We are in the middle of the 10th month on the Hebrew calendar--Tevet--which is associated with the Hebrew letter AYIN. This letter pictures two things: an eye and a spring. Tevet begins the three months of the winter season. And yet, this morning as I drove to church I saw a large plum tree in full bloom. Our warm temperatures have forced the flowers to bloom out of season. Plum trees are usually early spring bloomers. I had to ask God what He wanted me to know about this since He sees things from a spiritual perspective. He told me that the heat or passion of our worship would also bring us "into bloom" early. The beauty of the bloom entices Him to draw closer to us.
2 Chronicles 16:9 says, "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him..." Just as God's eyes are drawn to good hearts, He wants our eyes to focus on good. Images of sorrow and darkness are paraded before us regularly. He wants us to see things from a heavenly perspective. As we see things God's way it will lead us into greater understanding and obedience. At the same time we will be able to break the power of evil structures that try to get us off track. Since AYIN pictures a spring in addition to an eye, it is time for new life to flow.
The number ten is the number of godly authority. As we are in the tenth month, it is very important for us to be in prayer for the people who are in authority over us. Our governmental and church leaders are subject to attacks from the enemy. He tries to derail us through attacks on our leaders. Let us be especially vigilant in prayers for our leaders during this month.
The constellation Capricorn--the goat--is connected with Tevet. We must be aware of who we make alignments with. Matthew 25:32-34 tells us that one day the Lord will judge the nations and separate them. Sheep nations will be on His right side (the side of favor) and goat nations on His left. We do not want to align ourselves with goat nations who are moving in the wrong direction.
Tevet is associated with the tribe of Dan which means to judge or rule. This tribe was known for its artistic abilities. Some of its members were brought in to help with the weaving and engraving of the Tabernacle furnishings. This would be a month to ask God for new creative expressions in worship.
Remember how Esther was taken to the palace of King Xerxes to be prepared to meet him after one year of beauty treatments? It was on the 10th month that she was taken to the king and gained favor with him. (Esther 2:16) Later she learned of the plot to destroy her people. Before going to see the king to ask for his help in destroying the wicked plan, she fasted for three days with the Jews in Susa. Chuck Pierce's book, A Time to Advance, tells us that during the 10th month it is appropriate for us to fast for three days in order to cleanse our blood.
The end of Hanukkah, Christmas and the beginning of the New Year all fall within the month of Tevet. These holidays draw us into a time of reflection as we remember how God's mercy and love abound. We have rich inheritances in Him but we may need to battle for them. We should also pay attention to the prophetic words given to us so that we do not miss our destinies.
Our preparations for Christmas celebrate the coming of the Word and the Light. The gospel of John tells the story of the coming of Christ in a different way than the other gospels. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." (John 1:1-5) "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." (John 1:9)
Jesus came from Father God so that we could be transformed "...to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves." (Colossians 1:12-13) Paul describes to Titus a revealing of Christ in an interesting way. He tells us that this is what God did: "...at His appointed season He brought His Word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior." (Titus 1:3)
When Jesus was a baby his parents brought him to the temple to be consecrated to the Lord. Here they met Simeon, a righteous man who was waiting to see the "Lord's Christ" before he died. He "took the baby in his arms and praised God, saying: 'Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel.'" (Luke 2:28-32)
Like Simeon, we celebrate the transformational light of Christ Jesus in this season. The Jews also celebrate the light that shown miraculously for eight days. During this year's celebration of Hanukkah I read a story about an Israeli artist named Yaron Bob who transforms weapons meant for destruction into beautiful vessels of light. Yaron lives in Sderot just outside of Gaza. Daily, the lives of nearly one million people who live in the towns near Gaza are threatened with rocket attacks. Kassam rockets are shot into Israel to terrorize and harm the residents and send them running to bomb shelters to protect their lives. Since there are not enough shelters for all of the people, Yaron decided to help fund the building of more shelters through the sale of his metal work.
Yaron collects the remains of the Kassam rockets and melts them down to produce beautiful candlesticks. The top of the candles are made into open roses--rockets into roses. His most beautiful work is what he calls his "Sderot Menorah." Yaron says, "I take the Kassam, the instrument of death and I transfer it into something of beauty." He takes a symbol of terror and turns it into a source of light. His menorahs stand as a symbol of the message that light will be victorious over darkness.
Think of the symbolism that comes from these menorahs! First of all, the prophets Isaiah and Micah tell of a day when God's people will no longer need weapons. "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3) Is this not a modern day version of what was prophesied?
Then think about how The Light of the World came to earth to transform us. "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18) As we celebrate Christmas this week let us remember the sacrifice that was given for us by The Light of the World. We have been given an indescribable "gift from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created." (James 1:17-18) May Your celebration of the coming of the Christ child be filled with His light and love.
