Happy Hanukkah and an early Merry Christmas from Jerusalem!

“Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name Immanuel” (Is. 7:14).

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is. 9:2).

“I am the light of the world, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have
the light of life: (Jn. 8:12).

Dear Intercessors for Israel:

Happy Hanukkah and an early Merry Christmas from Jerusalem! This is the
Jewish month of Kislev, often called the month of miracles. During this month, the
eight-day feast of Hanukkah occurs which is also known as the festival of lights. It
is a commemoration of the time when a single jar of oil, which held enough supply
to fuel the Temple’s Menorah for one day burned continuously for eight days.
This event happened during the era of the Maccabees, some 2,200 years ago and
is described in the Talmud. At that time, the forces of Antiochus IV had been
driven from the Temple, defeated by the Maccabees. The victors celebrating,
sought to cleanse and rededicate the Temple. They then discovered that almost
all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. Only a single container that was
still sealed by the High Priest with enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit
for a single day. They used this, yet it burned for eight days (the time it took to have
new oil pressed and made ready).

Jewish households today, observe this feast by placing a candle or oil lamp on
a menorah for eight days. The first day one candle is lit and another is lit for each
additional day. Some Jewish homes place this lit menorah in their windows while
others put it in a prominent place in the house, or outside their doorstep. The city
of Jerusalem has placed large menorahs with electric light bulbs at each prominent
intersection in the city. There is a large one at Jaffa Gate and another one by the
Western Wall.

The Hebrew word Hanukkah means “dedication,” referring to the purification of the
Temple. John writing in his Gospel mentions that “It was the Feast of Dedication
in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s
porch” (Jn. 10:22-23). This Festival of lights is one of the most joyous times to be
in Israel with gift giving and celebratory dinners.

A Virgin Shall Conceive and bear a Son

Coupled with Hanukkah is Christmas, a Feast that in our modern days has lost
much of its significance. This is a day, not for Santa Claus but a time to remember
the miraculous birth of our Lord and His purpose for coming to this earth: to save
sinful man. Christmas like Hanukkah occurs in the season when daylight is
shortened and night-fall is early, a time of increasing darkness, (Granted this only
applies in earth’s Northern Hemisphere). Perhaps this “darkness” is what makes,
Isaiah’s words even more striking: “The people who walked in darkness have seen
a great light.” That darkness is more than just a physical blindness, it is spiritual
also. Then the light of the Messiah was revealed, as Jesus ministered to “those
who walked in darkness.” Jesus identified himself as being “the Light of the
World.” Follow him and you will “never walk in darkness but have the light of
life.” That is a promise worth remembering this Christmas.

Governmental Stalemate

Israel’s fifth election in four years was held last November 1st. Prime Minister elect
Netanyahu apparently “won” this vote, by having a majority of Knesset’s right
winged parties elected with him. This majority though was not “locked in.” Since
that date, Netanyahu has been unable to unite his coalition. Unrealistic “demands”
have caused a “stalemate” such the United Torah Judaism party demanding
cessation of the generation of electrical power on Shabbat, not drafting Ultra
Orthodox men into the army, separate beaches for men and women, more funding
for yeshivas, and burial of used holy books. Laws in place to restrict convicted
criminals such as Shas party Aryeh Deri to hold office, were also
overturned. Netanyahu is running out of “time.” He was granted a ten-day
extension to form a government last week. This “mandate” expires December
21st. If a government is not formed by then, another election will have to be held. If
a government is formed, how long will it last? Netanyahu’s critics are already
accusing him of trying to “establish a halachic state” by giving in to the UltraOrthodox
religious demands (timesofisrael.com).

Please pray: Israel needs a functioning government that will represent all the
people of this nation, not just a “chosen few.” Pray that calmer minds will intervene
and break up this stalemate.

Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas,

Gene and Marylois/House of Peace

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