Christ in Hanukkah

Christ in Hanukkah

Based on and adapted from: Christmas Would Be Impossible Without Hanukkah by Dr. David Brickner of Jews for Jesus, video:

Nes gadol haya sham! [Shabat] Shalom! Welcome!

We know from Scripture that after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, His followers began spreading the news and people were coming to faith in Jesus as their Christ, their Messiah; coming to faith in Y'shua ha Mashiach.

In Acts 2 we read how Peter preached with the anointing of God's Holy Spirit and 3,000 got saved; all Jews. But in Acts 10 the LORD really shook things up by having Peter preach the Good News of salvation to Gentiles! And God granted them salvation too!

In Galatians 3, starting with verse 26 we read:

… You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise. (NASU)

It was God’s plan from the beginning to break down the dividing wall that separated Jews and Gentiles and make us one in the body of Christ. [Eph. 2:14] Romans 11 tells us that believing Jews and Gentiles are now part of the same tree, nourished from the same roots – salvation stems from faith in the grace and provision of God.

Because of this we share a rich heritage: the heritage of the people of Israel and all God did to reveal Himself through the patriarchs, prophets, and festivals of Israel. This all becomes our heritage in Messiah. Tonight we are going to look more closely at one aspect of that heritage in the story of Hanukkah. [This year Hanukkah begins on the evening of the 16th (understanding from Genesis 1 that each day begins at evening,) and lasts for eight days.]

Tonight we are going to see that Hanukkah and Christmas go together. Some think Hanukkah is just the Jewish version of Christmas, but it's not. It's a lot more than that. Some even would say that without Hanukkah there would be no Christmas. My hope is that tonight you will see for yourselves and be enriched as you celebrate this season.

Following Jewish tradition, as many get themselves ready to worship and hear from the LORD, there are several things regularly done:

2 We will take a tallit, or prayer shawl, and untangle the tassels, prayerfully remembering that we need to untangle ourselves from the cares, worries, and even sins of this life (as Hebrews 12:1 reminds us), but it is only possible in the LORD.

We then put ourselves under the tallit, which reminds us of God's authority and commandments, the glory cloud of His presence, His light, protection, blessing, and so much more: all of which we need to be under.

Ps. 61:4 says, I will live in Your tent forever and find refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Ps. 91:4 says, He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

Talking of Messiah, Malachi 4:2 says, … to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings …. that is the tallit with the tassels on the corners.

So, in Matthew 9, when the woman with the issue of bleeding for 12 years touched the “fringe of his garment” it was the tassels, and she was not only looking for healing that the “Sun of Righteousness” would bring, but declaring her faith in Him as the long awaited Messiah.

Some will wrap or cover their heads with the prayer shawl for a time of private prayer; like entering their “prayer closet” for a personal time with God.

Others may wear a yamaka, or kippah (with or without a tallit). More than just being a Jewish custom, the kippah reminds the wearer that there is always someone greater, someone over them. This custom varies widely, but is not to be confused with Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 11, since there he is talking about men having something down over the head, like a veil, during public prayer.

Many of the services are opened with the sounding of the shofar. Most of the references to trumpets in Scripture are referring to the shofar. It is used

 to sound an alarm, and to gather people to worship;  to call people to attention because something important is going to be said, and as part of rejoicing in the LORD.

In blowing the shofar, there is generally a single blast, then three varied tones, followed by nine rapid notes. This is followed by what is called the great blast, or last trump: a much longer note. [blow the shofar] 3  You will remember, in Matthew 24, Jesus (Yeshua) said, “they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

 Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

 And 1 Thessalonians 4 says, For the LORD Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.

If you have your Bibles turn with me to John, chapter 10. We're going to begin with verse 22. As you may know Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Older Covenant, the Old Testament, because it commemorates something that took place during the intertestamental period: the time between the Older and the Newer Covenants.

