HAPPY HANUKKAH! A MESSIANIC PERSPECTIVE, 03.12.18
THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF HANUKKAH, when the first of the eight candles are lit. THE SHAMASH CANDLE was lit on the EVE OF HANUKKAH; by the eighth day, all candles will have been lit. So what does the lighting of these eight candles signify?
“Hanukkah is the annual celebration of the rededication of the Temple during the Hasmonean revolt. You may recall that just one jar of oil, which was ritually clean, was found to rekindle the Temple Menorah. According to tradition, the oil was only enough to last one day but the Hasmoneans kindled the Menorah anyway. Miraculously the oil burned for 8 days when newly produced oil became available” (Israel Today, “Hannukah, Also Known As Festival of Lights, Begins Tonight!”, Sunday, December 02, 2018 | ISRAEL TODAY STAFF, http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/35367/Default.aspx ).
Readers may find helpful, this summary provided by International Christian Embassy Jerusalem:
“Hanukkah is called the Feast of Dedication because it celebrates the cleansing and re-dedication of the Holy Temple after the Maccabees rose up and overthrew Antiochus Epiphanes’ army, regaining control of the Temple and reinstating the Law of God.
The eight nights of Hanukkah represent the Temple Menorah, which, according to tradition, burned miraculously for eight days on just one day’s worth of oil. Throughout Jerusalem, you will see these nine-branch Hanukkiahs, which is their name here in Israel. In many parts of the world they are called Hanukkah Menorahs, because they are different from the seven-branch Holy Menorahs used in homes and synagogues throughout the year.
Eight lights represent the eight days the oil burned, and the ninth light is called the Shammash or servant candle. It is used to light all the other candles. Candles are added from right to left with each day and are lit left to right until all nine candles are lit on the last (eighth) night of Hanukkah” (https://int.icej.org/).
So how do we make a connection with Hanukkah, if we are not traditional Jews, or non-Jewish? Messianic perspective looks at it from the connectivity within the Scriptures, and from the historicity of the Jewish experience to that which pertains to our belief in Messiah Yeshua. Unity/Oneness in the body of Messiah speaks to the origins of Christianity, the unity that originally existed between Jewish/Gentile believers/followers of Jesus/Yeshua Messiah (Eph.2:11-16). So did the first century followers of Jesus/Yeshua Messiah keep the Feast of Hanukkah? Did Jesus/Yeshua keep the Feast of Hannukah? Why should we, as Gentile believers in Yeshua Messiah bother with it at all? What meaning does it have for us?
If we look for a Christian connection to the Jewish Hanukkah, it may be found in John 10 where/when Jesus/Yeshua is explaining to His disciples about the difference between The Shepherd who enters in through the door, and the false shepherd who climbs in from some other way: “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch” (John 10:22,23). Because the Fall Feasts are past, and the previous Feasts were in the Spring the timing readily aligns this event to the Feast of Hanukkah. The Feast of Dedication involves the dedication of the Temple. Just as the Feast of the rededication of the Jewish Temple/Hanukkah, so is Hanukkah the “appointed time for the inspection of our (human/spiritual) temple, a time for us to evaluate, and rededicate our temple . . . .” (Goldberg, Message From the Bema, Dec.1, 2018), Goldberg explains.
On the original occasion, in 165 B.C., when the Maccabees determined to maintain their holiness and honour their God, by defending their faith and fighting to the death, they “refused to allow the Syrians and Greeks to force them to abandon their beliefs and dishonour their God” (“Come Out and Be Separate,” Goldberg, Dec. 2, 2017). It was thereafter celebrated as Hanukkah. “Hanukkah was a dark time, when they tried to destroy Jewish culture, but it’s a bright time now because the Enemy’s efforts failed. . . .” (“Feast of Hanukkah,” Goldberg, Dec.9, 2017). A time of separation, a time of standing up for what we believe in, a time to declare our faith and shine our light.
