Monday, December 22, 2008
**In This Issue**
What Does the Bible Say About...?
Welcome to the
Reflections Newsletter from Reflect His Glory. RHG is a co-ministry
with Creation Science Ministries. Feel free to send this to your relatives
This week Jewish families around the globe will
celebrate Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights. Chanukah
began last night on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (Sunday
at sunset) and lasts eight days. The word
Chanukah means "dedication" and the holiday commemorates the rededication of the
Temple in 165 BC. Because of its Biblical and
prophetic importance, I thought it would be
appropriate to explore the origin and history of Chanukah.
Many scholars refer to the 400 years between the Old Testament
and the New Testament as "the silent years." However,
much of this history was written about in advance by the prophet Daniel.
Chapter 11 of the book of Daniel details the breakup of the Greek Empire
after the death of Alexander the Great. Alexander's
four generals divided up the empire. Cassander
took Macedonia and Greece; Lysimachus took Asia Minor and Thrace; Seleucus took
over Syria, Babylon and the east; and, Ptolemy took over Egypt.
Since Israel was caught between the territories
of Seleucus and Ptolemy, it subsequently was a buffer zone between these two
rivals. Daniel also describes the struggles between the Seleucid Empire ("the
king of the north") and the Ptolemies ("the king of the south").
After Antiochus IV Epiphanies took over the Seleucid throne
he outlawed the keeping of the Torah, persecuted the Jews, and looted the Temple
in Jerusalem. In the ultimate act of profanity
he then slaughtered a sow on the altar and sprinkled its blood in front of an
idol of Zeus in the Holy Place. This desecration of the Temple is referred to in
Daniel 11:31 as the "abomination of desolation."
The consequent outrage led to the famed Maccabbean revolt, which successively
threw off the yoke of the Greek rulers and ushered in the Hasmonean period of
Israel's history. On the third anniversary of
the desecration of the Temple, on the 25th of Kislev, 165 BC, the Temple was
rededicated. This rededication is celebrated to
this very day as Chanukah.
Chanukah is mentioned only once in the Bible,
found in John 10:22, and
simply acknowledges that "And it was at Jerusalem the
feast of the dedication, and it was winter." Most
of what we know about Chanukah comes from the books of 1 Maccabees and 2
Maccabees as well as other rabbinical writings and traditions.
Many historians believe that the first Chanukah
lasted eight days because it was a delayed celebration of Sukkot, often called
the Feast of Tabernacles, which also lasts for eight days and at the time would
have prominently featured the lighting of lamps. However,
according to the Talmud, a miracle took place during the rededication of the
Temple that accounts for the eight day duration of the feast. The
Temple Priests had only a one day supply of oil, yet
the lamps burned for eight days, giving the Priests time to prepare more.
This remarkable event is referred to as
the miracle of Chanukah.
Perhaps the most recognizable aspect of Chanukah is the
Menorah. The Chanukah menorah has place for eight
candles, and for a ninth candle set off somewhat from
the rest. The eight candles commemorate the
miracle of the oil while the ninth candle, the shamash, is for lighting
the candles on each of the eight days. The
Chanukah menorah is different from the seven-branch candelabrum found in
most synagogues, of which the seven branches are symbolic of the
burning bush seen by Moses.
Chanukah menorahs are traditionally displayed in a window so they can be
seen from the outside, but are not used for actual lighting
in the room.
Historically, Chanukah is considered a minor holiday,
primarily because it is not one of the seven feasts of the
Lord described in the Torah (the five books of Moses).
However it has been emphasized more in recent years. Chanukah
symbolizes the restoration of Jewish sovereignty, and that idea has taken on new
significance with the establishment of the modern state of Israel.
I believe one of the more
interesting aspects of Chanukah is its roots in Biblical prophecy.
The "abomination of desolation," which lead to
the Maccabean Revolt, and subsequently the first
Chanukah, was foretold by Daniel. This
historical event took on additional prophetic significance two centuries later,
when four of the disciples received a private briefing
by Jesus Himself on His future "Second
Coming", in which Jesus alluded to a future
reoccurrence of a similar desecration as the key to all end-time prophecy
(Matthew 24:15). This repetition of the
"abomination of desolation" is the central milestone in the middle of the
climactic seven-year period comprising the "70th Week" of Daniel 9.
This prophetic event requires the rebuilding of
Marianne and I
would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Chanukah, a very Merry
Christmas, or both.
There are other views of Matthew
What Does the Bible Say About...?
In this section of the
Reflections Newsletter we answer questions that have been asked.
If you have a question that you would like ask, and do not mind having
printed in the newsletter, (your name will not be mentioned), feel free to
send your question in an email to me at
email@example.com. Of course, you may call me
anytime by phone at 801.302-1111.
The question for this issue is, "I
have heard that Christ was not really born in December. If not, when
was He actually born?"
date of Christ Jesus is not pinpointed by the
mention of any specific day or month. However,
there are some facts that we can glean from the
Bible which enable us to establish an approximate
time of the year in which this miracle occurred.
1. Luke Chapter 2 tells us that Jesus was born when
His parents were obligated to go to their home town
in order to register for taxation purposes. It
is very unlikely that the emperor, Augustus, would
have called for a registration in the very cold of
winter. I can tell you from our recent trip to
Israel, that it does snow in certain parts of Israel
during the winter season. Given the primitive
travel conditions of those times, everyone's journey
would have been slow, and some might not have made
it to their destinations at all.
2. On the night of Jesus' birth, the shepherds were
watching their flocks in the fields. Because
of the climatic conditions of Israel in the month of
December, there would not likely be shepherds or
sheep in open fields at that time of the year, at
night. From mid-October to mid-April is the
rainy season. During that time, the shepherds
take their flocks into the shelter of the sheepfolds
at night. So, since the shepherds were not in
the field on the night Christ Jesus was born, it is
almost certain that it was not in December.
3. Most helpful in answering this question is a
comparison of the time of the birth of John the
Baptist with that of Jesus. Luke Chapter 1
records that while Zacharias, a priest from the
family of Abia, was ministering, and angel appeared
and assured him that his barren wife was going to
bear a son. Each family line of priests was
assigned a specific month to minister.
According to 1 Chronicles 24:10, the family line of
Abia, or Abijah, was the eighth in order. This
means that Zacharias was ministering in the ninth
week from the beginning of God's first month of
Israel's religious calendar, as defined by God
Himself in Exodus Chapter 12:1-2, was in the month
of Nisan, which is usually April. Transposing
from the Roman calendar would make the date
somewhere between June 1th to June 8th.
It is likely that Zacharias's wife conceived shortly
after he went home from his ministering service.
Moving forward nine months in the calendar from
June, would set the date for the birth of of John
the Baptist in the early spring, in the month of
The Bible in Luke 1:36, says that Christ Jesus was
six months younger than John the Baptist. By
adding six months to the birth of John the Baptist,
we arrive at the month of September, which is the
approximate time of Christ Jesus' birth. The
Bible, in John 13:1, also tells us that Jesus'
ministry ceased at Passover time, which was in the
spring of the year. From the available Bible
information, we know that His ministry began 3½
years prior to that spring.
Working backward from that period would mean that
His ministry began in the early autumn of the year.
Luke 3:23 indicates that Christ Jesus began His
ministry as He was nearing the age of 30. This was
the proper age to begin priestly (rabbinical)
service, according to Numbers 4:23.
**MEMORY VERSE OF THE
Remember the former things of
old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me.
We solicit your prayers and support of this ministry. God Bless.
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