Chanukkah in Hebrew means “Dedication.” It is also known as The Festival of Lights but for a reason that goes deeper than the candle lights and the tradition of the miracle of the oil used to light the menorah.
As a Jewish believer in Yahshua HaMashiach celebrating the Festival of Hanukkah I soon saw a correlation between this festival and Yahshua. Hanukkah though not a commanded festival is obviously G-d approved as Yahshua also celebrated it. In John 10:22-23 we read the following:
And it was at Jerusalem “the feast of the dedication,” and it was winter.
And Verse 23 And Jesus (Yahshua) walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.
Hanukkah carries a relevant message for Believers as well as Jews. We all know that G-d’s (7) Festivals are but a rehearsal or prophetic foretelling of events now come and to come. The Hebrew word for festivals Moadim tells us that. On the Festival prophetic time table Yahshua first event has fulfilled (4) of the Festivals: Passover (He was the Passover Lamb); Feast of Unleavened Bread (He was without sin); Feast of First Fruits (He was the first to be resurrected); and Pentecost or Shavuot; (YHVH Elohim gave us the Torah (Law) on this date and then in NT times gave us the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) empowering us to live it). In the time line of prophetic history we have now arrived at Festival number (5) The Feast of Trumpets which foretells the “gathering up of the saints.”
Tonight, we celebrate Hanukkah; a unique festival that foretells some very exciting events and confirms G-d’s plans for his “called out” people through Yahshua H Mashiach.
We first need to look at this festival historically. Traditionally, on the 25th of Kislev, Jews everywhere celebrate the miracle associated with the defeat of the Syrian king Antiochus (175-163-B.C.), who titled himself Epiphanies, Greek for “god- manifest.” Antiochus has come to typify the anti-Messiah, the “anti-Christ” of the latter days, and also is the one responsible for the “abomination of desolation” referred to in Daniel 8:11-13 and in Matthew 24:15 where Yahshua spoke of him as a forerunner of what we are to look for in the end of days.
Mat 24:15 we read: When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Now Yahshua was speaking after the event that produced this festival and therefore was using the historical example of Antiochus Epiphanies as a signpost to look for in these “end of days.”
Antiochus undertook a systematic effort to stamp out Judaism: prohibiting circumcision, Sabbath observance and even possession of the Holy Scriptures, and remember this was before the NT. He murdered Jewish mothers and their children when the mothers had their children circumcised. In the face of stubborn resistance, he intensified his oppression and later ordered his soldiers to set up a statute of the Greek god Jupiter (also known as Zeus) in the Holy of Holies and sacrificed pigs to it. This action led to a revolt by Mattathias (Matityahu) a priest, and the Maccabees, so called after Judah who was nicknamed Maccaheus, “The Hammer,” because of his aggressive fighting style. The Jews fought so fiercely that in two years the Syrians sued for peace.
In December 164 B.C.E. (the 25th day of Kislev) three years to the day since the Syrians had begun sacrificing pigs at the Temple, the Jewish rebels rededicated the Temple and brought sacrifices in G-d’s honor. The miracle associated with this festival occurred after the Jewish troops retook the Temple. They could only find one cruse of uncontaminated olive oil, which was necessary to rededicate the Temple. The amount they found was sufficient for one day only, and it took eight days to prepare ritually permitted oil. However, a miracle happened and the small quantity of oil continued to burn the full eight days.
Each Hanukkah the Jewish family gathers for eight nights and lights one candle on the special Hanukkah Menorah each successive night. Prayers or said and songs chanted. The Menorah is placed in a window so that the passersby can see it from the street to “publicize the miracle” of G-d’s grace. This is the sole function for the Hanukkah candles and it is forbidden to use them for any other purpose. It is traditional that while the candles burn Jewish women relax and do not work.
A popular children’s game during Hanukkah is the spinning of the dreidl, a four sided figure that spins like a top. On each side a Hebrew letter is printed: nun, gimmel, hay, shin, which makes the acronym, “nes gadol haya sham”-a great miracle happened there (Israel).
During repressions of Judaism where even Hebrew was forbidden this same dreidl was used to teach Hebrew to Jewish Children by their parents. It being permitted because the authorities thought it was a game of chance.
