Did you ever wonder about the time period of history, often called the silent period, between what we know as the Old Testament and the New Testament. Often God does some of His greatest work during these times because it is unexpected. Of course the enemy is always at work to destroy what God has set in motion and Satan's work speaks loudly through tyranny and oppression. His goal is nothing short of crushing God's people and hindering the Salvation of souls.
Here is a positive note: in Jewish festival tradition and general story line, the saying goes, "they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat! Mazel Tov!" What you may not know is that without Hanukkah, Yeshua may have never been born because of the dark work of the enemy....But God...
During Old Testament times, the lampstand, called the menorah, was intended by Yahweh to be kept continually burning by the high priests for a people called Israel, who were to be set apart and Holy unto Him. But over and over again the people failed to be obedient and allowed themselves to be corrupted by the surrounding nations and cultures including practicing worship to Pagan gods. Eventually God removed His hand of protection, the light was extinguished and these people, after being continuously warned, were taken into captivity in Babylon. After the prophesied 70 years, Yahweh brought them back to their land and led them to rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem amongst heavy persecution. (Ezra and Nehemiah) Sadly, the kingdom would never fully recover.
Times Of The Maccabees
The celebreted Hanukkah story is not part of cannonized scripture, but a historical account written in the books of the Maccabees 1 and 2, that is part of the Apocrypha. On the timeline it is roughly 300 years before the birth of Christ. The world power of the time as well as the third notch of Nebuchadnezzar's prophetic dream statue (Daniel 2) was Greece.
The infamous tyrannical leader was Antiochas Epiphanes, who called himself so, believing himself to be "god incarnate." Many of the Jews gradually began to blend into Greek culture, compromising the word of God to the point of apostasy to avoid persecution. In our day we can observe the same as evil seems good and good seems evil to the general population and it becomes increasingly difficult to publicly worship God.
Eventually it became illegal to have and to study Yahweh's Word and followers were driven into hiding. Furthermore, the madman Ephiphanes set himself up to be worshiped in the Jewish temple as Zeus. This is common with tyranny and it has and will happen again throughout history as prophesied; an antiChrist figure sits on the throne making himself like God, demanding worship and allegiance.
But God... always has a remnant and a plan. During this particular time , there was a high priest named Mattathias who had a son called Judah. Along with others, they refused compliance with the plans of the tyrannical government that hindered their worship of God and they fought back. Eventually they got the temple back and by a great and mighty miracle of Yahweh, they lit the lampstand with merely one days worth of lamp oil and it burned continually for eight days straight which was enough time to produce more lamp oil. The temple was rededicated and the Way cleared yet again for the coming Messiah, Yeshua Ha Mashiach.
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 to remember the Hanukkah miracle, instead of six lights with one servant light. The servant light, called the Shamash, lights the other lights just as Yeshua gives us light. 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 251-13)
Now it was the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah recognized by Yeshua) in Jerusalem, And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch. ~John 10:22-23
"I have said these things to you so that, united with Me, you may have Shalom. In this world you will 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 (as compromising with the world) 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, 2020, 5781, begins Thursday, December 10 through Friday, December 18. Each day lights are kindled on the hanukkiah lighting first the shamash/servant candle and using it to light the far left candle on the first day. The second day, use the servant candle to light the far left candle and then the one next to it. Each following day light one more candle working from right to left allowing the candles to burn all the way down each night, finishing up on the eighth night.
Traditionally small gifts are exchanged each night. The Dreidel game is played. You can find the rules online. During the times of the Maccabes, the game was used as a cover to have secret Bible studies. Fried (oil) foods such as Latkes are eaten. Further recommended reading about Hanukkah: Day Of Atonement: A Novel Of The Maccabean Revolt by David DeSilva