The 400 year timeframe between when Malachi ended his ministry and Yochanan the Immerser, John the Baptist, began his ministry was a time of great upheaval in Israel. A time when many foreigners fought and tried to impose their will on the people of Israel, but none to the extent of the Seleucid king Antiocus IV.

On a military campaign in Egypt, his path was blocked by a single, old Roman ambassador named Gaius Laenas, who delivered a message from Rome directing Antiochus to withdraw his armies from Egypt and Cyprus, or consider themselves in a state of war with the Roman Republic. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the Roman envoy drew a line on the ground around him and said,

"Before you cross this circle I want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate" – implying that Rome would declare war if the king stepped out of the circle without committing to leave Egypt immediately. Weighing his options, Antiochus decided to withdraw: a confrontation that gave rise to the idea of drawing a “line in the sand.” [Wikipedia]

While Antiochus was busy in Egypt, a rumor spread in Judea that he had been killed. The deposed High Priest Jason gathered a force of 1,000 soldiers and made a surprise attack on the city of Jerusalem. The puppet High Priest appointed by Antiochus was forced to flee Jerusalem during a riot. On the king's return from Egypt in 167 BC, enraged by his defeat, he attacked Jerusalem, reinstated his man, and executed many Jews.

4 The apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees records it this way: When these happenings were reported to the king, he thought that [all] Judea was in revolt. Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm. He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met and to slay those who took refuge in their houses. There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In the space of three days, eighty thousand were lost: forty thousand meeting a violent death, and the same number being sold into slavery. [2 Maccabees 5:11–14]

Antiocus sought to dominate the entire region through forced Hellenization: coercing the people, on pain of death, to adopt Greek culture, language, and philosophy, which included the Greek gods and their form of worship, and forbidding the Jewish people from practicing their own faith or even admit they were Jewish.

He proceeded to defile the Jewish temple in Jerusalem: he extinguished the golden menorah which represented the light of God's presence; set up statues of the Greek gods in the temple; and sacrificed a pig (an unclean animal) to Zeus on the altar of God. Antiocus went so far as to call himself Epiphany meaning he considered himself to be a revelation of the gods: that he was divine; that he was god manifest.

That was the last straw and the Jewish people revolted. It started small with a single family that became known as the Maccabees from מַקֶבֶת Hebrew for “hammer.” Slowly others joined them and, though vastly outnumbered, they were eventually able to drive out the invaders, and recapture and rededicate the temple of God on the 25th of Kislev: a month of the Jewish lunar calendar that at times approximates December.

Though separated by over 100 years, the early church saw a direct link between the announcement of the birth of Christ by the wise men coming to Jerusalem, and this rededication of the temple: both dealing with a temple dedicated to the service of God; both bringing hope to Israel; both pointing people to the LORD and the promise of Messiah. Since that time the announcement of the birth of Jesus has been celebrated on the 25th of December.

cHanukkah, or Hanukkah, is Hebrew for “dedication,” this is the season we are rapidly approaching. Look with me at John 10, beginning with verse 22:

At that time the Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah) took place at Jerusalem; 23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon [or Solomon's Colonnade].

5 Where else would He be? If you want to celebrate Hanukkah in Jerusalem you are going to be in the temple, the center of all the action, the center of where all the excitement is. We find Jesus here in a specific part of the temple called Solomon's Colonnade.

Verse 24: “The Jews gathered around Him....” Now this sounds a little strange: who else would be in the Jewish temple? But John uses this term “the Jews” in a very specific way to refer to the rabbis, the pharisees; in particular the Judean pharisees that were opposed to much of what Jesus had been teaching. Jesus was adored by the Jews in general.

This is not a welcoming committee, this is a confrontation. These Jewish leaders gathered around Jesus and said, “How much longer are You going to keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah [the Christ], tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you, but you do not believe.”

You can talk to some people until you are blue in the face, but what you say doesn't make a difference. There's a difference between “hearing,” “listening to,” and “obediently following” the LORD.

“The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for Me.”

