Why I Celebrate Chanukah
Why do I celebrate Chanukah? I love this festival, which is known as the Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication, and a time of miracles.
In John chapter 10 Jesus was in the Temple during the Feast of Dedication. This is Chanukah. So, what is exactly the story of Chanukah?
Chanukah happened in between the Old and New Testament. There was a season that the Temple fell into the hands of the pagans. There was a lot of desecration. Things happening that were not of God and what He ordained.
A family called the Maccabees saw what was happening and they chose to march to the Temple and take it over. They fought for what they knew God wanted and took back what was rightfully His. They fought for what God had given His people, the Jews.
Now, this is where it gets interesting. The story (there is no solid proof this actually happened) has it that when they entered the Temple and gained possession of it once again, the oil that was left was only enough to burn for one day. When God established the Temple there was supposed to be a light that burned continually. His Light, His Presence. To find only one day of oil was disheartening.
To make oil that was sacred to burn in the Temple would take eight days. This meant that the Light would be extinguished. What happened next is known as the Chanukah miracle.
The oil that was left burned for eight days. The oil that was left gave them a miracle of Light. The Jews were able to rededicate the Temple. They were able to continue giving Adonai the honor He desires. This is what they celebrate year after year. The miracle of oil lasting for eight days and the rededication of the Temple.
How does this affect me? A Gentile. Why would I want to celebrate this Jewish tradition? It's not even a true Biblical feast (it's not in the laws God gave Moses).
I choose to celebrate this because in John chapter 10 Jesus declared Himself to be the Son of God. He clearly stated that He and the Father are one. He chose to do this during the time the Jews were celebrating the rededication of the Temple. Let's stop and think about the significance of this.
The Jews held their Temple as the most reverent place. This is where God’s Presence was. His Light was powerful there.
When Jesus died for us, and the Holy Spirit was left for us, we now are the Temple of God. Our bodies are the Light to the World because His Presence is within us. We have our own miracle of Lights because His oil is burning within us.
To celebrate eight days and rededicate my temple (body) to the Most High God is fulfilling. I can celebrate His miracle of ALL He has done for me. I can celebrate the oil of joy.
There is also the possibility that this is the season Jesus could have been conceived. We know that Jesus was born in the Fall holidays. This is based on when Zachariah (John the Baptist’s father) was in the Temple serving and knowing when Mary went to see Elizabeth and they were both with child. Nine months before Fall is December. If conception is truly the time when we say life begins, then it would be amazing to celebrate the beginning of Jesus’ life!
These are all secrets hidden in the Word that we can discover as we uncover the roots of our faith. I love celebrating my Messiah knowing He fulfilled the prophecies God gave years before. I love knowing that as I ask and seek I will find.
So, how is the holiday celebrated? The Jews celebrate this holiday by lighting candles. They have one candle called the “shemah” or servant candle. This candle lights candle one the first night. It lights two candles the second night. Etc…
A friend taught us years ago to light candles this way:
There are nine fruits of the Spirit. The first one is love. We can recognize the Servant candle as our Ultimate Servant, Who is Love. This candle lights Joy the first night. Love lights Joy and Peace the second night. The third night Love lights Joy, Peace, and Patience. This continues every night until all the candles are lit and we have a true understanding of the Fruits of the Spirit. As we rededicate our temples to the Most High God we can be reminded of how He wants us to live and the characteristics He desires to grow within us.
May we find His Oil overflowing in us this year as we celebrate His Temple within us. May we rededicate our bodies as Living sacrifices to Him. May we be the Light He has called us to be.