Hanukkah and the Dedicated Life!
Considering the upcoming holiday season, we look at what Scripture teaches us through Hanukkah (this year, Nov. 28th – Dec. 7th) and our new life in Messiah.
The 25th of Kislev (December)
For His use Only
As a biblical precept, Hanukkah teaches us what it means to be truly dedicated to the Lord. As a holiday, Hanukkah, or The Feast of Dedication, was instituted in 165 BC by the Jewish people to commemorate their rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
This occurred after the Israelis, led by Judah Maccabee, overthrew the Syrian dictator Antiochus Epiphanes and his armies who had desecrated the temple three years prior. The celebration lasted for eight days, beginning on the 25th of the month of Kislev (December).
Hanukkah is a Hebrew word (chanukah) which means to “train up” or “dedicate”, from the root meaning “to make narrow.” The idea is dedication involves “limitation” if we are truly dedicated to the Lord, we restrict ourselves and our actions, for His use only.
With this in mind, we can better appreciate why Messiah celebrated Hanukkah in John 10:22,23. Hanukkah spoke uniquely of He who ultimately came to dedicate the true Temple of God, that is, each of us who would believe in Him (1 Cor. 6:19,20).
As Judah Maccabee came to remove the enemy’s defiling hold over God’s Temple, so Yeshua came that we would be “delivered from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His [God’s] dear Son (Col. 1:13).
We are His temple
Dedication is costly
As His temple, we recognize from Hanukkah that unless we are dedicated, we are not spiritually useful to God and therefore we live unfulfilled lives. As we look to Yeshua’s dedicated life, we understand better how God works in our lives as He conforms us to the image of Messiah (Rom. 8:29). Our dedication is seen in three ways: as a sanctuary, a son, and a servant.
In 1 Kings 8:62-66 we see the purpose of dedication: spiritual intimacy, or worship. “Solomon offered the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, 22,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep” (1 Kings 8:64).
This passage shows us that spiritual intimacy with God has its price. Imagine what this looked and sounded like at Solomon’s temple. How much would 142,000 head of livestock have cost? Dedication is costly.
Think of what it cost the Maccabees to fight the mighty Syrian army for three years. Many lives were sacrificed for the cause of liberating and rededicating the Temple. In a similar way, Messiah gave His life as a sacrifice to redeem us as the temple of God. Dedication is measured in sacrifice.
Dedicated to Him
Are you desecrated or dedicated?
The Maccabees, Moses and Solomon understood that God’s dwelling place was for God’s use only. In the same way, spiritual intimacy with God requires us to yield ourselves to God’s use only. “So, the king and all the sons of Israel dedicated the house to the LORD” (1 Kings 8:64). When the Temple was dedicated, it fulfilled God’s purpose.
When you are dedicated to Him, you find God’s purpose for you as well. Your heart is His dwelling place, an altar for prayer. This is where we meet with God one-on-one, personally, intimately. If you restrict your life “for God’s use only,” then you will find fulfillment.
At Hanukkah the temple was rededicated, not for a once-a-week visit or some other foolishness, but for daily service. For example, the priests didn’t announce, “Las Vegas night on Tuesdays, poker on Thursdays, and holy worship on the Sabbath”. No, the priests understood that 10% dedication meant 90% desecration.
As the temple of the Holy Spirit, are you desecrated or dedicated? Desecration is often found in vain religious activity, but genuine worship is found in sincere dedication. Are you for God’s use only? Is He in control of your life and your actions? Only cleansed and consecrated worship brings fulfillment in the Lord.
The Believer as a Dedicated Son
…a lack of consistent Dedication
Spiritual maturity is the result of consistent dedication. Regarding this, Solomon wrote, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Here we see the process of dedication, which is based on a relationship. Even as a child is trained up in “the way he should go”, spiritual maturity in God is achieved through a process of dedication.
The Hebrew word translated “train up” derives from the same word for Hanukkah, or “dedicate”. Children are to be trained in the truth. Dedication is not a matter of a well-rounded education as much as being properly focused on the truth.
For all of us, the lack of spiritual maturity comes from a lack of consistent dedication. Godly discipline in childhood brings godly self-discipline in adulthood. To dedicate a child is to train up the child – considering who he is, just as God does with you.
But remember, when we train up a child it is the dedication of the parents, not the child, that is being considered. Dedication is more than just praying, reading the Bible, and hearing godly teaching.
Dedication is the consistent application of truth in a person’s life, for young and not-so-young believers alike. With this is the promise: “…when he is old he will not depart from it.” He may detour, but he won’t depart.
But what if you do all you can, and your children still do not turn out as you had hoped? Remember the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15)? In that parable, the father represents God. He had two sons: one a self-righteous boor, and the other an utterly wasteful person.
If that father represents God and both of his sons are moral failures, does that make God a failure? Of course not. Then what’s the point? Even for God the job is not to produce perfect children, but to love imperfect children perfectly. Eventually the prodigal son returned home, for after all, he was still a son.
The Believer as a Dedicated Servant
What does Dedication do for you?
In Genesis 14:13-16 we see the product of dedication, which is discipleship. This gives us insight into realizing spiritual victory is in God. “When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan” (Gen. 14:14).
There’s that word “hanukkah” again. Abraham’s men were “trained”, “dedicated ones” (hanikim). Those who were dedicated to their master’s victory shared in the victory, for the Scripture says about them in verse 16, “He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.”
What does dedication do for you as a servant of God? Those who completely give themselves to God will share in His glory. In the Scripture portion, those that were dedicated were led out to victory, but the others?
They did not share in the victory. The undedicated are unused by God. Who does God use to free those dominated and ensnared by the enemy? Only the hanikim! As it is said, it isn’t our ability, but our availability that counts.
Messiah is the Perfect Example
Are you in Him?
The dedicated are spiritually successful. Of course, Messiah is the perfect example of a dedicated life: He is our true Sanctuary, the truest Servant, and Son of God.
He is the true Servant of God: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). He came only to serve. He gave up the glory of heaven to become a servant and fulfill the will of God, His Father. He’s given us an example of true dedicated service.
He is the true Son of God: “Yeshua answered, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner’” John 5:19).
Yeshua is the true Son of God; the reality of God made manifest. Not only in nature (God in the flesh), but as a dedicated son unto a father, He models for us the true sonship that faith brings.
He is the true Sanctuary of God: “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple”(Rev. 21:22). He is our true sanctuary, our temple. Are you in Him?
Yeshua died for you. He paid a great price so that you might be set free from the bondage of sin, and live unto God. Victory is certain; therefore, be a dedicated Temple of God!
If you’re in the local area, come to Hope of Israel Congregation’s Hanukkah service on Sunday, December 5th at 5:00pm. Dedicate, or rededicate your life to Messiah, and have a Happy Hanukkah!