Category Archives: Israel
It is my hope to clarify the ‘hard to decipher’ political situation we face immediately.
In a dastardly move the day before Christmas Eve and Hanukkah, the United Nations moved the world to the brink of war. The war question is not hypothetical.
Knowing what was in the making, just prior to the U.N. Security Council meeting on December 23, 2016, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly contacted key national leaders, in emergency phone conversations, saying that if resolution 2334 was passed, declaring Israeli settlements illegal, it was “a declaration of war.” A spokesman for Netanyahu claimed to have “ironclad evidence” that the Obama administration had plotted behind the scenes to promote the UN resolution. Israel has said it will present evidence against the Obama administration to the incoming Trump team.
New Zealand co-sponsored the text of the resolution which was prepared by Egypt in co-operation with the Palestinians. Egypt was persuaded, by an angry Donald Trump, to withdraw the proposal, however, New Zealand snuck it in opaquely and under “ Urgency” the next day in the final meeting of the year to keep it from happening under the incoming Trump administration. Trump would have vetoed on America’s behalf and undoubtedly de-funded the U.N.
PHASE TWO – PARIS; JANUARY 15, 2017
An epic meeting of biblical proportions (see Ezekiel below) of the leaders of 70 nations is scheduled for January 15 in Paris to determine the future of a two state solution, creating a Palestinian State for the first time in history (by the way, there never was a Palestine [refer to my abridged time-line below). Neither Netanyahu, nor Abbas are invited to the meeting – they will be briefed after the fact by the French President in a second Paris meeting.
Shortly after the resolution passed, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump tweeted, “as to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20.” Later he added: “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20 is fast approaching!”.
As renowned constitutional and criminal lawyer and Harvard scholar, Alan Dershowitz notes, according to the resolution, “It is now illegal for Jews to pray at the Western Wall, live in certain Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem or attend Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus.” It is a further denial of the Jewish connection to its holiest site. It also entrenches BDS – the isolation and boycott of Israel. It enshrines a brand new principal of international law – that the victor in a defensive war (in this case it was against Jordan since there was in reality no Palestine) has no right or claim to the land it acquires and must hand it back – but here Israel would have to hand it back to Jordan and not Palestinians (the Palestinians at the time of the ’67 war had no governing body nor did they seek autonomy anywhere other than in Jordan).
If you supported Resolution 2334 before, do you still support it now that you know the ramifications?
Ezekiel chapter 36 would be a good thing to send delegates to the Paris conference. If taken seriously it could turn nations 180 degrees in their intentions toward God’s land.
“Ah ha! The ancient heights have become our possession,…”
“The Lord God says: Look, I speak in My burning zeal. Because you (speaking to Israel) have endured the insults of the nations, I swear that the nations around you will endure their own insults.”
WHERE DID THE TERM “PALESTINE” COME FROM?
Here is truth: There was no Palestinian territory occupied since 1967. None. There never has been. In 1964, Yassir Arafat grabbed onto the British term Palestine and ran with it.
PARIS AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN – THERE IS NO PALESTINE
In 1911 Abd al-Hadi, was a founding member of the Paris-based underground al-Fatat (“the Young Arab Society”) nationalist society, which was devoted to Arab independence and unity. He was among the organizers of the Arab Congress of 1913 in Paris and served as private secretary of Faisal I of Iraq at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Abd al-Hadi was later an adviser to Amir Abdullah in Jordan and an Arab leader in Jerusalem. Abd al-Hadi addressed the British Peel Commission in 1936 declaring, “There is no such country as Palestine. Palestine is a term the Zionists invented. Even your Bibles that label maps Palestine are in error. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.”
BLACK SEPTEMBER – JORDAN
In September of 1970, Yassir Arafat declared Palestinian Statehood. Where? Not in Israel but in Jordan. His message to the Hashemite King of Jordan was that the land belonged to the Palestinians not a him, a displaced Saudi prince. King Hussein massacred Palestinians in retaliation for Arafat’s declaration. The time came to be known as “Black September” from where the terrorists who murdered the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics took their name.
Our present political situation has been in the making for a very long time. The comfortable living conditions of the Western world are good however, The downside is that they are not forced to remember history or to take a look at history.
This sad fact has been used by the enemies of Israel and the west. Until just recently, the BBC – The British Broadcasting Company has created its own Middle East reality built on astonishing boldfaced lies.
Somewhere along the way, the British developed a favoritism for the Muslim world. Most likely a product of Sir Lawrence of Arabia. With the help of five Muslim nations he defeated the Ottoman Empire and drove the turks out of what is now the Holy Land (Israel). Lawrence of Arabia promised to those five Muslim nations to create a state for each of their royal princes at the end of the war. The league of Nations was formed at that time and a map was rolled out on the table and carving the entire Middle East into these states commenced.
Not every British citizen was anti-Jewish and pro Arab. Simultaneously there was a program to deliver to the Jewish people a homeland in the Holy Land.
A quick look at the process
The defeat of the Turkish Ottoman Empire – 1914:
The Great Arab Revolt began on June 5, 1916 from where the famous Lawrence
of Arabia gained his renown. The victory was won in short order. The aim was
securing independence from the ruling Ottoman Turks and creating a single
unified Arab state spanning from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen. Lawrence of
Arabia promised kingdoms to five Saudi Princes for their aid.
