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Chanukah and Mashiach

Hanukkah (Hebrew: חֲנֻכָּה‎, Tiberian: Ḥănukkāh, nowadays usually spelled חנוכה pronounced [χanuˈka] in Modern Hebrew, also romanized as Chanukah), also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE, Hanukkah is observed for eight nights, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.

In 2010 Chanukkah begins at sundown on December 1-8 2010 at sundown.

With blessings, games, and festive foods, Chanukkah celebrates the triumphs–both religious and military–of ancient Jewish heroes. Chanukkah is a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish year. In the wester world, however, its closeness to Christmas has brought greater attention to Chanukkah and its gift-giving tradition. Amid the ever-growing flood of Christmas, non-Jewish advertising, it may seem especially fitting that the Chanukkah story tells of Jewish culture surviving in a non-Jewish world.

The Chanukkah Story

Nearly 2,200 years ago, the Greek-Syrian ruler Antiochus IV tried to force Greek culture upon peoples in his territory. Jews in Judea — now Israel- were forbidden their most important religious practices as well as study of the Torah. Although vastly outnumbered, religious Jews in the region took up arms to protect their community and their religion. Led by Mattathias the Hasmonean, and later his son Judah the Maccabee, the rebel armies became known as the Maccabees. After three years of fighting, in the year 3597, or about 165 B.C.E., the Maccabees victoriously reclaimed the temple on Jerusalem’s Mount Moriah. Next they prepared the temple for rededication — in Hebrew, Chanukkah means “dedication.” In the temple they found only enough purified oil to kindle the temple light for a single day. But miraculously, the light continued to burn for eight days.

Chanukkah and Maran Yeshua

Then came Chanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s Colonnade (Yochanan / John 10:22-23John 10:22-23
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.  

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). Chanukkah is a beautiful holy day celebrated by Jewish people. Many are aware of the customs and history of Chanukkah. Perhaps some even know Scripture well enough to know that this holy day is prophetically mentioned in the book of Daniel. Most surprising to both the Jewish and the Christian communities is that the most clear mention of Chanukkah in the Bible is in the Besora Tova (Good News) The people who normally celebrate this holy day, the Jewish people, have scant biblical references for it; yet the people who do not normally celebrate Chanukkah have the most explicit reference to it, in the Besora Tova! This brings us to the first reason believers in Messiah might want to understand and celebrate this holy day. The Messiah celebrated it. Not only did Yeshua celebrate Chanukkah, but he observed it in the same Temple that had been cleansed and rededicated just a few generations earlier under the Maccabees.

Many Jewish scholars see a deeper spiritual meaning to Chanukkah. As the editors of the popular Artscroll Mesorah Series state: Then, the light is kindled to give inspiration, for the light of Messiah must burn brightly in our hearts (Chanukah, Mesorah Publications, Brooklyn, 1981, p. 104). This is a logical conclusion. Because Chanukkah is a celebration of deliverance, it has also become a time to express messianic hope. Just as the Maccabees were used by God to redeem Israel, perhaps the greatest redeemer, the Messiah, would also come at this time! With this understanding, we more fully appreciate the scenes that unfolded as Maran Yeshua celebrated the feast 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. Amidst the festivities, Maran Yeshua was approached by some rabbis who asked a simple question: How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us publicly (Yochanan 10:24). The answer to this very appropriate question is contained in Maran Yeshua’s Chanukkah message. He clearly reiterates his claim and the proofs of his Messiahship (Yochanan 10:25-39). Chanukkah recalls a military victory for Israel, and the implications are vast. If Antiochus had succeeded in his campaign of anti-Semitism and destruction, there would have been no Jews by the time of Maran Yeshua (who is a Jew, therefore would have no been Messiah).

Certainly all believers in Yeshua have important reasons to remember this Feast of Dedication. Messiah, our deliverer, has come!

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