Many people think Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration that mimics Christmas, providing the Jewish people with a holiday in December to compete with the Christmas season. But this is simply not true. Hanukkah existed before the celebration of Christmas. It is a historically-based event; it is a scripturally-based event; and it has a deep meaning for Christians who celebrate Hanukkah today.
Biblically, Hanukkah is referred to as the Feast of Dedication because it celebrates the rededication of the temple after the Maccabean revolt, when a small band of farmers took on the Greek army, recaptured Jerusalem, reclaimed the temple, and then purified it from pagan defilement. With the help of God, they won the battle and held on to the faith of Judaism, which could have been destroyed at that very moment.
So, this was a great time of celebration. They had saved Judaism from being Hellenized into a pagan religion. They re-established the sacrifices of the temple and they offered the burnt offerings with gladness. They decorated the front of the temple with a golden crown. They celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, which is why we celebrate Hanukkah for eight days, and part of the celebration is the lighting of the menorah.
- John 10:22-24. “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. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, ‘How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’”
- Matthew 5:13-16. “You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
- Romans 12:1-2. “Therefore I urge you, brethren . . . do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
- “To light the candles of Hanukkah meant persecution, potentially death—so this Feast of Dedication has been celebrated by the Jewish people down through time as a sign of their resistance to pagan cultures that would defile their faith.”
- “I encourage you, celebrate this feast with the same spirit in your heart that was on those believers in that day, refusing to be converted into something that was against the will of God and against the teachings of God. Let us stand against everything that would tear down our faith, our beliefs, and our way of life.”
- “It is important that believers in Yeshua (Jesus) celebrate this coming Hanukkah and every Hanukkah with drive and determination because we live in a culture today that is determined to move us off of our Christian values.”
- Hanukkah reminds us that as believers, we are not to be conformed to this world. We are not to be conformed to its cultures, its beliefs, and its ways of life when they are contrary to God and to His Word.
- Hanukkah reminds us that we are to be a light to this world—we should shine brightly and the Jewish people should shine as a light on a hill as those who hold forth the Word of God, the promises of God, and the prophecies to come.
- Hanukkah reminds us that we are the salt of the earth. What we are to do today is preserve the culture of the kingdom of God. We are to preserve the ways of God. We are to preserve the love and the Word of God in this day and age.
- Hanukkah reminds us that we must put our faith into service. Like the ancient Maccabees, we must go in and cleanse the Temple—to rededicate and purify everything that has been touched and destroyed as satan has attempted to bring about his purposes in our world.