1920 – League of Nations:
League of Nations mandates were established in disputed territories so that residents could decide which country they would join. The mandate we are interested in here applied to parts of the old Ottoman Empire which of course included much of the Middle East.
1920 – White paper:
The British White Paper of 1922, also known as the Churchill White Paper was a document drafted by the British Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill with the help of Sir Herbert Samuel and was issued on June 3, 1922 with the purpose of clarifying the Balfour Declaration for the Jewish homeland and how the British viewed it.
The British mandate over the Middle East:
The British Mandate for Palestine’s objective of the League of Nations Mandate system was to administer parts of the defunct Ottoman Empire, which had been in control of the Middle East since the 16th century,
“until such time as they are able to stand alone.”
The Saudi Hashemite prince threatens war against Britain if they don’t give him a state.
The United Nations votes in favor of a two state solution – 1947.
In an historic meeting of the United Nations Security Council, the promised homeland for the Jews was divided a third time giving more land to the Arabs. Israel had to accept the fact, however, the five nationssurrounding Israel shouted a resounding “NO!” and declared war.
Israel is forced to declare statehood – 1948.
Israel is attacked on all borders – 1967.
Egypt’s Abdel Nasser moved troops toward the Israeli border in a planned strike against the nation. Israel launched pre-emptive strikes taking out Egypt’s entire air force before they could leave the runways. Nasser radioed Syria and claiming a resounding defeat of Israel and called those nations to take advantage of the situation and attack Israel. Israeli counterattacks resulted in the seizure of East Jerusalem, the entire Old City, the West Bank from the Jordanians and the Golan Heights from Syria.
Israel is attacked by Egypt – 1973.
On the most holy day of the Jewish calendar: Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement when all communications are shut down, Egypt attacks Israel. Knowing how long it would take for Israel’s Defense Forces to muster themselves, Egypt believed they could win another war against Israel. Once again Egypt was trounced and lost the entire Sinai Peninsula to Israel until Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt under pressure from Western sources for a peace that has yet to materialize.
SECRETARY OF STATE: KERRY DOES IT AGAIN
The following thanks to a blogger:
If what an Egyptian newspaper is claiming is true, then there may very well be an international conspiracy at work against Israel. According to a transcript published by the Al-Youm Al-Sabea newspaper, John Kerry and U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice met with Palestinian officials in early December and presented Kerry’s plan to them at that time…
It has been reported that:
Also present at the meeting were US National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and Majed Faraj, director of the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service.Kerry is quoted as saying that he could present his ideas for a final status solution if the Palestinians pledge they will support the proposed framework. The US officials advised the Palestinians to travel to Riyadh to present the plan to Saudi leaders.The Obama administration is denying all of this of course. But if it is true, then the betrayal of Israel by Obama is much deeper than any of us realized.With less than a month to go in his presidency, Barack Obama has decided to launch an all-out attack on Israel. Once Resolution 2334 passed and the uproar against it was limited, that emboldened the Obama administration to go for broke.
Now it looks like they actually could try to get a Palestinian state created before he leaves office on January 20th, and if that happens it will be absolutely catastrophic for America.
You see, the truth is that we have been warned for many years that our land will be divided after the land of Israel is officially divided into two states. Many of us have been watching for the creation of a Palestinian state for a very long time, and now we may be right on the verge of it happening.
When Donald Trump takes office he would not be able to reverse the creation of a Palestinian state, but one thing that he could do would be to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Jordan warned the USA just today that if Trump moves the embassy to Jerusalem it will be a ‘red line’ for them.
If that happens, the Palestinians also are promising to throw a massive temper tantrum…
When asked how the Palestinians would react if Trump carried out his promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, Erekat reportedly said the Palestine Liberation Organization would rescind its recognition of Israel and ask Arab states to expel their US envoys.
Erekat made precisely that threat in a December 19 conference call organized by the Wilson Center policy forum. He said he would immediately resign as the chief Palestinian negotiator, and that “the PLO will revoke its recognition of Israel” as well as all previously signed agreements with Israel.
Furthermore, said Erekat, all American embassies in the Arab world would be forced to close — not necessarily because Arab leaderships would want to close them, but because the infuriated public in the Arab world would not “allow” for the embassies to continue to operate.
Ultimately, everything that is happening now is setting the stage for the biggest war in the Middle East that we have ever seen.
So instead of this “peace process” being the solution, it is actually going to cause the Middle East to explode in violence.
While living in Jerusalem we recreated the Last Supper as Yeshua would have celebrated with His disciples in the First Century. You can view the CBN/700 Club film below.
While living in Jerusalem I had the privilege to observe and videotape the Passover ceremony of the small community of Samaritans. What might have Passover looked like in the First Century? This is a step backward in time to a place where the ancient customs have not changed.
We would like to wish our Jewish and Israeli friends a happy Passover.
Early elections for the twentieth Knesset will be held in Israel on 17 March.
The 120 seats in the Knesset are elected by proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency. (To read more about the Israeli political parties within the Knesset, click below.)
Let’s agree together for a governing body in Israel that will establish a security to her people and borders.
Father, we pray for Israel as she goes to elections, and protect her citizens as they go to the polls on Tuesday. Continue to secure Israel and borders from the evil plans and strategies of terror and destruction. Bless Israel today and make her strong and very courageous against all her enemies.
