Is Hanukkah mentioned in scripture? Yep! Did Jesus celebrate it? Seems like. Was Hanukkah one of God’s prescribed feasts? Nope.
Growing up I always loved Christmas – still do! The Santa thing was cool when I was really young but that cover got blown pretty early for me. It was family together that warmed my soul. Relatives came and stayed for extended times between Christmas and New Years. In a household that was anything but “peace on earth”, Christmas brought a sense of normalcy, celebration and even hope for things between mom and dad to be better than last year. And if it snowed (which it often did in the Northeast where I grew up) well, it was other worldly amazing!
I never really knew what Hanukkah was about and I won’t go into the whole history here, but suffice it to say this Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication in some translations – has powerful significance as it relates to Jewish history: their suffering and persecution…once again, the perseverance of their faith and their reverence for their most holy place at the time (164 BCE) – The Temple in Jerusalem. It was undoubtedly with this intimate knowledge of His people’s struggle that Messiah, Yeshua walked the Temple grounds in winter, around the time we call Christmas, as we read in John 10:22 (ESV)
“At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
So to all my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah and blessings as you celebrate the Light that burned in a dark time. Thank you for preserving for the world the Knowledge of the one true G_d, and for giving us Emmanuel – God with us, Light of the world. To all my non-Jewish friends, Merry Christmas!
A closing scripture from the time of Messiah’s dedication:
Luke 2:22-33 (ESV)
Jesus Presented at the Temple
“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”