It's very important to understand the miracles of Hanukkah. The Hebrew word is נֵס [nes] it's the same word for “wonder.” You have the “wonder” or “miracle” of Hanukkah. The wonder of the light. The miracle of the oil. All things Jesus is alluding to here.

When Jewish people greet each other at this time they say, nes gadol haya sham = a great miracle happened there. [Unless, of course, you are in Israel. Then it's nes gadol haya po = a great miracle happened here.]

Hanukkah is very well known as a time of the miraculous, and the miracle foremost in every Jewish person's mind at this time is the miracle of the light. Jesus alludes to His miracles several times in this passage. Remember where He is, and the timing. (Not only is Jesus a miracle bringing light to the world, but being the Light of the World, every miracle He did was a miracle of the Light.) Hanukkah is also called the “Festival of Lights.”

Remember that when Antiocus desecrated the temple, one of the things he did was to extinguish the light of the golden menorah. When the Maccabees recaptured, cleansed, and re-dedicated the temple to God, a thorough search was made, but there was only enough oil for the menorah for one day.

A rider was dispatched to Mount Ephraim, where the olive trees grew that provided the oil for the temple Menorah. It would take three days to reach his destination and three days to return, plus the day needed to press the sanctified oil. [The Everything Judaism Book, 136] 6 The miracle of Hanukkah is that they re-kindled the menorah, knowing they only had enough oil for one day, yet it lasted for eight days: long enough for fresh oil to be ceremoniously prepared. So that miracle is celebrated with singing, games, and eating: especially eating things made with oil to remind us of that miracle.

Even more significant is the hanukkiah a special menorah with nine candles rather than the typical seven. There are eight days of Hanukkah and then the ninth candle. That ninth candle, often in the middle, is called the shamash meaning “servant”: it is used to bring light to all the other candles.

All this is significant because when we talk about the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication we are not just talking about what happened at Hanukkah, but all that the Bible has to say about light, and oil – and connected to that is the promise of the One Who was to come: the hope of Israel, the Messiah; God's anointed one, “Messiah” from the Hebrew, and “Christ” from the Greek. He is the Light and also the Servant.

We take the shamash, this servant candle, and light it, and then use the shamash to light the other candles saying traditional blessings that sound something like this:

בָּרוּד אַתָּה ײַ אֱלֹהֲינוּ מֶלֶד הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשְָׁנוּ בְּמִצוֹתָיו וְצִוְָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר חֲנֻכָּה cHanukah ner l'hadlik v'tzivanu b'mitzvotav kid'shanu asher

Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the universe (King of eternity) Who sets us apart by your instructions and call us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ײַ אֱלֹהֲינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁעָשָׂה נִשִׁם לַאֲבוֹתֳינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בּזְמַן הַזֶה ha/zeh baz'man ha/hem ba/yamim la'avo/to/nu nishim she/asah

Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the universe Who has done wonders as in the days of our fathers

And, only on the first day of Hanukkah: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ײַ אֱלֹהֲינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לֵזְמַן הַזֶה ha/zeh laz'man v'hi/gi'anu v'ki/manu she/he/che/yanu

Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the universe Who has kept us and sustained us, and brought us to this season 7 On the first day of Hanukkah the shamash and the first candle are lit. On the second day, the shamash and two candles, and so on until on the eighth day all nine candles are burning.

This hanukkia is not like most others. This was made with materials that others considered worthless, they were being thrown out as trash, but they were re-worked, redeemed you might say, so that it now shines with the warmth and light of the Shamash, the Servant: much like we can when we know Jesus as Savior and Lord.

After it is lit the hanukkia is traditionally put in the window to let everyone know that we believe in the promise of the Light, we believe in the promise of the Servant, we believe in the promise of the One Who is to come.

In Isaiah 49 there is a “servant song”; one of the songs of the servant Messiah. In verse 6 we read:

IT IS too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring y'shua/ti [my salvation] to the ends of the earth.