"...This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my Word." (Isaiah 66:2) Jesus is our example of humility. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:5-8)
The entire Christmas story is laid on a foundation of humility. The destination for those involved in the birth and visitation of Jesus was a lowly stable in Bethlehem. Humble people came to humble surroundings. God hand-picked Joseph and Mary to be His Son's earthly parents. They humbled themselves before God and willingly walked on a very difficult path in order to carry and deliver Jesus into the world. Joseph had to lay aside his plans to divorce Mary and take her home to be his wife when the angel of God explained that Mary was pregnant with the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:20) Mary had to live with the shame of pregnancy out of wedlock. She also had to have faith to believe that what the angel of the Lord told her was true. (Luke 1:34-35)
Jesus humbly submitted his life to his Father's plans. He left his throne in heaven to take the form of a servant. He emptied Himself so that He was in a place of entire dependence upon God. This is pure humility! Jesus was delivered and laid in a manger--a feeding trough for animals. He was totally dependent upon the care and nurture of His earthly parents.
Shepherds were considered the low-life of society in Jesus' day. Yet, God opened the heavens and sent a heavenly host to announce the birth of His Son to these lowly people. The shepherds were privileged to go to Bethlehem to see the baby. "So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger." (Luke 2:16) The prophets had already declared that the Son of God would be like a shepherd. The magi quoted the prophet Micah to King Herod: "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel." (Matthew 2:6)
The magi, wise kings from a foreign land, knew the prophesies about a star appearing to announce the birth of the King of the Jews. They set aside everything else to follow the star to Bethlehem. Imagine their thoughts when they found this king in a stable! Yet, they came to worship, and worship they did! They presented the humble king with their best gifts of gold, incense and myrrh, and "They bowed down and worshiped Him." (Matthew 2:11)
The Lord wants us to enter into the Christmas story. Like the shepherds and magi we are called to set aside our agendas to worship Him. We are asked to empty ourselves so that we can worship and see the glory of God. Andrew Murray defines humility in his book entitled Humility. "...Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all...Humility is the very essence of holiness. It is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God. Where God is all, self is nothing." (Page 63 and 69)
When Jesus emptied Himself to come to earth He knew that the wooden manger would eventually become a wooden cross. Murray says, "The cross, death and the grave, into which Jesus humbled Himself, were His path to the glory of God. And they are our path too. Let humility be our one desire and our fervent prayer. Let us gladly accept whatever humbles us before God or men--this alone is the path to the glory of God." (Page 79)
This Christmas, as you consider the gift of Christ Jesus in your life, remember the path that Jesus took to reveal the glory of God. I pray that all of us will join Him on the path of humility.
Tonight is the eve of the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) that is celebrated for eight days. During this feast the story will be retold of how Judah Maccabee and his small band of soldiers defeated the Syrian Greek army and chased them out of the Temple they defiled. The Temple was cleansed and the Jews got ready to rekindle the menorah but only had enough purified oil to last one day. It would take eight days to prepare more oil. The wonder of Hanukkah is that the oil supply lasted eight days.
We see the supernatural manifestation of oil (the substance used in anointing) in order to bring forth light. The original menorah had seven branches. The menorah today has eight branches plus a central branch called the Shammas or Servant branch, which is used to light the other eight branches. The prophetic picture of this menorah can be clearly seen by those of us who know our Messiah. Jesus told the people of Israel, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12) Indeed, it was the Anointed One who came into the world as a light who lit the Temple menorah in the days of the Maccabees. Our Messiah is still the Light of World who comes to take people out of darkness and give them new beginnings--the meaning of the number eight. (John 12:46)
The Lord declared that His people would have the glory of the Lord rise upon them. His plan is for Believers to carry the light of His presence. Isaiah prophesied: "Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." (Isaiah 60:3) In view of all of this, I find it fascinating to read the Hanukkah message that the president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, gave to the people of Israel and the Jews across the world: "Today, hatred, incitement, and terrorism threaten the whole world. In the face of these threats we need to be firm and strong like a rock, like Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages, a traditional Hanukkah song) in our beliefs in freedom, justice, in the values of our tradition and of democracy. So, this year as we gather with our families and communities and look at the wonderful lights it is my prayer that we will be reminded of the bonds that we all share and the important role we all have of being a light unto the nations."
Yes!! This is the call of God's people--to be a light to the nations. However, we must be lit by the Servant branch, Yeshua Messiah. He is the one who gives us the light of His Spirit and anoints us to carry the light to the nations.
The prophet Zechariah foretold of a day when the Servant of God would come. "I am going to bring my servant, The Branch...In that day, each one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine (representing the Church) and fig tree." (representing Israel) (Zechariah 3:8-10) This is a picture of a time of abundant blessings, when heaven comes to earth. When we are in unity "it is like precious oil poured on the head and running down to Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes...For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore." (Psalm 133)
It is time for us to pray like never before! Pray that the blinders would be taken off of the Jewish people. Pray that they would know "The Light of the World," their Messiah. Pray that their Scriptures would come alive and that they would see that their Messiah came to the world as the Son of God. Pray for a spirit of unity between the Church and the Jewish people, and that the manifestation of the prophetic words in Scriptures concerning this subject would become a reality. Let us bless the Jewish people during their Festival of Lights and call them forth into their destiny.
Joan E. Mathias