Father, bless the Body of Messiah in Israel — Jews, Arabs and Christians. Strengthen their hands and the good work they are doing for Your Kingdom. Give them boldness and great courage. May Your praises be strong within her.
Israel, God is FOR you, and He is mighty to save and deliver you.
Father, bless Your people… the ones you call ‘My inheritance,’ for the glory of Your name, amen.
This is an Op/Ed by Ron Cantrell following the address to the U.S. Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
I believe this was the most historic speech since Winston Churchill.
On one hand I am proud of the United States Congress. On the other, I apologize to Israel for those congressmen and congresswomen who refused to show up for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address. Twenty-six standing ovations in 44-minutes before the Congress and President Obama responds with, “Netanyahu offered nothing new and no viable alternatives.” I am embarrassed! Iran claimed the address was, “boring and repetitive.” I’m sure they did.
It is my opinion that the United States has just come to a pivotal point in history. I believe many that heard the Prime Minister’s address would agree with me. Future generations will ask what we did with this dire warning from our only real ally in the region. The name Neville Chamberlin should come to mind again as what seems to be a scrambling administration seeks . . . “WHAT?” I don’t know what they are seeking.
Iran may have as many as 190,000 centrifuges in operation soon. Why???? What enemy does Iran have to need a full-blown nuclear arsenal of that magnitude? Saudi Arabia is shaking in their boots and watching closely at what we will do. And not just watching…they are warning us.
Bibi handed a splendid compliment to those Americans who support Israel and have for decades. And, he did not neglect to acknowledge the good things that our President has done on behalf of Israel during his term in office. Netanyahu is a big man–a man of great political stature who has seen firsthand the insanity of terrorism and nations that perpetrate it. Bibi lost his beloved brother Yoni in the raid on Entebbe in Uganda decades ago–rescuing a hijacked airplane of Israelis by terrorists. We, too, have been firsthand witnesses of hate-filled Islamic terrorism when I survived a senseless suicide (homicide) bus bombing in downtown Jerusalem perpetrated by Hamas, funded by Iranian-backed Hezbollah.
A Contrast of Core Values
It is shameful to me that a foreign dignitary has to remind America of our core values by contrasting us with Iran. As Americans, we live with the understanding of our rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Meanwhile, the 1970s’ Iranian Revolution resulted in a new constitution, overseen by the exiled terrorist, Ayatollah Khomeini. That constitution declared the core value of Iran to be: Exporting the Revolution worldwide, and the pursuit of the ideal of jihad (“holy war” that leaves Islam as the last standing religion on the face of the earth). Summed up, their values are death, tyranny, and holy war. That’s the truthful contrast. In a nation that bans all but strict archaic Islamic lifestyles, including the internet, the Ayatollah “tweets” his intents to destroy Israel…in English! That would be just laughable if it were not so dire.
Netanyahu made the point clear to us in his address that Iran attacked and blew up a mock United States naval ship just last week. Iran backs Hezbollah in Lebanon openly. The leader of Hezbollah has said that it would be good for all Jews to come home to Israel so that they can all be exterminated there and not chased around the nations of the world.
Remember Mordecai’s Warning to Queen Esther
The visit from the Israeli dignitary comes immediately before the Jewish fast/feast of Purim, wherein Queen Esther saved the Jewish people from a Persian tyrant. This intentional timing of the Israeli leader pleading, urging, and warning our nation, is unmistakably vital for us to heed.
A Regional Bad Deal
Bibi called this deal with Iran for what it is: a “bad deal.” He urged the U.S. to demand that Iran stop its aggression against its neighbors, stop its support of terrorism, and stop the open threats against Israel before any moves toward normalizing relations with them. The opinion of U.S. President Obama that Netanyahu offered no alternative is dangerously shortsighted. The fact is, should the deal go through, the Middle East will be ushered into a nuclear arms race to hold Iran at bay. Their aggression against Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other regional neighbors, is being totally ignored.
An Urgent Warning
Netanyahu ended his address with a strong warning that Israel’s days of taking a beating at the hands of hate-filled Islamic nations is over. The irony was tangible as Bibi pointed up above the heads of the Congressmen and Congresswomen to the statue of Moses residing in the Congressional chamber. The Patriarch of both Christians and Jews speak in Scripture saying: “Never fear or dread your enemies.”
As for me, this warning address has not fallen on deaf ears. Tuesday March 3rd, 2015, stands as an historic moment in all of history. Perhaps the second most important world leader has issued a dire warning. For the sake of the beautiful people of the region, held hostage by tyrannical religious leaders, I am personally heeding this urgent warning.
U.S. President Obama is partly right when he says Netanyahu offered nothing new. The fact is, Netanyahu has been warning us for 15 years of what is now on the table.
Ron Cantrell, former resident of Jerusalem, Israel for 20 years, is the author of Unholy War for an Islamic Empire and The Mahdi, Hijacked Messiah. These books, and others by the author, are available on Amazon.com.
America has always stood with Israel. In these days this position is even more important. With the address of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu before our US Congress this morning, we have been urged once again about the importance of taking the strongest action necessary to protect the people of Israel, the surrounding nations under attack of ISIS, and the nuclear objectives of Iran.
We stand with God’s eternal purposes for the nations of the region according to His Word, especially Isaiah 19. So, let’s agree together:
Father in Heaven, thank You for Your eternal purposes for the people of Israel, the Palestinians, the Assyrians, Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian — and all the peoples of the region. We ask that You thwart all the plans and strategies of evil against Your people and continue to protect their borders. Expose all the enemy’s intentions and reveal their hideouts. Protect our USA troops there as well.
