Hanukkah, or the Feast of Dedication is a celebration not included in the Feasts of Jehovah, this celebration finds its origin during the intertestamental period—the time between the Old and New Testaments. It is an epic story of deliverance of God’s people from yet another attempt by Satan, through his puppet Epiphanes, to annihilate the Jewish people.
Tonight is the first night of this special celebration and its symbolization is remarkable. Jesus celebrated the Festival of Lights, and the importance of this festival is significant. First, I do not celebrate this holiday as the Jewish people do, but I do recognize the importance.
Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem by Judah Maccabee in 165 BC after a standoff with Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who nearly succeeded in wiping out the Jews. The Maccabees won the standoff. (My own little note: it is no accident that the heroic leader of the Maccabees is named Judah—the line of the Messiah).
When the Maccabees took back the Temple from Epiphanes, it had been completely desecrated—so the Jews went to work to clean and rededicate the temple. They cleaned out the liter left by Epiphanes, and tore down the altar built to Zeus. The Jews offered incense on the golden altar, and placed the shewbread on the table. The lampstand in the Tabernacle and the Temple, was required by God to be lit every day. The high priest tended the lamps day and night by trimming the wicks and filling the cups with oil. However, only one jar of oil was found, and that would last only one day. But out of faith in God, and a desire to rededicate the Lord’s house, they miraculously lit the lamp from that one jar of oil for eight days.
Not only was this a miracle at God’s hands to rededicate His temple, it was also a miracle that the Jews defeated Epiphanes. Satan purposed to wipe out the Jews in hopes of wiping out any hope for the Messiah to come. Satan is no match for the plans and purposes of God.
John 10:22-23 tells us that Jesus celebrated the festival:
At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.
What does this festival mean for us? It certainly does not mean you need to light a menorah each night. I celebrate that the plot to wipe out the Jews failed. The hope in the Advent of the Messiah was renewed with the victory over Epiphanes.
The miracle of the oil was preceded by a desire to renew—rededicate the Temple. Let us during this time of Hanukkah, in this Advent Season, clean out the liter (the Braze Laver) , renew our study and love for the Word (Table of Shewbread), allow the Holy Spirit to guide us again (The Lampstand), and reignite our prayer life (the altar of incense). Let’s rededicate our temple to the Lord, and renew the hope in the advent of Christ. Jesus is the Light of the world; let’s shine His light in this season of Hanukkah and Advent.