Bible and Torah

The Hanukkah Story

The Hanukkah Story

Have you ever just felt empty

Some seasons are characterized by laughter and abounding joy. Things at work seem to click, your family enjoys being around each other and you walk through your days with confidence. 

We love those days, don’t we? It’s what every Hollywood happy ending is made of. 

But what about the other days, the ones we hide in our heart’s closet and pretend they aren’t there?  

You see your kids’ needs, but you are unable to meet them. Rather than producing anything at work, you feel as though you’re just bashing stones against each other. And in a time of year that ought to be characterized by thankfulness and anticipation, you can’t fight the overwhelming desire to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over your head. 

The Hanukkah Story?

It’s in this place that the Hanukkah celebration stops becoming just a Hebrew festival involving latkes, dreidel and doughnuts and instead becomes something deeply meaningful and relevant to our lives today, especially on those days when we don’t want to go on. 

The Hanukkah Story

The story of Hanukkah, or the festival of lights, is a Jewish holiday that celebrates a great Jewish military victory in 400 B.C. It centers around the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem and the miracle of the oil. Unlike Christmas stories which are filled with hope, generosity and those warm-fuzzy feelings, the story of Hanukkah (sometimes called Chanukah) is a story of warfare and overcoming great odds. 

The story began in the 400 years between the writing of the Old and New Testaments. Even though we don’t have any formal writings, God was not silent in those years. 

Wars were being waged. Battles, won. And Greek ruler Alexander the Great had just died of typhoid fever in his tent at the young age of 32. When asked who should replace him, Alexander replied, “The greatest.” Thus, his kingdom was split between his four best generals—Cassander, Ptolemy, Seleucus and Antigonus. 

Our story picks up in the Seleucid empire. After a string of assassinations, Antiochus IV Epiphanes claimed the throne and took control of the Syrian empire. With great zeal and a hunger for power, Antiochus gathered his troops and invaded Egypt, only to face a humiliating defeat. So, during his shameful journey back home, he settled with the next best thing and invaded Israel.  

Antiochus worshiped Greek gods and demanded everyone in his kingdom do the same. The holy temple in Jerusalem where Jewish people would go to worship Yahweh became a place to sacrifice pigs to Zeus Olympios. Anyone caught worshipping Yahweh was punished and even put to death.

This became a defining moment for the Jews in the city of Jerusalem. 

They could either meet the opposition with feelings of defeat, or they could rally and fight to take back what was once theirs. 

A priest named Mattathias took the latter approach. 

The Hanukkah Story and Revolt

Mattathias felt so strongly that the Jewish people ought to stay faithful to God that when he saw a Jewish priest coming to worship a false god, Mattathias killed both the man and a nearby soldier. 

His bold move kickstarted the Maccabean revolt. 

More and more people joined Mattathias in the hills, and soon they had a small army called the Maccabees. 

The Maccabees fought the Syrian empire for four long years. When Mattathias died, his son Judah Maccabee led the army. 

Finally, on the 25th of Kislev in 164 BCE, the Maccabees tasted victory; the rededication of the temple could commence. 

Miracle of the Oil

 

Jewish tradition says that when the temple was being reconsecrated to God, there was only enough to light the candelabrum for a single day. While that might not sound like much of a problem, lighting candles in the temple was a big deal. Temple menorahs were to stay lit at all times, and it would take 8 days to prepare new oil.  Miraculously, the candles stayed lit the entire eight days until the new oil was ready. We celebrate this miracle with the eight-day festival known as Hanukkah.

The Theme: Story

Story: Yahweh reveals his kingdom through stories! Stories change lives; stories challenge; stories inspire. Stories are an important part of every culture. They capture the deepest parts of our hearts as we connect with the characters. We hold our breath as the protagonist Christian journeys to Heaven in Pilgrim’s Progress. We cheer when King George slays the dragon in the classic fairytale, and we cry in relief with Frodo and Sam when they finally destroy the ring and return to their home in the Shire. And in the Hanukkah story, we rejoice when the Maccabees overcome great odds.  

Narratives are the powerful medium God chooses to reveal his Word in the Bible, and it is through the stories of God’s miracles in these historical accounts that our lives are forever impacted. Hanukkah is one of those stories where we see God reveal himself through incredible miracles as he saves his people from annihilation.

As we begin Hanukkah, ask yourself,

Question to ask: Where is God calling inviting me to rededication? 

Hanukkah was a defining moment in the life and history of God’s people. A small band of Jewish rebels called the Maccabees changed the course of an entire nation because they decided Yahweh was more important than anything else.  In this season, God extends to us the same invitation of rededication. 

Question to ask: How is God calling me to obey?  

Our lives are filled with choices. While we may not be asked to sacrifice pigs to a Greek god, we are all invited to choose between serving Yahweh or serving idols of our day. Idols today may look like power, nice things, entertainment, money, or popularity. 

This isn’t a season to sit quietly in meditation by yourself with a journal, although that is a good practice to have throughout the year. As you get clear about how to rededicate your life, listen for the practical places God is inviting you into obedience and TAKE ACTION!

Question to ask: What story has your life told so far?

It’s time to get honest about the story of your life. Where have you tasted victory? Where have you tasted defeat?  What themes are present in your story? 

Question to ask: What story do you want your life to tell by the time it’s over?

Regardless of how you feel about your current life’s story, there is hope of restoration, transformation and uncanny provision. So thinking ahead, what do you want your life to tell by the time it’s over? Remember, the story of Hanukkah reminds us that God is a good protector and provider, so don’t be afraid to dream big! 

Celebrate Hanukkah with us! 

Join us for eight days of learning about important elements of this Jewish festival, such as latkes, dreidels, gelt, menorahs and sufganiyot. Each night of Hanukkah, we’ll cover one important theme with some practical ways to engage with the holiday.

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How to Have A Happy Hanukkah 2021

How to Have a Happy Hanukkah 2021

Stores have cleared the back-to-school supplies to make way for Christmas decorations. The weather is changing, and soon we’ll hear Bing Crosby singing about a White Christmas on every radio station. But what about Hanukkah in 2021?

