Hanukkah ended December 20th. This year, I have been more interested in this Jewish holiday than I ever have been before. I am not Jewish but a little research about it has led me on a treasure hunt, finding greater revelation and fascination with Jesus. In this season, where so many Christians are focused on the birth of Jesus, why is it important to look at Hanukkah?
Hanukkah means “dedication” and it commemorates the rededication of the Jewish temple after the Maccabean revolt. This deliverance of the Jewish people from the tyranny of the Greeks came over a century before Christ was born. The Jews were greatly outnumbered and God brought miraculous deliverance through a family known as the Maccabees.
I have to admit the first thing that fascinates me about the subject of Hanukkah is the celebration of the multiplication of oil. After the Maccabean revolt in 165 BC, there is a story that appears in the Jewish Talmud that the Jews cleansed the defiled temple and lit the temple lampstand with only one jar of oil that should have lasted only one day. That oil lasted 8 days until more oil could be readied for burning.
At the Lampstand meetings that we host at our house once a month we have talked about pressing out oil for ourselves so that we will have a reservoir filled with oil to burn brightly. What is the “oil” we need in our lives? The oil of a history with God. The oil pressed out by meditation and study of God’s word. The oil of growing devotion and love toward Jesus. Just as in that Jewish legend, we cannot get this “oil” in our own strength. We also need supernatural multiplication of that kind of oil. We offer our small part and He adds the other 99%.
As I began to study Hanukkah even more I began to see that there was a greater miracle that the Jews experienced than the multiplication of lampstand oil. Jesus Himself and what He had come to do as Messiah and Deliverer was the greater miracle.
The only time this holiday is ever mentioned in Scripture is in John 10. This is a fascinating passage in which Jesus is responding to the question asking whether He was the Messiah or not. I came across an article by David Brickner from a Jews for Jesus newsletter in 1998 that gives a simple and clear look at this passage revealing Christ in the Feast of Hanukkah. Below is one excerpt from the article. (The “Antiochus” mentioned was the Greek/Selucid ruler who declared himself “the manifest god.”)
“The rededication of the Temple was a reminder of God’s power to keep His promises and preserve His people Israel. But One greater than the Temple stood on Solomon’s porch that day. And He made an astounding claim. “I and My Father are one” (v.30). Remember, this is Hanukkah. Fresh in my people’s minds was the fact that they had rightly rejected the false claims of Antiochus. Now here is Jesus, standing in the Temple asserting His own claim to deity. The reaction of my people was predictable. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him” (v.31). And if He hadn’t been who He claimed to be, they would have been absolutely right to do so.”
To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.
The truth is Jesus is the Messiah, and He is everything He claimed to be, yet was missed as the “greater miracle” to the Jewish people. He was the one who could deliver them from more than the threat of Roman tyranny; He had come to deliver them from the guilt and punishment of their sin and to bring them back into right relationship with Father God.
We have a great opportunity to pray for Israel and join with the apostle Paul’s desire that all of Israel would be saved. Let us pray for the Jewish people in this Hanukkah season that they would see the Light of the World, Jesus as their Messiah who is the one who still has the power to keep his promises and preserve His people Israel.
Matthew or Julie Wine