You see, the promise of the Messiah is that He would be a light, not just to Israel, but to the Gentiles as well: to every tribe, tongue, and nation. He is the Light of the world. Some hanukkiah have the shamash in one position or another. Here we see the shamash in lower position. Jesus, Y'shua, God's Servant, humbled Himself and not only took on flesh and blood, but the role of a servant. But, as Philippians 2 tells us,

9 … God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus [the name of Y'shua] every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ, Y'shua Meshiach, is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [move shamash to elevated position]

Jesus said, I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (Jn. 8:12) Jesus claimed to be God's special Servant, the Light, and His name is used in this verse of Isaiah: y'shua/ti, My salvation. God sent His salvation, Jesus, Y'shua, to the ends of the earth.

Here we are, over 2,000 years later, worshipping the Light of the world; especially at this holy season. But there were those who did not believe, especially those leaders who were standing around Jesus. Back to John 10, verse 25:

8 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for Me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not My sheep.”

There are many who hear but are not sheep. Jesus is in the midst of a confrontation with people who not only were not hearing themselves, but were doing what they could to keep others from hearing as well. People like that are still around today. Verse 27: My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life ….

Jesus gives eternal life. Life that is beyond a really, really, long time, yes, but also life that is eternal in it's unfolding quality: it is so good, so great, so fantastic it is beyond human imagination. Rabbi Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 2:9: … No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him

John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.

Jesus is referring to the preserving power of God. A miracle we see at work today in the modern state of Israel. The fact that the Jewish people exist to this day is part of this preserving power of God, it's part of the story of Hanukkah.

Think about it. If Antiocus IV had had his way what would have happened? Any Jewish survivors would have ceased to exist as a unique people on the earth. They would have melded into the other Greco-Roman cultures of the day like so many other people you read about in Scripture. That would have been the end of the Jews.

Antiocus said you can't speak Hebrew, you can't practice the Jewish Law, you can't sacrifice in the temple: you can't be Jewish or worship the LORD. And at that time he was no longer going up against just the Jews, he was going against the God of Israel.

God said He would preserve His people. He said to Abraham, I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you. [Gen. 12:3] That blessing was passed on to Isaac, and then Jacob, who became Israel through whom Christ has come. 9

Throughout history there has been, and still are, those who have been satanically inspired to wipe out the Jewish people. But God has staked His reputation on the preservation of His people because of His love for all of humanity.

You see, that preserving power is part of the promise of Messiah. That same servant song in Isaiah 49 talks about this very thing. Verse 6 there says,

… to … bring back those of Israel I have kept.

That keeping, sustaining, preserving power. Now skip down to verse 15 that drives the point home by first asking a question:

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Is there a relationship that is more profound than that of mother and child? Is there any relationship that is more unbreakable than that of mother and the child she has just given birth to? Can she forget that child? Unfortunately we do see that from time to time, but as we read on:

Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands ….

God was so committed to preserving His people Israel that in Messiah He would engrave them on palms of His hands.

That's what He did with Hanukkah, and now Jesus at Hanukkah, in the temple, uses that imagery and takes it a step further. John 10:28

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.

Do you see what He is saying here?

The same preserving power, through which God, the gracious preserving One of Israel, has kept His people, in spite of Antiocus and all those like him, and has kept them until this very day, offers that same preserving power to those who are the sheep of the Messiah. Those who hear His voice, those who follow Him, He has engraved on the palms of His hands through the nails on the cross. Through His shed blood He preserves forever those who trust and follow Him.

10 He died to pay the penalty for your sin and for mine. Because of Who He is, because He is the Servant, because He is the Light, because He is the Messiah, death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him, and He rose again from the dead. Now that same preserving power, that resurrection power of God is available to all who hear His voice and follow Him.

I will give them eternal life and they shall never perish.

That is great news we can be proclaim at this holy season. Then in verse 30 Jesus says:

I and the Father are one. – Strongly emphatic!

That is a controversial statement any time of year, but especially at this time; and place.

What was the tipping point for the Jewish people with Antiochus? He walked into the temple and said, I am Epiphanies: I am god manifest. And the Maccabees said, no you're not! And they revolted and threw him out calling him epimanies Greek for “the mad one.”

Jesus chose this time and this place to proclaim, “I and the Father are one.”

Some try to tell us that Jesus just meant that He was one in purpose and unity with the Father, but look at the context. Speaking within His own time, culture, and language what did the Jewish leaders understand Him to be saying? What was their response? Verse 31:

… The Jews picked up stones to stone Him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33 “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

They got part of it right. He claimed to be God. He made that statement very clearly and He didn't deny it. What they were wrong about is that He was a mere man. He was fully man, but also fully God. That is part of the promise of Messiah.

Jesus knew it, and so should have those who knew His family. Matthew 1 records Joseph getting an important message from an angel of God, verse 20:

… Do not be afraid to take Miryam (Mary) home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Yeshua (Jesus), because He will save His people from their sins. 11 How can this be? Verse 22: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel” - which means, “God with us.”

No mere man. There's no confusion here. Jesus knew it – and so should we. No apologies necessary. It's true at Hanukkah and it's true at Christmas, Jesus is Immanuel. Jesus is God with us.

It is because He is God that He is able to save us from our sins. It is because He is God that He is able to give us eternal life so that no one can snatch us out of His hand. It is because of Who He is that we worship Him … ... if we are His sheep.

But some are not, and so they pick up stones to stone Him.

Remember that the temple where this confrontation took place was a magnificent structure, the pride of the Jewish people, a wonder of the ancient world. Hundreds of Levites were on duty day in and day out to care for the temple. No loose stones laying around, any more than we have right here [in this sanctuary].

Scripture says they “picked up stones to stone Him.” Where did they get the stones? That too is part of Hanukkah.

Remember that Antiochus had defiled the altar of the LORD by sacrificing a pig on it to his own deity. The blood soaked into those porous limestone rocks. They had to build a new altar, but they had a problem: what to do with the old one?

The stones of the altar had been used for holy purposes; set apart for God: They couldn't just be thrown out. But they had been defiled: they could no longer be used in the temple service.

They decided to break it apart, piece by piece, and put it to one side of the temple: in Solomon's colonnade. They decided, when Messiah comes He will tell us what to do with the stones.

What a grand irony. Here He comes, the Light of the world, the Shepherd of the sheep, Immanuel, and they have seen the miracles and they have heard the words, and those who are not His sheep see the stones and pick them up to stone the Prince of glory.

That is what they chose to do when they were faced with Immanuel because they were not His sheep. What will you do? 12 This is a season wonder, and I wonder if we will bow before Him in worship, or will we bow to pick up a stone. Jesus said you are either for Me or against Me. That's the choice He confronted the leaders of His day with: it's the choice we are still confronted with today.

Maybe our lives haven't been what they should be. What a great time to rededicate our lives to the Lord. It is Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. What will you make of it?

--pause-- [adapted from an article at] Nes gadol haya sham, a great miracle happened there. One of the ways the idea is kept alive at this time is a simple game with the dreidel, a four-sided top. Each side has the first letter of the saying. Each player puts one coin, or piece of chocolate, etc., in the middle. Everyone takes a turn spinning the dreidel and follows the directions:

A Gimmel wins the whole kitty, a Hei gets you half, Nun gets nothing and for a Shin you must pay in. In Yiddishe Gimmel stands for Gantz, meaning the whole thing. Het is for Halb, meaning half. Nun stands for Nisht or nothing. And Shin is for Shtell arein or put in. These also represent four basic modes of being, depending on the person, his or her period in life, or even the particular day. We all have our Gimmel days, when we feel that everything is going great. We have our Hei days, when things are going good. The Nun and Shin days we won't talk about. But each of these letters represents only one face of the dreidel -- only a single angle or perspective of the whole. What do the letters spell out? What is the "whole" of the dreidel? Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, "a great miracle happened there." This refers to the great miracle of Chanukah that occurred in the Holy Land. The situation there seemed dire and beyond hope. They were definitely having a Shin day. The commitment of a few people turned the situation around (like a dreidel) and God used it to bring about the miraculous and people were saved. The Macabees did not dwell on the fact that they were being oppressed and persecuted. They focused on the Gimmel that was on the other side of the Shin, and acting in faith, saw G-d do the miraculous. Remember that whatever letter we seem to be getting at a particular point in life, it's all part of one dreidel. And that dreidel is telling us that miracles happen. We can see the dark situations of life transform into the bright light of the Chanukah Menorah: light brought to us by God's shamash. This depends upon our faith in G-d’s plan, and our commitment to follow Him no matter what. 13

