Thursday, November 28, 2013

Christology in Chanukah

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 9:5

By the time you read this, Menorahs all over the world will have been lit in celebration of Chanukah, or the Feast of Dedication. The shamash or servant candle lighting the way… Jesus the Messiah the Suffering Servant…

Then came the feast of the Dedication in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple area in Solomon’s Portico. John 10:22-23 NET

Jesus celebrated the beloved anniversary of the rededication of the temple; the temple that had been desecrated hundreds of years before. Those Jews that would not embrace Hellenism, overtook their captors and reclaimed Jerusalem. They sought to cleanse the temple, and repaired the lampstand to relight the ner tamid,  the eternal light, but could only find enough oil to light the Menorah for one day. It would take eight days to fill the supply. The oil burned for eight-God’s number for new beginnings. The Temple of which that temple spoke, graces it with His precious feet. He is confronted to answer whether He is the Messiah:

The Jewish leaders surrounded him and asked, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus replied, “I told you and you do not believe. The deeds I do in my Father’s name testify about me. John 10: 24-25

The very temple the Messiah walked through that Feast of Dedication, would see destruction and would be rebuilt by the One the temple spoke of. This is the inherent meaning of the Feast of Lights—to look for the light of the Messiah.

“Jewish scholars see a deeper meaning ‘Then the light is kindled to give inspiration for the light of Messiah must burn brightly in our hearts.’”[1] 

Jesus the Messiah is the Light of the temple;

“Jesus was not talking about the literal temple, which had taken forty-six years to build. He was talking about His body. Through His resurrection and ascension, He would build a spiritual temple made of people whose lives would be dedicated to God. We are that spiritual temple, and we have received His life and power to overcome the Hellenistic world in which we live.”[2] 

The bravery and resolve of the Maccabees speaks to believers today; like these righteous ones that would not turn their backs on God in a society that would defile and defame that God, we too, can kindle Messiah’s light in our hearts by separating ourselves from the world system that would seek to rid society of God and embrace a humanistic paradigm.

We can dedicate ourselves to God in this Feast of Dedication and trust God to overcome our spiritual enemies and give us the victory. 

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrant knowledge of Him. 2 Corinthians 2:14

We too are lights; 

You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden.  People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven. Mat 5:14-16 NET

We first see the Menorah in the Tabernacle in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses—by vision from the Lord as a pattern of things above. It foreshadowed things to come as well;

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. John 1:4

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12   

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: Eph. 5:8 
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  1 John 1:5   

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3:19

The lampstand rested in the Holy Place, the place of illumination—it supplied the only light, as the flames danced on the golden walls of the tent. Once inside the Holy Place, the believer-priest receives light and illumination, anointing and insight by the 7-fold Spirit of the Lord in the church and the revelation of God’s Word.

Attributes of the Lampstand and how it foreshadowed the work of Christ:

~One piece of gold- one is the number of unity, oneness, or one accord

~Three knops- the number three is symbolic of the Godhead these three knops upheld all of the seven branches as the very foundation. This is typical of the truth that the Godhead is the foundation and upholder of the church

~Seven Lamps- seven is completeness or fullness. Each branch had a lamp of fire this is typical of the seven spirits in the book of Revelation.

~Nine ornaments- each branch has nine ornaments, three bowls, three knops and three flowers. Nine is the number of the Holy Spirit in the Church, there are nine characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit and nine gifts of the Holy Spirit.

~The almond is a symbol of Christ in resurrection. It is the first fruit to awake from winter.

~Christ is the Light of the world; He commissioned believers to be lights as well. We bear fruit from The Lamstand. We should illuminate God to the world.

~The Lily is the symbol of beauty and splendor. We should exude a sweet fragrance from our experience from the Lamp Stand.  

~The Israelites were to bring an offering of beaten olive oil for the light so that it will burn continually and not go out. Aaron was to trim the wicks and tend the lamps twice a day. Pressed olives symbolize the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The first press of olive oil is extra- virgin. It is in its purest state in the first press and this what the Israelites were to bring. He would tend the wicks by trimming away the burnt parts and filling the lamps with oil.