Because of the vagaries of the Hebrew lunar calendar Hanukkah eve falls on December 18th this year. Hanukkah like Christmas has become commercialized and because of its close proximity to Christmas it has led many Jewish parents to convert it into a major gift giving holiday giving a gift to their children on each of the eight days of celebration.
The Menorah used exclusively for Hanukkah has nine openings or branches for candles and is unlike the seven branches Menorah, which is the symbol of Israel. The middle candle is known as the Servant candle. It is lit first and used to light each of the other candles. The seven branch Menorah is designed after the almond tree while the Hanukkah Menorah’s two extra branches are designed from the olive tree foreshadowing Paul’s (Sha’ul’s) treatise in Roman’s 11:17-18 where he speaks of the wild olive tree (Gentiles) being grafted into Israel. In 520 B.C. two contemporary prophets, Haggai and Zechariah predicted a special blessing for the 24th of Kislev (Haggai 2:18-19), and Zechariah (4:1-7) predicted the addition of two more lamps on the Menorah and added that YHVH (G-d) shall bring forth the Headstone therefore with shoutings, crying Grace, Grace unto it. The implication is that these two lamps (olive branches) are added to the other seven making a total of nine lamps-a Hanukkah Menorah. Nine denotes finaflity of judgment. Moreover, is it not Yahshua the Headstone ushering in a new age of Grace as the Servant Lamp, who by virtue of His sacrifice as the Paschal Lamb brings us into reconciliation with YHVH Elohim, and the forgiveness of past sins (Romans 3:25).. Consider that in Luke 2:30-32 Yahshua is described as a “light unto the Gentiles”. In Revelation 1:16, Yahshua is described standing in the middle of a Menorah in the position of the Servant Lamp and Yochanan (John) described “his countenance was like the sun shining in it strength.” It appears He is the fulfillment of the Servant Lamp in the Menorah. The Jewish sages wrote in the Jerusalem Talmud, (Yoma 43:3) that when Simeon, the priest described in (Luke 2:29), whose death had been delayed until he beheld, the Messiah, the infant Yahshua; the Servant Lamp in the Menorah went out and would not relight for the forty years prior to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD. The amazing thing attested to is that it went out during Yahshua’s ministry. Further evidence is found in Hebrew numerology. Eight is a transcendent number in Hebrew tradition and represents deity and a new beginning. Seven represents spiritual perfection. The Hanukkah Menorah features eight candles (deity) and one candle (the servant candle). Spiritual perfection (represented by the number seven) obtains life only after the Servant Candle ignites them, having seven candles contained within the nine candled Menorah may be interpreted as “perfect humanity” or imputed righteousness by virtue of the work of the Servant Candle who is also YHVH (Incarnate Deity represented by the number eight).
The blessing of Hanukah, with its eight days and eight lamps, reminds us that eight is associated with superabundance and the birth from above. It speaks of G-d’s unmerited favor, chesed, the grace that is extended to the blessed remnant of the faithful, Jew and Gentile alike. In this century, another great day took place on the 24th of Kislev, Hanukah. It was the declaration of the establishment of a Jewish homeland in then Palestine. General Alleby whose name in Arabic means Allah Bey, which means Prophet of G-d marched upon Jerusalem and the Turks fled leaving a bloodless victory and this came upon December 9, 1917 which just happened to be the 24th of Kislev, the eve of Hanukkah. The Holy city was delivered from captivity. The eight days of Hanukkah may also be associated with the eighth day when Jewish infants are circumcised, eight different garments worn by the high priest, and the eight days of Passover. The 25th of Kislev is also the date the Tabernacle was finished in the wilderness and the day YHVH blessed Noah with the rainbow. The nine candles of the Hanukkah can also be likened to the nine blessings of the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-11) and the nine fold “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22). Even hasatan, the adversary whose name Lucifer (Hay-Lale in Hebrew) means “light bearer”, suggests his desire to usurp Yahshua in His role as the Servant Candle.
Lastly, I want you to look at the Shield of Israel that represents a seven lamp Menorah with two olive branches making two more lamps. The leaves of the olive branches respectively are twelve in number. In Revelation, we read of the 24 elders representing the elders of Israel. This also represents the 12 patriarchs and the twelve apostles. So even the shield of Israel carries the message of Hanukkah. Jew and Gentile, one, under the Kippur (covering) of the blood of Yahshua.
May the lessons of Hanukkah be a blessing to all, Baruch HaShem (Blessed be His name)!
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart