The first time we see the word LIGHT in the Tanakh (Bible) is in the Book of Genesis...
“Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
God saw that the LIGHT was good.
Interestingly, this was also the very first time God called something GOOD.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a reminder of this battle between LIGHT and DARKNESS. In the midst of oppression, God provided freedom and a miracle to the Jewish people. All throughout history, the enemy has sought to thwart God’s GOOD plan, His plan for redemption and deliverance through the Messiah. During the Festival of Lights, we remember God’s goodness to His people, His children.
The Hanukkah story begins in an era where Judea was ruled by the Seleucid Empire of Syria. Keeping to the ways commanded by God, the Jewish priests in the temple performed their daily duties, following in the footsteps of their forefathers. However, in 175 BC, under the rule of Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, things began to change. To preserve his empire and garner loyalty from the Jews, he sought to convert them to his religion: Hellenism. To do this, he began to pass decrees that slowly outlawed the Jewish religion. Jews were unable to observe shabbat, study torah, and were forced to sacrifice unclean animals. In 168 B.C, Antiochus sent his soldiers to massacre thousands of Jews and desecrate their holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus.
In the midst of this, the Jewish priest Mattathias started a revolt, leading those who still held to their faith into the wilderness. After his passing, the fight was taken on by his son Judah Maccabee, whose name became Maccabeus or “the Hammer” in Hebrew. Through many battles and a dependence on the Lord, the “Maccabees” grew and slowly took back Judea and their temple.
Of course, to REDEDICATE the temple for Jewish worship, it needed to be cleansed from Hellenistic, pagan practices. In the temple, the menorah or lamp stand was to burn 24 hours a day, however the Maccabees could only find a small jar of oil that had remained pure and uncontaminated. Though there was only enough oil for a single day, it miraculously lasted for 8 days.
In the New Testament, Yeshua (Jesus) observed this winter holiday, as mentioned in the Book of John...
“At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Yeshua (Jesus) was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.”
Since creation, the enemy has tried to make it impossible for us to have a relationship with God.
We are reminded with Hanukkah that God always has a plan of redemption and deliverance, a plan to redeem us to himself through our Messiah, Yeshua.
He in the flesh became that LIGHT for us, a LIGHT in the darkness.
“Yeshua spoke to them again, saying ‘I am the light of the world, the one who follows me will no longer walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
LIGHT always wins as darkness has no power over light.
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
This year, as we enter this season of the Festival of Lights, let us hold fast to our hope in the midst of darkness: Yeshua, the light of the world.
Hanukkah begins on the 25th of Kislev, on Thursday, December 10th and will finish on December 18th. Join us this year in celebrating a holiday that Yeshua observed. Light some candles, eat some goodies made with oil, or play a game of dreidel with family and friends.