I’m sure you’ll enjoy this December newsletter with its special look at the Messiah’s birth through Jewish eyes, as well as a biblical overview of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.
As I write this, we are in the midst of Hanukkah, my favourite holiday as a kid growing up. But if the truth be told, as a Jewish follower of Jesus I feel a twinge of sadness whenever the biblical holidays and holy days occur. On Passover, when my people should be recalling the rich history that brought us to “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” they rehearse a rote narrative whose main Player is missing. On Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), instead of shouting praises for the forgiveness of sins rendered by Jesus’ atoning self-sacrifice, my beloved Jewish brethren spend the long day reciting mournful prayers, culminating with the hopeless, liturgical question: “Who shall save us now?”
And now, here we are in the season of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, when yet another opportunity for Messiah-centred praise arrives! The eight-day festival sports a special menorah whose eight candles are served by an unusual ninth candle called the shammash, which means “servant” in Hebrew. Does that ring a bell? Philippians 2:7 describes our Lord as “taking the form of a shammash, a servant. On the Hanukkah menorah, the shammash candle is raised higher than the remaining candles. Likewise, the Scripture says of Jesus that “God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9). Finally, the “exalted servant” candle on the Hanukkah menorah is used to light the other candles; it is quite literally the source of fire and light for all the others. Jesus, who baptizes with fire (Matthew 3:11) is “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9) that we might “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).
Hanukkah reminds us that Jesus, the exalted servant, is our Light and Life! And yet, sadly, John’s words still ring true today concerning Israel’s lost sheep, that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5). God pleaded with His beloved Israel, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!” (Isaiah 60:1). Will you pray that Israel will see the Light? Will you pray for Celebrate Messiah’s staff and volunteers who are faithfully declaring Yeshua, ha-Or l’olam (Jesus, the Light of the world) to hundreds of Israeli visitors right now, right here in New Zealand?
Thank you, as always, for standing with us for Israel’s salvation. Without the prayers and financial support of friends like you, we simply could not fulfil our mission, which is bringing the message to the original messengers, and teaching the Church to do likewise.
On behalf of our entire Celebrate Messiah staff, I wish you a joyful and inspiring holiday season.
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The Zula Lodge is our primary means for reaching Israeli travellers with the good news of their Messiah. For most of the year, the Zula is filled with Israeli guests who are enjoying free hospitality, being served by dedicated staff members who are taking every opportunity to share the Gospel. Since the Zula receives no income during the “Israeli season,” we seek to offset our expenses by hiring out the Zula to groups and individuals during the off-season.
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Zula Lodge provides comfortable group accommodation for 34 guests just 5 minutes from the stunning Wanaka lakefront. Set in lovely wooded grounds near the beautiful Clutha River, it is just minutes away from world-class hikes, ski fields, biking trails, extreme sports, and some of the most spectacular views in New Zealand. The quiet location, communal facilities, friendly hosts, and affordable rates make the Zula an ideal choice for churches, schools, clubs, families, friends, and individuals. Visit the Zula website or ring us for more information.
Phone: 03 443 9487
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One of the most encouraging aspects of our ministry involves serving local Christians who are eager to learn more about the Hebraic roots of Christianity, Israel in prophecy, and Jewish evangelism. We regularly speak in churches and small groups all over the country. Check out our calendar for upcoming events that may interest you. You can filter the results to find events in your area.
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