Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration that begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev, which usually falls in December and lasts for eight days. In the Hebrew year 5781, it begins at sunset December 10 through to nightfall December 18, 2020. It is called the Feast of Dedication or Festival of Lights.
This feast was not celebrated in the Old Testament, but we see it mentioned in the New Testament. In fact, Jesus celebrated it (John 10:22-30). It is celebrated by daily adding and lighting candles on a 9-branched menorah or candelabra (hanukkiah). Blessings over the candles, singing songs, and eating foods cooked in oil commemorate the Maccabean revolt and victory which occurred in the 2nd century BCE (Before Common Era or BC – Before Christ). The Temple and the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem needed to be re-dedicated after a forced un-kosher sacrifice. There was only enough oil for the light of the menorah to last one day.
Hanukkah celebrates God’s faithful lovingkindness to the Jewish people with the miracle of the oil lasting eight days. We also see God’s faithfulness by bringing the Savior of the world, the Messiah Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Son into the world through His chosen people, the Jews. Without Hanukkah, there would be no Christmas. Jesus was born through a Jewish virgin (Matthew 1:18-23).
The middle candle in the Hanukkah candelabra, known as the servant candle, is always there, but as the nights go on, the other candles are lit from this servant candle. This candle reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the world (Luke 2:32; John 8:12; Hebrews 1:3) and the suffering servant (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12). Jesus is God in the flesh, Immanuel, God with us (John 1:1, 14; 10:30; Colossians 1:15; Matthew 1:23).
Hanukkah celebrates light, redemption, restoration, provision, deliverance, and protection. We see in the book of Isaiah that the prophet spoke about a Messianic redemption.
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 9:2
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. Isaiah 9:6
During the winter holiday season, many Christians prepare to celebrate on Christmas, December 25, the birth of a Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Hanukkah is another celebration that we can celebrate the gift God sent, Jesus, the Light of the world. We can reflect on the faithfulness of God while lighting the candles. We have the light of life (John 8:12) and the light of Jesus should shine through us into the world around us.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14 – 16
Arise, shine, for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60:1 – 2
Hanukkah is a feast of celebrating that the oil and light will never go out!
May God’s love and light fill your heart and home at Hanukkah.
Note: All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.