But for Jewish people everywhere, there’s more to this holiday season than just feel-good movies and baking. In fact, there’s plenty of houses that won’t be staged with a Christmas tree this year.

As a Messianic congregation with a heart for the Bible and Biblical holidays, we can relate. Although the Hanukkah celebration isn’t commanded in the Torah, or the Old Testament, the story of Hanukkah calls us to rededication in new and meaningful ways each year. 

So what’s so special about Hanukkah? And where do dreidels, latkes and menorahs fit?

We’ll cover all you need to know about this holiday, so you can celebrate Hanukkah in 2021. 

Happy Hanukkah 2021

Other Names for Hanukkah

You may see this Jewish holiday written as Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanukah or even Chanukah. They’re all referring to the same thing. 

Some other popular names include the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.  

 

What is Hanukkah?

The Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrates a major military victory in the 2nd century BCE that changed an entire nation. The Syrian King Antiochus waged war on Israel. He mandated that the Jewish people were to worship Greek gods. Antiochus even desecrated the holy temple in Jerusalem, turning it into a shrine to Zeus. 

While all the Jewish people agreed that worshipping Greek gods was against their beliefs, several of them assimilated into the new culture. Still, other Jews decided to take a stand.  

Of those who refused to bow to false gods was the priest Mattathias. He felt so strongly that when he saw a Jew getting ready to offer sacrifices to the Greek gods, he killed the man and the King’s officer who stood nearby. 

This outburst led to the great Jewish uprising against King Antiochus Epiphanes. 

Mattathias and his family fled to the hills, where others joined him. This small group of farmers-turned-soldiers became known as the Maccabees. 

Judah Maccabee took over after Mattathias died, and the ragtag army went on to conquer the Syrian army and reclaim the temple in December 164 BCE, three long years after Antiochus had taken over. 

Miracle of the Oil

A menorah is a multi-branched candelabra that signifies holiness and the rhythms of God. The first and second temples had seven branch menorahs, resembling the six days of the week and the Sabbath, or Shabbat. It was customary to keep the candles burning at all times in the temple.  

After the temple was recaptured, priests were put to work cleaning, restoring and lighting the menorah. 

Unfortunately, there was only enough oil for one day, and it would take eight days to prepare more oil. 

Even still, the priests lit the menorah, reconsecrating the temple for God. 

Tradition would tell us the candles stayed lit for eight days until new oil could be prepared. The lighting of the menorah today represents God’s faithfulness to provide for His people in miraculous ways. 

When we walk out in faith, God meets and sustains us. 

The Hanukkah Elements

So how do dreidels, latkes and doughnuts fit into the Hanukkah celebrations? Let’s take a look.

Dreidel 

Jewish tradition says that when King Antiochus outlawed the Torah, Jews found hidden ways to keep their traditions alive. They began teaching the Torah orally through a spinning top game that we refer to as dreidel. 

Each side of the dreidel has a Hebrew letter on it—nun, gimel, hey (or chai) and shin. Together, the letters form “New Gadol Hayah Sham” or “a great miracle happened there.” In Israel, the dreidels are slightly different, indicating “a great miracle happened here.” 

It’s customary to stock up on Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins) and play dreidel during the eight nights of Hanukkah. 

Menorah 

While there were seven menorah candles on the temple candelabrum, there are nine Hanukkah candles. The Hanukkah menorah, also called a Hanukkiah, has a branch for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah plus a shamash candle, or a helper candle. 

It’s customary for the shamash candle to light the other candles each night. 

Latkes & Doughnuts 

Latkes, otherwise known as ​potato pancakes, go hand-in-hand with Hanukkah. Why? Because they are loaded with oil. 

To celebrate the traditional miracle of the oil, we eat foods cooked in oil. Potato latkes are definitely a favorite, but other popular foods found at a Hanukkah party include fried fish, homemade corn dogs, doughnuts and sufganiyot, a round jelly-filled doughnut commonly eaten in Israel. 

Hanukkah FAQ’S

Here are some of the most common Hanukkah questions, answered. 

When is Hanukkah 2021? 

Hanukkah comes around each year on the 25th day of Kislev, a month in the Hebrew Calendar, usually coinciding with December. I know what you’re thinking, but no; this date has nothing to do with Christmas. In fact, most years, the 25th of Kislev lands somewhere between late November and early December. 

This year, the first night of Hanukkah begins sundown on Sunday, November 28 and ends on Monday, December 6.  

 

The Hebrew calendar differs from the Gregorian calendar that we use today in a few areas, but the biggest is in regard to the new year. While Americans celebrate the new year on January 1, the Jewish calendar recognizes the fall as the start of the new year. 

Is Hanukkah in the Torah? 

Nope! Hanukkah is described in the Talmud, religious texts used for learning. It is described in the New Testament as being celebrated by Jesus and his disciples, and the full story is outlined in the ancient historical accounts of the Books of the Maccabees. Unlike Passover and Yom Kippur, Hanukkah is not a mandated holiday listed out in the Bible. But that doesn’t keep us from celebrating the themes and enjoying a happy Hanukkah! Even as Christians, there is so much meaning and symbolism in the holiday as we remember to be dedicated to Jesus. 

 

Where does Jesus fit in Hanukkah? 

Hanukkah extends beyond Judaism for a few reasons. John 10 recounts Jesus celebrating Hanukkah. But there’s also a much more meaningful connection. 

First, Jesus was Jewish. So imagine if the Maccabees hadn’t won their fight with the Syrians. There would be no Jewish people and no savior from the line of David. 

Also, Hanukkah points us to Jesus. For Messianics and Christians, the shamash candle represents Jesus, the one through whom light comes. Not only does he describe himself as the light of the world, but He also shares this invitation with His disciples. In Matthew 5, Jesus talks about being the light of the world. He describes his followers as lights in the world, instructing them to share their light with others. 

Hanukkah is an invitation to rededicate ourselves to God, receive Jesus’s light, and share that light with others.  

How do you say Happy Hanukkah?  

You can extend holiday greetings in any of the following ways: 

Happy Chanukah

Hanukkah Sameach

Chag Sameach

Happy Holidays

What Do I Do Now to Celebrate Hanukkah in 2021? 