The Dreidel in the Bible?

Based on this theme we find a phenomenal "coincidence" with these four letters of the dreidel. The first place these letters occur as a word in Scripture is in the Parshah (Torah Reading) always read in proximity to Chanukah, Genesis 44-47, where they spell the word Goshnah, [גּשְׁנָה] meaning "to, or toward, Goshen." The sages tell us Jacob was sending his son, Judah, to the Egyptian city of Goshen to set up a house of study, in advance of his entire family's relocation there. He knew the prophecy God had given his grandfather in Genesis 15: 13 … Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. These possessions were much more than the materials for the Tabernacle, priestly garments, and living in the wilderness for 40 years: it was a solid knowledge they were following and serving the One true God of heaven and earth. Jacob was aware that this was a dreadful descent into exile. But he looked at all of the letters of the dreidel, if you will, and realized that hidden in the exile are the seeds of redemption. Study must continue, especially in exile. As long as we are able to keep God in our perspective, and His Word in our hearts, the exile cannot hold sway over us. And so our study of God's Words, how we live out our lives, and the Holy Spirt, Ruach HaKodesh, work together for our redemption. This is similar to the origin of the dreidel. During the times of Greek oppression in Israel Torah study was forbidden. According to tradition, when the children were studying, they would keep a dreidel nearby to pull out and play in case they were discovered. At the time, the students may have thought that the game was a distraction from their true purpose in life. But in truth, G-d will, at times, conceal His countenance to draw out our commitment and connection to Him. It's all about discovering and revealing the Divine in the least likely places. Isn't that a miracle? The sages say the dreidel was the formula to elicit the underlying truth of the Jewish soul.

14 The Dreidel and Meshiach One more idea. If you add up the Gimatria (the Hebrew numerical value) of the letters of the dreidel, you get 358 (Nun (50) + Gimmel (3) + Hei (5) + Shin (300) = 358). This is the same value as Meshiach (Mem (40) + Shin (300) + Yud (10) + Chet (8) = 358), the Messiah. When Meshiach, Christ, comes into a life, He teaches us how to see divine purpose in every facet of life: Even times of exile and darkness can be illuminated. We may have been focusing on one particular letter. Meshiach helps us to see that all of life is a tapestry of Divine wonder.

The dreidel game asks, what will you do with Meshiach, with Christ?  Will you do nothing?  Will you give Him a token and wait to see what happens?  Will you take only some of what He has to offer?  Or will you take all He has for you and enjoy the sweetness of living with Him and then share that others around you?

Ending our services, we are often reminded of the LORD's commandment in Num. 6:

23 Speak to Aharon and his sons, and tell them that this is how you are to bless the people of Isra'el: you are to say to them,

יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ veh-yish-meh-reh-kha Adonai yeh-va-reh-ka-kah and guard/keep you bless you יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָ vi-chu-neh-kha eh-leh-kha pa-nav Adonai ya-ehr and be gracious to you on/upon you his face make shine יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם sha-lom leh-kha veh-ya-sehm eh-leh-kha pa-nav Adonai yi-sa peace ++ you and give on/upon you his face lift up

24 May the LORD bless you and keep you. 25 May the LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. 26 May the LORD lift up His face toward you and give you shalom!

27 In this way they are to put My name on the people of Isra'el, and I will bless them.

by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley