Jean Stepnoski (20 Nov 2010)
"Hanukkah Reconsidered: The Court of the Gentiles"


 
Dear Doves,
      When we look to the central elements of the Jewish revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes IV of Syria and his followers, we see more than the victory of Judaism against paganism. At its core, some stories are disquieting and troubling. One group decides that the House of Israel must  go Greek or die. The Maccabee family and others protest and will remain practicing Jews. Then begins an epic story with mayhem and murder. Later for the Maccabee family would be power, corruption, and civil war. The traditions of lights, dreidels, and presents are lovely stories to counterpoint with beauty. The following website has a long article to help see the Hanukkah stories from new vantage points. It is www.seekgod.ca/hr/hrfaqs4a2.htm and of special interest is the analysis of John 10. Messiah/Christ was in Jerusalem in Winter during The Feast of Dedication, which was Hanukkah. We are not told He was a participant. He was found walking on Solomon's Porch.
      Solomon's Porch or Colonnade was open air and part of The Court of the Gentiles. This was the largest court in size of any on the Temple Mount. Other areas were the Court of the Women, the Court of the Priests, and the Holy of Holies. What are some other names of Gentiles in The Scriptures? They are called pagans or the Nations. Who were the Greeks in the times of the Hanukkah stories? They were pagans and Gentiles.
      So the kosher rabbi from the Galilee is walking in a teaching area of the Temple for Jews and Gentiles alike. Is He avoiding those who are not the Chosen people, those set apart? No, He is in their area, their space. The others must come to Him in the area for Gentiles. He calls Himself The Light of the World in an area for Gentiles, and for the Chosen People. All those lights were glowing during Hanukkah in Jerusalem here and there and all over. Yet, He wants the Temple authorities questioning Him to look to Him as their True Light. Some had anger, malice, and evil intent toward this man. Some wanted mayhem and murder for this rabbi. They wanted this man discussing light to be stoned to death. In their midst was a true light of eternal consequence, greater than all the lovely glowing lights on so many hanukkiahs!
      Does He want to speak to the sheep only of The House of Israel? He wants the entire flock. Here again the sheep will also be found from the Nations, the pagans, the Gentiles. A good case can be made that John 10 is a clear refutation, point and counterpoint, to exclusive spiritual claims by any one group. Messiah/Christ, in the Court of the Gentiles, offers His Light and Salvation to each and all, to Jew and Gentile alike during that special Hanukkah Season and thereafter. In essence, His actions and words are for and against certain of the lessons and themes of the Hanukkah stories. It is a blending of pro and con.
      Part of Hanukkah, one can argue the best of it, led to Him. What had been fought for and restored long before? Temple, altar, implements, high priest, priesthood, and sacrifices had been restored. A great miracle happened then. It was also necessary that the Torah commanded ways of living had been restored and revived. Messiah/Christ had to be born and raised into Torah observant family, culture, spirituality, religion, and nation. But John 10 shows us that He wanted no part in extolling the Hanukkah history of cross cultural bitterness, anger, hatred, mayhem and murder. He did not believe in lineage as imparting salvation. Long before, covenants had also been revived. These would have included the covenants with Abram and David. Let us remember that the Abrahamic Covenant included that Abram would become Abraham, the Father of many Nations. In this we see the clear outreach beyond the 12 tribes individuals to include also the pagans, the Gentiles. Yes, The Master stood and walked in the Court of the Gentiles as The Light of the World for all people, for all His sheep. Access to The Light of Him was not exclusive by lineage or restricted to those walking in the Court of the Priests.
      Hanukkah each year, in mysterious ways, hearkens to the Abrahamic Covenant. From Hanukkah in 2010 to Hanukkah in 2017 we can see in each year a highlighting and reviving of the Abrahamic Covenant. We can see the focus of it all, the greatest of spiritual lights, the Light of the World for Jew and Gentile alike. The Light on Solomon's Porch is forever our Light. The bracketing of Hanukkah 2010 to Hanukkah 2017 may be indeed significant. Come Quickly, Lord...
 
With Love and Shalom,
Jean