Jesus our High Priest intercedes for us continually and He trims away the burnt part of us, and fills us with oil to bear His light.

“And of course, as Mashiach ben Yosef, our Suffering Servant, Yeshua is the Ultimate Shamash - He is our Light who enables us to shine a sacred fire of sacrificial love to the darkened outside world. Yeshua commanded ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven’ (Matt 5:16). He told us that He is the Light of the world, and that whoever follows Him will not have darkness, but the Light of Life…It is only by the Light of Yeshua that we gain victory over the powers of darkness, since the darkness cannot comprehend the light. When we walk in the Light, we have fellowship, unity, echdut, with one another, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against such divinely sanctioned communion. May the LORD God of Israel, the Father of the Blessed One Yeshua, help us all to behold the glory of His Light by abiding in His love! And may we turn to Him now and rededicate our own lives as temples cleansed and readied by His Spirit to honor His abiding Presence. Amen.”[3]

The liturgy for Chanukah, the Torah portion whispers to us-prepares us for the Light of the World; The Brit Chadashah fulfills the first…

Torah Portion: Numbers 7:1-7:17
Brit Chadashah Portion: John 9:1-7; John 10:22-39

May the Light of Messiah, The Ner Tamid,be ignited in your heart…

The Light of Your Presence

I walk into the Holy Place and what do my eyes see
A Golden Lampstand a light by which all the darkness must flee
The Lamp stand is so beautiful I long to come and touch it
The almond pots of gold, the lily flowers, they were so lovingly writ

You are the Vine we are the branches it is told us in Your Word
Your Light is now in us to go and tell those that have not heard
We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth we must go and do
To lead the lost and the hurting to come into Your Light too

I will bring my oil and trim the wicks each and every day
To cut off that which hinders me and trips me up along the way
I want my path illuminated so that I may see
All that I must do and all I am to be

Oh Holy Spirit light my path and reveal Yourself to me
So I know which way to go and so that I may see
I prepare my lamp to be ready, for I know that He will call
I know the Bride Groom is coming with a Feast for one and all

By Piper Green ©2003

In His Grace, 

[1] Hersh Goldwurm, ed., Artscroll Mesorah Series Chanukah, (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1981), 104.
[2] Richard Booker, Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts, (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 2009), 180, 181.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Psalms To See Me Through: Psalm 2—Holding Back Corruption

Psalm one prepares our hearts to meditate on Yahweh, the holy God, and is the dominating theme of the first in this wonderful prayer book. Psalm two moves us from the personal realm into the realms of government and those that govern. The NASB uses the word “conspire,” the King James uses “the rulers take counsel together,” the NIV states, “why do the rulers band together against the Lord?” (Ps. 2:2), and the NLT translates the word as “plots.” The word plot is the same Hebrew word for meditate in Psalm one. The people plot and imagine methods for defying the living God.

“Psalm two shows people plotting against this word, devising schemes for getting rid of it so that they can be free of all God-interference in their lives. These people see God’s words not as javelins penetrating their lives with truth, but as chains that restrict their freedom. They put their minds together to rid themselves of this word so that their words can rule.”[1]

Does this not reflect the current worldview of our society and culture today? This plot is currently underway; God and His precious Word are not welcome in schools, football games, town halls, and civic buildings, it is a plot devised and enforced by those that rule in the marketplace. If God’s Word is eliminated from the marketplace, so is their would-be antagonist. Our country witnessed just a few years ago at a national political convention—the booing of God. The party removed God from their platform, and when they received pressure and media attention for the removal, raised a vote to ‘put Him back in’. When the speaker announced that God was back in the platform for the party, the crowd booed and heckled at the notion.

He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain (v.4).

It is very important that we stand against such plots and defend what is right. Those that hold the worldview of ridding society of God will not stop until this plot is executed in full. In Psalm one, the people meditate on God, which means all thoughts and imaginations are focused solely on God and His ways. In Psalm two, the nations meditate and conspire against God.  Their thoughts are focused completely on vain imaginations. They meditate—plot ways in which to see it through, and no tactic is too ruthless.