The “Jews refused to allow the Syrian Greeks to defile their temple, and fought to their death to preserve their faith,” Goldberg points out (“Hanukkah, The Feast of Dedication,” Message from the Bema, Dec.1, 2018). “We need to refuse to assimilate (Rom.12:1,2) into the world and its carnal ways, just as the Jews at that time refused to assimilate into the the Greek culture. Sometimes we need to stand alone. The courage of the Maccabees is a great example for us today,” instructs Goldberg. There is much to draw on from our Jewish roots. It is clear from this example that we have every reason to celebrate Hanukkah, regardless of whether or not it is legislated for us. We do not, after all, require laws, in order to do the what is right.
As the Jewish people were laying down their lives for their beliefs at that time, Jesus/Yeshua, in His time, modelled for us that there is a time to lay down our lives for His call/work/for others, just as He did: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep (John 10:11,15). “We are called to follow His example. We are born again to serve . . ..” (Goldberg, Dec.1, 2018 Message From The Bema).
Goldberg emphasizes that the message for us is to be the Light (Matt.5:14-16) that Yeshua called us to be; to shine His Light into the darkness of an evil society. It is a time for us to “inspect our temple; to evaluate and re-dedicate our temple . . . . Hanukkah is a call to holiness . . . . to come out and be separate from the world, to deny ourselves and to put self to death daily” (Goldberg, Dec.1, 2018, Message From the Bema). He goes on to explain the Hanukkah Menorah, and how the Shamash Candle in the middle represents service/servanthood. The middle candle on the Hanukkah Menorah is used to light the other eight candles, just as we as believers should be serving to bring light into the lives of those who are in the dark. Goldberg points out that “If Yeshua was willing to humble Himself and serve, should we not do so even more?” (Goldberg, Dec. 1, 2018 Message from the Bema). We must humble ourselves, and serve; then God may exalt us; but “Some people exalt themselves first, and then God humbles them,” Goldberg points out. “It is a great honour to be His servant.”
Just as Israel turned away and fell away from God, so also are so many believers today falling away from their faith and are not walking in His Word. But amidst all this darkness today, Yeshua is still the LIGHT; and we who believe carry that LIGHT within us, by His Holy Spirit. “For once you were darkness, but now in union with the Lord you are light. Walk as children of light” (Eph.5:8), “for everything made visible is light. This is why it says, “Wake up, O sleeper! Rise from the dead, and Messiah will shine on you” (Eph.5:14). Interestingly, Paul is quoting here from Isa.26:19;52:1, just another of the multiple tie-ins between the Old and the New covenants. Not so much has changed . …. . “Arise, shine, for your light has come! The glory of Adonai has risen on you” (Isa.60:1).
Believers, followers of Jesus Christ of Nazareth/Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, let us turn our LIGHTS to bright this Hanukkah season, and bring God’s Love and Truth into both the Hanukkah and the Christmas Season. “Show love and respect to those who do not believe as we do” (Goldberg, Dec.1, 2018).
© 2018 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/35367/Default.aspx Israel Today, “Hanukkah, Also Known As Festival of Lights Begins Today,” December 02, 2018 | ISRAEL TODAY STAFF
http://www.bethshechinah.com/sermon/hannukah-come-out-and-be-separate-rabbi-cal-goldberg/ “Come Out and Be Separate,” Message from the Bema, by Rabbi Cal Goldberg, Dec. 2, 2017 (posted Dec.9, 2017), Beth Shechinah, House of Glory.
http://www.bethshechinah.com/sermon/the-feast-of-hanukkah-rabbi-cal-goldberg/ “Feast of Hanukkah,” Message from the Bema, by Rabbi Cal Goldberg, Dec.9, 2017 (posted Dec.23/17), Beth Shechinah, House of Glory.
“Hanukkah, The Feast of Dedication,” Message from the Bema, by Rabbi Cal Goldberg, Dec.1, 2018, http://www.bethshechinah.com/ (not yet posted on website).
John 10:11,15, 22, 23
Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.