Bless Israel and her people today. May she again experience victory over every enemy who seeks her destruction as in the days of Queen Esther. May Israel be strong and of good courage in the God of her salvation.
May God continue to bless America. Amen.
To read the full transcript of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu today before the US Congress, click here.
View the video of his speech.
Purim, the fast and feast of Esther, begins March 4th. In light of the ongoing grievous events in the Middle East region, we believe it is good to review the miraculous intervention by God on behalf of His people. We continue to pray for the Christians of the ancient church in Islamic nations presently enduring unimaginable attacks and persecution, as well as the Jewish people facing horrific antisemitic attacks against her citizens and borders. We agree together for the protection and deliverance of God’s people, as well as all the nations under attack in the region, in the face of such evil Haman-schemes. Amen.
The book of Esther unveils the ancient and captivating Persian world. The customs and the splendor of the Persian Empire are enthralling. The empire was far reaching in this time period. It encompassed nations such as Egypt, Babylon, Turkey and more. Much like stepping through Alice’s Looking Glass, the book of Esther is a trip backward in time through a Persian, lattice-work window. A plot so dramatic that it remains unrivaled for millennia and comes to life for us in the midst of the most colorful setting.
In some scenes, one can almost smell desert jasmine in the air. Like warm, summer nights with stars blazing above, and hot desert days enfold a story of God’s compassion for His people.
The stunning gardens of Persia, carved in stark contrast to the surrounding desert landscape, were the backdrop for a drama rivaling the best screen scripts of modern times. The word “paradise”, by the way, is an ancient Persian word for “garden.”
The Festival of Purim
The Festival of Purim takes place on the 14th of the Jewish month of Adar, around February or March. The celebration is not a Levitical pilgrimage festival requiring the worshiper to come up to Jerusalem as is Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Purim is a microcosm of Jewish history. Here, like many other times in history, we find the Jews in exile and at the mercy of the whims of a local ruler. The handiwork of Heaven is constantly in view. Circumstances draw together in unusual ways that add up to more than just coincidence.
The Story of Queen Esther
In the opening of the story, Ahasuerus, King Xerxes’ Hebrew name, calls for Vashti his Queen to provide entertainment in the midst of a drunken banquet lasting 180 days.
Refusing, the queen is dethroned, and Esther, a young Jewish girl in exile from Jerusalem, is chosen to take her place.
Esther’s guardian, her uncle Mordecai, coaxes her as he stands on the sidelines, and this story unfolds. Day after day, Mordechai refuses to pay homage to Xerxes’ vizier, Haman, an Amalekite descendant. An incensed Haman pleads with the king to destroy Mordechai and annihilate his people, the Jews. The king, unthinkingly, gives Haman authority to execute his plan.
Mordechai, hearing the plan, pleads with Esther to approach the king lest the Hebrews perish.
Esther, with great planning and ceremony, entertains the king for three days in Persian style. On a sleepless night, the king reviews the archival records and discovers that Mordechai had exposed a plot to murder the king.
Irony spices the plot as Haman is appointed to parade Mordechai through the streets arrayed in royal attire to honor him for his bravery. Haman’s family prophesies his downfall from the event. In a surprising plot reversal, Queen Esther exposes Haman for the evil creature he is in the presence of the king and all his court. In great anger, the king then has Haman hanged on the gallows he had constructed on which to hang Mordechai.
In accordance with Persian law, all ten of Haman’s sons are hanged along with him. In ancient times, laws dictated that the sons of a felon were to be hanged along with him.
In the scroll of Esther, the names of Haman’s ten sons appear arranged as a verse of poetry. Tradition dictates that the reader of the scroll in the synagogue roll through the ten names in one breath as if to read through it with more than one breath might be a waste.
God so thoroughly defended the Jewish population that great fear came upon the rest of the population.
The story of Esther stands as a testimony of the power of God to deliver His people against all odds, even in the face of potential annihilation as they cried out to Him with fasting, prayer, and desperation. In this book, where God’s name is not even mentioned, He pervades every chapter and every character. Every twist of plot is orchestrated behind the scenes as if a puppet master were putting on a performance.
Deliverance Will Come!
Purim may not be a Levitical feast, but the lesson is worth celebrating: God will deliver us! Some of the other biblical feasts are also celebrations of God’s power in awesome acts of deliverance. This celebration, and other feasts of the Hebrew calendar, remind us again and again that we love a God who thwarts the plots of the ungodly who oppose the people He passionately loves.
We can celebrate ahead of time the victory He is working on our behalf no matter how impossible it may look. We are more impressed with God’s great power and His love for us than anything the enemy could send against us.
The above is an excerpt taken from The Feasts of the Lord: The Feasts, Fasts, & Festivals of the Bible, written by Ron Cantrell, available in paperback and digital formats on Amazon.com.
We are God-Appointed
The words Mordecai said to Queen Esther ring true to us all today (Esther 4:14, HCSB):
Perhaps you have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this.
We have been perfectly positioned, fully equipped, and God-appointed to partner with Him in all He is doing in the nations. Motivated by God’s great compassion, we are committed to pray, and be actively engaged, to see the nations delivered into the full freedoms provided by the Messiah.
