Saturday 8th December 2018 30th Kislev 5779
Genesis 41:1-44:17; 1 Kings 3:15-4:1; 1 Corinthians 11: 8-25
“And it came to pass at the end of [miketz] two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed a dream: and, behold, he stood by the river.” (Genesis 41:1)
In this week’s reading, Joseph is finally about to come to the end of his many trials and enter into his destiny.In fact, the name of the Parasha, Miketz, found in the opening verse of this week’s Torah reading, hints at this since this Hebrew word means ‘at the end of’. Joseph is brought out of the darkness of an Egyptian dungeon to interpret the strange dreams of the Pharaoh. In just one day, Joseph is promoted from prison to palace, and his life was suddenly transformed from darkness to light.
Miketz is always read during the 8-day celebration of Hanukkah and this week’s reading has a special Haftarah (prophetic reading) about the prophet Zechariah’s vision of a grand Menorah.
“He asked me, ‘What do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.’” (Zechariah 4:2–3)
Two olive trees feed this Menorah with oil. The trees are often considered to refer to Joshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel, religious and political figures. But since prophecy usually reveals the present and future, and since trees in Scripture often represent people, these two trees are seen by some to represent. Yet others suggest that the 2 olive trees represent the Messiah (the Lord’s Righteous Branch) and Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) who are “anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.” (Zechariah 4:14)
The Prophet Zechariah promises that the darkness that comes from our sin, which separates us from God, will be supernaturally lifted in a single day by His Righteous Branch (Zechariah 3:8–9). God also speaks of the supernatural working of the Ruach (Holy Spirit) to accomplish the Lord’s plans, such as the building of the Second Temple by Zerubbabel: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.’” (Zechariah 4:6)
In the Holy Sanctuary, the light of the Menorah became a symbol of God’s Divine Presence; its light not only lit up the inside of the Temple, but tradition says it also shined out the windows into Jerusalem where people could bask in its rays during the dark nights. During this time of year, when the winter nights are the longest, we sense our need for light more intensely.
Isaiah wrote of a “Great Light” that would one day come to lift people out of the gloomy darkness: “Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed … The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:1–2) Who is this “great light” of which Isaiah prophesied? The Light would come in the form of a child, who would eventually rule the nations in righteousness and justice, seated on the throne of His father, David, for all eternity.
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice, from that time forward, even forever.” (Isaiah 9:6–7)
Yeshua HaMashiach (the Messiah—the Anointed One) said, “I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Hanukkah is a celebration of light. It was both a physical salvation and a spiritual one, since the Jews were not only rescued from persecution, but also liberated from an enforced Hellenized / Greek religious system and culture. Though not commanded in the Torah, the Jewish People honoured the liberation of the Holy Temple and its rededication to God by celebrating the Festival of Dedication / Hanukkah. However, we know that Yeshua as well as His disciples celebrated Hanukkah: “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Yeshua walked in the Temple, in Solomon’s porch.” (John 10:22–23)
While He was there, some asked Him directly if He were the Messiah. Yeshua pointed to the works He had done as proof, but explained that they did not believe in Him because they were not His sheep. “‘I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,’ declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 35:14)
In this week’s Brit Chadashah portion, Yeshua the Messiah proclaimed His mission as one of healing the broken-hearted and setting captives free.
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted; To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD’” (Luke 4:16–19; see also Isaiah 61:1)
Many parallels can be drawn between Yeshua and Joseph. At the time of Joseph’s release from prison into the service of Pharaoh he was 30 years old, just as Yeshua was 30 when he began His public ministry in service of the King. Also, Joseph’s appearance and personality had been so changed during his time in Egypt, that his brothers no longer recognized him. They stood right in front of Joseph, seeking the salvation from their famine that only he could provide, and yet they had no idea he was their brother.
Likewise, Yeshua’s Jewish brothers and sisters today hold in front of them the Scriptures that reveal who He is, and yet they are unable to recognize Him as their Jewish Messiah. One reason for this is the way Yeshua has been portrayed by Christians over the centuries: He seems to have ceased being the observant Jew who faithfully kept the commandments of God in the Torah and has, instead, been labelled as the Gentiles’ “god.” Yeshua’s identity has been so changed that the great majority of Jewish people cannot fathom that this “Jesus” could possibly be the Jewish Mashiach (Messiah) for whom they have been waiting, longing and praying for over 3,000 years. Nevertheless, the Prophet Zechariah told us that one day, all the Jewish people will recognize Him:
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on Me, on Him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over Him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)
Another important parallel is that Joseph’s father Israel (Jacob) had exalted Joseph, and God has exalted Yeshua: “When He appeared as a human being, He humbled himself still more by becoming obedient even to death—death on a stake as a criminal! Therefore God raised Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above every name.” (Philippians 2:8–9)
Although Joseph’s brothers had hated him and vowed that they would never bow down to him, as his dreams suggested they would (Genesis 37:19–20), we see in this Parasha that in the end (miketz), they do come and bow down to their brother Joseph.
This is a prophetic picture of the day when all of Israel will recognize Yeshua’s authority, and every knee will bow to Him and know that He is the Lord.
“… that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow—in heaven, on earth and under the earth—and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is ADONAI—to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10; see also Isaiah 45:23)