Ready to celebrate Hanukkah? Check out our Hanukkah guides, where you’ll find liturgy and information for each of the eight nights. You’ll also find info about Hanukkah recipes, music and movies. 

Looking for a way to really interact this year? Check out our YouTube channel here to find a video for each night of the Holidays that tells you the Hanukkah story and helps you light the candles each night. 

Got kids? Look for our kids guide to help your little ones get excited about the holiday.

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How To Prepare For The Feast of Tabernacles 2022 [Make Sukkot 2022 The Best Year Yet]

How to Prepare for the Feast of Tabernacles 2022

Just when you thought the Jewish holidays were over, the Feast of Tabernacles in 2022 comes rearing its festive head. Of all the biblical holy days, Tabernacles (also referred to as the Feast of Booths or Sukkot) is the last of the fall holidays. And, if we’re being honest, it’s the most fun. 

So what is the Feast of Tabernacles? Is the holiday only available to Jews? And how can you make Sukkot 2021 the best year yet? 

We’ll cover all that. But first, here’s a little background.

 

The Holiday Buildup

If the Jewish calendar seems overwhelming, hopefully this section helps. 

Most of these holidays are laid out in the Torah, specifically in Leviticus 23. They are a designated time set aside by God to meet with the people of Israel. 

Feast of Tabernacles 2021 - Sukkot

And because Jesus our Messiah grafted us into His family, the invitation is extended to us too! As a Messianic congregation, we also believe that Jesus has already come and died so that we can be reunited with God. These holidays not only point to Jesus’s life here on earth in his first coming, but they also speak to His next and final coming. 

There are a few other holidays we’re not going to cover in this post, like Purim and Hanukkah. If you are interested in a full view of how we celebrate our holidays, you can read up on them here.

  • Passover: Passover is a festival commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from the land of Egypt. We celebrate it with a Seder Dinner and liturgy, traditionally called a Haggadah
  • Unleavened Bread: During this weeklong festival, we refrain from eating leaven. We remember the journey the Israelites made in the wilderness.
  • First Fruits: The Feast of Fruit Fruits celebrates the provision of our faithful God. As Christians, we also celebrate it as the day Christ rose from the grave.
  • Pentecost: Pentecost (also called the Feast of Shavuot)celebrates God’s power displayed to the Hebrews at Mt. Sinai. As Christians, we also celebrate God’s spirit descending upon the disciples in the book of Acts.
  • Feast of Trumpets: Also called Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teruah in Hebrew, Feast of Trumpets is literally the “Day for Blowing Trumpets.” Spiritually and symbolically, it calls us to repentance as Jewish communities enter a new year. 
  • Day of Atonement: Also called Yom Kippur and the Day of Judgement, this is the most holy and solemn day in Judaism, the Sabbath of Sabbaths. It’s a day of fasting and prayer as we prepare for the day we stand before the judgment seat. 

 

That brings us to the Feast of Tabernacles in 2022! 

The Feast of Tabernacles, also called Sukkot, is an eight day celebration commemorating the wandering of Israel in the wilderness. The holiday anticipates being with Jesus in constant celebration in eternity forever. 

What Does the Bible Say About Sukkot? 

It’s Bible study time! Just like Passover and the other common Biblical holidays, Sukkot is mandated in the Torah, Leviticus 23 to be exact. This particular feast is also referenced in Zechariah 14. 

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the Lord. […]These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation…”-Lev 23:33-37

So, in other words, Tabernacles is one of those special times to meet with God. 

How Long Does the Feast of Tabernacles 2022 Last? 

There are 8 days of Sukkot. 

This year, the first day of sukkot begins sundown on Monday, September 20th and ends at sundown on Monday, September 27th. 

There are also two Sabbaths (or Shabbats) for this holiday: the first and the eighth day of the feast. So plan on taking Tuesday, September 21st and Tuesday, September 28th off work. 

 

What Can I Do To Celebrate Sukkot 2022?

Luckily, you don’t have to journey to Jerusalem for some serious celebrating. You can celebrate this 8 day festival right within your town and even your four walls!

1. Build a Sukkah

Because Sukkot calls us to remember that we are on this earth temporarily, it is customary to build a sukkah, or a temporary dwelling place. Our congregation has gotten really creative with our sukkahs, and they range from actual tents to wooden structures flowing with sheets, tapestries and rugs. It’s common for Jewish people to eat and spend the night in their sukkahs each night. 

2. Celebrate with God’s People

Getting together isn’t just a time for showing off your sukkahs and eating great food, although those are fun parts of the holiday, too. Each of the Biblical holidays is intended to be celebrated with God’s people. It’s a time for God to speak and meet with his people as a whole. 

And when the day comes for us to tabernacle with Jesus for eternity, it won’t just be us sitting in heaven by ourselves. We will be rejoicing with Jesus’s entire bride.

So find some people to celebrate with and share all that God has done in your lives the last year and what you’re looking forward to in the year to come.

3. Celebrate the Harvest

Not only are we celebrating physical harvests, but the ultimate harvest is being prepared by the Messiah, and we are His field workers. The world is crying for a Savior, and Tabernacles is a reminder that we have the answer—Jesus. 

4. Gather the Four Species 

If you want to go full-traditional, Sukkot goes hand in hand with the four species (four symbolic types of plants) in Jewish communities. During the feast, participants bind the four plants or species and perform a waving ceremony with them each day.

The species include: 

  • Etrog: An etrog is a type of fruit. Modern day etrogs are a type of citron or citrus (similar to a lemon). 
  • Lulav: A lulav is a closed frond (leaf) of the date palm tree. 
  • Hadass: A hadass is a branch of a myrtle tree.
  • Aravah: An aravah is a leafy branch of a willow tree.

 

And Finally, a Little Hebrew: 

Here are a few Hebrew words commonly associated with the fall holidays. 

