yeshua is the God of the living!
Mark 22:32 ‘'I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."
Mark 12:26-27 ‘But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, 'I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, and the God of Jacob'? "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken."
And in Isaiah 63:16 it reads: "For You are our father, for Abraham did not know us, neither did Israel recognize us; You, O [YHWH], are our father; our redeemer of old is Your Name."
God of our fathers is our redeemer and is The Name and The Walk.
God of gods...LORD of lords...
The Scriptures reference other gods and lords, for example in Deuteronomy 10:17 we find, “The LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome.” Whoever these other gods and lords are, they cannot compete with the “great God, mighty and awesome.”
The emphasis in this verse is not God’s miracles but of God’s supremacy. When He is called “God of gods” we understand it as a reference to The God who is more powerful and greater than any other. This verse does not teach the existence of other gods, rather God says, “I Am the LORD and there is no other…” Isaiah 45:5 and Isaiah 43:11. He is clearly stating there is no other god in the universe but Him.
Idols have no power, “All the gods of the nations are worthless” 1 Chronicles 16:26. And Psalm 97:7 adds: “All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols.”
These and many other passages note that there is only one God, The God and to worship any other god or idol which is futile.
So what are the other gods in our lives? The other gods in our lives are money, that’s obvious. Those other little but consuming gods are also food, clothing, work, acceptability, sex, drugs, co-dependency, politics, our ‘church’ our friends and our social life. Our anything that is not God His Way or Truth. It is anything that presumes authority over Him in our lives. Think hard as you study these verses. Blessings~
1 Corinthians 10:7-14
1 John 5:21
Webster states an opinion is: Assessment, assumption, attitude, conclusion, feeling, idea, impression, judgment, mind, notion, point of view, reaction, sentiment, speculation, theory, thought, view, viewpoint.
Can an opinion be wrong? Never, because there isn’t an external answer. An opinion should never be confused with a factual assertion about reality. Opinions are neither right nor wrong, they are simply ideas that people use to guide their life actions. Opinions can sway people into thinking differently, or even assuming something. This is where the opinion is confused with fact.
Opinion: Coffee is better than tea.
Opinion: Milk is better than coffee.
These are just opinions until the ‘better’ is substantiated. Better as in what? Better for consumption of caffeine? Is milk better for growth for babies than coffee? The ‘better’ needs to be tied to a fact, a truth. It can’t just be: ‘Coffee is better than tea because I like coffee better.’
Humility means putting the needs of another person before your own, and thinking of others before yourself. It also means not drawing attention to yourself, and it can mean acknowledging that you are not always right, or that you’ve placed your opinion higher than just an opinion.
Humility is the opposite of boastfulness, arrogance and vanity. Oftentimes we are so concerned with winning the argument, making a point, being right and correcting other people that we forget to listen to others, and to allow the unimportant things to dissipate. We let our opinions rule.
When you have a strong opinion about a given manner, it’s easy to speak arrogantly. There are ways to communicate, even if you disagree with someone entirely, without offending. What is offensive is the lack of respect of the space for another human being, including their opinions. Every person is entitled to their opinion, whether we agree with it or not. Shouting one down does not make the opinion truth.
Opinions must not be taken for truth. Only truth can be truth. Opinions are simply views. Which lately have been confused as truths. Has our society become so ingrained in opinions that truth has become a mere opinion for ‘the other side’?
One thing that we know, God is true. John 14:6.
This is the traditional time to be thankful. People enjoy family, traveling through crowded airports, bad weather, missed flights to be with family. Kitchens are busy since the early morning, tables are set, china is brought out and candles are lit. It’s a festive day.
We sit around tables full of an abundance of food and give thanks to God. We are grateful for all that He has given us; our lives, our family, our homes, our jobs, our health and our family and friends, even our trials.
How do we show that thankfulness to God exactly? Hmmm.
Do we ever consider how God would like to be thanked? Or do we just simply thank Him.
I raised five children. When we gave them gifts, they of course were grateful and thanked us, hugging and kissing and huge smiles. But what else did we as parents expected? Obedience. It would have been very upsetting if after gifting one of our children they would immediately turn and disobey our rules or wishes. What would be the point? It would have saddened us immensely.
How do we obey God? Do we implement our own rules? Our own set of instructions – our own idea of His Will?
What if, this time of year we truly humbled ourselves and sought the true will of God? What would He desire? Why not start with the honoring of His Word and implement the Sabbath? It is His High Holy Day, it is the day He blessed and sanctified. By keeping His Day it would show our gratefulness to Him.
So, may we heed the words of Samuel:
1 Samuel 15:22-23 -
‘So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubborness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.” Happy
Thank You Day!
2 Corinthians 5:17 ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.’
I was always a little bit confused about that verse. Did it mean that as soon as I surrendered my life to Yeshua that I was suddenly better? No cussing, no anger, never losing my patience; a perfect person? Hmm, I wondered. Then there is this verse: ‘Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.’ Matthew 5:48.
I’m new? I’m perfect? Yes and yes. Am I new in me? No. Am I perfect in me? No. But I am new in Messiah and I am perfect in Messiah.
I think therein lies the twist. I read these Scriptures, and process them in my mind as if I am a new creature in me. Then, when I don’t seem to line up to my expectations of what ‘newness’ I should be, I become disenchanted.
But, it I take the verse for the Hebrew and Torah context that it was and is intended for: I am a new person in, through and because of Him. And the only way that I, in the flesh, can discover what that exactly is, it to know God and to know His will. And I will find that in the Torah.
Then, I can become the new creature in Messiah. Not necessarily quitting bad habits immediately; yes, of course that would be perfect, but rather quitting my Hellenistic view of salvation and returning to the Hebrew walk that I am to have with God.
Life is a journey, absolutely. I can survive as a new creature when I surrender to God completely, which means His Ways – The Torah.
I live in the country, on a ranch, miles from the first stop light. At night we hear sounds of animals, or rain, or wind, or nothingness. It can be quiet, very quiet.
Now we can purchase machines that have sounds on them that we can dial to help us sleep. Rain, thunder, a fireplace, waves, brooks and a sound called ‘white noise’. Theses blissful melodies help babies sleep, adults sleep and sooth our anxious minds.
These are sounds that quiet comes from. These are sounds that bring us closer to silence, to quiet. But they aren’t quiet; they are mood changers, peace makers, emotion soothers. They can enhance quiet. Quiet can be a sound – a nothingness. Quiet can be a lack of motion – a place where we say, “oh I can’t wait to just be quiet.” These can lead us towards quiet, whatever that means for us individually, a place where we stop.
The Lord desires that we seek Him in quietness and that we listen.
Isaiah 30:15 “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength”
That quiet moment will be different for us regarding our lifestyle, age and gender. Some of us will escape to the bath; some will take a walk, or a shower. Some will sit at the kitchen table and some will seek quiet as they rock their baby. The point is to earnestly seek quietness, a stillness in the world we live in.
Mark 1:35-36 ‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Yeshua got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.’
Psalm 1:2 ‘…but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.’
Blessings as you are still in The Lord.
Psalm 52:5 ‘For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.’
The Torah portion Lech Lecha means Go For Yourself. In these chapters of Genesis we read of Abram (Abraham) leaving his family, place of birth, his home and everything that was familiar to him – and following God.
There is a Scripture the often has us believing that as soon as we begin to follow the Messiah we are instantly ‘new’.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.’ Yes, the Scripture is truth; we are new because we now have switched our journey from that of our ‘self’ to that of the Messiah.
But our yearning and commitment to follow the Messiah does not mean instant perfection. Rather a period of growing towards perfection. Moving from the call to the completeness takes time.
Abraham is such an excellent example. He answered directly, he moved instantly, but there were moments in his life that he questioned. He still obeyed the voice of God, but he questioned.
We can all learn from this. We can encourage each other and pray for one another. We can be understanding of our journey and the pitfalls that we encounter as we move towards the perfection that is in the Messiah.