“To ‘Chanukah’ or not to . . .”
Did Yeshua/Jesus observe the Feast of Dedication? Is Chanukah applicable for believers in the Promised Messiah that came in the flesh? Is Chanukah/Feast of Dedication/Festival of Lights a replacement for Christmas? These and many other questions concerning this issue arise every year at this time. Obviously we are not able to answer them all or answer them to everyone’s satisfaction. But with that understood, let’s take a look at what we know for fact concerning Chanukah.
The apocryphal books of 1st and 2nd Maccabees give us both a secular as well as a spiritual historical account of the events leading up to what is referred to as Chanukah. We would encourage you to read these accounts. There is also a brief reference in The Bible to this celebration in the tenth chapter of the gospel account attributed to John. For Rhonda and I, the issue is simple, straightforward and uncomplicated.
The original eight day celebration of The Dedication / Chanukah was a belated celebration and observance of the Biblical holy season of the Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot and the 8th Day Assembly as outlined beginning in Leviticus 23:24, an observance the Israeli people were unable to keep properly at the Biblically mandated time, due to the Greek occupation of that day.
” They kept eight festal days with rejoicing, in the manner of the Feast of Tabernacles, remembering how, not long before at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, they had been living in the mountains and caves like wild beasts. 7 Then, carrying branches, leafy boughs and palms, they offered hymns to Him who had brought the cleansing of His own holy place to a happy outcome.” (2Ma 10:6-7)
Chanukah is NOT a ‘jewish or Israeli replacement’ for Christmas. The concept of giving gifts at Chanukah is a relatively modern interjection into the season. It was, in the beginning and down through the centuries, simply a memorial celebration of God’s deliverance of His people against seemingly impossible odds, allowing them once again to walk in the ways of our Father and keep His appointed times. We also need to understand this fact, a very similar yet much, much greater scenario looms on the horizon for God’s people and the nations in these last days.
So, “to Chanukah or not to . . .” Keep it or don’t keep it; you have that choice. It is not a commanded holy day, and to celebrate it is NOT ‘adding to’ the commandments (unless you impose it as a commandment which contradicts Scripture).
Nowhere in Scripture does it say ‘Yeshua participated in Chanukah’, but rather He was in town during the time of the observance. Whether or not He participated is speculative at best and probably borders on being a ‘disputable matter’, to use a phrase of the Apostle Paul. Did He keep it? Truth be known, nobody knows . . . He WAS a good jewish boy, but still, nobody knows, LOL . . . I guess, for Rhonda and I, the frustration is this – the world is literally goin’ to hell in a handbasket and we seem to get hung up on the wrong snags.
After a quick reading of the Maccabean record, we understand the historical reason for Chanukah as a belated Sukkot celebration (‘belated’ being the operative word) and 2 Maccabees giving credit to God for multiple miracles ( no mention of ‘Oil miracles’ ) and giving God credit for the ultimate deliverance of His people. They did, in fact, rededicate and re-consecrate the temple and were able to walk through the streets of Jerusalem without fear for the first time in years. To be able to keep God’s moedim (appointed times) in a proper way would be exhilarating for His people. Sometimes it appears, as God’s people, we seem to miss the end-time prophetic significance of Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles, since it is the first feast mentioned in Scripture celebrated by the world and God’s people after the return of Messiah, as described in Zechariah 14. It just seems fitting that, after the cleansing of God’s earthly temple in ancient days, as well as the prophesied, imminent cleansing of God’s Holy Place by Messiah Yeshua in these last days, the first thing His people celebrate is Sukkot-The Feast of Tabernacles, long overdue and long anticipated. “ To Chanukah or not to . . .” ? We do . . . this is some of the reason why . . . Shalom – J&R