Let’s agree together:
Lord of the nations, deliver Your people, once again, from the hands of such horrific evil… for Your glory. May Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.
(Illustrations by Ron Cantrell)
On this first night of Hanukkah, we wish all our Jewish and Israeli friends a season of the Light of Yeshua.
The time between the Old Testament and the New has traditionally been known as the silent years. But a fictional novel could not hold more intrigue or imaginative narrative than this period. Historians who have not fallen under the “spell of silence” have left us enough information to glean valuable lessons from Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is a story of survival, bravery, overcoming faith, and a sovereign God. These lessons are too rich to ascribe to a silent past. They cry out, of themselves, to be paid attention to. If they had been heeded, needless deaths might have been spared during the Holocaust.
Purim follows in the spring on the heels of Hanukkah. Purim is also a story about survival. The thread that binds both stories is God’s protection over the Jewish nation, His chosen people. One story takes place in the diaspora (lands where the Jewish people were dispersed from Israel) and the other takes place in “Greek occupied” Israel. These stories take place hundreds of years apart. Esther is dated approximately 460 B.C., and the saga of the Maccabees—Hanukkah—takes place about 160 B.C.
Both of these stories were dictated to the mind of scribes by God’s Holy Spirit, I am sure, to leave us an indelible message. The message is that in the face of enormous odds, with God, we are victorious.
When we were still living in Jerusalem I attended services at our congregation where our former British guest speaker, Lance Lambert, a Jewish believer who lived in Jerusalem many years, was speaking on “The Hanukkah Connection.” Some of his thoughts are worth adding here as an introduction.
David Ben Gurion, upon being asked to create a seal for the new State of Israel, chose two olive branches surrounding a menorah. It stands as the Israeli State Seal to this day. On each of the seven cups of the menorah (seven-branched candlestick) is one word:
“Lo B-chil, U’Lo B’Koach, Ki Im B’Ruachi,” —Not by might, nor by power, by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”
This picture is from Zechariah 4:6, at which time they were rebuilding the Temple after the Babylonian captivity. Remember the word Hanukkah in Hebrew simply means “dedication,” specifically of the Temple of God.
The menorah (candlestick) stands as a symbol in so many passages of Scripture. Revelation tells us that the seven churches of Asia were represented in the heavenlies by a candlestick. Also Israel is represented by the menorah in Zechariah. John in his Gospel records that Jesus is the light of the world and lights every man. Zechariah goes on to record something interesting in relation to this just after the “not by might” section mentioned above.
Zechariah asks about the meaning of the vision of the two branches who are pouring oil from themselves. Of course, this oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit of God, but it is interesting to note that in Hebrew it does not say that they were pouring just any oil from themselves, but it says that they were pouring “gold,” not even golden oil. The word “oil” placed in most translations is in italics, meaning it is inferred by the translator. In the context of the rebuilding of the Temple, and the power coming from the Holy Spirit, the Hebrew word picture is without rival.
In John 10:22, Jesus is recorded as walking in the area of Solomon’s colonnade during the Feast of Dedication, which is Hanukkah. As was usual with Jesus, He tied His message to the events of the people. He took that opportunity to declare that HE was the Light of the world.
It is interesting to note that the candlestick used by the Jewish people during Hanukkah, called a hanukkiah, has eight candles and one extra one called the shamash, or “servant”. The symbolism of the eight candles is discussed below, but the symbolism of the “servant” candle for us as believers is worth mentioning. Jesus, the Servant, is the light of all men. According to the rules of this holiday, all the candles of the hanukkiah must be lighted from the one called the shamash.
Hellenization of the Region
Josephus, the historian of antiquity, left important documentation of that period. The bulk of the story of Hanukkah is found in the book of Maccabees (one of the books of the Apocrypha; this collection of works was preserved by the formal church), and mention is made of the Feast in the New Testament. In the book of John, just after Jesus has declared himself to be the Light of the world, he is found walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. John tells us that it was in winter during the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22).
This holiday holds more historical resource in Christian literature than it does in the literature of the Jewish people. Actually the holiday is not mentioned at all in the Old Testament because it happened after the closing of Malachi.
This drama of Hanukkah begins with Alexander the Great. His conquest of the then-known world began in Greece in the fourth century B.C. Alexander was so highly ambitious that he conquered the world by the age of 23. The book of the prophet Daniel portrays him, symbolically, first as a leopard and later as a horned goat who charges so swiftly that he does not even touch the ground (Daniel 7:6, 8:5-7).
Thus, via Alexander the Great, began the hellenization of the world. The Greek philosophers’ ideas, the glorifying of the human body, both in sport and in fine art, and the Greek way of perceiving the universe around us, permeated the world.
Though our story of the Maccabean revolt against the Syrian-Greeks takes place much later, Alexander’s conquest of the world is actually the foundation of those events. At his death, Alexander’s empire was split into four parts. The four major generals of his vast army divided his conquests amongst themselves. Seleucus, one of Alexander’s generals, took what later became modern Syria. It was under the iron fist of this sector of the divided empire that Israel came to a time of great trouble.
Several generations from Seleucus, a maniacal ruler came to power known as Antiochus Epiphanes. His Greek name actually means “god in the flesh.” Antiochus ruled from Syria but set up a military garrison in Jerusalem. This garrison was to oversee the hellenization of the population of Israel.
