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This blog was authored by Bryan W. Sheldon, author and Bible teacher. His books are listed below. The studies in the blog are offered in the desire that they may be helpful in directing readers to the truths contained in the Bible.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Feast of Dedication in History and Prophecy

A National Hanukkah

The return of Christ to rescue the Jewish people from extinction depends on their contrition, repentance and faith. As a nation they will have to be re-consecrated and re-dedicated to God. Only then can the New Covenant be activated for them whereby God promised to indwell every member of the race. He had said:

“This is the covenant that I will make with the house of  Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer. 31:33–34).


His Law will be in their hearts and every member of  the Jewish people will know Him “from the least of them to the greatest of them”. This is an outcome that is designed to demonstrate the wisdom and faithfulness of God. Events will develop in something of the following order.

In the middle of the Tribulation period the nation’s leaders will realise that the Anti-Christ has reneged on his agreement and they have to face up to a period of severe persecution – it is called ‘Jacob’s trouble’. The ‘abomination’ is the pivotal event which reveals the wicked ambitions of the trinity of evil (the Devil, the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet). With the concord between the Jewish nation and the Anti-Christ fractured, persecution will increase. Those who have signed up to the covenant will find they have made a covenant with ‘death’ and the judgement of God will overtake them (Isa. 28:15,18). But although the spirit of anti-Semitism is rampant, the remnant that are left “shall be saved out of it” (Jer. 30:7). How so? Left to their own resources they have no hope—but they will look to God for deliverance and YHWH will pour out on them “the Spirit of grace and supplication” (Zech. 12:10). They will finally recognise the truth about the One whom they pierced and confess their sins.

It may be that they will use Daniel’s words:we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled (Dan. 9:5). Such phrases would be extremely suitable. However, the High Priest is the head of state and it seems obvious that he will be required to lead them in a national prayer of repentance. It could easily be modelled on the set prayer which is used on the Day of Atonement; a comprehensive prayer which covers all Jewish people for all kinds of wickedness. It is a prayer that includes the three all-encompassing Biblical words for sin: sin, iniquity and transgression and embraces the High Priest, his family, his brother priests and the people of Israel. It could be of the order of the third of the intercessory prayers on Yom Kippur. If so, he will say something similar to the following:

“O Lord, I, my family, the house of Aaron and your people, the house of Israel, have committed iniquity, transgressed, and sinned before you. Forgive, O Lord, I pray, the iniquities, transgressions, and sins, which I, my family, the house of Aaron and your people, the house of Israel, have committed, transgressed and sinned before you. We recognise atonement has been made for us, as it is written, ‘you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord’” (Lev. 16:30, NASB).

Every adult member of the Jewish race will be required to say Amen to that prayer. But it also needs to be accompanied by a national acknowledgement of the grounds for their forgiveness. They will have to recognise:

            that Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah,

            was the perfect offering for sin, and

            died a substitutionary death for them.

Perhaps they will use the words of Isaiah 53:

He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all(Isaiah 53:5–6).

Jesus, of course, has directed them to the Hallel, the most familiar group of Psalms that they know (Psalms 113-118). He said He would not return until they got to the end of it, Psalm 118 verse 26, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. For centuries they have sung it at feast times. Now, at this time they must sing it again as they rededicate themselves to the worship and service of the Lord. So with confidence rising they will lift their voices, first in praise:

 Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
Praise the name of the Lord!
Blessed be the name of the Lord
From this time forth and forevermore!

“From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God, Who dwells on high”.

Then through Psalm 114 where they remember their redemption from Egypt and their birth as a nation, to Psalm 115:  
Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.

“Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.”

In singing this Psalm they will be reminded that idolatry is not only sinful, it is foolish:
“Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
 They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.”

 There is a call for the exercise of faith:

“O Israel, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.”

They are reminded that God has something better for them:

The Lord has been mindful of us; 
He will bless us;
He will bless the house of Israel;
He will bless the house of Aaron.
He will bless those who fear the Lord,
Both small and great.

“May the Lord give you increase more and more,
You and your children.
May you be blessed by the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s;
But the earth He has  given to the children of men.

 “The dead do not praise the Lord,
Nor any who go down into silence.
But we will bless the Lord
From this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the Lord!

Then through Psalms 116 which includes an expression of confidence in prayer:
I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
“The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”

Then thanksgiving for answered prayer:
“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord In the land of the living.”

Then a commitment to the service of God (I will pay my vows).
“What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people.

 “O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the Lord’s house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

The Psalm 117
Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!

Finally reaching Psalm 118:
 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let Israel now say,
‘His mercy endures forever’.
Let the house of Aaron now say,
‘His mercy endures forever’.
Let those who fear the Lord now say,
‘His mercy endures forever’.

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The Lord is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.

“It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put  confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in princes.

The Jewish people will be encircled by their enemies but their trust will be in their God and their Messiah:
“All nations surround me,
But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them. They surround me, Yes, they surround me;
But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
They surround me like bees … in the name of the Lord I will destroy them …
“The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.
The voice of rejoicing and salvation Is in the tents of the righteous;

The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the Lord. “

 “The Lord has chastened me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.
“Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will go through them,
And I will praise the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord,
Through which the righteous shall enter.
“I will praise You,
For You have answered me,
And have become my salvation.”

Every verse is pregnant with meaning:

 “The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
“This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvellous in our eyes.
“This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Save now, I pray, O Lord;
O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.”

And then the trigger verse that Jesus said He would wait for (Matthew 23:39):

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

And Jesus their Messiah will return to rescue them. It will not be against an earthly dictator, but against the all the combined forces of evil led by the most powerful angelic being. Although Israel’s Messiah will be accompanied by His saints and an angelic host, He will fight the battle alone and be victorious.

The newly delivered nation will complete the Hallel:

“You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever”.

And their dedication will be complete!

And if, in the Millennial kingdom, they celebrate Hanukkah once more, they will not be looking back to the exploits of Judas Maccabaeus but rather to the exploits of their Redeemer, Yeshua HaMashiac, Jesus the Messiah.