  • Shabbat: Sabbath, or days of rest. There are two Shabbats in the Feast of Tabernacles—one on the first day and one on the last day. 
  • Chol Hamoed: It means “weekdays of the festival.” These are the non-sabbath days of the Feast of Tabernacles. 
  • Mitzvah: Commandment or good deed done for religious duty. 
  • Yom Tov: Yom Tov translates to “festival day.” It’s not unique to just the feast of Tabernacles but rather applies to the 6 Biblically mandated festival dates. 
  • Shemini Atzeret: A less common holiday immediately following the days of Sukkot. It’s the day when the Jewish people leave their sukkah and eat their meals inside the house. 
  • Simchat Torah: This is a Jewish commandment or law. Historically, it’s when the Torah scrolls were taken out of the ark in the synagogue, and the people danced, sung and rejoiced.

 

We hope you learned something new and can celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles with your family and community. Have a wonderful, joyous holiday season!

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Tashlich: An Invitation To Cast Off Your Burdens

The Feast of Trumpets and Tashlich:

An Invitation To Cast Off Your Burdens

We’ve all either walked up a mountain, taken a hike, or are at least familiar with the process. Whether or not you get to the top, hiking can be intense. There are moments when only sheer determination will bring your burning, shaky legs another step forward. And it seems like just when you are about to call it quits, a friend comes alongside you to offer you some encouragement, or you notice a plateau a little way up and find the energy you need to carry on. (And of course the added expectation of the start of a pretty great view). 

Now, imagine along the way, you began picking up rocks. Some big and some small. They may be manageable at first; in your vigor, you may not even notice them. But eventually, those rocks will begin to get heavy. Really heavy. That’s what sin is like. 

Life is full of seasons. If you don’t know that yet, give it some time, and you will become very familiar with it. Because of our human nature, we inevitably pick up sin along the way. Some of it is inherent to our personality and background, while some are bad habits learned along the way or a response to how we perceive reality. Often, it’s a mixture of all of the above. 

You may not notice the weight of these sins on a daily basis. But when it comes time to release them, you will undoubtedly discover two things: 1. How heavy they were 2. How much better you feel now that they are off of you. 

That’s what the Jewish celebrations of Rosh Hashanah and the Tashlich ceremony are all about.

 

Rosh Hashanah and Tashlich

Tashlich is a Hebrew word that translates to “casting off” and is associated with the high holiday Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets. Although there is no direct command to have a Tashlich ceremony in the Torah, many Jews celebrate the Biblical new year by gathering around a body of water to cast off their sins from the past year. 

The practice was inspired by the prophet Micah who says, “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)

Tashlich Traditions 

It’s customary for Jewish people to gather on the first day of Rosh Hashanah with stones or bread crumbs to represent their sin from the past year. But this isn’t some sort of holy New Year’s resolution. Instead, a Tashlich service helps prepare for the highest Holy Day- Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement. 

Typically, participants enjoy liturgy (guided prayers) and a traditional tashlich prayer. 

Rabbis prefer that Tashich services be at a natural body of water that contains fish (for man can’t escape judgment any more than a fish could escape a net), although any flowing body of water will do—even running water from a hose! 

 

Is Rosh Hashanah Just for the Jewish People? 

No! Although practiced commonly in Judaism, all are invited to participate in the Jewish holidays thanks to Jesus. Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi himself, who came to fulfill the Jewish law and extend an invitation to the rest of the world. Through his death and resurrection, now, any who believes in Him has a place in his family. Therefore, we are accepted. We move from being outcasts to being children of God. We move from living with the burden of sin to living with freedom. 

A Modified Messianic Tashlich Service

Here at Twenty Six Eight, we embrace Jewish customs. We love the practical and tangibly visual way of casting off sins and we have modified it for our community. 

Where the Jewish people gather around a body of water, we gather corporately in our church building. And while Jewish participants come with stones or pieces of food, our congregation comes with an emblem of repentance in hand. 

As we enter a new year, we prayerfully consider what it is that God wants us to turn away from. Themes can be as expansive as control, fear and insecurity or as practical as eating too much sugar or not following through with everyday commitments. Whatever it is that you believe God is asking you to turn from, find an emblem to represent it. It can be pictures, letters, or actual items that are connected to your sin. 

After a time of worship and hearing from The Lord, all are invited to lay their emblems down at the altar and enter into the new year with freedom and joy. 

Just like the hiker who picks up rocks, we are not called to live with years of baggage, sin and pain. And carrying them for so long actually prevents us from picking up the things that Jesus does have for us. 

 

A Few Practical Considerations 

Interested in celebrating with us? We would love to have you! Here are a few practical considerations to help you fully enter into what we are doing. Don’t live in the Treasure Valley? Here are some other ways you can enter into the season no matter where you are! 

  1. After service, our emblems are cast away into the dumpster, so plan on bringing something you are actually ready to part with. Decide on an object you can lay down. 
  2. After you discover what you are being called to lay down, don’t forget to pray over what you are being invited to pick up. For example, if you lay down fear, you may be invited to pick up peace or joy. If you lay down sugar, you may be invited to pick up health. 
  3. We believe that taking care of our congregation includes keeping everyone healthy. Although you will find our congregation worshipping and celebrating in close proximity, we will have space for vulnerable populations to participate in what we’re doing with a bit of distance from the crowd. Can’t join us for our celebration? Celebrate Trumpets from home with our Live Trumpets service and participate in laying something down by throwing something in the trash.
  4. Bring a shofar! (Or plan on enjoying some horns). A big part of Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of trumpets. Biblically, these trumpets were shofars, or ram’s horns. We conclude the evening with celebratory shouts and horns. You will find everything from traditional, full-sized ram’s horns to children with plastic horns. Don’t have a horn? Praise Jesus to a worship song and shout to God with joy.
  5. Check out our Fall Holidays Guide for more tips on preparing for all of the Fall Holidays in 2021. 
  6. Finally, and most importantly, come into the season with expectation. God wants to meet with you. These holidays are an appointment to meet and hear from God. So come ready to hear! 
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Everything You Need to Know About The Feast of Trumpets 2022

The Feast of Trumpets 2022

The Feast of Trumpets in 2022

Summer is winding down, and we’ll soon see stores flood with kids begrudgingly walking through the school supplies aisle. But there’s more to fall than just back-to-school shopping and pumpkin patches. 