Antiochus had the high priest Onais murdered. He demanded that the circumcision of all Jewish baby boys cease. He had a statue of Jupiter (Zeus) erected on the Temple Mount and the sacrifice of swine on the altar was instituted.
The Syrian-Greek military garrison met their demise upon entering a small village outside Jerusalem called Modi’in. The soldiers built an altar and demanded a “show of allegiance” by having the local elders sacrifice a pig there. An old Jewish priest named Mattathias became so enraged when he saw what was taking place that he killed the Jew who was complying with the orders. He and his sons fled to the nearby mountains to regroup and prepare to wage guerrilla warfare against the oppressive authorities.
Mattathias, being elderly, passed his leadership on to his son Judah, known as the Maccabee (meaning “hammer”) prior to his death. Judah defeated every attempt by Antiochus to end his uprising. His strategy and bravery could not be matched by the other side. In the face of astounding odds, Judah led his followers to Jerusalem where he drove the Syrian force out of the city.
Judah faced the grief of having to fight against his own Jewish brothers who had joined the side of the hellenizers. Some forsook their Jewishness for monetary gain, others for prestige. In order to participate in Greek sporting events which were conducted in the nude, some of his Jewish brothers were so determined to be hellenized that they endured painful surgery to reverse their circumcisions, thereby erasing any sign of their tie to their Jewish heritage. Many died from the dangerous operation.
On the twenty-fifth day of the Hebrew month Kislev, exactly the same day that three years earlier the Temple had been defiled by unholy sacrifices, the Hasmonean brothers and their followers liberated the city and began in earnest to undo what their oppressors had done. They rushed to rededicate the desecrated Temple.
Arriving at the Temple site, they began removing the stones of the defiled altar and toppling the statue of Jupiter. In the holy place inside the Temple stood the huge menorah (the great olive oil lampstand). The rejoicing Jewish conquerors found only enough oil to light the menorah for one day. The joy of the conquest of liberation was diminished due to the laws stating that the menorah must burn continually. The time it took to process enough oil to replenish the menorah was eight days. How could they possibly begin the process and let it die again? Nevertheless, they lit the menorah and began the process of procuring more oil.
The stamp of God’s approval of their deeds of valor was evident when the oil which should have lasted for only one day lasted the entire eight days until the new oil was brought. For this reason the holiday is also known as the “Feast of Lights.”
Modern Hanukkah Traditions
The traditions of the Feast of Hanukkah that have evolved over the years are the lighting of an eight-branched menorah (candleholder) called a hanukkiah. One candle is lit each night by a candle known as the shamash, or servant in English. Thus the hanukkiah candleholder has nine candles. The candles are lit in a right-hand to left-hand order, adding another candle each night.Hanukkah candles come in boxes of 44 since lighting one more each night of the eight nights of Hanukkah adds up to 44.The frying of potato pancakes in oil is traditional to commemorate the oil used the light the Temple Menorah so long ago.Games are played with a four-sided top called a dreidel. Each side of the dreidel has a Hebrew letter on it standing for the slogan:
Nes Gadol Hiyah Po—“A Great Miracle Happened Here.”
In all places outside of Israel the dreidel has the letters slightly different, standing for Nes Gadol Hiyah Sham—“A Great Miracle Happened There.”
Story-telling is Popular During Hanukkah
The book of Maccabees is read, wherein lies the story of the bravery of those zealous of God’s ways. Women played a role as well in this great drama. These stories are related concerning Israel’s women of valor.
One is about a woman named Judith who, upon seeing the desperate plight of her people, left Jerusalem and arrived at the Syrian encampment. She pleased the Syrian general and he, thinking to have her for himself, consented to her preparing him a meal first. Judith knew that serving salted cheese would make the general thirsty whereby she could give him too much to drink. He complied, drinking wine until he passed out. Judith, seizing the opportunity, killed the Syrian General. When the Syrians learned of Judith’s deed, they fled.
Another story of a woman of valor relates that the Syrian governor passed a law that every Jewish bride would be brought to his bed chamber first on the night of her wedding. The daughter of the high priest, upon hearing this, made plans for her own wedding ceremony. After her vows she stood amidst the people disrobing, almost like the prophet Jeremiah at a much earlier time, which, of course, enraged the crowd. Her brothers shouted that they would kill her, to which she replied, “Over my being disrobed you are angry, but about what the Syrian governor will do to me tonight you remain silent?” Being roused to righteous anger, her brothers stormed the palace and killed the Syrian governor, and the revolt began.
What Does This Mean for Us?
This story is a tale repeated time and time again by the Jewish people—a story of overcoming in the face of overwhelming adversity. From the book of Genesis to the Maccabees the Jews have overcome Egyptians, the desert and its dangers, felled the walls of Jericho with rams’ horns, quelled the giants of the promised land, and led three Babylonian kings to the throne of God the Almighty.
From the Maccabees to present day, there have been a string of miracles, but to answer Isaiah’s rhetorical question, “Can a nation be born in a day?” Yes, indeed it can and in the face of such overwhelming odds as to be absurd should anyone simply have penned the story as a novel.
Our lesson from this holiday is that we can overcome with Him. We will face Antiochus again in the visage of the Anti-Christ and God’s people will overcome. His empire will once again be shattered. This time God’s people will watch because it will be done without hands, according to Daniel, but it will come to an end. In all this we can take courage—God is ever present in the annals of men.
