13 Ways Hanukkah Is Different from Christmas

Hanukkah (a Hebrew word meaning “the Feast of Dedication” and also known as the Festival of Lights) is a minor holiday in Judaism and is only mentioned once in the Scriptures (John 10:22). It is the memorial of the cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem after the pagan Greeks had defiled it with idols. There is no scriptural command to celebrate it. There is no indication that Yeshua or the early disciples celebrated it, although John in his Gospel mentions that Yeshua happened be at the temple during this holiday. Nevertheless, Hanukkah as great positive spiritual ramifications.

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Although Hanukkah and Christmas occur in the same month, they are totally different from each other. Hanukkah is not a replacement for Christmas for those who have discovered the pagan origins and unbiblical nature of Christmas. Here are several ways how these two holidays differ: Continue reading

 

Chanukah or Christmas, Neither or Both?

Happy Chanukah/Hanukkah! Tonight begins the first night of the Festival of Lights. Want to know more? Please read on…

John 10:22, The Feast of Dedication [or consecration]. This is a reference to the annual Chanukah (also spelled Hanukkah, and also known as the Festival of Lights) celebration lasting for eight days beginning in the 25th day of Jewish month Chislev (in the middle of our December). This minor Jewish feast was instituted by Judas Maccabaeus (164 BC) in memory of the cleansing of the Jerusalem temple from its desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes, the pagan Greco-Syrian king.

The word Chanukah derives from the Hebrew word KH-N-K meaning “to dedicate.”

While Chanukah isn’t a biblically commanded observance, it is interesting to note that Yeshua happened to be at the temple in Jerusalem at this time as John mentions in his Gospel (John 10:22). Are there any spiritual significances to this? Perhaps.

Chanukah falls in the same time frame as the modern Christian festival of Christmas, which has its roots in the pagan Roman festival of Saturnalia, which culminated on December 25. Saturnalia was a pre-Christian festival held from December 17 to 25 in honor of the sun god characterized by drunken revelries, sexual debauchery, hedonistic indulgences of all sort, and human sacrifices. Saturnalia was a festival of lights in an effort to defeat the forces of darkness at the darkest time of the year and to woo the sun as earth’s life-giver back again thus insuring that the earth wouldn’t become an uninhabitable dark and frozen wasteland.

In the fourth century, Christian leaders “redeemed” Saturnalia by attaching the birth of Jesus Continue reading

 

More Photos from Sukkot 2018 in Central Oregon

As promised, here are some more photos from our local Sukkot gathering this year.

The campground and our campsite.

Natan talking to Rog while Dale (both from Nebraska) is making ice cream.

Natan giving a teaching.

Natan preaching next to the river.

The congregation listening to Natan teaching by the river.

A local resident drops in to hear the Word of Elohim expounded.

As in Yeshua’s day, some folks only come to get fed physically, not spiritually.

Some of the congregation.

And now for some spectacular  outdoor scenes from the local area…

Fall Creek en route to the Green Lakes at the base of South Sister and Broken Top mountains.

Another view of Fall Creek.

The headwaters of Fall Creek.

At the 6,600 foot level at the Green Lakes at the base of South Sister.

Natan swimming in the 47 degree temperature waters of Fall River near the campground during a mountain bike trail ride with Sandi.

The fall colors of Fall River.

 

The Youth—Spiritual Revival Vs. Spiritual Reversal

While hysterical and mindless young people are demonstrating on the streets of my home city (Portland, Oregon) and elsewhere, vandalizing, terrorizing and defying law and order, at the same time, YHVH is raising up a corps godly young people whom he is spiritually energizing to carry the gospel forward and to be salt and light to our generation. It is my extreme joy and  privilege to be contributive in some small part to this spiritual revival.

At our Sukkot this year in the wilderness high desert mountainous region of Central Oregon, we saw this revival occurring. As posted last week on this blog, you were able to read confessionary praise psalms from two young men—my sons—a 19 and 20 year old. But there was more.

Here is a photo of the young people that were at our Sukkot this year. Some of them are on fire for Yeshua, and some of them haven’t made the commitment yet, but at least they were there to hear the Word and see the Spirit in action.

While some godless, law and order hating, leftist, “progressive”/communistic hooligan youths were marching on the streets in a city near us, not far away, away from Babylon, YHVH was raising up and anointing the next generation to carry the light and truth of his kingdom forward.

Below are pictures of the baptism of a young man that Elohim is raising up.

Young Nathanael’s river baptism.

Young Nathanael was not only baptized for the remission of sins, made a public confession of his faith in and determination to serve and obey Yeshua, but he was baptized in the Set-Apart Spirit, as well, with the initial evidence of an overflowing of joy.

