Once a year our Jewish brethren celebrate the eight-day festival of Hanukkah (i.e. Feast of Dedication). This festival normally isn’t observed or even acknowledged by many believers. However, whether we realize it or not it’s a significant event which served to secure the birth of our beloved Messiah, Jesus.
In the Hanukkah story we discover that the Temple was being desecrated by Antiochus IV. He even had the nerve to convert the Temple into a temple of Zeus. It was during this time, as recorded in the non-canonical book of 1 Maccabees, we find the Maccabean forces achieving victory over Antiochus. After their military victory they cleansed the Temple of all pagan influences, again establishing it as the house of God.
” …famous legend has it that when they searched the Temple, they were only able to find one cruse of olive oil with the priestly stamp upon it. It was enough to fuel the lamps of the menorah for only one day. It would take eight days before they could procure more olive oil fitting for use in the menorah. Uncertain of what to do, they decided to keep the mitzvah* of lighting the menorah as best they could. They lit it, fully expecting it to go out that day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, until new oil could be obtained.” – Light in the Darkness (First Fruits of Zion, 2003)
Hanukkah is a time to remember the re-dedication of the Temple and the miracle of oil.
Now what does that have to do with us as believers?
A few things actually; for one Jesus celebrated it (John 10:22). Additionally, if the Maccabean forces had never re-claimed the Temple the people of Israel would have lost heart; after all Temple-centered worship was a vital part of Jewish life. Furthermore, Zechariah wouldn’t have encountered the angel Gabriel in the Temple (Luke 1:11).
Through the years I have heard teachings on how the different biblical festivals each represent aspects of Jesus; though Hanukkah isn’t a biblical festival is does indeed reveal Messiah. Jesus is the single light that burns eternal; far beyond humanly possible. His light was miraculously established by the Father before the foundations of creation. As we walk in obedience to God’s call we each have this miraculous light shining forth from our lives… this light that shatters darkness.
As Christians, Hanukkah can serve to remind us that no matter how close the darkness is this light that radiates out of us as believers will not go out. As 2011 quickly approaches may you and I rededicate ourselves; choosing to remain faithful to our Father and let this miraculous light, the light of Messiah, from within shine forth.
— You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).