Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 11 December 2004
NCCG stopped celebrating Hannukah in 2006. To understand why, please click here.
"They took unhewn stones, as Torah commands, and built a new altar on the model of the previous one. They rebuilt the temple and restored its interior, and consecrated the temple courts. They renewed the sacred vessels and the Menorah (lamp-stand), and brought the altar of incense and the table into the temple. They burned incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the Menorah to shine within the temple. When they had put the Bread of the Presence on the table and hung the curtains, all their work was completed.
"Then, early on the 25th day of the ninth month, the month Kislev, in the year 164 B.C., sacrifice was offered as Torah commands on the newly made altar of burnt-offering. On the an anniversary of the day when the Goyim (Gentiles) had profaned it, on that very day, it was rededicated, with hymns of thanksgiving, to the music of harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people prostrated themselves, worshipping and praising Heaven that their cause had prospered.
"They celebrated the rededication of the altar for eight days; there was great rejoicing as they brought burnt-offerings and sacrificed peace-offerings and thank-offerings. They decorated the front of the temple with golden wreaths and ornamental shields. They renewed the gates and the priests' rooms, and fitted them with doors. There was great merrymaking among the people, and the disgrace brought upon them by the Goyim was removed.
"Then Judah, his brothers, and the whole congregation of Israel decreed that the rededication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness at the same season each year, for eight days, beginning on the 25th of Kislev" (1 Maccabees 4:47-59, NEB).
I welcome you to this the fourth day of the Festival called Hanukkah which in the New Testament is called simply the 'Feast of Dedication' (Jn.10:22) as it is known in the Peshitta, or in the Old Syriac, the 'Honour of the Sanctuary'. As we have seen from our text today this is a festival that was established not by Yahweh but by the Congregation of Israel, and specifically, the Congregation of Judah, and so it is not one of the seven annual moedim or 'Appointments' of Yahweh. Our observance of it is therefore optional and the content we put into it is up to us. At the time the festival was designed to resemble in its content Sukkot or the Feast if Tabernacles (2 Macc.10:6) and so it is observed today by the majority of Talmudic and Messianic Jews.
As New Covenant Christians or Messianic Israelites, we observe Hanukkah for two principle reasons:
1. Yah'shua (Jesus) both observed and never spoke against it, and used it as an occasion to teach that He was the Light of the World; and
2. It is an alternative for Western believers to all the paganism of the so-called 'Christmas' season which occurs at approximately the same time in December.
Our observance is therefore Messianic - a further witness of Yah'shua (Jesus) - and practical, at a time when so much raw paganism is active.
Hanukkah historically is a witness of the power of the Ruach (Spirit) and the ability of Yahweh's people to live by the Torah if they so choose to. It is a message of light from a time when the nation of Judah was under the oppression of Gentile darkness, and it is appropriately, then, called the 'Festival of Lights' too on account of the illuminations that were used. Indeed, you will have noticed all the candles that are lit in the evenings in our households. These, however, were, and are, physical lights, symbols of a far greater Light of which the seven-armed Menorah or candelabra is a witness - the Light of Yahweh, our Father in Heaven, and His Representative, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) who said:
"It is necessary for Me to do the works of Him who sent me while it is yet day. The night will come when men will not be able to labour. As long as I am in the world, I AM the Light of the World" (Jn.9:4-5, HRV).
This He said in the context of a blind man about whom His talmidim (disciples) had questioned Him: "Who sinned, this [blind] man or his parents, so that he was born blind?" (v.2). The Master began by answering their question literally, telling them that the fault was not human at all, but that Yahweh's glory might be manifest in the miracle of healing that followed, as well as confirming the doctrine of human pre-existence. And all of this is, of course, within the context of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.
Yah'shua (Jesus) was in the Temple, whose rededication Hanukkah commemorates, on the day of this Festival. This was no accident. By placing Himself there physically He was making a profound prophetic statement, namely, that He was the Light of the Temple, which Temple in the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant) is the human body. The body is the temple of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and the Light of that Body is Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself. He is Himself the living seven-branched lamp-stand or Menorah. And it is particularly important to notice that in Torah this Menorah was always referred to in a personal, masculine pronoun- 'His shaft', 'His branches' rather than 'it's shaft' or 'it's branches'. This is because it is a symbol of a male Person, the One who is the Light of the World. The Menorah itself was made out of pure gold and beaten out of a single bar of gold which is today considered an impossible feat. But Bezaleel, who was given the task directly by Yahweh, and was filled with the Ruach (Spirit) in order to accomplish this incredible task, knew that nothing was impossible with Yahweh-Elohim. Thus the existence of this solid-gold Menorah in the Hekal or Temple was a miracle in itself, just as at the rededication of the temple, the burning of the Menorah lights lasted for eight days with enough oil for only one in the days.
