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Why Hanukkah? (part 3 of 4)

Post Title: The Prophetic Fire of Hanukkah

In light of the historical beginnings of this uniquely Jewish festival, here are some reflections on why Hanukkah is important and has meaningful implications for you and me.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that we, as the people of God, must be more discerning about being in the world but not of the world.

First, you must realize the world we are in is one spawned by Hellenism. It is a world that, in so many ways, is sophisticated, intelligent, attractive, and seductive. But it is a world that in so many ways is in direct opposition to the Word of God. And we, in effect, have to find a place where we say, "Enough! I stand for God, no matter how unpopular or threatening it may be."

The word Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew root meaning to train up, to dedicate (hanak). The key to being victorious over the world is found in this word. We find it in Proverbs 22:6, Train up [hanak] a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

The keyword hanakh is all about training. It is the word that in Israel today means to educate. It comes from the idea of a midwife who chews on a date and then takes that masticated date and rubs it on the little infant's lips and palate to stimulate the sucking instinct. The infant is nurtured on the mother's milk until they can take solid food. Solid food is for the maturing, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. - Hebrews 5:14

Biblical education is sweet, and the key to waging this battle is to recognize the priority of learning in our lives.

There are times when powerful moves of God touch us deeply, and I'm thankful for that. But the day-to-day living of kingdom people should be centered around God's Word. When the heat is on—when the king's man is standing in your place saying, "worship our god our way," your emotions will not say "no, never." Only a deep abiding commitment will stand. A dedication nurtured and fed by instruction, by education, by getting the Word of God into you.

The word hanakh occurs in 2 Chronicles during a magnificent description of the dedication of the first temple. Solomon's prayer in chapter six is one of the most stirring, moving, extraordinary prayers in all of the Bible. Then we read,

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD's house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever." - 2 Chron 7:1-3

So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God (2 Chron 7:5).

The word dedicate here is hanakh, from which we get the festival Hanukkah known as the Feast of Dedication. They dedicated the temple of God. To confront a worldly lifestyle with a biblical lifestyle, you must operate based on biblical education that leads you to a biblical worldview. The rabbis say a pious man cannot be an ignorant man.

That is not to say there are not wonderfully pious people with no high school or higher education. Of course, there are. But make no mistake about it; they know the Word of God and the God of the Word. Please do not confuse what I am saying here with the Greek idea of education where degrees give you credibility. What gives you kingdom credibility is a learning, a knowing that leads to dedication, to consecration, to hanakh.

Hanakh comes from a root word related to the roof of one's mouth, which takes us back to the picture of a midwife rubbing masticated dates on the palate of the newborn to stimulate the sucking instinct. In a more mature sense, the word lends itself to the idea of putting a bridle into a horse's mouth. The truth of the matter is, to succeed in the kingdom of God you have to take on the bridle of Jesus.

Said another way, you must put on the yoke of Jesus; you have to submit to his authority. Yes, my yoke is easy says the Master. That is until you pull in a different direction. The question is this, what is a yoke for? You put it on an animal to do the work. A reminder that we are saved for something. For good works in Messiah Jesus!

One of the key strategies for resisting and overcoming the world is the transformation of our minds.

Do any scriptures come to mind? How about this, Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present [to dedicate] your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship (Rom 12:1)

Make a decisive dedication of your life to God, which is your reasonable service. Stop living in accordance with the customs of this world. Instead, let the Spirit of Jesus mold your minds and continue transforming you into his likeness through trusting obedience. And remember this, it is not just a one-time commitment but rather an ongoing process of dedication. The world needs your witness, what you are saying "no" to, and who you are saying "yes" to.

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jewish leaders gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."

Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand."

"My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

"I and the Father are one." - John 10:22-30


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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.

Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.

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