 

Previous to this wondrous event, Nathanael had secretly asked for three signs from heaven to confirm his receipt of the baptism of the Spirit: the wind, the fire and the sun to shine on him. Heaven answered his request. After coming out of the water, a strong and gentle breeze suddenly began to blow on us briefly. It was noticeably dramatic, since there had been no breeze previously all day. Then he felt the fire in his body. Then the clouds parted (it had been cloudy all day, and was even raining a little earlier) and the sun came out shone directly on him. Wow! We serve an awesome Elohim. I found out about his request of heaven’s confirmation after the fact.

Next, we had our young Levitical and prophetic minstrels leading praise and worship several times during Sukkot.

Jared leading praise and worship with the help of Kaleb and young Raphael.

Be encouraged…the kingdom of Elohim is advancing, slowly and quietly. What are you doing to help this occur?

 

 

 

Back from Sukkot 2018— A Praise Report!

We’ve just returned from our private Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles celebration in the high desert of central Oregon at the base of the high Cascade Mountains. This was my 50  somethingith Sukkot, and it was uniquely refreshing.

I’ve been wanting to do a Sukkot like this for years! I’ve been to big Sukkot celebrations with thousands of people in stadiums and small ones with just a few people in a living room. I’ve done Sukkots on two continents and in three countries. From 2002 to 2016, my wife and I hosted a regional Sukkot gathering that was open to the public and where people came from multiple states and Canada. We’ve done the guest speaker thing with programs like a conference and fun activities. Not against this, but this year, we wanted to go deeper and higher spiritually. We succeeded in this, or at least we made a few steps in that direction, and I praise Yah for that! I’m not going to exaggerate. We still have a long way to go. Seeking and discovering YHVH at deeper levels is a lifelong pursuit because of who he is; we’ll never arrive at the end of it in this life or ever.

So what did we do? Simply this. My wife and I told our local congregation and a few friends where the Lawrence family would be camping and that they’d be welcome to join us if they wanted. There were no big name speakers, no programs, no special activities, no fancy decorations and pageantry. Just the raw beauty of the great outdoors—YHVH’s creation to inspire us. Everyone was responsible for making their own arrangements. We simply set up a couple of 12 by 17 foot screen room tents on a campsite in a state campground and left it at that. I promised to do a few teachings, and we had three guitarists and a couple of hand drummers to lead our praise and worship. We told them it would be the most rustic and Spirit-led Sukkot they’d ever experienced. They came and it was!

More than 25 people followed us out of “Babylon” and into the wilderness for the eight days, and another 10 to 15 joined us for the weekend from three states and Canada. One family drove 1,730 miles from northern British Columbia, Canada to have their son baptized and another came 1,230 miles from Nebraska. Amazing!

As the only Bible teacher there, I had been preparing myself spiritually for nearly nine months for this occasions through much Bible study, listening-prayer and meditation. I wanted to be a vessel in the Father’s hands to bring fresh spiritual manna for the people and not just more knowledge that swells the head but leaves the spirit in man shriveled and immature. There’s too much of that going on out there already!

My teachings focused on each person developing their personal spirit, so that they can connect better to YHVH through the Ruach or Spirit of Elohim and survive and thrive in the end times assault against biblical truth. This is what I did nearly every day: I would give a short lecture/teaching to lay a scriptural foundation, and then would give the “students” an assignment that they had to do alone out in nature. The nature part was easy, since we were in the middle of a pine and sage brush forest a few steps from one of Oregon’s most wild and scenic rivers.

The activities were designed to help people go deeper and higher with Elohim by tuning into their personal spirit (as opposed to their soul man [i.e. their mind, will and emotions]), and learning to separate between the two (Heb 4:12). Man is a tripartite being (1 Thess 5:23), and Yeshua declared that we have to worship Elohim not just in truth or head knowledge, but also in spirit (John 4:23–24). We learn elsewhere that our personal spirit or conscience is the lamp of YHVH’s Set-Apart Spirit in each of us (e.g. Prov 20:27; Ps 18:28; Rom 8:16; Job 29:3). With these things in mind, I gave each person assignments to help develop their personal spirit and tune into Elohim through nature. Sometimes it helps to get away from the things of man and surround yourself with Elohim’s creation—all of which points to him—in order to hear his voice in your spirit man.

Our first assignment involved spiritual catharsis and reconciliation. I asked each person to allow the Ruach to convict them of a sin or two, and then go to a person they had wronged (especially a family member) and repent, be accountable and ask for help in overcoming that sin. Healing in personal relationships occurred. This has to happen before we can go deeper and higher with Elohim.

After that, we took various nature walks where we learned to hear Yah’s voice better, to hear prophetic words, to write psalms, to let nature speak to us of the glories of Elohim. Each person journaled what they heard and then, if they were comfortable to do so, shared what they received from above with the congregation to encourage and inspire others. We did theme and variation on this nearly every day for eight days.