The Local Flavor
One of the best places to take an after-dark walk during Hanukkah is the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The Quarter sits nestled inside walls rebuilt by Suleiman the Magnificent, sultan of the once powerful Turkish Moslem Ottoman Empire which ruled here from A.D. 1517 until the British brought this kingdom to an end in A.D. 1917.
Hanukkah candles are meant to be lit in a window facing outward to shed their light into the street. The beautiful architecture of the Jewish Quarter is the perfect environment. Narrow walkways between tall buildings made of creamy limestone seem to wait for candles to illuminate their soft façades. Long narrow passageways are warm and softly glowing. Bright spots punctuate the dark passageways, bringing to mind the lighting of a Rembrandt painting. Each succeeding evening an extra candle graces the Hanukkah menorah, shedding even more light.
I often would take such a walk—a lazy enjoyable Friday night — with daydreaming of what it must have been like when our Messiah walked in the same area. It seems that even Jesus enjoyed such a walk. John chapter 10 records His walking in Solomon’s Colonnade, which is in the same area. His walk is recorded to have been during the Feast of Dedication. Jesus had just finished healing a blind man’s eyes and declaring himself the Light of the world—the Light shining into darkness setting those free who are willing.Again, the Hebrew word Hanukkah means “dedication”. It comes from the dedication of the Temple, both in Solomon’s time and in the time of the Maccabees, who rededicated the Temple desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 B.C.
The Jewish Quarter sits very high on a hill inside the confines of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. As one approaches the Temple Mount area, the topography drops off sharply into a valley. The view is spectacular both by day and by night.
My walk would bring me to the edge of that valley to the staircase which leads down to the Western Wall plaza where the Jewish people pray today. There my daydream ended and I was brought back to reality. Riding the east wind coming from the Mount of Olives was the voice of the Moslem muezzin declaring that “allah is the great god and that mohammed is his prophet.” The contrast was almost too vivid.
City of light, city where the Light walked and healed and illumined the dark eyes of some and the dark minds of others, sits in spiritual darkness. Jerusalem is Ground Zero for future attempts of God’s enemy to usurp His authority. That enemy works through people and the stage is being set for confrontation. Jerusalem will become more and more the focus of international news’ attention. Things will never become politically acceptable here for the western world. On the contrary, Jerusalem is appointed to become a cup of trembling to the nations.
But yet there is light. The symbolism of the eight-candle menorah being lit by a ninth candle called “the servant” is a reminder of the servanthood of the Messiah. Psalm 36:12 says, “For with You is the fountain of Life, in Your light we see light.”
We are, in a manner of speaking, like the Hanukkah menorah—servants called to illuminate those around us and to ever increase the light. During Hanukkah see the candles being added nightly until the glow almost drives back the chill of winter in the limestone city. Our job is to continue to drive back the chill of winter with light.
Hanukkah is a time when God encourages us to persevere in the face of crushing pressures.
Pray for the Jewish community around the world and Israel during this time. May the Light of the world be revealed in and through us all ever brighter and brighter.
Hanukkah: Eight Nights of Light Video
Watch the video that we produced in Israel with Ron Cantrell teaching from Jerusalem:
The Feasts of the Lord
Learn more about Hanukkah: Eight Nights of Light and other Feasts of the Lord in Ron’s book: The Feasts of the Lord: The Feasts, Fasts, & Festivals of the Bible. Buy the paperback book at Amazon.com.
Adventure on the ancient main trade routes of the Middle East.
A relatively thin slice of land along the Mediterranean Sea has been called, “The Sacred Bridge,” by scholars. In the place where nations have rubbed shoulders with one another for thousands of years, the changes have been only in the surface of the highways: narrow dirt paths gave way to Roman paving stones, later to asphalt, then to super-highways. A region with thousands of years of history make the mind reel for those of us birthed in a nation that is a mere 238-years old.
The vast desert to the east of the bridge kept international trade routes in a narrow corridor near the Mediterranean Sea. The Via Maris, “the Way of the Sea”, (in aqua) runs parallel to the Mediterranean Sea near the coast. The Kings Highway (in red) runs along the crest of the mountains of Moab and Ammon on the east of the Jordan River and Dead Sea (known as the “Salt Sea” in biblical times). The Spice Route (purple) ran from the Arabian Peninsula through Petra, intersecting both the King’s Highway and the Via Maris, then on to the sea at the southern-most port at Gaza.
By no accident, the Sacred Bridge was the site of God’s greatest advertising campaign. The choice was dictated by location — the place where the nations continually passed by. In the midst of cultures given to the worship of many gods, God’s people living in Jerusalem stood as a beacon of truth: the worship of One God, the only God. The book of Acts, chapter two, reads like a United Nations gathering on the day in which God’s fire was poured out. The nations mentioned ring the Sacred Bridge like the spokes of a wheel. No one present would return home silent about what they witnessed that day. In the next week over 8,000 locals and visitors came into the Kingdom of God and were publicly baptized.
This bridge plays no less a role in the future than it has in the past in spite of modernization and progress. Isaiah 19 spells out it’s importance explicitly.
On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. Assyria will go to Egypt, Egypt to Assyria, and Egypt will worship with Assyria. On that day, I Israel will form a triple alliance with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing within the land. The Lord of Hosts will bless them, saying,
‘Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance are blessed'” (Isaiah 19:23, 24, HCSB).