In fact, there’s much, much more. 

As the sun sets on September 25th, families all over the globe will begin to settle into the first of the fall Biblical holidays: Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets. 

Despite common beliefs, the holidays in the Bible are not simply Jewish holidays. Rather, everyone is invited to participate in these holy celebrations. 

Before we dive into the specifics about the Feast of Trumpets 2022, let’s review the cycle of the holy days. 

Feast of Trumpets 2021

What Holidays are on the Jewish Calendar? 

Much like the seasons themselves, the Biblical holidays operate in a cyclical manner. In Leviticus 23, God tells Moses about the holidays and how to celebrate each one. He lays out everything from the weekly sabbath (Shabbat) to the feast days and the holiest of days, Yom Kippur. 

Spring Holidays 

There are three holidays in the Spring—Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits

Passover (Feast of Pesach)

In the days of Moses, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt. Through a series of 10 plagues, each of the major Egyptian gods was challenged. The 10th plague brought death to all the firstborn children in the land—all except those who put a lamb’s blood over their doorpost. As the spirit of death moved through the land, it passed over those with the blood on the door. 

Feast of Unleavened Bread

Passover kicks off the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a seven-day holiday that celebrates freedom. As the Israelites prepared to leave Egypt, they didn’t have time to let their bread rise. We celebrate Unleavened Bread by ridding our homes of leavening to both 1. Remember the Israelites’ wanderings through the desert once they were sent away from Egypt, and 2. Celebrate the invitation to leave behind sin and enter into a season of new holiness.

First Fruits 

After the Feast of Unleavened Bread comes First Fruits. This is a day for agricultural offerings of the first fruits of the season. It also kicks off counting the omer, or counting down the 50 days before Pentecost. 

Summer Holidays

There is only one holiday in the summer—Pentecost. 

Pentecost (Shavuot or The Feast of Weeks)

During the days of Moses, Pentecost was when the Israelites received the 10 Commandments at Mount Sinai. After Jesus’ death, Pentecost marked the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on man. 

Fall Holidays

That brings us to the Fall Holidays. There are three holidays during this time of year—Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles.

Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)

The Feast of Trumpets marks a new year in the Hebrew calendar. In Israel, Jewish people throw stones into a body of water to symbolize the casting off of sins. Our congregation recognizes this tradition and casts off something we’ve been carrying so we can pick up better things in the new year.  

Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

The holiest of the high holy days, Yom Kippur is a time when we remember & rehearse our meeting with Jesus during judgment day. We repent of our sins by asking forgiveness from those who we’ve wronged and extending forgiveness from those that have wronged us. It’s a solemn day of fasting.    

Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)  

Also called the Feast of Booths, Tabernacles calls for God’s people to live life in temporary dwellings just as the Israelites did in the desert and to symbolize our own temporary passage on this earth.

During this holiday, we are called to celebrate with others as we anticipate what it will be like in eternity.

A Few Notes about the Holidays for 2022

It’s important to know that the Jewish calendar operates in a different way than the American one we’re so used to. While our days begin with the sun rising each morning, days for the Jewish people begin at sundown, as the first days are described in Genesis, with the evening coming first. Not only this, but a day beginning with sunset is a day that begins with rest, a fundamental characteristic of God’s people. 

Also, you may have noticed that one major holiday wasn’t on our list—Hanukkah. That’s because while Hanukkah may have been a popular holiday in the Jewish community, there is no Biblical command dedicated to celebrating Hanukkah. Because Jesus did, we here at Twenty Six Eight also recognize and celebrate the holiday. 

Another holiday you may have heard about is Purim, described in the book of Esther. Although there are no major sabbaths or holy days associated with Purim, we gather corporately to celebrate Purim together as well. 

 

Feast of Trumpet Symbolism

Rosh Hashanah is also called Yom Teruah and translates to “Day for blowing trumpets.” 

So, the trumpets we blow! 

Times to Blow Trumpets

Biblically, trumpets were blown for a handful of different occasions: 

  • To signify the beginning of a new month
  • To remember or hold a memorial day 
  • To signify the beginning of a Jubilee year or year of rest 
  • To gather all of God’s People
  • To warn of impending danger
  • To rouse people to repentance 
  • To coronate a new king of Israel 

In this case, the trumpets are blown on this Jewish new year to gather God’s people, rouse them to repentance and will one day coronate our reigning King Jesus, who will be accompanied by the sound of trumpets upon His return. (Zechariah 9:14) 

But we don’t just use any ol’ brass trumpet that’s fit for a marching band. Instead, these sounds come from a shofar, or a ram’s horn

Where Does Jesus Fit? 

The Old and New Testaments speak of Jesus Christ. The books of the Old Testament all point to His coming, death & resurrection as the Messiah and the New Testament books point to the days when He will be our reigning king for all eternity. 

Similarly, the spring holidays speak of Jesus’s first coming, while the fall holidays speak of his next coming. The Feast of Trumpets reminds us that Jesus is King and also announces that judgment is coming. 

One day, a series of one hundred trumpet blasts are sounded to announce that the eternal court is in session. We will be called to gather and given time to prepare for our time in the judgment seat on the Day of Atonement. 

Jesus warns us with the shofar that His judgment is coming to those who do not repent but also that his mercy is waiting for those who turn and respond to His call. 

How to Celebrate The Feast of Trumpets with Twenty Six Eight Church

Although a somewhat solemn day, we celebrate Rosh Hashanah with shouts of joy, celebrating Jesus’s mercy, goodness and future reign. 

We can stand with confidence on that day of 100 trumpets because we have been preparing each year. 

To celebrate and prepare your heart with us, join us for our corporate gathering as we lay down our emblems of repentance.  

What is an emblem of repentance?

Simply put, it’s a personal symbol of repentance, some sort of object that represents what you believe God wants you to turn from. 

For example, if God wants your time, you might bring a planner or clock. We’ve had everything from Espresso machines to letters to wet clay at the altar. 

Keep in mind that whatever you lay down is going to get cast away. (The Jews cast their stones into the water. We cast ours into the dumpster). Watch this video to learn more about laying down an emblem. 

