Inside Israel – Rejoice In His Light

Hello and welcome to a look inside Israel through the eyes and heart of a Jewish believer, our sis, “J,” of Jerusalem. Today she gives us an important look at Christmas from a perspective that we may not have considered before.  God bless you and yours as you celebrate and worship Jesus. Now here’s “J” . . .

“He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:33
“וימלך על בית יעקב לעולם ואין קץ למלכותו”    (this is how this scripture appears in the Hebrew Bible)
“Christ is The Lord, O praise His Name for ever, His power and His glory, ever more proclaim…. Fall on your knees”  from song ‘O Holy Night’
Last night at our kehila (fellowship) we lit the 5th Hanukkah candle and read John 10:22 “Now it was the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) in Jerusalem, and it was winter.  And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.  Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him ‘How long do you keep us in doubt?  If you are the Christ, tell us plainly’…”  They had just been arguing about whether HE, The Only Son of God, had a demon or was mad. The Hebrew word ‘Hanukkah’ means ‘dedication’ in English, and we know that Yeshua celebrated Hanukkah …indeed…He Himself, The Light, walked in the temple during Hanukkah and was not recognized…but what symbolism!  I came home wondering exactly how many years Hanukkah had been celebrated before Yeshua was born and opened my computer to search for the information.  Checking my email before the search I found this amazing gift of a note from a dear brother.  I am taking the liberty of sharing it before asking (thank you, Mike, in advance!)
Been thinking about Hanukkah and Christmas coinciding. A true season of light. In December 165 BC (*note by me…this was first celebrated on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev according to Jewish history) the Jewish people threw off the yoke of oppression and defeated a vastly superior force. The Temple was cleansed and G-D showed His sovereign hand by causing the oil to burn for eight days. A people who had been oppressed were not forgotten.
Then 161 years later a young Jewish girl would give birth in Bethlehem. Taking the child to the Temple for dedication a priest took the baby and said “now my life can come to an end, for I have seen your salvation, a light to the gentiles and a glory to the people of Israel” . Looking at the mother he would say ” this child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel and a sword will pierce your own soul too”. This child would become one of the most talked about Rabbi’s in history. Now that’s a lot of light.
He who has ears let him hear. Hope you are having a great Hanukkah and have a very Merry Christmas.
I thanked The Lord for this email arriving at this particular moment!  It was a small but significant ‘sign’ to me that The Lord was hearing me crying out for a personal spiritual need (that has kept me from writing until now) that He has now, in His perfect faithfulness, met!  And I also had my information: Hanukkah had been around for 161 years before Yeshua first entered the temple during this particular holiday, and some 30 years later purged the temple, turning over the tables of the money changers and scattering the merchants…His Purity not being able to stand any longer the defilement of God’s own house of prayer…Emanuel…God with us…had entered His temple, and yet the people of God debated and disagreed over whether HE was Lord, or was mad or had a demon…the religious leaders adding ‘He blasphemies!’.  But Yeshua knew His own, and still does, as He said; “My sheep hear my voice…” in the same portion of John 10
You see, I remain, year after year, both perplexed and in awe as I look around me in this very same Jerusalem…and I want to report what I see faithfully here.  Today is the day celebrated around the world as Christmas.  Last night, Christmas eve, torrential rains began pouring down (they are still with us, thank You Lord! And are forecast to continue until tonight…AND it is snowing on Mt. Hermon) but that did not stop the thousands upon thousands of Jewish people gathering in the Old City to ‘watch’ Christmas eve services.  They gathered by droves, their curiosity pushing them from place to place.  Granted, some were young drunks, and others scoffers, but many many MANY were ‘curious’.  While ‘we’ the believers sit in our camps of ‘Christmas’ vs. ‘no Christmas’, the hungry gathered.  I listened to the English radio news in the morning yesterday and there was a Bishop from Ireland being interviewed…amazing interview for all Jews to hear on our local news as he shared about what it is like to be a priest at Notre Dame (catholic) during ‘Christmas in Jerusalem’, and as he gave the schedule for their Christmas meetings, he said that more then 50% of those attending the midnight services were Jewish, seeking to understand “the wonder of it all”.
After our meeting last night I wished people a blessed Christmas if they celebrated it.  Only one said that she did, and takes the day aside to meditate on the wonder of His coming.  She was on her way to one of these services in the old city.  She said that last year she was asked by the leadership to stand outside of the church with others and sing Christmas carols and at first she was taken aback and a bit scared of repercussions.  But, instead was blessed beyond belief as groups of Jewish people stopped to listen intently to the words, receive literature or come in for the message.  How can I describe it…it is almost a ‘frenzy’ of searching on this night!
Since my husband was not wishing to go out, I returned home after our meeting and was surprised by our younger daughter bringing her boyfriend over for a visit.  I was surprised because the relationship has been a matter of much prayer for me.  He is the oldest of about 10 children in an ultra religious family.  Although he had turned away from religion, he has begun turning back.  Our younger daughter had only recently told him of my faith, fearing his rejection.  He listened but it was not of obvious interest to him….just a bit curious.  However last night at about 9pm they appeared DRENCHED to the knees as the rain was pouring down.  He sat down and asked my husband casually ‘So. Are you going to the Old City tonight?’  I giggled. He so RARELY talked to us.  His English is not strong.  Our daughter offered him a cinnamon bun, which I had made for my husband, and he (setting aside the fact that our home is not strictly kosher) devoured it.  “Delicious!” he said smiling.
What is my point?  Yeshua IS The Light.  He IS The Light of the temple…the true temple…His body…He came to Light EVERY man…  He comes to be Light in darkness…to set the captives free and HE IS HOLY.  I do SO understand the dilemma, particularly facing people in the West and shared by Jewish believers (of which I am one). To an extent, although I was QUITE sheltered by both my background and the rather remote areas that I lived in, I experienced it too when I lived in the ‘old country’.  First of all, I didn’t want ANYTHING that ‘wasn’t Him’ (and I still don’t!): the battle (very real and legitimate) against the pagan and extremely commercial practices of a holiday that was not found in scripture…(although…neither is Hanukkah.)  WHAT IN THE WORLD DO WE DO WITH THIS HOLIDAY THAT HAS BECOME SO WORLDLY AND IS EVEN PAGAN IN SOME ROOTS AND PRACTICES?  What in the world are we to do when people use the birth of Messiah, Holy, Savior, into the world to excuse drunken, mocking parties, santa clauses, debt inducing spending and the like?  Well…in MY very irrelevant opinion, it is a very personal decision in these days…yet NOT ‘each of us doing what he thinks right in his own eyes’, but each of us knowing from The Lord how we are to walk toward it, like we do about all of our activities.  Currently, our decision to keep our version of the celebration is very unpopular with many true believers, but I believe He is both pleased and glorified.  I only pray NOT to be like the Jews in the temple discussing ‘Is This Man Messiah… or a demon…or mad’!
And in the midst…my people search, and those who celebrate Christmas sing the old song as a prayer for my people:  “O come o come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, who mourns in lonely exile here, until The Son of God appears…rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel…shall come to thee o Israel”
May the seeds that have been planted here in Jerusalem and around the world grow to be good fruit, producing `100 fold for the glory of Messiah, Yeshua h’Meshiach…THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.  – Time for me to go and light Hanukkah candles J
God BLESS you all.  Your sis in Jerusalem
ani b’derek
Published in: on December 26, 2011 at 3:52 pm  Comments (6)  
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  1. I, too, have Christian friends who struggle with Christmas. They believe it was founded on a pagan holiday. My belief is that every day of the week is a pagan holiday of some sort or other. For instance, there are over 3,000,000 Hindi gods and each has a birthday which is celebrated by someone on a particular date. Plus, we use the Gregorian calendar which is based on pagan gods and goddesses.

