The Temple is Dedicated

White CrucifixionIllustration:  “White Crucifixion” by Marc Chagall, 1938.  Oil on canvas.

“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 Jews 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'”(John 10:22-25).

Today is the first day of Chanukkah.   So let’s hop out of our timeline a bit and celebrate Chanukkah together.  The Temple that is being rebuilt during Zechariah’s prophecy is finished.

Chanukkah is all about the promise of Messiah and the waiting for its fulfillment.  It is a wonderful celebration during Advent and echoes Advent’s theme.

It is the story of a miracle.  But not the miracle that you may be thinking of.  The miracle of the oil and the “Festival of Lights” wasn’t told until about the 4th century.  In fact, the story of Chanukkah is only found in 1 Maccabees, a history written during the time between Malachi and Matthew.  The only mention of Chanukkah in the Bible is in the New Testament, in John 10:22:  “At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter.”  Before it was called the “Festival of Lights,” Chanukkah was the Feast of Dedication.  (Chanukkah means “Dedication.”)

It is the story of waiting.  Malachi has spoken… “Surely the day is coming…”  Elijah is coming, Messiah is coming, the Day of the Lord is coming.  And while we wait, our land is taken over by pagans and a king who, knowing the prophecy, claims that mantle.  Daniel (chapter 11) has prophesied the rise of Antiochus, king of Syria, who calls himself Epiphanus, the manifestation.  He forces God’s people to worship him, he profanes the Temple, he oppresses the people.  So the people revolt.  The High Priest, his sons and a small army flee to the hills above Jerusalem, and lead a revolt against the mighty Syrian army, driving them from Israel, taking back this same Temple and rededicating it to the service of God.

Some thought then that Judah, the leader of the Israelite army, was the one who was promised, but he was only a shadow of the one to come.  In John 10, Jesus is celebrating Chanukkah at the Temple when “the Jews gathered around him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the [Messiah], tell us plainly.’”  And so, Jesus did, and at Chanukkah He declared that our waiting is over.

The incarnation that we are preparing for is the building of a temple that can never be destroyed.  The manmade Temple is gone, but the Temple that is Jesus (John 2) is eternal.

Prayer:  Abba Father, thank you so much for your eternal faithfulness and calling us to Your Temple, Jesus. Amen.

As We Wait:  Jesus’ death and resurrection paid the price for the sins of all mankind, even and especially those committed by men against one another.  The history of the Jewish people is a history of oppression and hope.  The illustration above is a picture of hope, even amidst the oppression of the Jewish people.  This Chanukkah, share the story, and especially the hope with someone you know.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s