22 It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; 23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:22 -30
We figure most of you have heard a thousand sermons on “I and the Father are one”, so we’re going to skip that part. Many of you have never noticed that it was the feast of the Dedication. This feast is Chanukah/Hanukkah (doesn’t really matter how you spell it as long as it has 8 letters). Many think Chanukah/Hanukkah means the festival of lights, the “light” term comes from Josephus, and that part came latter. The word means dedication or consecration.
In 175 BCE, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, invaded Judea, at the invitation of the Hellenizers. He forced the people to sacrifice to Greek Gods. He did not allow the circumcision of the boys to continue, under pain of death. He killed any who opposed his paganization of the populace. After great suffering, the people united under the leadership of the Mattathias and his 5 sons, who fought the Greeks and regained control of the temple. According to 1 Maccabees it took 8 days to clean the temple. Two hundred years later a tradition started that during this cleaning of the temple, the menorah or lampstand in the temple burned these 8 days, on only one days worth of oil.
On The first Chanukah
He (Judas Maccabee) chose blameless priests devoted to the law, and they cleansed the sanctuary and removed the defiled stones to an unclean place. They deliberated what to do about the altar of burnt offering, which had been profaned. And they thought it best to tear it down, lest it bring reproach upon them, for the Gentiles had defiled it. So they tore down the altar, and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until there should come a prophet to tell what to do with them. Then they took unhewn stones, as the law directs, and built a new altar like the former one. They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the temple, and consecrated the courts. They made new holy vessels, and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. Then they burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps on the lampstand, and these gave light in the temple. They placed the bread on the table and hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken
Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering which they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and offered burnt offerings with gladness; they offered a sacrifice of deliverance and praise. They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and furnished them with doors. There was very great gladness among the people, and the reproach of the Gentiles was removed.
Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with gladness and joy for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev. 1 Mac. 4:42-59
Chanukah/Hanukkah is about fighting to keep our faith pure and undefiled by those things that are pagan. It is better to die than assimilate into the pagan culture around us. We no longer have a temple of stones, Messiah Himself sent the Romans destroy it.
. . . and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:44
Now we are now the temple
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw — each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are. 1Cor. 3:10-17
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; 1 Cor. 6:19
We are not children of Moses, with a tabernacle or temple that was only a symbolic representation of Messiah, we have Messiah. And He made us children of Abraham, who had no tabernacle or temple. He did not build temples and hold sacrifices everyday. He seems to have kept the holy days before they were explained by Moses. But he was a prophet, priest, and a king.
So at this time of year we of the Messianic/Hebrew Roots movement need to stop looking to that temple of stone, and start rededicating our own temples. Stop pining for the temple of stone and look to the true temple, our souls.
Like the people under the Maccabees we must clean out all that is pagan and dirt that has collected in our souls. All the false ideas, false beliefs, and false hopes.
The pagan culture around us wants us to conform. Drag a dirty tree into our homes, lie to our children that this is Jesus’ birthday, and hold a feast for winter solstice. Unlike the Maccabees or the saints of the INQUISITION, we face no real persecution. No one is trying to burn us at the stake. Yet we cower. We hesitate. We are ashamed of our faith. We run like lambs when we should stand like lions.
We are to be His bride clean and white.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure” — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. Rev. 19:7-8