The meaning of Hanukkah in the New Testament

From the roots, all the way to every stems of the tree of Judaism, there is something that can be learned.  From the stems of Judaism comes Messianic Judaism and Christianity, including a festival with only one Biblical reference.

“Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple” John 10:22a

Yeshua was at the temple during the Feast of Dedication. What is the Hebrew word for dedication? It is Hanukkah, or in Hebrew, חנכה.

So what is this festival about? It is not mentioned in the Tanakh (Old Testament) but it is about an event that took place in the “400 silent years” between the Tanakh and the New Covenant (New Testament). The whole story is about the purification of the Temple that was defiled by the Greeks during the occupation, and a family of priests that had enough guts to start a rebellion.

The rebellion lasted years but the poor, weak, occupied nation of Israel kick the mighty Greeks out of the country.  The temple was defiled due to sacrifices made by the Greeks it and needed to be purified.

Legend says that the oil for the lampstand was rare and they only had enough oil to last for one night.  It took eights for more oil to be processed.  The miracle was that the oil that should have only lasted one night but lasted eight nights.  Just enough time for the new oil to be produced.

Fast forward to Yeshua in the Temple.  Can you imagine being there? The energy there was probably amazing. Remember what these people celebrating? They were not only celebrating the miracle of the oil.  They were celebrating freedom from the previous oppressors, they were celebrating the reclaiming of the temple, the cleansing of the temple, and the lights being re-lit.

The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” – John 10:24

These disciples were asking Yeshua if He was the Messiah. Remember that these people have been oppressed by the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and in Yeshua’s lifetime, the Romans.  During the Roman occupation, the temple was also partly defiled due to Herod’s reign which was appointed by the Romans and the current High Priest was appointed by Herod.

They were not asking only if He was Messiah, but asking Him, “Hosanna”, which means, “Save Us” or “Deliver Us”.  For our benefit, He was not there to deliver us from the Romans, and not to set right the temple. He was there to allow a way for us to cleanse and rededicate our temple. He was there to cleanse our heart and put a light in us.

He was the light of the world (John 8:12), and He dwells within us.  Just like the Temple was cleaned, purified and put the light into it, this same thing has happened to us.  The symbolism is amazing.

“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” — Revelation 12:23

During this Hanukkah season, remember what He has done for us each time you light the lights of Hanukkah.

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