Shalom Haverim! (Hello Friends!),
Did you miss my November newsletter? Well, if you did, there is a good reason why. I didn’t publish one! My life has been full of so much activity and unexpected interruptions over the past few weeks that I decided to publish a combination November/December newsletter! That is my reason, (not excuse) for this combo newsletter! (As a former parishioner once told me, “An excuse is the skin of a reason that is stuffed with a lie!”)
(Hope you had a) Happy Thanksgivukkah!
We have just experienced a very unique occurrence! Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincided this year! It was a little odd to say “Happy Hanukkah” and “Happy Thanksgiving” in the same breath, so someone came very cleverly came up with the phrase “Happy Thanksgivukkah!” These two holidays have not occurred at the same time in well over 100 years and will not occur at the same time again for some 70,000 years, so I hope that you enjoyed their conjunction this year!
If you do not know that story of Hanukkah, permit me to offer the following which I borrowed from fellow Rock of Israel Staff Minister, Doug Carmel.
“In the year 165 BC, the Jewish people who lived in Israel where living under the rule of the foreign King Antiochus Epiphanes, who took control of the Temple in Jerusalem. He forced the Jewish people to abandon their worship of God, made them bow down to the Greek gods and sacrificed a pig on the altar.
As a result of the severe persecution, a group of four Jewish brothers, led by Judah Maccabee, decided to raise up an army of fighters. These men became known as the Maccabees. They fought for three years until achieving deliverance from the Syrian control.
The rededication of the Temple to the Lord took place in the year 165 BC, on the 25th day of the Hebrew month called Kislev. So Hanukkah received its name, the Feast of Dedication, because it celebrates the Maccabees’ victory over Greek oppression and the “rededication” (The Hanukkah-ing) of the temple.
But Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights, and this is because immediately following the miraculous deliverance, Jewish tradition states that God provided another miracle of provision.
According to tradition, when the Temple was rededicated, there was only enough oil left in the temple to burn the oil lamp for one day. But at the rededication, the Maccabees went ahead and lit the flame with the remaining supply of oil, and God caused it to burn miraculously for eight days, until the new sacred oil was ready.
This is why the feast is also called the Festival of Lights, and why the Hanukkah Menorah is lit for eight consecutive nights of celebration. Jewish people also commemorate this miracle of oil provision by making oil-rich foods, such as “Latkies”, (potato pancakes fried in oil).”
Gabriel Appears to Mary
Many people believe (and I happen to be one of them) that on one particular Hanukkah that Gabriel appeared to a young Jewish virgin, named Miriam (Mary), telling her that she would bear a child who would be called “the Son of God.” This is the true miracle of Hanukkah! It is when God sent His Light into the world as Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary!
One of the great things about Hanukkah is the game played with a little spinning top called “dreidel.” The dreidel has four Hebrew letters on it which represent the phrase, “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham” which means “a great miracle happened there!” Truly, the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary, a virgin, is a great miracle! The conception of Jesus is the miracle of His coming to live among us in the flesh! His birth was a normal human birth, but His conception was supernatural!
Hanukkah usually occurs sometime in December, causing some to identify it with the Christmas season. However, if Jesus was conceived at Hanukkah and was born of woman (Galatians 4:4), He could not have been born on December 25, unless He had the longest gestation period of any child in the history of the world! Obviously, Jesus would have had to be born at some other time of year, which brings me to the point which I would like to make as we speak of the Christmas season.
What do we celebrate at Christmas? Do we celebrate a day? a date? reindeer? a fat man dressed in a red suit that brings gifts to good little boys and girls? No! We celebrate God sending His Son who is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world! We celebrate God with us! We celebrate the Messiah who is “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:32) My point is that we commemorate the Savior coming, even more than His birth! Billions of children have been born but only one was our Savior!
With that being said, I want to do what I usually do each December in this newsletter, post the words to some of the Christmas carols which bless my soul with some of the profound truths which the coming of the Messiah reveal!
Good people all, this Christmas time, Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done, In sending His beloved Son.
With Mary holy we should pray to God with love this Christmas Day;
In Bethlehem upon the morn, there was a blessed Messiah born!
“Oh Come, All Ye Faithful”
God of God, Light of Light, Lo, He abhors not the virgin’s womb;
Very God, begotten not created: O come let us adore him Christ the Lord.
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning; Jesus, to Thee be the glory giv’n;
Word of the Father, Now in the flesh appearing, O come let us adore him Christ the Lord.
May the Blessings of the LORD overtake you this Holiday Season!
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Messiahmas from the Dockins!
We’ll see you back on our regular schedule in January!
Our 2014 Spring schedule is filling up fast! If you would like for me to come to your church to present a Messianic Passover Seder, a message on the Jewish people and how to reach them or just preach from a Jewish perspective, now is the time to contact me! To learn more about our ministry go to http://jdockinsrockofisrael.wordpress.com/
You can reach me:
-by phone @ 479-453-0203 or 800-722-ROCK (7625), the dial ext. 106!
-on Facebook @ Jay Dockins
-on Twitter @JayDockins
-or by email @ firstname.lastname@example.org