First, what is Hanukkah?
Well here is a super short summary. Way back when, when Israel was ruled by another nation, that nation’s rulers decided to force Jews to follow their ways with, among other things, eating pork. One Jewish man, and his sons, stood up and said, “No!”. They succeeded in throwing off the oppressors for a while. They regained control of the Temple in Jerusalem, sanctified it, and started worship there again. There is a tradition about a miracle taking place for eight days during the Temple sanctification, and from that comes the eight days of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is celebrating the restoration of the Temple back then (it’s really not about the defeat of the oppressing nation).
That’s its history. But what about today?
I’ve heard many compare Hanukkah to Christmas. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Hanukkah is the antithesis of Christmas. Hanukkah is about not assimilating into the world around us. Christmas is, well, the opposite.
Hanukkah is a time to question our lives in view of removing anything that does not please our Lord and Savior, Yeshua (Jesus).
Hanukkah is about rededicating our lives to obeying our father, Yehovah (the LORD). Even if we have to go against the crowd. That man and his sons way back when stood up against both the oppressing nation and against their fellow Jews who were all for what the oppressor wanted. Following God is not always (or not usually) going along with the crowd. It may ‘cost’ something, such as giving up a tradition dear to us.
Here are a couple other tidbits about Hanukkah.
Hanukkah can truly be called a “Jewish Feast.” The other feasts, Passover, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles, and even the Sabbath, are called by God, “His appointed times.” (See beginning of Leviticus 23). But Hanukkah was started by Jews to remember something good that happened: people turned back to following God as He wanted.
Yeshua (Jesus) likely observed Hanukkah. In the book of John 10:22, we see Yeshua being at the Temple during the feast of dedication. That’s another word for Hanukkah: feast of Dedication.
Hanukkah shows us another thing. Yehovah (the LORD) leaves us the opportunity to make our own traditions and holidays, as long as they glorify Him, and don’t include the ways of the nations.
So, for the next week, be thinking about your life and your traditions. Is there any place where something needs to be cleaned out and your life rededicated to God? It’s supposed to be a joyous time, and it is a joy when we find that our God loves us so much that He will show us how to make our lives more pleasing to Him!
Shalom! – Yosef