Check out our free ebook, Guide to the Fall Holidays 2021, for a guide to celebrating all of the Fall Holidays.

Head to our website for Fall Holiday resources and then reach out to find out where we will be meeting this year. 

Phone: 208.571.2090

Email: church@268church.org

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Torah Portion: Vaera – Exodus 6:2-9:35

MESSIAH IN TORAH

TORAH PORTIONS – JAN 16, 2020

PORTION SUMMARY

And I Appeared – Exodus 6:2-9:35

Exodus 6:2-30

Israel’s elders have rejected Moses. Pharaoh doesn’t listen to him. In His confusion and rejection, Moses complains to Yahweh. And, Yahweh responds. He affirms His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and then once again declares He will redeem Israel from Egypt. However, this time He does so with a four-fold promise:

  • I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
  • I will deliver you from slavery.
  • I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.
  • I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God.

Yahweh’s word of promise ends with reiteration He will bring them into the Promised Land, directly connecting Israel’s deliverance to the patriarchal promise.

Once again, God instructs Moses to stand before Pharaoh to intercede for Israel. Moses is still reluctant. God admonishes him to obey. Then, the genealogy from Jacob’s sons to Aaron and Moses is listed. The text emphasizes the point that those who appeared before Pharaoh were direct descendants of Jacob’s family, anointed representatives of God’s promise.

 

Exodus 7:1-13

Moses goes before Pharaoh again and asks for Israel’s freedom. Pharaoh asks for a sign. Moses’ staff turns into a serpent. Egypt’s magicians perform the same feat. But, Moses’ serpent swallows up all the other serpents. Pharaoh is not impressed and doesn’t change his mind. So, the plagues begin.

Exodus 7:14-9:35

First, the Nile River turns into blood. Everything in it dies and there’s a water shortage. The magicians repeat this miracle. Next, God multiplies frogs all over Egypt. And, once again, the magicians do the same. Third, Moses strikes the dust of the ground and it becomes lice on humans and animals. The magicians can’t replicate the miracle and attribute it to God. Fourth, God sends flies all over Egypt. However this plague only affects the Egyptians. Israel is protected from it and from all the plagues following. Fifth, a pestilence overwhelms all the domesticated animals of the Egyptians but it doesn’t affect Israel’s animals. Sixth, the Egyptians and their animals are plagued with boils. Seventh, hail and fire rain from heaven and strike the land. But, before this plague, God warns Pharaoh. He says He could destroy all Egypt but He stayed His hand. His purpose? So Pharaoh would know God sovereignly gave him his position and power. Pharaoh does not let Israel go.

DEVOTIONAL: THE MESSIAH IN TORAH

This devotional is not a comprehensive discussion of the Torah portion. Its purpose is to identify themes that point to and reveal Jesus the Messiah.

Here, Moses enters human history. He is THE prophet in Israel, the lawgiver, and deliverer. In his life and ministry, we see the Messiah in a variety of ways.

In this portion, Pharaoh is introduced to Yahweh in the plague phenomena. Initially, he’s unaffected, even hardened to God and His power. Egypt’s magicians turned water to blood, just like Moses. They conjured frogs from the Nile, just like Moses. Yet, the wonder of the plagues grew. Lice rose from the dirt. Egypt’s magicians attributed them to God’s power and showed signs of fear. Then flies, pestilence, boils, hail, and fiery rain arrived. Moses’ stature grew in everyone’s eyes. He spoke sovereign words of rebuke, correction, and judgment against the most powerful ruler on earth. Pharaoh did not relent.

Before God’s might shattered Egypt’s pride, the deliverer arrived. He carried God’s wonders and revealed the Messiah. As Yahweh poured out His divine judgment on Egypt, the narrative paused to give us Moses’ family history. It seems strange, at first glance. Yet, it’s through this we see God’s Messiah.

Moses’ family history comes in the usual form of a genealogy. This one, though, has some distinctive marks. It started with Jacob’s sons: Reuben, then Simeon, and then Levi. No more of Jacob’s sons were listed. It stopped with the third. Why? From there, we read of Reuben’s sons, then his line stops. Then, we see Simeon’s sons and his line stops. Last, we see Levi’s sons, then multiple generations until it stops at Moses.

Think about the context. Israel didn’t believe Moses. Neither did Pharaoh. Moses got discouraged and didn’t want to continue. Then, the four-fold promise came (Exodus 6:6,7) and God renewed His promise to give Israel Canaan (Exodus 6:8). Here’s the point. The promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob pass to their descendants, Israel. The genealogy was then given to show that Moses is, in fact, the carrier of God’s promises. He fulfilled the very promises God gave to Abraham (Genesis 15). Not only do God’s promises to Abraham flow through Israel, they found their fulfillment in Moses, Israel’s deliverer.

Who, ultimately and eternally, carries God’s promises (Acts 13:30-39)? Though whom has God’s Kingdom found its redemptive expression (Matthew 11:12)? Who is the appointed, anointed representative of Abraham’s promises (Galatians 3:16)? Jesus.

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Torah Portion: Shemot – Exodus 1:1-6:1

MESSIAH IN TORAH

TORAH PORTIONS – JAN 9, 2020

PORTION SUMMARY

Names – Exodus 1:1-6:1

Exodus 1:1-22

After Joseph’s generation passes, Israel remains in Egypt, multiplies greatly, and grows to great strength. A new Pharaoh rises to power that does not remember or regard Joseph. He grows fearful of Israel. To contain the potential threat they represent, he enslaves them and makes them build the stores cities of Pithom and Raamses. Dissatisfied with the impact of slavery, he commands Shifrah and Puah, two Hebrew midwives, to murder every male child at birth.

They refuse to do so. When he confronts them, they argue that the Hebrew women are stronger and give birth faster than the Egyptian women. Angered, he orders his own servants to throw every male baby into the Nile River.

Exodus 2:1-10

In the midst of this persecution, Moses is born to Amram and Jochebed. They hide him for three months. Unable to continue hiding their child, they make a basket, place it in the Nile River, and hope their child will escape. Miriam, Moses’ older sister, watches and follows. The basket miraculously arrives in the bathing spot of Pharaoh’s daughter. She takes him as her own, names him Moses, and brings him into the royal family.

