Modern Relevance of Chanukah

There is indeed a reason for the season! Not necessarily the one that the rest of the world follows but a much more Biblical one—Chanukah (may be spelled Chanukah, Hannukah, Hannukkah, and Channukah and about 14 other ways!). Chanukah continues for eight (8) nights with an additional candle being lit every night.

As recorded in 2 Maccabees 10, these eight nights were set apart as a celebration of Sukkot which the Maccabees had not been able to celebrate at its appointed time. Through time the reason for eight days was attributed to the miracle of oil.

The legend is that when the Maccabees took the temple back from the Greeks there was only enough pure oil to last one day, and that it would take eight days to get more oil. The oil continued to burn for eight days until more oil could be made for use in the temple.

So what relevance does this have for us today? In 1 Maccabees 4:36–59, it is recorded that the temple was taken back from the Greeks and then was purified of all pagan influences. When they came to the temple altar, they removed it, as it also had been desecrated by the Greeks with sacrifices of pigs upon it. However they could not just throw it away, as it had been the holy temple altar, so in Maccabees 4:46 it states that they placed its stones on the temple mount until a prophet would come to tell them what to do with the altar.

In John 10:22-30 is says, “At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.  So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”  Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

Jesus was in Jerusalem for Chanukah (aka the Festival of Dedication/Lights), and when asked if in fact He was the Messiah, He then not only told them that He was the Messiah; He used Psalms 23 as the proof of whom He was by stating that He was the Good Sheppard.

It is customary in Jewish homes that the chanukkiyah (the 9 candle menorah used for Chanukah) to light the chanukkiyah and place it in the window of your home.
Jesus said in Matthew 5, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Leave a Reply