By Yehudah ben Shomeyr
Chanukah, to the misconception of almost everyone, like the Feasts of the LORD in Leviticus 23, Chanukah is for every Believer in Yeshua the Messiah.
Chanukah has a long history, longer than many people may think. The majority of the people believe Chanukah was established and instituted between the 400 year gap of the writing of the Tanak (O.T.) and the Renewed Covenant (N.T.), during the time of the Levitical family of the Maccabees, when they took back the Temple from the Greco-Syrian invaders and rededicated it and got it back up and running again. People think that since it has no connection to canonical Scripture, it has no relevance or place in their lives. They think it’s purely a “Jewish thing,” when in reality King Solomon instituted it, the Maccabees re-instituted it and made it what it is today, and Yeshua the Messiah celebrated it, and will re-institute it again when the 3rd Temple is built!
Chanukah is NOT the “Jewish Christmas;” it has NOTHING to do with Tammuz, Santa Clause, or the birth of Jesus. The only commonalities between Christmas and Chanukah is that we exchange and give gifts, which is more of a modern institution in reactions to Christmas, and it steamed from the fact that Jews gave (Tzedekah) charity on Biblical and Jewish holidays. Sometimes greenery is hung, not because of the reasons people do it for Christmas, but because the Maccabees used Chanukah to celebrate a late Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) which is a type of harvest festival in which greenery was hung as decoration.
In I Kings 8 and II Chronicles 7, it speaks of King Solomon fulfilling the life long dream of his father David and himself, of having built the Holy Temple of ADONAI. It says the he “Chanukah-ed” it, dedicated it, and had a 7 day festival and ended it on the 8th day, hence 8 days of Chanukah, just as we have today.
In Ezra 6:16-17 it tells of the Babylonian exiles who have returned to Jerusalem and have built and “Chanukah-ed” the 2nd Temple. Verse 16 says that “The children of the captivity kept the “Chanukah” of this house of GOD with joy.”
In I Maccabees 4:52-59 and II Maccabees 10:1-8 it recounts the reason we celebrate Chanukah today. After Yehudah (Judah) Maccabee recaptures the 2nd Temple and began to cleanse it and restore the service of it, they were about to light the Holy Menorah when they discovered they only had enough oil for it to stay lit for one day. It took 7 days to produce more, but they lit it anyway and a miracle occurred, the Menorah stayed lit a whole 7 days until more was made!
Apparently the dates for celebrating Chanukah have changed through out the ages. A new date for each time the Temple was built and dedicated, or cleansed and rededicated. But to this day we keep the days set forth by the Maccabees in I Maccabees 4:59 and II Maccabees 10:8 because that was the last rededication until the Messiah returns to build the 3rd Holy Temple. Chanukah today commemorates the rededication of the Temple, the defeat of the Greco-Syrian invaders, affirms our Jewishness, and commemorates the miracle of the oil.
Because of II Maccabees 10:8 commanding the Jewish people to keep the 25th day of the month of Kislev and the 7 days that follow, we see Yeshua in John 10:22-23 keeping Chanukah! If Messiah celebrated Chanukah, that’s good enough for me! I want to do it to, I want to be as much like my Messiah as I possibly can, I want to do what He did, and experience what He experienced.
So what does Chanukah mean for Believers in Messiah Yeshua?
As mentioned before, the Temple is important to the Messiah, and He kept the Festival of Chanukah there. But on a Spiritual level WE are the Temples of GOD (I Cor. 3:16; 6:15-20; II Cor. 6:15-18; Eph. 2:18-22) and ever so often the invaders of Self and Sin desecrate that sacred place and we need to wage all out war, kick out the invaders, cleanse and rededicate ourselves back to GOD and His Torah. This is exactly what we do at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:26-32), so I like to think of Chanukah as Yom Kippur part two!
Jews! Stand up and be counted. Rededicate your self to GOD and His Torah.
Christians! Toss out that Christmas tree (Jer. 10:3-4), and grab a Menorah! The only “birthday” the Messiah celebrated at this time of the year wasn’t His own, but the Temples! How could we not do likewise!?