Exodus 2:11-25

Moses grows under the tutelage of Egyptian education and royal life. He is drawn to visit his people, the Israelites. He sees their burdens. While there, he intervenes when an Egyptian taskmaster beats a Hebrew slave. He kills the Egyptian and buries him in the sand. Drawn once again, he visits his people the next day. This time, two Israelites fight and he intervenes. They repel his intervention, exposing his murder from the previous day. In response to the killing, Pharaoh seeks Moses’ life. Moses runs away to Midian.

In Midian, Moses encounters some female shepherdesses mistreated while attempting to water their flocks. Moses intervenes, protects them, and then helps water their flocks. The shepherdesses turn out to be Jethro’s daughters, the priest of Midian. Moses is invited to stay with Jethro’s family. He marries Zipporah (Jethro’s daughter), becomes a shepherd, and begins having children.

Exodus 3:1-4:17

After many years as a shepherd, Moses encounters Yahweh. From afar, he sees a bush on fire but its not burned up. He approaches to see the strange phenomena. Yahweh speaks to him and reveals His memorial name: I am that I am. Moses is commissioned to return to Egypt and confront Pharaoh with Yahweh’s words: “Let my people go.” Reluctant, Moses makes multiple excuses. Yahweh concedes and sends Aaron, Moses’ older brother, to act as the prophetic mouthpiece.

Exodus 4:18-5:22

Upon return to Egypt, Moses appears to the elders of Israel and does miracles to prove he’s sent by Yahweh to be their deliverer. Initially, they believe him. Moses then appears before Pharaoh. He does not respond favorably to Moses’ request but increases Israel’s labor. Israel’s elders turn on Moses after the labor increase and accuse him. Moses complains to God. In this moment of desperation, God renews His promise to free Israel.

DEVOTIONAL: THE MESSIAH IN TORAH

This devotional is not a comprehensive discussion of the Torah portion. Its purpose is to identify themes that point to and reveal Jesus the Messiah.

In this section, the Messiah explodes from the pages of the text into human history. We see the Messiah in the person and ministry of Moses and God’s first direct, deliberate revelation of His personal name. In the revelation of His name is the Messiah.

Israel’s place of protection under Joseph passed. Still they were fruitful. The promise to Abraham was channeled through them. A new Pharaoh, with no regard for Joseph or Israel, systematically enslaved and persecuted them. Could Yahweh’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob be fulfilled? Was God powerful enough to redeem his people from the world’s most powerful nation?

Moses was taken into the royal family of Egypt in direct response to the crisis. To fulfill His eternal purposes and promises, God sent His redeemer. Moses’ life was preserved. His calling was revealed. His ministry as Israel’s deliverer unfolded. In Moses, we see our Messiah. Like Moses, Jesus was born in the midst of a persecuted generation and His life was miraculously preserved. Like Moses, Jesus’ life and ministry confronted both the heavenly and earthly powers that enslaved humanity.

We also see the Messiah in the revelation of God’s name at the burning bush. God commissioned Moses to lead Israel out of bondage. Moses asked for God’s name. In the revelation of a god’s name is its authority and power. God responds with a phrase that could be translated I am that I am or I will be what I will be or I am He who shall be. The sense is this: Yahweh is eternal. He has been and always will be and He will do everything necessary to keep His covenants and promises to Israel.

Fifteen centuries later, Jesus debated with Jewish leadership. They refused to believe He was the fulfillment of Abraham’s vision and the revelation of God’s salvation. He claimed Abraham rejoiced to see His day. His listeners were appalled. He could not have appeared to Abraham since he was not yet fifty years old. Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” His words were identical to the word Yahweh spoke to Moses at the burning bush. Intentionally, Jesus aligned His life and ministry with the original revelation of God’s name and nature. Moses experienced the manifestation of Yahweh and Jesus was the manifestation of Yahweh. In Him, we experience God’s fullness and redemption (Hebrews 1:1-3).

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Hanukkah Day 8: Jesus as the Word

The Story – Jesus as the Word

Each night, we are reminded that Jesus is the Word of God as we read from the Word of God as we light our candles. Once again, come with me, and again imagine standing in Jerusalem, near the Temple in Solomon’s Portico with Jesus. This beautiful portico runs along the Eastern side of Herod’s temple, and it is beautiful decorated. This place will later be the location where Peter preaches his sermon and thousands will dedicate their lives to Jesus the Messiah.

 

But for now, far away from the busy pandemonium of the city streets, this place is quiet and snow falls lightly. Just a handful of people enter the gate into the Temple, hardly making a noise in the silence of the snow. Wind blows and the clouds hang low over the sky. Jesus is pacing quietly by himself, thinking and praying to himself in this quiet oasis in the middle of the Great City. Today is Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication.

 

All of a sudden, a huge group of religious leaders ambush Jesus and crowd around him, preventing his escape.  “Why do you keep us in suspense?” they cry. “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly!”

 

Jesus takes a deep breath. “I told you, and you did not believe.”

 

“I told you, I am the Son of God, I told you, I am the fulfillment of the scriptures. I told you, I came from Heaven. I told you, I am your Savior from sin.”

 

Jesus had already told them, but they did not believe. “I and the Father are One.” Jesus boldly claimed. “Do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

 

As Jesus spoke, every Jewish man cried out in horror and immediately tried to drag him away to stone him because he had claimed to be deity! But they could not touch him.

 

THE THEME: JESUS AS THE WORD

 

“In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus was the creator of our world, and the creator of all that is good.

Jesus made the claim to be deity, because he was God! Though Antiochus had falsely claimed godhood, Jesus proved he was the one and only true God.

 

The significance of Jesus’ response to the Pharisees in the Temple cannot be passed by, because it is so key to understanding the holiday of Hanukkah. Jesus said he was the one whom the Father had consecrated and sent into the world. Jesus had been sanctified and dedicated by his Father in heaven to come to earth!

