Chanukah is sundown December 10 to sundown December 18. Since Chanukah is the Feast of Dedication (or Rededication) of the Temple, the customary reading is Numbers 7:1-8:4 (read in portions over the eight days of the feast), which tells of Israel’s offerings at the dedication of the Tabernacle. December 12, the Shabbat during Chanukah, has a special reading from Zechariah 2:10-4:7, the prophet’s vision of the menorah in the heavenly Temple. Also, it is customary in synagogues to read Numbers 7:1-8:4 in portions over all eight days. This passage relates the dedication of the altar in the Tabernacle.
Recently The Barking Fox looked at the reasons Hebrew Roots believers have opted out of Christmas. Here is an excellent presentation about why we have opted into Hanukkah. As Jane Diffenderfer explains in “Miriam, Did You Know?”, there are many good reasons for all believers in Yeshua to observe this Feast of Dedication, the season when Mary (Miriam) received the news that God had chosen her to bring Messiah into the world.
The Hanukkah season is upon us, and it is a good time to reflect about the significance of the season in the life of our Messiah Jesus [Yeshua]. We can calculate that the season of Messiah’s birth was during the fall feast of Sukkot (pronounced Sue-coat), also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. The determination of this date is the subject of another article, but the evidence is based on the priestly course of Abijah, the birth of John the Baptist, and the fact that Yeshua began His earthly ministry in His thirtieth year (Luke 3:23). Since theologians have long known that Messiah’s ministry on earth was for three and a half years, concluding during the spring Feasts, with His death and resurrection during the week of Passover, it is easy to conclude that He was born in the fall, most likely the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles…
At the heart of our misunderstanding of the sacrificial system is the assumption that it is all about sin. Since the blood of the animals foreshadowed the atonement that would come in Messiah’s sacrifice, and since that atonement came to pass through Messiah’s sinless death on the cross, the assumption is that sacrifices are no longer necessary. Sadly, such reasoning betrays incomprehension of the reason God instituted sacrifices. Messiah Yeshua did indeed die as the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29-34; see also Isaiah 53 and Revelation 5). His death most certainly provides the only provision for willful, rebellious sin against our Creator (Genesis 22:6-8; Numbers 15:27-31; Hebrews 10:26-31). However, the sacrificial system included many more offerings than those which had connection to sin.
If we are to understand the full nature of the Temple sacrifices, we should start with the meaning of the words used for the items offered on the Altar. “Sacrifice” and “offering” are the usual English translations, and quite often the meanings are not entirely distinct in the minds of English-speaking readers. The English definition of “sacrifice” refers to something valuable offered, often to a deity, in exchange for something or someone else. A sacrifice also means something that is “written off”, or lost for good. In that sense, the olah would be considered a sacrifice because it is a burnt offering intended to be entirely consumed on the Altar. Yet that is not the intent for everything presented to God, which is why the term “offering” is important. The Hebrew word in this case is korban (קָרְבָּן; Strongs H7133), a term usually translated as “offering”, but occasionally rendered as “sacrifice”. Christians should recognize the term from one of Yeshua’s key confrontations with the Pharisees:
He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” (Mark 7:9-13 NASB, emphasis added)
Messiah Yeshua said something very peculiar when His disciples asked for the sign of His return at the end of the age. He mentioned one unambiguous event that would signal the beginning of what is generally called the Tribulation:
Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15-16 NASB)
What makes Yeshua’s statement peculiar is not that this Abomination of Desolation first occurred nearly two centuries before He spoke these words, nor that something like it happened again a generation later. The peculiarity is that this unambiguous sign of Messiah’s return concerns the Temple in Jerusalem and the sacrificial system of worship codified by God through Moses in the Torah. A consistent theme in Christian doctrine is that the death and resurrection of Yeshua made the sacrificial system obsolete. Why, then, does Yeshua ratify Daniel’s description of this interruption of the sacrifices as the “Abomination of Desolation”? Why is it an abomination if the sacrifices no longer matter to God? Why is it a desolation? Who or what is made desolate, and why? These questions direct us to look closer at the sacrificial system of worship so we can understand more clearly how our God does business with humanity.