The people of God must pray for the nations and their leaders, interceding for the kings of the earth and thwarting the plans of the enemy. How can the Church exercise the authority given to her by Christ? The righteous should use their influence by praying, witnessing, preaching, and teaching, standing in righteousness, and doing good in the earth.

If the Church fails to pray and intervene in the world, it becomes flavorless, salt that has lost its flavor. Salt preserves and holds back corruption. Before we had the modern convenience of refrigeration, meat was preserved with salt. Christ says that we are the salt of the earth (Matt 5:13). While the Church is on earth, we preserve the good; we hold back corruption.  The corruption of sin is already in the world through the fall, but the presence of God’s saints on the earth holds that corruption at bay. When our influence is not present, corruption gains ground.  

And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 NASB).

We must not allow ourselves to be bullied and intimidated anymore. Though the nations are raging around us, we must stand in truth, we must be faithful to pray:

“If these people are in active conspiracy against the rule of God, what difference can prayer make? What chance does mere ‘tree meditating’ have when movers and shakers of the earth are conspiratorially aligned against it? Intimidation is as fatal to prayer as distraction. If we are intimidated, we will forfeit the entire world of culture and politics, of business and science to those ‘who set themselves…against the Lord.”[2] 

When people meditate on God, His kingdom, and His way of governing, He gives strategies to overcome the conspirators. This Psalm holds somber warnings for those that plot against God.

This reminds me of Abraham and how he interceded on behalf of Lot, his nephew, when the Lord revealed that He was about to destroy the city where Lot lived. Sodom, according to some historians, had a population of no less than ten thousand people. God told Abraham that ten righteous people in Sodom could preserve the city.

It is vital that Christians don’t just pray and sit in the background. Believers need to be involved in politics, the arts, and music and hold back corruption. We can rest in knowing that God is bigger than the world system, and if we are intimidated into a corner—we have been intimidated and bullied from seeing God’s kingdom take on its rightful rule and reign. God has strategies for us to thwart the schemes of those that believe they can overthrow His kingdom. Psalm two answers our need by giving us the Messiah.

“God is not exclusively in the business of dealing with souls, he is also active in cities. Messiah is God’s invasion of the secular, his entry into the world where people go to school, go to work, go to war, go to Chicago. He enters—and he enters in person. His word is not only what we meditate in the Scriptures, it also takes shape in history and we see it in action in a person.”[3]

In verses 7­­–8, we see God promise to give Jesus the nations for an inheritance:

I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware” (NASB).

Satan has been attempting to overthrow God from the beginning—in fact, he wants to be God:

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’ (Matt. 4:8-10 NASB).

Satan tried to promise the kingdoms of the world to Jesus, but Satan was tempting Jesus to follow him instead of God. If Satan could take Jesus’ focus off God and onto him, he would succeed in the plot to usurp God. He offered Him what God had already promised to Him. Jesus was faithful and, through His faithful obedience, redeemed the world and inherited the promise.

Be watchful of his schemes for Satan is anxious knowing his time is short (Rev. 12:12 NASB)

How, then, can we rest and find comfort in Psalm two? How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! We find rest when Jesus is our refuge from the world. When He is our refuge, we have nothing to fear or be anxious about. The spirit of the antichrist is in this world as Jesus’ beloved disciple so aptly warns:

And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world (1 Jn. 4:3 NASB).

We take refuge that Christ has overcome the world—that is our peace. Rest in the knowledge that Christ is returning soon and will rule and reign in righteousness. Allow this second Psalm in our prayer book to penetrate your heart to move you to action in prayer and in deed to thwart the plots and schemes of the present world system. Pray Psalm two when interceding for the nations. We must make ready the world for Christ’s coming, and that cannot be achieved by sitting in the background. We must pray and stand for righteousness and preach the urgency of Christ’s message.

[1] Eugene Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms As Tools For Prayer (New York: HarperOne, 1989), 28.

[2] Ibid., 29.

[3] Ibid.

In His Grace,