John 10:22-23 Then came the Festival of Dedication (Hanukkah) at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.
I know that this time of year everyone is putting up Christmas trees, singing carols, and jollily decking the halls, but prior to that holiday is one mentioned in the Bible that Jesus Himself celebrated. Maybe we can take a moment to think about it as well.
Starting on the night of December 10 and lasting for 8 nights is Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication. It commemorates a miracle of God that occurred during the time between the Old and New Testaments. The Seleucids were ruling over Israel and much of the region at the time. They had desecrated the temple and banned temple worship. A group of Jewish men, the Maccabees, rose up against the much stronger army and defeated them. As they eagerly went to the temple to reestablish worship, they realized, as they went to relight the temple lamp, that there was only enough of the holy oil to last one night and it would take days to make more. They decided to light it anyway. God miraculously made the oil last for 8 nights, enough for new oil to be made. The leaders decided to celebrate this miracle every year by lighting special lamps called Menorahs.
There are many themes in this wonderful holiday that we can appreciate as Christians:
1. God helped his people defeat a much more powerful army as they turned to Him and sought to restore true worship of God.
2. Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights since one of the main activities is the lighting of the menorah. Jesus reveals Himself as the light of the world and declares His people are lights as well.
3. Miracles are another theme of this holiday. God worked miracles on behalf of His people as they truly sought to honor and worship Him.
4. Rededication is the final theme. This was not the first time the temple was dedicated. Solomon, long prior to this, had dedicated the temple. This holiday celebrates a rededication. The temple had become defiled and overrun by the ruling culture. It needed to be cleansed and brought back to the intended state of purity for true worship.
So this Hanukkah (December 10-18) why don’t you take some time and reflect on its themes. There are powerful enemies seeking to ravage our land. Ask God to give us the strategy and to help us defeat them. Ask God to reveal Himself as light to you and reflect on what that means. Ask Him to help you be that light as well. Hanukkah is a celebration of miracles so if you are in need of one, now is the perfect time to ask for and expect one, and lastly if you (God’s temple) have been overrun by the pervading culture and have been defiled by the daily grind of the world around you, now is the time to cleanse your temple and rededicate yourself to a true and pure worship of God. God will provide the oil as you pursue this purpose!
Merry Christmas but also Happy Hanukkah!
Anna Marie Dandy