- Article 1,'Dedicated to WHAT?'
- Article 2,'Destiny Transition'
- Article 3,'Watching In Amazement'
- Article 4,'A Man’s Journey'
“At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Yeshua was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.” (John 10:22, 23)
Two Enochs Dedicated to Two Different Things
There are two individuals in the Scriptures named Enoch. The first was the son of Cain. Cain had murdered his brother and was condemned to wander the earth away from the presence of the Lord. Cain fathered a son and built a city, calling them both Enoch. Cain invested the stability and security for which he so fruitlessly yearned in these two symbols of his earthly, human achievement. The other Enoch was the 7th from Adam through his son Seth. Of this Enoch it was said that he walked with God and that God took him without him seeing death.
In Hebrew the name Enoch is “Chanoch.” It means “Dedication” and from it comes the name of the Feast of Dedication – Chanukah.* In the days of the Maccabees (approximately 165 years before the birth of Yeshua the Messiah) a well-armed Greek enemy sought to subjugate Israel. However, that was not the heart of the conflict. Then as now, the fiercer battle was within the soul of the people, over which direction they would take:
Would they follow the path of the first Enoch, the “Greek” focus on dedicating themselves to the glory of human ability and achievement?
Or would they follow the path of the second Enoch, dedicating themselves to walking with God in His ways, which transcend the power of death?
Human Philosophy or God’s Instruction
Malachi is the last of the Biblical prophets of the Tenach. He closes the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures 400 years before the coming of the Messiah by exhorting Israel one more time, “Remember the Torah of My servant Moses” (Malachi 4:4). A short time later they would be in sore need of this reminder.
While Malachi was prophesying to Israel, Confucius was teaching in China, Socrates was teaching in Athens, and Roman law was being codified. Fifty years later Plato was writing and then Aristotle. In another 50 years Alexander the Great would conquer much of the known world, spreading the Greek philosophy of Hellenism. This philosophy came to Israel causing conflict and ultimately precipitating the Maccabean revolt. New philosophies and teachings would continue to arise and spread. Aspects of truth can be found in nearly any system of thought. But the prophet’s call was for Israel to look to God’s instruction manual, not human philosophy. Only in this was their preservation.
By now we have had 2500 more years of those same philosophies and numerous others. We are still engaged in the same battle over who will direct our steps. To what and to whom will we dedicated ourselves?
Human Might or God’s Spirit?
This verse is read in the synagogue on the Sabbath of Chanukah, spotlighting the theme of the Feast of Dedication. The theme is the rebuilding and re-dedication of the temple to restore God’s presence on earth. Greek temples were monuments of human might. God’s temple is different. His temple cannot be built by human might: It is by the grace of God that we individually and corporately dedicate ourselves to Him, stand on His Word, see His Spirit shine in the darkness and see His presence restored to the earth.
*Chanukah is celebrated this year from December 17-23
Over the past year at Tents of Mercy we have seen a lovely new crop of youngsters ripening and coming of age with bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies. Yeshua also went through this transition. At age 12 He got “lost” – separated from His parents at the end of their yearly Passover pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. Mom and Joseph left for home in the Galilee. He did not. It might have looked like a sign of rebellion from a pre-teen, but this was not the case. The boy Yeshua stayed in the Temple fathoming the deep things of God, asking the rabbis many questions while they were astonished at His wisdom. Then His frustrated parents came to find him saying, “Don’t you care? We have been looking everywhere for You!” He replied, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49)? This incident was not about rebellion. Yeshua was being set apart and appointed by His heavenly Father in the direction of His life’s purpose and calling, realizing God’s direct personal involvement in His own life. The result and next stage of this “bar mitzvah” experience was: “And Yeshua increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). I believe there is a challenge here for us as “earthly” parents and communities, to view our preteens and teens in a similar light, to have grace for awkward incidents and to believe for their callings and destiny as they grow in wisdom and stature.
W hen Abraham’s servant Eliezer was sent to find a bride for Isaac, he felt he needed to pray for God’s guidance.
“O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham…Now let it be that the young woman…[who] says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’ – let her be the one You have appointed…And it happened, before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah…came out with her pitcher on her shoulder… And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, ‘I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.’… And the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.” (Genesis 24:12-21)
We are also watching what God is doing, in wonder and amazement. During the fall feasts of this year—Rosh Hashana, Sukkot and Simchat Torah—something exceptional happened at Return to Zion.
Over the past few months 800 new immigrant families, mainly from Russia and Ukraine, have moved to Israel and made Haifa their home. The Ukrainians have fled from the combat zone, whereas the Russians’ decision to immigrate has been more ideological. And of course God Himself has worked in their hearts to come, according to numerous Biblical prophecies.
Return to Zion Congregation reached out to these new immigrants with an offer of some basic household necessities. About 75 families came to receive what we had to give. The goods that we provided obviously have not met all their needs, but it’s a start. For these newcomers who are in the process of making this country their home, our congregation’s encouragement comes at the right time. Their response has been enthusiastic.
Up until now we had not generally made large congregational events open to the general public. But for the Jewish New Year we invited part of the community, and to our surprise 150 of these new immigrants from the Former Soviet Union joined us.
The same thing happened on Sukkot. We had planned a small, festive gathering, but over 200 people arrived, including the new immigrants. This was again repeated on Simchat Torah, the last day of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).
Like Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, we were simply amazed to see what was happening.
We now need wisdom regarding how to reach out to these new Israelis. They need warm clothes and more household items. We will help them in any way we can. We will share from our experience and offer good advice. Obviously, it is God who has brought His children from different countries and returned them home to the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Let me conclude with the words of Mordechai to Esther. I would like to direct these words to challenge both ourselves and you, dear ministry partner: “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place…who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)?
“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the face of the LORD your God in the place which He chooses…” (Deuteronomy 16:16)
The three occasions were Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles(spring, early summer & autumn). The place He chose was (and still is) Jerusalem, the city of the Great King.
For some time, Dima, of Tents of Mercy, had it on his heart to take this verse at face value. So he and Andre gradually organized a grassroots effort for the men of the congregation. And it finally happened. This Feast of Tabernacles, a hearty band of masculine souls made the last 16 km (10 mile) leg of the hike up to Jerusalem in a two day pilgrimage. We felt the rhythm of 2000 years ago, coming from the Galilee as did the boy Yeshua, walking up the wooded valleys toward the Temple. The entire journey would have taken easily two weeks on dirt paths. Today we drive that same distance in two hours on asphalt highways.
Though our “reenactment hike” involved considerable effort, two thousand years ago each pilgrimage like this would have meant putting “life on hold” for a month or two. We began to receive a fresh understanding of the priority and sacrifice of being in God’s presence, before His face, even in terms of daily personal time commitment.
The boulders, chasms and fallen trees that we encountered on the path remind us of the obstacles and hindrances that regularly confront us in our lives. Whether it be growing up in a broken home separated from a father, vocational handicaps, or temptations – we are all on a difficult journey of overcoming. Let’s walk together as men, into the presence of the King.