Hanukkah is thought of by most as an exclusively Jewish Holiday. Interestingly enough, the only place that Hanukkah is mentioned in the Bible is in the New Testament: “At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem” (John 10:22). The Hebrew word “Hanukkah” means dedication, and is therefore called, the Feast of Dedication. This Feast commemorates the Jewish people’s rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem to the LORD.
The History of Hanukkah began when the Greco-Assyrians invaded and captured Jerusalem. They attempted to destroy the culture and religion of the Jews, and desecrate the Temple of the LORD. During this time, a group of Greco-Assyrian soldiers marched into a Jewish settlement and demanded that the priest there, Mattathias, sacrifice a pig to their pagan god, Zeus. Because Mattathias feared the LORD more than the Greco-Assyrians, he refused to sacrifice the pig. A fellow Jewish onlooker, fearing the Greco-Assyrians wrath, volunteered to sacrifice the pig. In response to this, Mattathias drew his sword and killed him.
This act of conviction and courage was so inspiring to the rest of the Jews that they assembled right there and joined Mattathias to form an army. Under the leadership of Judah (Mattathias’ son), this newly formed army of the LORD successfully stopped the Greco-Assyrians from overtaking their settlement, and eventually drove them out of the whole region, including Jerusalem and the Temple. This victory climaxed with the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the inauguration of the Feast of Dedication in 164 BC.
When the Jews lit the Menorah (the lamp-stand inside of the temple) during the re-dedication and found that there was only enough oil to burn for one day. However, tradition states that the oil burned supernaturally for eight days! Thus, the Hanukkah Menorah that Jewish people light each year has eight candles, representing these eight miraculous days of burning. An additional ninth “Servant” candle on the Hanukkah Menorah is used to light the candles each night.
Just as the ninth candle on the Hanukkah Menorah is used to light the other eight, Yeshua has lit us to be “supernatural lights” to the world!
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does any one 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!” (Matthew 5:14-16)
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