    So, if you really want to get technical, Passover, Hanukkah and all the Jewish feasts are celebrated on pagan holidays, as most of the world uses the Gregorian calendar. Oy vey, huh?

  2. Larry, there you go! I appreciate that insight of yours, that helps me live for Him today and listen to what He says . . .not everyone else. Thanks for reading J’s letters! I know they are longish especially compared to my regular posts, but she always helps me see Jesus. Sending your comment on to J. It will bless her! God bless you!

  3. God bless you, J. Your opinion is never irrelevant to me.

  4. Well…in MY very irrelevant opinion, it is a very personal decision in these days…yet NOT ‘each of us doing what he thinks right in his own eyes’, but each of us knowing from The Lord how we are to walk toward it, like we do about all of our activities.

    What a refreshingly gracious consideration! Several years ago, I came across information which connected Christmas to pagan practices of one or another sort. It really disturbed me, but our reasons for abandoning trees and elaborate feasts and expensive gifts turned out to be conviction over material distractions, personal indulgence and selfishness.
    Our family is still examining what is most honoring to the Lord at this time of year.

    The first comment here is very interesting to me as I’ve often thought that if we consider Jesus to be the risen Lord of all creation, there really isn’t a “wrong” day to devote to remembering Him–so long as He really is the one on whom our attention is fixed

  5. Thank you, Linda, for blessing J and encouraging her! 🙂

  6. Heather, thank you for sharing your thoughts and what your family is doing. 🙂 I love hearing each persons ideas and I know J will be blessed to hear from you too! God bless you and yours each day of the year!

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