I am not alone in wanting to visit, see, smell, taste and experience the cradle of history. It is alive with the glory of our God, recorded in the Love Letter He left us. Millions come annually, in spite of danger and turmoil, to breathe in the most historically-famous place in the world.
It’s a place where the “Greats” passed through: from Alexander the Great to Napoleon Bonaparte. However, they were mere visitors on a web of ancient highways taking goods and people from Africa to Europe and Asia. A network of byways connect the major highways and have remained as ancient as they were thousands of years ago. It’s to this place that my wild heart is drawn. I love the adventure and the extreme heat, scorpions and dangers of that famed dusty path known as the “Spice Route”.
CAMEL -TREKKING THE ROUTES
Carol and I have recently traveled the King’s Highway through Jordan: from the Red Sea Port, to Saudi border and all the way up to the Syria border in the north. Many years ago, before fully understanding Isaiah 19, I led a group of adventure-seekers on a three-day camel trek on the Spice Route in the Aravah on the Israeli side. This route runs perpendicular to the King’s Highway and the Via Maris, and crosses both of those famous routes.
The photos above show Seffy, our camel-trek guide, as he gives important instructions about the dangers of the desert before we leave the safety of the encampment base on the crest of the mountains above the great African Rift. Lots of sunscreen, water, hats, and most of all, loads of fun. Never forget the fun! Then, it’s off across the desert we go. Velvety hills, carved into terraces by the tiny feet of hundreds of thousand of sheep and goats over the centuries, create a photographer’s paradise.
A normal hike, or desert journey, is magical in and of itself, but, to know you are on the same route trodden by great men for several thousand years is overwhelming.
Each two people are assigned a camel. One will walk, the other rides, trading off every few hours. There are ups and downs for our ships of the desert. We cross wadis (dry river beds) and climb mountains on the ancient dusty paths. Our guide points out an almost perfectly round flat stone. We learn that this is an ancient directional road sign that has been used for thousands of years. Upon closer inspection we see ancient writing scraped onto the surface of the stone.
Well-acquainted with the desert, our guide, Seffy, knows where to find hidden agricultural tools in cracks and crevices along the way. This winnowing fork and the ancient road sign deepen our sense of awe of where we are.
MEALS IN THE DESERT
The nuts and bolts of the trek were setting up camp late in the afternoon, baking bread like the Bedouins on a large metal wok turned upside down over the fire pit, eating with the hands group style, and of course resting in the heat of the day under a shade anchored by four camels at each corner.
Then instructions for bedding down at night: “Check your sleeping bag area for scorpions!” Very important. The yellow ones are small but very poisonous. Sure enough, one of our ladies slept on top of one. Thankfully, no harm done; the scorpion stayed put all night long.
Our guide tells us of the camel caravans, numbering as many as two thousand manned by only 20 men, bringing salt from Ethiopia. The worth of such a caravan could reach as much as $12-million dollars in today’s currency. A tribe of Nabatean desert dwellers controlled the Spice Route as it wound its way through what is now south-central Jordan. These desert dwellers knew the secrets of the arid wilderness–where to find water and food supplies. The Nabateans made their living by taxing the traveling caravans who had to pass through their territory.
Along our route were ancient Khans (simple Inns for lodging and food for caravaners). Some ancient structures remain partially intact. The antiquities authority has provided information stations along the way to make the journey more meaningful.
Our route towered above the canyons. Staying high on the mountain crest was the only way to keep cool as valley floor temperatures could reach 115-degrees fahrenheit.
ANCIENT CHRISTIAN CHURCHES
In all this history and beauty, one thing has struck Carol and I repeatedly and that is the history of the spread of Christianity in this Sacred Bridge. Our journey through Jordan was conspicuously punctuated with that fact through the ancient Christian church mosaics unearthed by archaeologists from the north to the south. Though Jordan is an Islamic country each hotel we stayed in proudly displayed large mosaics on their lobby walls. Each of these mosaics was from an ancient church. The heritage of the area is clear: Christ reigns there.
Our mandate is to declare Him Lord of the region and call forth this ancient heritage and inheritance once again until the Light of the world is once again blazing bright.
The Church of Jerusalem
In the Cardo, in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, there is also a mosaic uncovered in Madaba, Jordan, near Mount Nebo. It is a mosaic map of ancient Israel focusing mostly on Jerusalem and the Nea Church there in 540 AD.
Sixth century Jerusalem is depicted in the center of this mosaic map. The red lettering in the white area at top reads, “Hagia Polici Yerusalem” — “The Church of the City of Jerusalem,” The main street of Roman times, the Cardo, is central in the mosaic: the colonaded shopping mall that bisected the city.
A Sacred Bridge of the Future
The story of the Sacred Bridge is not finished. What seems to the thousands of tourists that visit, a historical era of the past, has yet to see its crowning splendor. Israel’s own, Ben Gurion declared that the future of the region would be brought to fullness when technology brought life and agriculture to those deserts. There are those who know, and can appreciate, what God has proclaimed about the region. Not just the bridge itself, but the surrounding neighboring nations and peoples being pulled into the vortex of His glory: Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Assyria (Syria, Lebanon, Nineveh, and Iraq. Though the boundary lines of the region have changed multiple times through the centuries, the dawn of God’s intentions for His people remains firmly intact. He sends us as forerunners to make the path straight and prepare the way.
Pray for the peoples of the region as God draws all men to the light of His glory.