Dancing in the arms of God

Galatians 5 tells us that the flesh wars with the Spirit, but we who are in Christ, are called to be in step with the Spirit, and when we are, we reflect His character, and I think that is like dancing in the arms of God. Being in step requires letting God lead, being neither ahead, nor behind, but with, and trusting Him to orchestrate my life into a beautiful dance, with music and joy, even in the tough times.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hanukkah

The Hebrew word Hanukkah means “dedication”  
and is from sunset of Kislev 24 to sunset of Tevet 2.
This post is on the last day of Hanukkah.

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It is an 8 day celebration of the re-dedication of the Temple of the Lord somewhere around 167 BC.

Though the story of Hanukkah centers around the Jewish children of God, this feast is a time to reflect on the faithfulness of God to all those who belong to Him. We who call upon Messiah have the awesome privilege of being adopted children of the Most High God, and therefore, this is a celebration which can have meaning for those of us who are Gentiles.***  This is a man-instituted feast, not a God-ordained one like the seven in Leviticus 23,* but John 10:22 mentions Messiah in the Temple during the feast of dedication, therefore Messianic Jews and numerous followers of Messiah celebrate Hanukkah today.
Many use it as a time to reflect on their lives, “re-dedicate” themselves as His people. (As the temple was rededicated then, so we who are His temples today can rededicate ourselves).

*personal note: Holidays/celebrations that honor God are good. God is concerned with our hearts; He would never advocate empty ritual over heart-felt worship, so participating in a feast should be out of love and respect for God, not pleasure of man. Messiah participated in Hanukkah, so we who are imitators of Him should consider that such celebrations bless God, as well as add depth of understanding and richness to our Christian walks.
The nuts and bolts of the history of Hanukkah are thus:  
Antiochus IV, or Antiochus Epiphanes, became ruler over Israel after the death of Alexander the Great. Wanting to be perceived as a manifest god himself, he demanded the Jewish people deny their Hebrew God and discontinue customs such as Sabbath, circumcision, and Kosher diets. Antiochus plundered the Temple of God, tearing down walls and burning Torah scrolls.
Then he ordered the Greek god Zeus be worshipped in the Temple, and desecrated the Temple by burning a swine sacrifice on the altar of God. This is what is known as the “abomination of desolation.”

Judah was the son of the Jewish Priest Matthias. He led a revolt against Antiochus with his father and four brothers. He was nicknamed “Maccabee” which means The Hammer in Hebrew.
After a 3 year war, Antiochus was defeated, and the Jewish people returned to restore and re-dedicate the Temple of God.

When they went to light the Menorah, which represents the Light of God in the Temple, they saw there was only enough consecrated oil to burn for one day. It would take an additional
7 days to consecrate holy oil. They decided to go ahead and light the menorah, and let it burn out and then re-light it when there was consecrated oil. But miraculously, the oil continued to burn for a full 8 days, just enough time for Holy oil to be consecrated. This miracle is the miracle of Hanukkah.

A regular menorah has 7 branches, representing seven days, and is lit on the Sabbath.

The Hanukkiyah has 9 branches, 8 representing the 8 day miracle, and the center branch, the Shamash, or servant candle, which is lit first, signifying that Messiah is the center from which all light flows.
On night one, one candle is lit, on night two, two candles, and so on. The candles are lit from left to right of the person facing them.

When the candles are lit, it is tradition to recite the following blessing:

BARUCH ATAH ADONAI ELOHENU MELEK HA-OLAM
ASHER KID-SHANU  B’MITZ-VOH-TAV   L’HADLIK  NER
SHEL HANUKKAH

Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has set us apart by Your commandments and commanded us to kindle the light of Hanukkah.**

**(Personal note. This blessing is adapted from the lighting of the Shabbat {Sabbath} candles – which indeed God has commanded. I do not see where God has commanded us to kindle the light of Hanukkah, although, since Messiah participated in this feast, I do too).

The second blessing is:

BARUCH ATAH ADONAI ELOHENU MELEK HA-OLAM
SHE’ASAH NISIM L’AVOTEYNU BAYAMIN HAHEM BAZMAN HAZEH.

Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has performed miracles for our fathers in those days, at this time.***

***Personal note: Those who have been grafted-in as adopted children of God, are also adopted children into the blessing of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; therefore we claim “our fathers” through that adoption.
{see Romans, Hebrews}

On the first night of Hanukkah, this additional blessing is said as the candle is lit:

BARUCH ATAH ADONAI ELOHENU MELEK HA-OLAM
SHEHECHEYANU, V’KIY’MANU, V’HIGI’ANU LAZMAN HAZEH

Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive and sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.
Once the candles are lit, it is time to eat, sing and play – celebration!

A festive meal is prepared for each of the 8 nights. It is common to have fried foods because they require oil to prepare them. Potato pancakes (Latkes) and fried bread with jelly inside (Sufganiyot) are favorites.

The game of Dreydel is very popular.
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From left to right the letters are : nun, gimel, hay, shin.

These letters stand for “ness gadol hayah sham” –

“a great miracle happened there”.

(In Israel, shim is replaced with peh, “ness gadol hayah po” –

“a great miracle happened here”)

Everyone should have Hanukkah gelt  (chocolate candy wrapped in gold foil to look like coins)
Each person puts a piece of gelt in the “pot” and beginning with the youngest, each person spins the dreydel. The outcome of the spin tells you what to do.

If the dreydel lands with nun up –
nothing happens.
Continue to the next person.

If the dreydel lands on gimel –
the person spinning takes the entire pot.
(After this, everyone puts in another piece to replenish pot).

If the dreydel lands on hay,
the spinner gets half the pot.
(if uneven, lesser half).

If the dreydel lands on shin –
spinner must add a piece to the pot.

1 Comments:

  • At 9:59 AM, Anonymous tammy said…

    hey....any game that involves chocolate is worth playing ALL DAY!

     

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