Hanukkah: The Eight-Day Party in Praise of God

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O Hanukkah, O Hanukkah
A festival of joy
A holiday, a jolly day
For every girl and boy

Spin the whirling dreydls
All week long
Eat the sizzling latkes
Sing a happy song

Hanukkah! Even the most sophisticated, secular Jewish person cannot help feeling merry when Hanukkah rolls around. Who wouldn’t? It’s a celebration that combines the unique blend of history and faith that has sustained the Jewish people throughout the centuries. Plus, it’s simply a ripping good story of an underdog standing up to a bully and teaching him a lesson.

Hanukkah: Countdown to Messiah

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On Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, Jewish people remember one of the shining moments in Israel’s history. It is a glorious story of the best kind-a righteous underdog battling against seemingly insurmountable odds and prevailing. The mighty Maccabees rallied a beaten and dispirited people and turned them into winners.

Today, Hanukkah is a festival with special foods and activities for Jewish people everywhere. Jewish children play with the dreydl, a top with Hebrew letters that proclaim “A Great Miracle Happened There.”

Purim Around the World

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Purim! Is there a more festive celebration in the entire Jewish world? No indeed! Purim is a foot-stomping, shouting, eating, singing, joking Jewish carnival for all ages. The Book of Esther provides the background and Jewish tradition has taken it from there. Throughout the world, Purim is celebrated in many ways, as Jewish people from many cultures have infused their festivities with their own particular local customs.

But along with the differences, there is a continuity that is solidly based in the Scripture and the story it tells of God’s deliverance through the bravery and obedience of His chosen servants.

Shavuot: The Feast of Weeks – An Earthly and Spiritual Harvest

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Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks, is one of the three “convocations of the Lord” that, along with Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, constitute the “appointed times” (Leviticus 23:4) for Israel to gather in Jerusalem. It may be thought of as a unit with Passover, as we will soon see, for a number of reasons-including the close connection between the life and ministry of Jesus the Messiah and the gift of the Holy Spirit that empowers the Lord’s people to do His work.

The High Holy Days in the Time of Messiah

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The Jewish context of the life and ministry of Jesus the Messiah is the source of a constantly renewed sense of wonder. We marvel at the mystery of the Incarnation as we contemplate the earthly life of the Lord and the Jewish trappings that accompany it. And we are struck by the part played by the Temple, its services and the other Jewish observances that are so carefully described in the Gospels. This is the world that Jesus entered, we remind ourselves. This is the world that His presence reshaped forever.

Will Suffering Lead to Bitterness or Sweetness?

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Written by Dana N.

As we celebrate Purim, we remember God’s deliverance through yet another attempt to destroy the Jewish people. We recall the heroism and bravery of young Esther and the faithfulness of her uncle Mordecai, who incurred the wrath of Haman after refusing to bow down to him. But I wonder how the story would have ended if Esther or Mordecai had responded differently to their situations?

I think of Esther, who was young and beautiful. When she learned that she was to be taken into the king’s harem, would she have been delighted? Or would she have mourned the loss of a young woman’s hope for love and a family of her own? You see, if Esther had not become queen, she would have remained in the king’s harem, only to be summoned on the occasion of his request. Any expectations of a family and other dreams – not to mention her purity – would have been lost.

Lessons From Esther: A Female Perspective

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Written by Cathy Wilson

Scripture tells us that Esther was “taken” (Esther 2:8). Where? To a place not of her choosing – she was taken to a harem! And, she was told to stifle her identity as a Jewish woman.

At first pass, the book of Esther reads like a modern reality TV series. The setting is the Persian palace of Shushan, the abode of dysfunctional King Ahasuerus. In the midst of a victory celebration gone wild, Queen Vashti rebels and is subsequently decrowned. What’s a king to do? Beautiful virgins are gathered from the 127+ provinces within the kingdom to compete for the Queen’s crown. All receive gift certificates for a year’s worth of beauty treatments. (Who said Day Spas are the latest craze?) Might we see such a script on TV next season under the title of “Persian Idol”? I wouldn’t be shocked!

Jewish People and Jesus: A Look at History

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Why don’t Jewish people believe in Jesus?

From the earliest days of what was known as the Nazarene sect of Jewish believers through the later centuries of Christianity, the majority of Jewish people have denied the claims of the New Testament. While theological and cultural differences have contributed to a hardening of positions on both sides, it may also be said that the forces of history have helped to drive a wedge between mainstream Judaism and Christianity that has made the distance even harder to bridge. One of the saddest things is that it happened so quickly. But how did it come about?

Why Are the Jewish People Special?

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The following was offered by Dr. John F. Walvoord at the dedication of Chosen People Ministries’ International headquarters building in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Why a Jewish mission? Why don’t we have an African mission, or a French mission, or an English mission? Of course the reason is quite simple — the Jews are a very special people. This is not a matter of our opinion, it is a matter of Scriptural revelation.

It’s rather amazing that you can study the history of the church and see how blind the theologians and leaders of the church often were to the declared revelation of the Word of God concerning the special purpose of the nation of Israel. In fact, some of their theologians went so far as to say that it was impossible to save a Jew. How could they be so blind? After all, the early church was predominantly Jewish!

Rabbinic Objections to Jesus

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Written by Dr. Michael Brown

Whether you are a religious Jewish person or not, it is clear that all modern forms of Judaism, from Orthodox to Reform, are based upon the idea that two Torahs were given on Mount Sinai-one written and the other oral. Eventually, the oral Torah was written down, codified, commented upon and passed along to future generations of Jewish people and became known as the Talmud-the judgments and interpretations of our Sages.

All Jewish people today – whether religious or not – generally participate in Jewish religious life by engaging both biblical truth and the traditions passed along by our rabbis. It is impossible to practice normative Judaism without relating to Jewish tradition. But we should ask the question, “Does Jewish tradition carry the same weight and religious authority as the Bible?”