Rabbi’s Reflections – Friday, December 11, 2020 

(Second light of Chanukah)

(Early) Shabbat Shalom *|FNAME|*, 

Early this morning I was telling Jan my version of the Chanukah story.  It went something like this.  Alexander the Great (who had conquered the entire known world by the age of 33) died in 323BC.  His kingdom was divided among his generals with Persia eventually being ruled in 305BC by Seleucus I (the first) as king.  He was the first of 30 rulers, who became known as the Seleucid kings.  They ruled the area from Persia (modern Iran) all the way to Egypt which included the land of Israel.  

The 8th Seleucid king was Antiochus IV who added the title “Epiphanes” to his name.  Epiphanes means “the outward manifestation of god,” and he demanded that he and his image be worshipped as god.  In 167BC the king’s garrison reached the small town of Modein (outside Jerusalem).  To worship the king and his image was unacceptable to Mattathias Maccabee  who rebelled with his 5 sons.  

They took to the hill country around Jerusalem and for 3 years waged a guerrilla war, ultimately driving the Syria based rulers out of Jerusalem.  Mattathias died in battle after the first year of the war, and his son, Judah, became the leader of the rebellious militia.  

Rabbi Trail:  The history on much of this is clouded.  What is clear is that the Hasmonean Dynasty was birthed in the year 140BC out of this revolt.  It lasted until the Romans appointed Herod in 37BC. END RT.

The victorious Jews, under the leadership of Judah Maccabee, cleansed the defiled Temple for months.  Finally, on the 25th of Kislev they were ready to light the menorah and reinstitute Temple worship.  But there was only a one day supply of oil, and it would take 8 days to perform the purification process to make more.  By an act of faith they lit the menorah immediately.  Miraculously, the oil burned for the 8 days needed to make more.  

And that, my friends, is a “thumbnail sketch” of the miracle of Chanukah.  But there are some parallels and comparisons to be drawn from the Maccabees back then, and us today.  We are being told to “bow down” to big government, big business, big social media and big news media.  The term “drink the Kool-aid” comes to mind.  

We must resist.  But unlike the Maccabees, our weapons are not carnal… 2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds. We are tearing down false arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah— 6 ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

This leads us to prayer.  Prayer is a weapon because it releases the power of God in the earth.  Let not one person reading this doubt that prayer is effective. Jacob 5:16b The effective prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.   

Make this Chanukah an effective and powerful personal rededication.  If enough of us join in this prayer “warfare,” we (like the children of Israel at the edge of the Red Sea will… Exodus 14:13a But Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see the salvation (Yeshua) of Adonai, which He will perform for you today.

And the result will be an answer to this prayer… 2 Chronicles 7:14 when My people, over whom My Name is called, humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. 

Like the Maccabees of old, we too must light the lamp of dedication and keep it burning through prayer.  These next 8 days are important on many levels.  Let’s make it a Chanukah to remember.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Fri 11-Dec-2020 25th of Kislev, 5781 Chanukah Day 1

Ge 39:7-23 1 Sa 28-29       Ps 73 Lk 1:39-80     (1 Co 15:1-28)

Nu 7:1-17 1 Macc ch 1-2

I want to write something about Psalm 73 today.  This is a Messianic prophetic Psalm that (like practically all of the Bible) can only be rightly understood through an appreciation of Messiah Yeshua.  

In the Psalm, Asaph is troubled over the prosperity of the wicked until He steps into the Temple and receives revelation.  Psalm 73:16 But when I tried to make sense of this, it was troubling in my eyes—17 until I entered the Sanctuary of God, and perceived their end.

But each of us has a calling to take on the mind of Messiah.  (Philippians 2:5).  In the following verse, we acknowledge that the flesh is weak, and that our strength comes from God.

Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  And who doesn’t like a joyful conclusion?   Psalm 73:28 But for me, it is good to be near God. I have made my Lord Adonai my refuge. So I will tell of all Your works.

Week 50
Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 2:1 Therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Messiah Yeshua. 2 And what you have heard from me among many witnesses, entrust to faithful people who will be capable to teach others also.

246   12/10  Monday:       1 Timothy 1-3

247   12/11  Tuesday:       1 Timothy 4-6

248   12/12  Wednesday:  2 Timothy 1-2    

249   12/13  Thursday:      2 Timothy 3-4

* 250 12/14  Friday:          1 Peter 1-2

As you can see, we are reading #250.  The reading program is called F-260 (Foundations 260) because we read 5 days a week times 52 weeks a year, which equals 260 readings.  Since we are on #250, that leaves 10 (or 2 weeks) to finish up the year.  This will conclude our 3rd year.  On December 28th we’ll start again in Genesis 1, beginning the 4 year of our reading cycle.  

Question of the Day:  Why do we have to go through trials?

Answer:  Peter does answer the question quite effectively.  1 Peter 1:7 These trials are so that the true metal of your faith (far more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire) may come to light in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Messiah Yeshua.

Our calling is to be refined gold.  The purpose of the refiner’s fire is to burn away impurities.   Zechariah prophesies that one third will be victorious.  Zechariah 13:8 Then it will happen —it is a declaration of Adonai— that in the entire land two-thirds will be cut off and die, but a third will be left in it. 9 This third I will bring through the fire. I will refine them as silver is refined, and will test them as gold is tested. They will call on My Name and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will answer, ‘Adonai is my God.’

Isaiah also makes this connection… Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined you, though not as silver. I tested you in the furnace of affliction.  Yeshua, Himself, offers us comfort with these thoughts… Matthew 5:25a “So I say to you, do not worry about your life… 27 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 31 Therefore do not worry.”

The calling is to build faith through trials.  Jeremiah 17:7 Blessed is the one who trusts in Adonai, whose confidence is in Adonai. 8 For he will be like a tree planted by the waters, spreading out its roots by a stream. It has no fear when heat comes, but its leaves will be green. It does not worry in a year of drought, nor depart from yielding fruit.  In times of trial (and they will come) stand firm with roots that drink from the depths of the river of life.