This phrase is a part of the Chanukah Festival of Lights, which begins on the 25th Kislev (10th — 18th December 2020).
This phrase is part of a Dreidel game (spinning toy illustrated in the image) that is played at this time.
A Great Miracle Happened There — Nes Gadol Haya Sham — נס גדול היה שם
Christmas blessings to all my dear family members through Messiah Yeshua. Blessings on you all who are standing for our precious Lord here in Australia and rising up with Him to fulfil His calling and purposes for our land.
Kym at the Western Wall, December 2015.
Why am I writing about the Feast of Chanukah?
To most of us it is a distinctly Jewish festival, but Yeshua celebrated it.
It was 2015 when Kym, I and a young lady visited Israel after ministering in Kenya and Uganda. We arrived at the time of Chanukah, 6-14th December. It was a short but memorable trip. The air was crisp and cold like an Adelaide Winter, not the usual hot dry climate of the Middle East.
Oh! but the lights! They call Chanukah the Festival of Lights and it really is, with candles, Hanukkiah (9 branched candlesticks) everywhere, Jerusalem lit up at night — an unforgettable memory.
But how did Chanukah start and why is it important?
And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
~ John 10:22
22 Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, 23 and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s Colonnade. 24 So the Judeans surrounded him and said to Him,
“How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Messiah, tell us publicly!” 25 Yeshua answered them,
“I have already told you, and you don’t trust Me.
The works I do in My Father’s name testify on My behalf, 26 but the reason you don’t trust is that you are not included among My sheep. 27 My sheep listen to My voice, I recognise them, they follow Me, 28 and I give them eternal life.
They will absolutely never be destroyed,
and no one will snatch them from my hands. 29 My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all;
and no one can snatch them from the Father’s hands. 30 I and the Father are one.”
~ John 10:22-30 CJB
The word Chanukah[חנכה] means dedication or consecration, and is celebrated each year as the Feast of Dedication or the Festival of Lights. Jesus made sure He was in Jerusalem during Chanukah, the Feast of Dedication, in John chapter 10.
חָנַךְ Chanak: to inaugurate, to dedicate, to consecrate
The feast that Jesus celebrated
Chanukah lasts eight days and begins on the 25th of Kislev. It marks an historic event that took place in the 2nd century BC, when King Antiochus IV tried to force the Jews in the Land of Israel to adopt certain customs that were against the laws of Judaism. The Jews and Maccabees, led by Judah Maccabee, son of Mattathias the high priest, revolted against the Seleucid Empire. In 164 BC, under Judah Maccabee’s leadership, the revolt reached its climax with the liberation of Jerusalem from foreign rule, including the Holy Temple.
Chanukah is a non-Biblical feast that is celebrated in Judaism. The event that brought about this celebration was because it was believed that there was a miracle of the one day’s oil lasting in the Temple menorah for eight days instead of only one. Judah Maccabee had removed all of the statues depicting Greek gods and goddesses and purified the Temple again for worship of the One True God. Chanukah had become part of the Jewish history before the time of Yeshua.
Antiochus Epiphanes had set up an altar to Zeus in the Temple when he offered a pig (unholy blood) there during the Inter-Testamental period, approximately 165 BC. There was only enough oil to light the Menorah for one night, but the light continued for eight days while they prepared more special oil for the Menorah.
The oil was not mentioned in the Apocryphal book of Maccabees and only surfaced much later in about AD 500 in the Mishnah.
According to the Jewish tradition, a Chanukiah is used. It is like a Menorah which has seven branches, but the Chanukiah has nine branches. Eight candles are lit to represent the eight days of oil when the Temple was being rededicated, and the ninth candle is the Shamash or servant candle that lights the others.
Other ancient documents: Flaviius Josephus referred to the commemoration of the Maccabees as an eight-day festival of light (Antiquities XII).
Years after the Maccabean revolt, Yeshua celebrated Chanukah in the same Temple that had been cleansed and rededicated only a few generations earlier. The thinking in Judaism was and is that they were waiting for Messiah to come and destroy Israel’s enemies and for Him to establish an earthly Kingdom.
What if the Maccabees had not won?
Should we reject this festival because it is not Biblical but connected to Rabbinical tradition?
If the Lord had not given the victory to the Maccabees and the Temple was destroyed, it is feasible that the Jewish identity could have been lost. If the Jews were assimilated into Greek culture, it is entirely possible that the Messiah may not have come due to these great losses.
Chanukah is a time of celebration to commemorate the victory over Antiochus Epiphanes who was a type of the Antichrist, but it also looks forward to the final victory still to be outworked.
It is a joyous time for the Jews, no mourning and fasting like in other festivals. A more recent tradition is that children receive gifts, not just for one night but for eight nights of the celebration.
Part of the celebrations includes foods cooked in oil like doughnuts or latkes (fried potato pancakes).
They even dance the Hora (Israeli folk dancing), use a dreidel (spinning toy) and the children receive gelt (chocolate money). Kym’s observation was that it was not materialistic even though they give gifts — it was holy, and family-centred.
Chanukah means dedication/consecration
In this season of light and miraculous provision, let us rededicate/reconsecrate ourselves to be used in a new way for a new season.
We can see that the story of Chanukah reveals provision, the miraculous and light, and we thank our Father God for His provision in our lives in the darkness that we live in today, His miraculous intervention in our daily lives and the blessedness of His light so that we can see the way forward.
Let our hearts focus on Yeshua, the Light of the World as we consecrate ourselves to Him and to His purposes. May His light continue to burn brightly in us, and may our Jewish brothers through Abraham also come to see that Yeshua is the Messiah for whom they have waited —
“Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son…”
~ Zechariah 12:10
At this time of Chanukah into which we are now entering (December 2020), just like Judah Maccabee, the leader of the Maccabees and his followers, did not give up during the time of the control of the Seleucid Empire, but won a great victory — the light of God returned in such an amazing way, miracles happened, the Temple was reconsecrated, Jewish identity was held and this all paved the way for the coming of the Messiah. May this also be our experience at this time when we hold true in trusting the Lord, to see His mighty acts, rededicate ourselves and prepare for His return and enthronement.
Father, in this dark time on planet Earth,
even though we need provision, miracles and Your amazing light,
we keep our focus on You through Yeshua, our Beloved,
and look forward, with confidence to the time ahead,
because You are already there, leading the way. Amen.
Song: Al Hanisim
(And) for the miracles,
and for the redemption,
and for the mighty acts,
and for the consolations,
and for the battles
that You performed for our forefathers,
in those days, at this time…
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