Hanukkah, Dedication, Festival of Lights
Did you ever wonder about the time period of history between what we know as the Old Testament and the New Testament that is often labeled as the silent period? Well I am here to tell you that it was anything but silent and we know that God is always at work. The enemy is also always at work to destroy what God has set in motion, first to prevent the coming of Messiah (first and second comings) and to blind people to His identity. The traditional Jewish saying about all of the festivals is, "they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat." That is the general story line. Mazel Tov!
The truth is that without Hanukkah, Yeshua would never have been born and the only mention of the festival being celebrated in the Bible is by Yeshua himself (John 10:22-23), at the Feast of Dedication.
In Old Testament times, the lampstand, called the menorah, was intended by Adonai to be kept continually burning by the priests for a people, called Israel, who were to be set apart and Holy unto the Lord. But over and over again these people were disobedient and allowed themselves to be corrupted by the surrounding nations and cultures including their Pagan gods. Eventually God removed His protection, the light was extinguished and these people, after being continually warned, were taken into captivity in Babylon. After the prophesied 70 years, Adonai brought them back to their land and led them to rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem amongst heavy persecution. (Ezra and Nehemiah)
The celebrated Hanukkah story is not part of canonized scripture, but a historical account written in the books of the Maccabees 1&2, that is part of what is called the Apocrypha. On the timeline it is roughly 300 years before the birth of Christ. The world power of the time and the third notch of Nebuchadnezzar's dream statue (Daniel 2) was Greece. The infamous leader was Antiochas Epiphanes, the name meaning "god incarnate" which gives us a clue to his tyrannical rule. Many of the Jews gradually began to blend into Greek culture, again compromising the Word of God and as apostasy increases, even as we can observe in modern times, good begins to seem evil, and evil begins to seem good. The enemy's plan of deception always leads to chaos and confusion.
Eventually it became illegal to have and to study Yahweh's Word and those who did so were persecuted driving them into secrecy. Also prophesied by Daniel, Antiochus, called Epimanes (madman), desecrated the temple by setting up an idol of the Greek god Zeus and sacrificing a pig to him on the alter. This event also foreshadows the destruction of the second temple and city of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Holocaust of World War II as well as what will happen in the End Times with the AntiChrist during the Great Tribulation. (Revelation) There is nothing new under the sun.
"But God," (my favorite words), had a remnant and a plan, as He always does. The High Priest, Mattathias and his son, Judah, called Maccabee (the hammer), along with others who refused participation with the evil plans of the enemy, fought back. They eventually took the city and the temple back, and by a great miracle from Yahweh, lit the lampstand for the eight days it would take to produce sufficient lamp oil, with merely one day's worth of oil. The temple was re-dedicated and the Way cleared yet again for the coming of Messiah.
Light of the World
The Hanukkah lampstand, called a hanukkiah, is different from a menorah in that it has eight lights with one servant light instead of seven lights with one servant light. The eight lights represent the miracle of the story. The servant light which lights all of the other lights is called the Shamash, and for those of us who recognize the Light of the World as Yeshua, He freely gives His beloved and set apart remnant the oil and the fire of the Holy Spirit to brighten the world with truth in the midst of madness and deception. (Matthew 25:1-13)
"I have said these things to you so that, united with me, you may have Shalom. In the world you have tribulation. But be brave! I have conquered the world!" ~Yeshua, John 16:33
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." ~Yeshua, John 14:27
The eight day celebration commemorates the eight day miracle and this year 2018, 5779, begins Sunday, December 2 through Monday, December 10. Each day lights are kindled with the Shamash/light beginning at the far left the first day. (the shamash and first light) The second day, using the Shamash kindle the first and second from right to left, the third day first, second and third and so on. After each lighting allow the candles to burn all the way down and start with new candles the next day.
Then there is the Dreidel game. During the times of the Maccabees, Jews played this game as a cover when they really were there to study scripture which was illegal. The dreidel is a top with four sides, each side with instructions symbolized by a Hebrew letter that as an acronym says, "a great miracle happened there (Jerusalem)". The fun is topped off with foods cooked in oil such as Latkes (similar to potato hash browns).
This is yet another awesome facet in the beautiful and complex stone called His Story (history). I have posted two of my hanukkiahs, one made with wire, beads and wooden dowels in a traditional shape and one less so of clay. It is custom that each person light his/her own hanukkiah at gatherings.
Further recommended reading on the story of Hanukkah-
Day of Atonement: A Novel of the Maccabean Revolt by David DeSilva
Further information on Hanukkah and other Feasts:
Enjoy the acapella singing of the Maccabeats: