Happy Lord’s Day! Oh friends, what a day to rejoice in all the Lord has done for us!
Here in Israel Jews are celebrating Hanukkah. The streets are adorned with menorahs and there is great joy in the city of Jerusalem. It is much like Christmas in terms of lights and God-given cheer, but Hanukkah has nothing to do with Christmas. It is the celebration of the cleansing and rededication of the Second Temple.
After Alexander the Great conquered surrounding land, Greek culture took root in and around Israel. When Antiochus IV came to rule, Jews began to be openly persecuted, study of the Torah became illegal, and the altar was desecrated. Finally, in about 165 AD Judah Maccabee organized a revolt and the Temple was liberated and rededicated. The menorah which was to burn continually in the Temple was re-lit, but had only enough oil to last one day. However, the Lord performed a miracle by causing that oil to last for 8 days until new oil could be prepared.
Thus, the menorah has 8 candles (plus the center “servant” candle) and Hanukkah lasts for 8 days. The Jews celebrate the rededication of the Temple by lighting one additional light each night of Hanukkah. Families play the Dreidel game, which usually includes treats for the kids. (Thus, in some contemporary Jewish homes, particularly outside Israel, families give gifts to their children on these 8 days.) In Jerusalem today, they have begun the eight-day celebration and there is great joy in Israel!
After wrapping up our seminar, we attended King of Kings Community (a Messianic congregation in the heart of Jerusalem). We sang Hebrew songs, celebrated the lighting of the menorah, and heard a message relating to Hanukkah and a “miraculous month.” After dinner, I tuned in online to my home church to hear my pastor teach about Hanukkah. Even on the other side of the world, we join in the great Jewish celebrations! (Click here for more about Hanukkah.)
As our “Antisemitism, the Holocaust, and Israel” seminar came to a close, we were reminded of the threats in our world today. Some deny the holocaust, so we were given hard data in which to share as we teach what we’ve learned. We also heard from a former Israeli Ambassador. He is fluent in Arabic and is an expert in Islamic teachings. We learned about the threats to Israel, and the truth about what inspires Islamic ideology. (Jihadist theology!)
Finally, we heard a very impassioned “charge” from Dr Susanna Kokkonen, Director of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem, and our seminar director. We were exhorted to understand and share that Israel, and indeed the world, are in big trouble today. Why? Because there is a vacuum in the Middle East where no one wants to step up and take leadership. Thus, Sharia law is spreading faster than most of us are aware. In addition, the BDS Movement that is gaining so much steam right now, has one single goal: the destruction of Israel.
I don’t have words to explain, and there is way too much to teach in the medium of a blog post. However, I am stirred to share what I have learned because the world MUST know, and I have a voice. Those who know me well, know that my calling is to be a watchman (woman!) on the wall. The idea comes from Ezekiel 33:1-6:
And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’”
Lord have mercy if I see the sword coming but do not blow the trumpet to warn others. I don’t know what the Lord will do with what I have spent over a week in Israel studying, but I am sure there is something! Will you pray for the Lord to make clear to me His message and how to impart it? There is much to process and assimilate and I need your prayers!
I’ll spend a couple more days in Jerusalem making strategic connections with people and organizations before I make the long journey home. I’ll also visit the new Friends of Zion Museum (only blocks from my hotel). More about that tomorrow, Lord willing!
Blessings to you all, and thanks for your prayers. Happy Lord’s Day…and shalom from Jerusalem!