Beyond that, we fellowshipped around the campfire, had an erev Shabbat dinner, and some of us took a hike to the 6,600 foot level to some high mountain lakes at the base of some 10,000 plus foot mountains. Some of us also mountain biked, went to Crater Lake National Park, visited hot springs and other local geological features and, of course, shopped in town.

One of the most exciting things was the willing and eager participation of about a dozen of our precious young people in their teens and early twenties. They helped with the praise and worship, gave testimonies, wrote psalms, and received prophetic words from YHVH. One young teen was baptized in the river, and received the baptism of the Spirit all at the same time. The rain stopped, the clouds parted and when he came out of the water, the sunshine shone directly on him as an answer to his prayer and confirmation of a prophetic word that was given. Yah made his face to shine on young Nathanael that day.  To be sure, heaven is smiling to see the next generation picking up the spiritual torch!

Here are several pictures. Stay tuned for more to follow.

 

Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot Resources

Joyous Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles from my family to yours! We will be celebrating Sukkot with a few like-minded believers in the wilderness mountains of Central Oregon.

To help you to celebrate the biblical festival of Sukkot with understanding, please check out the following Hoshana Rabbah resources—

For an in-depth teaching article on Sukkot, go to https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/sukkot.pdf

Go to the Hoshana Rabbah YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/HoshanaRabbah?feature=mhee and check out the playlist on the Biblical Feasts and the Sabbath for many teaching videos on the subject of Sukkot.

 

Happy Upcoming Yom Kippur 2018!

On Friday, Sept 21, 2018, my family and I along with our local home fellowship will be celebrating the Day of Atonements or Yom Kippur according to the biblical new moon calendar.

The new moon in Israel was spotted ten days previously, and according to the Torah, the Day of Atonements is to be kept on the tenth day of the seventh month (Lev 23:26).

Biblical months always start on rosh chodesh when the first visible crescent of the new moon is spotted in the land of Israel. As a point of reference, those who follow the traditional rabbinic or Hillel II calendar (invented in ca. AD 360 and was approved by Roman emperor Constantine) are celebrating Yom Kippur today, which is two days too early, according to the new moon sighting in Israel. In reality, they are are celebrating Yom Kippur on the eighth day of the new month, not the tenth day according to the Scriptures (Lev 23:26).

While those who are celebrating Yom Kippur today are following the spirit of the law, they’re not following the letter of the law, since, technically, today is NOT Yom Kippur. In his Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua clearly states that all of the Torah is to be followed (Matt 5:17–19), and  that our righteousness is to exceed of that of the Pharisees, which includes their modern day descendants (the rabbinic or Orthodox Jews, Matt 5:20), and that we are to follow not only the spirit, but also the letter of the law (Matt 5:21–48).

Moreover, Yeshua enjoined his disciples (and us) to follow the Word of Elohim and to reject any manmade traditions that in any way contravene Elohim’s Written Word (Matt 15:6–9 and Mark 7:6–9, 13). Sadly, both our Christian and rabbinic Jewish brethren have, in too many areas, not followed the instructions of the Messiah instead preferring obedience to their manmade traditions instead of Elohim’s Word.

In Romans 12:1–2, Paul the apostle of Yeshua the Messiah states that each disciple of Yeshua must discern what is the perfect will of Elohim based on his Written Word and then must willingly lay down his or her life as a living sacrifice and do that will. In reality and quite honestly, very few people achieve walking out the perfect will of Elohim consistently in their lives. Most of us are walking out Elohim’s good or the better will, and only from time to time his perfect will. While celebrating the biblical feasts on the manmade traditional Jewish Hillel II calendar is certainly a step in the right direction, and may, indeed, be the good will of Elohim, it’s not his perfect will according to his Written Word. May the reader honestly ponder these truths and evaluate his or her walk and heart before Elohim. Are we really willing to lay down our lives as living sacrifices and to say, “Yes Lord, thy will be done, not mine!”? Or is it more convenient to just follow men’s traditions and the convenient inclinations of our fallen natures?

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt 7:13–14)

In this ministry, as truth seekers no matter the cost and in an effort to follow the Scriptures—the Written Word of Elohim, we chose many years ago to follow the Word of Elohim instead of men’s unbiblical traditions. That’s why we’re celebrating Yom Kippur on Friday instead of Wednesday.

For more informations on why we do what we do and what the Bible and history both have to say about the biblical calendar, I invite you to read my three well-researched and referenced teaching articles on the subject, which are available for free downloads at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#feast. There you can find my articles on Yom Kippur as well (https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/yom_kippur.pdf and https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/goat.pdf).To watch my teaching videos on Yom Kippur, go to https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5EzE5DQnrHfWWbczzkRo6IOnglxhbRfM.

Love and blessings in the glorious name of Yeshua the Messiah.

Natan