 

Jesus was not only claiming to be deity, but a deity that had been sent into the world to save it. Jesus was claiming the feast of Hanukkah pointed directly to HIM! Jesus was the ultimate dedicated and consecrated priest who would intercede on behalf of his people for miracles, even when his own people would not stay dedicated to him.

 

Jesus celebrated the Feast of Dedication as he was reminded of his own dedication to his Father in Heaven. The conviction he carried took him all the way to the cross as he died on behalf of all humanity for their sins.

 

What an incredible picture of Jesus’ love for us in the celebration of Hanukkah, and what an incredible God we serve!

 

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Hanukkah Day 7: The Menorah and Jesus as Light

The Story – The Menorah

Each night of Hanukkah, we light a Menorah, or a Hanukkiah. A Menorah with candles is lit each night to remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. As we light these candles and pray over them, we are reminded of God’s goodness to us.

 

Imagine standing in Jerusalem again, this time in the period of the Roman occupation, hundreds of years after the Maccabean revolt. Jesus is standing before a blind man. This man has been blind since his birth, and everyone in Jewish culture knows, if you are ailing from some terrible illness, you or your parents must have sinned! Most physical ailments were attributed to spiritual causes in the day of Jesus, and Jesus was well aware of this.

 

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” his disciples asked curiously.

 

Jesus turned to his disciples: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

 

Jesus bent down, spit in the dirt and made a paste with the mud. He put the mud on the man’s eyes and sent him away to wash it off. The man walked away completely healed.

 

Imagine the glimmer of first sight as the blind man opens his eyes, and a whole new world reveals itself! The small world of darkness he had lived in now gone, and a whole new world within his reach. He sees color for the first time, he sees movement for the first time, he sees people’s faces for the first time! Imagine this man seeing his parents for the first time and sharing about the incredible Rabbi Yeshua who has saved him! Imagine the wonder he feels as he cries uncontrollably at this incredible gift Jesus has given to him.

 

His entire world has been opened up because this man Jesus took the time to display the works of God in his life. His small life was important to the Savior of the Universe. Jesus had displayed his light to this man, and so today, Jesus displays his life to US! Even as we light the candles of the Menorah, we are reminded to look to Jesus as the light of the world.

 

THE THEME: JESUS AS LIGHT

Jesus is the Light of the World! Several times in Jesus’ ministry, he claimed to be the Light of the World, and to truly understand our part in this, we must understand the significance of this claim.

 

Jesus was the creator of the Universe, the very one who created our world, us, and the LIGHT! Light is the beginning of all things: plants grow from light. We are warmed by light. The Sun, moon and stars shed light on us during the day and at night, for navigation, for sight… light permeates every crack and crevice of darkness everywhere it goes. It cannot be contained.

 

For Jesus to claim that he was the light of the world, he claimed to be the illumination of all that we are as humans. We are dependent on Jesus for life. We are dependent on Jesus for knowledge. We are dependent on Jesus for direction. Jesus claimed “I AM.” Light is a characteristic part of his very nature. In this story, Jesus claimed to be a LIGHT to the world while he healed a man who was blind from birth! This miracle gave substance to his claim and proved it as a part of his very nature!

 

In Hanukkah, we see the element of light as a strong theme in the story, and we can compare the light of the candelabra in the Temple to Jesus, the light of the world. Jesus shines bright on behalf of his people, lighting their way, providing all they need, and sustaining them.

 

Today, we can remember that Hanukkah clearly points to Jesus, and as we light the candles on our Menorahs, we see Jesus in that very light. We believe in Jesus that much more as the light glistens in our eyes.

 

As we continue the Hanukkah story, ask yourself these questions:

 

  • In what ways has Jesus’ light brought blessing to you?
  • How is Jesus calling YOU to be a light to the world?
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Hanukkah Day 6: Dedication and Hanukkah Prayers

The Story – Hanukkah Prayer

Each night of Hanukkah we say a Hanukkah prayer as we light candles. Our prayer at Hanukkah reminds us of our dedication to God. Imagine standing in Jerusalem, at the beginning of a newly independent nation after Antiochus has been expelled. Once again, you walk the busy streets through the marketplace, hearing the lowing of bulls in your ears, and the sound of sheep baaing. You smell smoke as the priests once again pray and burn sacrifices in the Temple. The capital is bustling and growing. This city center is again the heart of the religious world for the Jewish people, and it is your home. You love this city, and the people in it.

 

Because the Jewish people had fought for so long, they had missed many celebrations and holidays, so they commemorated the season of Sukkot late in the year. They spent eight days celebrating Tabernacles in the month of December, commemorating God’s goodness and rededicating the Temple, just as King Solomon had done when he dedicated the Temple hundreds of years before.

 

The conviction and bravery of the Jewish people once again proved their dedication to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God in return had upheld his covenant to protect and provide for them. As the city returned to normal life, and again practiced their tradition and holy rites, they were reminded of the reason for their dedication and tradition. God’s miracles, and their faith reinforced their values of freedom, faith, integrity, and selflessness. So, as we light the Menorah each night, we too pray a Hanukkah Prayer, so we can remind ourselves that we are to be dedicated to God always.

THE THEME: DEDICATION

We are called to be dedicated to God! During the time of Jesus, Hanukkah became known as the celebration commemorating our deliverance and rededication to God (John 10:22).

 

As the Temple was dedicated, so the people dedicated themselves to God and His ways. The lives of Mattathias and Judah Maccabee are testimonies of men who realized obeying God was more important than obeying man. The fight against the kingdom of darkness and the surrounding culture is not just to be free, but also to embrace God and the holiness He has called us to. Today we’re called to dedication to God’s ways, regardless of the sacrifice. Many of those who stood against assimilation were killed. Some gave up their livelihood, position and popularity. Our dedication to God’s ways may cost us the same things, but God will stand with us for His glory. God is willing to give His supernatural power to us if we will seek to be dedicated to Him by His Spirit.

 

Hanukkah is considered the time to rededicate our lives to His ways no matter the cost. When the Messiah came, this spiritual lesson became a living reality. Through the life and ministry of Jesus, the people of His generation saw the fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah. Now we dedicate our entire lives to walking in His ways no matter what the cost might be.

  • How is God calling you to be dedicated in this season?
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