Shalom, Contributer: Jacqueline Nelson
The image in our header is a picture of a dreidel. It is a four-sided spinning top with a different Hebrew letter on each side. During the rule of Antiochus, Jews were not free to openly practice their religion, so when they gathered to study Torah they would bring the top with them. If soldiers appeared, they would quickly hide what they were studying and pretend to be playing a game with the top.
In biblical Hebrew the letters also are used for numbers. The dreidel, a child's toy, was used to teach Jewish children the alphabet when they were in captivity. The dreidels in Israel have a פ (peh), instead of a shin to change the acronym to Nes Gadol Hayah Poh meaning "A great miracle happened here", referring to the miracle of the oil.
FEAST OF DEDICATION and FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Hanukkah is a story of a military struggle against the oppression of the King of Syria when the second temple was desecrated. The victory of the Maccabees insured the purity of the worship of God and preserved the line of the Messiah. Hanukkah originated as the festival of dedication or cleansing of the temple.
God's Holy presence caused the oil to miraculously relight the eternal flame (the symbol of God's presence) for eight days. The Hanukkah lamp, "hanukkiah" has places for nine candles. The two additional candles stand for grace and truth which came by Y'shua Messiah.
The middle candle holder is distinct from the others to designate the servant candle (shamash) that lights the others. Y'shua, like the servant candle lights our way and sends His Spirit to ignite us so that we can shine His light in a dark world. The Apostle Paul states in Colossians 2:16-17 the Jewish feasts and celebrations are actually a shadow of the things to come thru Y'shua Messiah.
In John 8:12, Y'shua says, "I am the light of the world, He was not saying He was light, pure and holy and no darkness in Him. But He was saying that He was the Glory (presence) of God. The lasting light foreshadows Y'shua, who would also be "a light to the Gentiles" Isaiah 49:6.
Y'shua used the Feast of Dedication, to proclaim Himself as the Good Shepherd, John 10:11-18. In the Jewish writings, shepherds frequently represented the leaders of Israel. Y'shua, therefore, announced Himself as the Good Shepherd par excellence .
Y'shua the Messiah, as the great Shepherd-Leader, will come and win a tremendous victory greater than that won by Yehudah the Maccabee (Zech. 12-14; 1 Peter 5:4). He will save Israel and establish His worldwide rule. The appointed times are seasons of the lord and God's rhythm of life to remind us of the Jewish roots of the faith.
Y'shua stands at the center of the celebration inviting us into eternal relationship. The key lesson of Hanukkah is light overcoming darkness, and as the days are getting darker we must continually shine!