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  • Ruby Haskins
      A HEBREW SAGE MIGHT SAY. . . It is easier for one to raise a myriad of olive trees in Galilee than to bring up one child in the Land of Israel.[MIDRASHRaba]
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 12, 2012
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      It is easier for one to raise a myriad of olive trees in Galilee than to bring up one child in the Land of Israel. [MIDRASH Raba]
      THE STORY OF CHANUKKAH (Part 1 of 4)
      Chanukkah means dedication. It is the Jewish Festival celebrating the Maccabees' victory over the Syrian army in 165 BCE (Before Common Era/BCBefore CHRIST).

      The Feast of Dedication, Chanukah, celebrates two miracles: First, the victory of a small greatly outnumbered army of Jews (the Maccabee) over the strong and forceful Greek army. The Jews had taken their stand for their faith, their GOD, and their way of life. . . and won! The Maccabees drove the Greeks from the Promised Land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (which had been desecrated by the Seleucids) and rededicated it to the service of YEHOWAH ELOHEY.

      The second miracle was that of the Menorah and the light that burned for eight days (which should have lasted only one day), allowing a ritually pure oil to be made as prescribed by those assigned to do so. Having the Menorah lit continually in the Temple was extremely important to worship the GREAT GOD OF HEAVEN as HE instructed.

      Alexander the Great once conquered all the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, creating a vast Greek Empire. At the age of 33, he died broken-hearted, feeling that he had conquered all that was worth conquering. Wherever the Greek army went, Greek culture, language and religion were forced upon the population known as "Hellenism."

      After Alexander died, the Greek Empire was divided among his generals: Antigonus received Asia; Ptolemy, Egypt; Seleucus obtained Babylon; Lysimachus acquired Hellespont; and Cassander took over Macedonia. There were wars back and forth continually for years.

      At the time of the Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanies (means: the deified god) ruled Syria and Ptolemy ruled Egypt. These two warred over the Holy Land. Antiochus launched a military campaign against Egypt in order to bring all of Israel under Syrian dominion. They imposed Hellenistic culture and religion on all they conquered with a vengeance. The Syrians were incredibly barbaric, even the Greek language was imposed upon the people they conquered. It was forbidden to study TORAH, observe Shabbat, use the Hebrew language or perform circumcision. Circumcised baby boys were killed and the mothers were forced to carry the dead infants hanging from their necks. Jews were given the choice to give up Judaism or die, often by torture; pagan temples were built throughout Israel. Then they plundered and desecrated the Temple of ELOHEY on the 24th of Kislev 168 BCE.

      The soldiers even sacrificed a swine on the Temple Altar, the HOLY TORAH was spattered with pig blood and cut into pieces, then burned. Then Antiochus committed the ultimate offense on the birthday of Zeus, which is the month of Kislev (December) 24. Antiochus had his soldiers erect an idol of Zeus Olympus, the Greek’s supreme deity, in the Holy of Holies of the Temple of ELOHEY. Not surprisingly, the idol bore the face of Antiochus himself. He demanded that the people bow down to worship his idol god. {As described in Daniel/Danyel 9. 27; 11. 30-31; Matthew 24. 1517} Many Jews would not give allegiance to a heathen deity, and as many as 80,000 people chose to die rather than commit idolatry.

      In MESSIAH YESHUA dwells the fullness of the GODHEAD BODILY.

      THE STORY OF CHANUKKAH (Part 2 of 4)
      Antiochus enacted a series of harsh decrees against the Jews. Jewish worship was forbidden; the SCROLLS OF THE LAW were confiscated and burned. Sabbath rest, circumcision and the dietary laws were prohibited under penalty of death. Even one of the respected elders of that generation, Rabbi Eliezer, a man of 90, was ordered by the servants of Antiochus to eat pork so that others would do the same. When he refused they suggested to him that he pick up the meat to his lips to appear to be eating. But Rabbi Eliezer refused to do even that and was put to death.

      There were thousands of others who likewise sacrificed their lives. The following is a famous story told of Hannah and her seven son’s courage happened at that time. They were arrested and compelled to eat swine’s flesh and thereby assent to the pagan sacrifice. One by one, when they refused to yield, they were tortured.

      The first son had his extremities cut off, was scalped, had his tongue cut out, and still refused to eat pig. Finally he was boiled alive.

      The second son had the skin stripped from his head, and still refused to eat pig. He exclaimed to Antiochus "In-human fiend, you may discharge us from this present life, but the KING OF THE WORLD will raise us up, since it is for HIS Laws that we die, to live again forever."

      Then, third son held out his arms for dismemberment saying "It was the GOD OF HEAVEN that gave me these limbs; for the sake of HIS Laws I disdain them; from HIM I hope to receive them again."

      When the third son died, the fourth son was tortured. He cried "Ours is the better choice, to meet death at men's hands, yet relying on ELOHIYM'S promise that we shall be raised up by HIM; whereas for you there can be no resurrection, no new life."

      As they tortured the fifth son, he said "Do not think that our race has been deserted by YEHOWAH. Only wait, and you shall see in your turn how HIS mighty power will torment you and your race."

      The sixth son died with the words "We are suffering like this through our own fault, having sinned against ELOHEY, but do not think you yourself will go unpunished for attempting to make war on YEHOWAH."

      Finally the seventh son died with the following words: "Our brothers already, after enduring their brief pain, now drink of ever-flowing life, by virtue of YEHOWAH'S covenant, while you, by the ALMIGHTY'S judgment, will have to pay the just penalty for your arrogance. I too, like my brothers, surrender my body and life for the Laws of my ancestors, calling upon ELOHEY to show HIS kindness to our nation, and that soon."

      Ultimately, Hannah, their Mother was also put to death. All steadfastly refused deliverance in hope of the resurrection.

      THE MACCABEES: In a little village 15 miles NW of Jerusalem, a priest named Mattathias and his five sons rebelled. Before his death, Mattityahu called his sons together and urged them to continue to fight in defense of GODS TORAH. He asked them to follow the counsel of their brother Shimon-the-Wise. In waging warfare, he said, their leader should be Yehuda-the-Strong. Yehuda was called "Maccabee (means: hammer)" a word composed of the initial letters of the four Hebrew words "Mi Komocho bo'Eilim ha’Shem Who is like unto YOU, O GOD."

      Under the leadership of the oldest son, Judah Maccabees, they launched a guerrilla-style war against Antiochus Epiphanies and his army. Its purpose was to force the Syrians out of Israel and restore worship to YEHOWAH. Mattathias killed all the traitors and then killed the Syrian commissioners. After a 3-year struggle, the Jews drove the Syrian army out of the Promised Land. Their rallying cry from Matthias was "Let everyone who has a fervor for the Law take his stand on the Covenant and come out and follow me. Let us fight unto death in defense of our souls and our Temple!" [1 Maccabeus 2. 27 28] In other words, "return and obey the VOICE OF THE LORD your GOD, and do all HIS commandments. For the LORD your GOD is a COMPASSIONATE GOD; HE will not fail you nor will HE let you perish; HE will not forget the covenant which HE made on oath with your fathers." [Deuteronomy (Devarim) 4. 29 - 31 Tanakh, Torah]

      Exactly 3 years to the very date after the Temple was desecrated, the 24th of Kislev, the triumphant Jews made their entrance into the TEMPLE OF GOD and re-dedicated it to the service of YEHOWAH ELOHEY.

      In the LORDS TEMPLE, the priests were to leave a light burning in obedience to the command of GOD MOST HIGH, "Command the children of Israel to bring you pure beaten olive oil for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. In the Tabernacle of Meeting, outside the veil, which is before the ARK OF THE COVENANT, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before YEHOWAH. It shall be a decree forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel throughout the ages." [Exodus (Shemot) 27. 20 - 21 Tanakh, Torah] When the Maccabees prepared to rekindle the Menorah to re-dedicate the Temple of ELOHEY which had been spoiled by the enemy, they discovered only one single jar of olive oil buried beneath the ruins with the seal of the High Priest still intact on its lid. This was tragic because the Jewish people could not carry out YEHOWAH'S command as there was only enough oil to burn one day.

      For olive oil to be dedicated for use in the Lamp, it was to be made by the High Priest and sealed with his seal after being sanctified (set apart) for 7-days; then on the 8th day it was "Holy to the LORD." [Exodus/Shemot 29. 37; Leviticus/Vayikra 12. 3; Ezekiel/Yehezke-El 43. 26 27; 2 Chronicles/Dibre Hayamin Bet 29. 17] According to the Jewish tradition, "nes gadol haya shem (a Great Miracle happened there)" ...the small flask of oil lasted for a full eight days! {In Jerusalem, they say: "Nes Gadol Haya Po a Great Miracle happened here (Jerusalem)."}

      . . . to be continued

      Heaven and nature sing"Joy to the world, the LORD has come!"
      THE STORY OF CHANUKKAH (Part 3 of 4)
      The 24th of Kislev was important to Israel years before the Maccabees memorialized it with Chanukkah. It was the day that "The FOUNDATION was laid for the LORD'S Temple." [Haggai/Chagai 2. 18 - 19] It was also a day when victory was promised to the Children of Israel, the ETERNAL ONE said "Speak to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah : I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. And I will overturn the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathens. I will overturn chariots and their drivers. Horses and their riders shall fall, each by the sword of his brother for I have chosen you and will bring you close to ME, says the LORD OF HOSTS." [Haggai (Chagai) 2. 21 - 23 Tanakh, Nevi'im] {Special Note: Zerubbabel is the center of the MESSIANIC Line and like a signet, seals both branches together. . . Obedience: present blessing; Promise: future blessing.}

      This Day now celebrated as Chanukkah was "A Day of Faith." It was in the dead of winter, food was scarce [Haggai/Chagai 2. 16-17], it seemed as if the ALMIGHTY had forsaken HIS people. Yet, the LORD said, "from this Day, I will send you blessings." Haggai looked forward to the harvest (Succoth Feast of Ingathering/Booths) which was nine months away. [Haggai/Chagai 2. 19] Was Chanukkah the timing when the people of GOD finally stirring themselves and put their hands to the task of building GODS HOUSE; for GOD promises that henceforth the crops would be sure.

      The MIGHTY LORD GOD OF HEAVEN & EARTH delivered Israel to fulfill the promise through Haggai, HE delivered Israel in the days of the Maccabees, and HE is able to deliver Israel in this day. When things look the worst, when you see these things, know that the LORD YESHUA is near, even at the door.

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