“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6 NIV)
The quintessential verse of Chanukah is Zechariah 4:6. Let’s look at this powerful verse as it relates to the Golden Lampstand (i.e. Menorah) in God’s Temple from the lowly perspective of an almond. The word for “almond tree” in Hebrew literally sounds like the Hebrew word for “watching.” The word of the LORD came to me:
“What do you see Jeremiah? I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled” (Jer. 1:11-12).
An almond tree is a deciduous tree having pink flowers and fruit (i.e., nut). An almond is a kernel. A kernel is defined as a grain or seed; or the central or important part of a subject or plan or problem. But get this – the seed of the almond is also its edible fruit. What an incredible picture of the Spirit of the Living God enabling us to be able to sow and reap at the same time.
The Golden Lampstand in Exodus 25 is a symbol of Jesus as light of the world as well as His believers being the light of the world. In the Hebraic culture the almond tree is symbolic of the Tree of Life. Thus, we can see an Old Testament picture in the Golden Lampstand of Jesus being the light and life of the world. Jesus uttered this Messianic statement on the Mount of Olives:
“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12 NASB).”
A menorah has seven branches with accompanying lamps. They were called lamps, because they contained the oil and wicks that produced the flame. Significantly, the Golden Lampstand’s illumination was created by man-made wicks, oil, and flame. The cups of the lamps that hold the oil for the Golden Lampstand are shaped like almond flowers with both buds and blossoms.
When we associate Jeremiah 1:11-12 with the menorah picture, we can see one aspect of the menorah. It symbolizes the light of God’s Presence watching over His Word to see that it is fulfilled. By the way, full almond blossoms symbolize life blooming, while the almond buds symbolize the hope of new or renewed life. When things look dark and wintry do not despair, it is only a season for spring is near. The almond tree is the first one to bloom in Jerusalem in the spring of the year.
Zechariah 4:1 shows the angel of the Lord waking up this person and asking him the same question we started out with: “What do you see?” In Zechariah 4:2 the man answers, “I see a solid gold lampstand… where there is an additional bowl which causes the lampstand to yield a ceaseless supply of oil…” Then Zechariah 4:6 says “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” The two olive trees supplying the ceaseless oil to the lampstand in Zechariah 4:13-14 can be interpreted as being the One New Man in Christ (Jews and Gentiles in the Messiah).
In SANTA-TIZING: What’s wrong with Christmas and how to clean it up’s chapters 4 and 8, the One New Man concept is discussed more at length. For now let’s review some words from chapter 4 to give us a general feel for things: “Now is the time for the spiritual manifestation for God’s temple to come forth. …its perfection is the One New Man positioned in the New Jerusalem as the Bride of Christ.” Please refer to “Walking in a Winter One-der-land” (http://wp.me/p158HG-gN ) and “12-12-12 & Kingdom Battle for Light” ( http://wp.me/p158HG-ej ).
History has well documented that Christianity and Judaism share a common heritage. A specialist in early Christianity and early Judaism articulates: “They were actually inseparable before 60 C.E. (perhaps until the middle of the second century).”[i] Christianity was regarded as a “sect” within Judaism first known as “The Way” (Acts 2:5, 14).[ii] Many sources reveal that the earliest Christians in Rome were Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. [iii] They were the first fruits of Ephesians 2:15-16:
“by abolishing in His [own crucified] flesh the enmity [caused by] the Law with its decrees and ordinances [which He annulled]; that He from the two might create in Himself one new man [one new quality of humanity out of the two], so making peace. And [he designed] to reconcile to God both [Jew and Gentile, united] in a single body by means of His cross, thereby killing the mutual enmity and bringing the feud to an end” (AMP).
The earliest Christians never knew, nor did they imagine, a Christianity that was not closely connected to the Jewish community. As late as the fourth and fifth century, we have evidence of Christians still existing within Jewish communities and members of the Christian communities participating in Jewish (i.e., Biblical) festivals. Beyond the borders of Constantine’s empire, these influences persisted even longer.
The preacher of Antioch and later Constantinople, John Chrysostom, complained in a series of eight sermons to his congregation: “You must stop going to the Synagogue. You must not think that the Synagogue is a holier place than our churches are.” [iv] In my research of Christmas, I found that many Christians who defend their celebration of Christmas usually cite John Chrysostom. This is understandable, because while he was the church patriarch of Constantinople, December twenty-fifth became a fixed festival for the church. We should note, however, that he promoted separating the united Jewish and Gentile believers, which caused the woeful separation of the One New Man in Christ. Chrysostom’s sermons line up with what was proclaimed in AD 325 at the Council of Nicaea. “We ought not have anything in common with the Jews . . . our worship follows a more legitimate and more convenient course . . . we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews . . .”[v]
“We desire” is the optimal phrase here. It was not what God preferred, for this statement blatantly contradicts God’s Word. I agree with much of the Apostolic Creed crafted by the Nicene Council, but if the Christian Church were to literally practice not having anything in common with the Jews, we would be forced to throw out the very foundation we stand on—the Bible and even Jesus, for He came to earth as a Jew.”
Copyright Dec. 16, 2012 – Author: Robin Main.
Some references can be found in my book: SANTA-TIZING: What’s wrong with Christmas and how to clean it up (available on amazon http://www.amazon.com/SANTA-TIZING-Whats-wrong-Christmas-clean/dp/1607911159/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353692179&sr=1-1&keywords=SANTA_TIZING).
[i] Mark D. Nanos, The Mystery of Romans, 68.
[ii] Ibid., 71-72, footnote 105.
[iii] Ibid., 75, footnote 120.
[iv] Dr. Wayne Meeks, “Separation from Judaism,” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/first/wrestling.html.
[v] Eusebius, Life of Constantine, 3.17-20, specifically 3.18 NPNF 2nd sermon 1:524.