I want you therefore to see the amazing prophetic connection between the original Menorah of the Tabernacle of Moses, the Menorah which burned for eight days with oil for only one, and the Living Menorah which is Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). When Yah'shua (Jesus) stepped into Herod's Temple at Hanukkah and taught He was not only conveying a vital message about spiritual light but was also fulfilling the prophetic type of the Menorah itself.
The original Menorah was beaten by hand into seven decorative branches and stood on the south side of the Holy Place, on the opposite wall from the Table of Showbread. It was the only Light in the Holy Place. The service rendered, the fellowship enjoyed, and the nourishment received were all in the light of this golden seven-armed Candlestick. All the service rendered and the purposes of the Altar of Incense were also done in the light of this Menorah. The beauty of the inner coverings, the beauty of the Veil, and the beauty of the golden boards in this Temple room could only be seen in the light of this Menorah. No external light was permitted to penetrate into this Holy Place because the beauty would never have been seen or understood in the outside light. The light came from the burning of oil, which is a type of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), and only this light would reveal the contents and ministry of the Holy Place.
This Light, is of course, the Light of Yah'shua (Jesus) and is the only light that this room in our soul can be properly viewed in, and the only power that enables us to see it is the Ruach (Spirit). The Menorah is the male Messiah and the oil is the female Ruach (Spirit). Thus the Psalmist could say: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Ps.119:105).
You will also recall that the Holy Place, also known as the Hekal, was the second chamber of the Temple. Beyond it, and only accessible through it, was the Holy of Holies or Debir. In this room there was no lighting at all. The Ark of the Covenant stood in the centre of this room in complete natural darkness. It was only lit by the Light of Yahweh Himself between the Cherumbim on the Mercy Seat. Thus to come to the Father, Yahweh, we must first come through the Room of the Messiah, the Holy Place or Hekal, lit by the Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) - by the Menorah which symbolises Him. Thus we understand the Scripture where Yah'shua (Jesus) says:
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6, NKJV).
You cannot enter into the Chamber of the Father, Yahweh-Elohim, the Debir or Holy of Holies except you pass through Yah'shua (Jesus), the Living Menorah, which lights the Chamber of the Son, the Hekal, or Holy Place. And you will also recall that only the Priests were allowed into this room, just as only the High Priest or Kohen Gaddol could pass into the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Today all who believe in Yah'shua (Jesus) and obey Torah are a Royal Priesthood, and therefore all true believers may enter into the Hekal, the Chamber of the Messiah, who is our advocate with Yahweh the Father. He passes into the Debir on our behalf to make our requests known.
Is this not a beautiful picture? And does not the heavenly design of the Tabernacle demonstrate the Plan of Salvation to us, even without reference to sacrificial lambs, the blood of which made atonement for sin? So whenever I commemorate Hanukkah, it is these things that I principally think on. I remember that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Light of the World, the Living Menorah, and that He alone lights the Holy Place within our souls and gives us access to the Holy of Holies within where the Light of Yahweh dwells to gives us life, the Light of Heaven.
The Menorah was seven-branched, and the central shaft was taller than the other six, even though modern menorahs like this one unfortunately are of the same height. The centre shaft had four sets of bowls, knops and flowers, between and above the branches. It was not so in the branches, and in this respect we see the relationship of the body of Christ coming from the central shaft. The central and taller shaft is Yah'shua (Jesus), the Vine, and the branches are the Bride of Christ, the redeemed in Him - the Messianic Bride.
You will also notice that the Menorah is two-dimensional - the branches do not come out the front or back, but only from the side. As Eve was taken out of the side of Adam, and the sevenfold Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) was taken out of the 'side' of the Father, so the Messianic Bride comes from the riven side of the Messiah who is the True Light of the World.
