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Across the plaza from the Western Wall stands the symbol of Modern Israel, a huge golden Menorah. After Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, God instructed Moses to build a portable temple or tabernacle.

God told Moses how to build and furnish the Tabernacle;

along with the Ark of the Covenant and other sacred furnishings, there was a sevenbranch gold lamp, called the Menorah. The lamp's branches look like almond branches with leaves, flowers and fruit to remind us of Aaron's rod that budded. The Hebrew word for almond is light. The center lamp, from which the other lamps are lighted, is called the Lamp of God or the Servant Lamp, and the lamps on either side face toward the Servant Lamp.

Later, Solomon built the Temple and transferred the Tabernacle furnishings into the Temple.

He made 10 bronze copies of the Menorah to light the Temple. In time, the Israelites quit serving God, and in 587 B.C., God allowed the Babylonians to capture Jerusalem and take the Temple treasures. Jewish tradition says that an angel hid the Ark of the Covenant and the original Menorah before the destruction of the Temple, and that they will be returned to the endtime Temple. Seventy years later the Persians captured Babylon and allowed the Hebrews to return to Jerusalem with their Temple treasures and rebuild the Temple, probably using one of the bronze Menorahs.

The prophet Zechariah envisioned Zerubbable rebuilding the Temple. In Revelation 11 we see a similar setting, "And I willgive power to my two witnesses : These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth." The olive branches represent several prophecies including the promise of the two witnesses who will play a key role in restoring the spiritual life of the Jews and their end-time Temple as they oppose the antichrist.

From the book, "The Mystery of the Menorah by Church and Stearman," we learn that, "The Menorah of the Tabernacle and both Temples is the greatest Messianic symbol : It holds the hope of modern Israel : It appears on the official documents and currency of modern Israel : It is flanked on each side by a stylized olive branch, each with 12 leaves, and atop each branch, shines the flame of the Holy Spirit. Across the base is the word 'Israel.' The olive branches are rooted in this word : Its design reminds us of Zechariah's vision of two olive branches beside the seven-branch Menorah, which becomes the nine-branch Hanukkah Menorah."

Once again, the Jews quit serving God, and in 168 B.C., the Syrians destroyed Jerusalem and stole the Temple treasures. Antiochus Epiphanes, a foreshadow of the antichrist, forbid the Jews to practice their religion. He placed an altar to the Greek god, Zeus, in the temple and sacrificed a pig on the Jewish altar.

He underestimated the resolve of the righteous Jewish remnant, and in 165 B.C., Judas Maccabaeus rallied the Jews and drove the Syrians out of Jerusalem.

The Jews cleansed the Temple, and replaced the holy furnishings. When they rededicated the Temple, they had only enough olive oil to light the Menorah for one day. However, miraculously the oil lasted eight days, while they consecrated new oil. Jews memorialize the dedication every year with Hanukkah or the Feast of Lights.

During the eight days of Hanukkah, each evening they light an additional candle on a Menorah, which has the seven almond branches, plus two olive branches.

After most Jews rejected Jesus the Messiah, the Romans destroyed the Temple, and took the Menorah to Rome in 70 A.D.

The only picture of the Temple Menorah is a carving of Jewish slaves carrying it into Rome. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said, "The Menorah [carving] on the Arch of Titus in Rome was surely intended to represent the final destruction of Jewish sovereignty and the dissolution of the Jewish nation.

Yet anyone in our generation who has gazed up at it must feel that it represents the complete opposite. For us the Menorah, which has been adopted as the shield of the State of Israel, represents the revival of the Jewish people and its return to its land."

To Christians, the Menorah symbolizes Jesus who declared several times in the Gospels, "I am the light of the world." In Luke 2, Joseph and Marybrought baby Jesus to the Temple and the High Priest, called Jesus a "light to the Gentiles."

Jesus was the fulfillment of the Servant Lamp, and according to Jewish tradition, after Jesus' crucifixion, the Menorah's Servant Lamp simply refused to burn. In Revelation chapter 1, John saw Jesus standing in the middle of the Menorah. In chapter 21, John said, "But I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun : for the glory of God illuminated it.

The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it."

Bible-believing Christians are thrilled to learn in Romans 11 that Jews and non-Jews who accept Jesus as Messiah will be grafted into God's Chosen People. "And if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree : Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." From John 1:1-12 we learn, "In the beginning was the Word (Jesus) : and the Word was God ... and the Word was with God. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men ... That was the true Light which gives light to every man ... He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."

Shalom

Opinion, Pages 4 on 08/19/2009

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