Six is the number of man. He was made on the sixth day. He was created lower than the angels and thus falls short of Elohim (God) and His perfection. The six branches therefore represent man. Seven, on the other hand, is the number of perfection and only becomes possible if we are in Yah'shua (Jesus) - connected to His very life essence through in-grafting. Thus we come into perfect union with Him as the living Menorah. We read in the Book of Revelation:
"I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man" (Rev.1:12-13, NKJV).
Remember the Menorah was beaten out of a single bar of gold? The six arms came into simultaneous existence with the central trunk. Yah'shua (Jesus) came unwanted into this world but for Mary, His mother, who is a type of the Ruach (Spirit), the Heavenly Mother. Even this world denied a proper place for His birth. He was despised, misunderstood, hungered, thirsted, was falsely accused, spoken evil of and rejected of men. He suffered every pain man and Satan could devise (Is.53). The servant is not above the Master. He died and rose again for our justification, and because He is the firstfruits of the Resurrection we, too, shall live. We are organically a part of Him if we have truly given ourselves to Him.
There is much more that could be said about the design and symbolic meanings of the Menorah which time does not alas permit today. What is important to realise is that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Light given off by the Menorah and the Light of the World (Jn.8:12) just as we, the branches, are called to be lights too (Mt.5:14).
The intimate connection between the oil and the lamp is obvious, and without the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) there would have been no burning Light. It is no accident that there are seven oil chambers on the Menorah because the Ruach (Spirit) is Herself seven as we read:
"These things says He who has the seven Ruachs (Spirits) of Elohim (God)" (Rev.3:1, NKJV).
These Seven Ruachs (Spirits) are before Yahweh's Throne (Rev.1:4) and are represented symbolically as seven lamps of fire (4:5). These are also the seven horns and seven eyes of the Messiah (5:6). So I ask you a question: do you think that the Hanukkah Menorah, which was a redesigned seven-armed Menorah with a central stem or shammus with eight branches represented more than the eight days that the Menorah burned with one cruise of oil at the time of the Rededication of the Temple? To be sure, when the nine-armed Hanukkah was designed I am sure they were not thinking of any esoteric meaning but could Yahweh, who knew that this nine-armed candelabra would be used throughout the generations down to our day, have concealed a mystery in it?
One cruise of oil designed for one day lasted eight. Out of the one came eight, and eight, as you know, is the scriptural number of resurrection, and was the number of humans saved in the Ark of Noah. The Godhead consists of the Father - Yahweh, the Son - Yah'shua (Jesus), and the Seven Ruachs (Spirits), making a total of Nine - the same number of arms of the Hanukkah Menorah. Could it be that whilst the seven-armed Menorah symbolises Yah'shua (the Bridegroom) and the True Believers (the Bride), that the Hanukkah Menorah represents the entire Godhead? And is there a connection between the original Menorah, Hanukkah, and Yah'shua (Jesus) as the New Covenant Messiah? The facts would seem to be undeniable.
Out of the One, Yahweh Almighty, has proceeded the Seven Ruachs (Spirits) and the Son, Yah'shua (Jesus), or Eight. They are surely the Hanukkah Menorah. And the miracle, of eight days burning from one, is this not a sign of the Resurrection and of the Ark of Salvation?
Everything neatly connects together, no scripture is omitted, all harmonises. Yahweh has given us three symbols to represent this work - the first was the crowned Lion with the Sceptre of Authority (replaced recently by the Sword of the Ruach/Spirit), and the other was the seven-armed Menorah made out of olive branches, which are living, for the Menorah is no longer a metal symbol pointing to the Messiah, but has become a living, plural Messianic Betrothal. Finally, to represent the completion of this restorative work, we have adopted the nine-armed Menorah to represent the Firstborn work we have been commissioned to establish.
For New Covenant Messianic Israelites (NCCG) Hanukkah is an exciting time, for it represents for us the convergence of the Old, New and Millennial Covenants into one. Our spiritual life begins with Yah'shua (Jesus) in the power of the Ruach (Spirit) in our inner Holy Place, and ends in the Holy of Holies with El Elyon, the Most High One. Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Way and Yahweh the goal: "Then comes the end, when He [Yah'shua] delivers the kingdom to El (God) the Father [Yahweh] (1 Cor.15:23-24, NKJV), the Shammus, the Centre and Pillar of All. Amen.
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Last updated on 7 January 2005
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