For the past few years, a dear friend of mine began to share information with me about the biblical feasts we are to observe as Christians. Anytime I am introduced to something new pertaining to the scriptures, I research to support the claim. We naturally follow the traditions and holidays that are practiced by our families and accepted by society. However, when you ask God to open your heart and ask for understanding, you will receive valuable insight on ways to incorporate and celebrate traditions that are holy and acceptable unto him.
With that being said, let us discuss Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication / the Feast of Lights. Just as many Christian believers, I thought Hanukkah was a Jewish holiday with no true significance to my Christian faith (Oh my goodness, was I WRONG). The origin of Hanukkah is from the Hebrew word ḥănukkāh, which means, “dedication.” Hence, Hanukkah, is the Feast of Dedication that celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after a revolt instituted by Judas Maccabaeus that drove out the Greek-Syrian rulers to commemorate the cleansing of the Temple from their defiled pollutions (Greek god idols, pigs blood, etc). Judas Maccabaeus rose and successfully took on a mission to uproot and destroy the ungodly acts from the land of Israel.
Then all the people fell upon their faces, worshipping and praising the God of heaven, who had given them good success. And so they kept the dedication of the altar eight days and offered burnt offerings with gladness, and sacrificed the sacrifice of deliverance and praise.1 Maccabees 4:55-56
The Feast of Dedication can be celebrated anywhere, with the lighting of lamps (menorah) as a prominent feature. During the rededication, the Israelites only had enough olive oil to light the lamps for one night. God honored their consecration and allowed the flame to burn for eight days off one day’s worth of oil. My God, what a mighty miracle. Let me quickly insert, “We serve a God of provision!”
Over the past week, I’ve been sharing with friends the reason why my family is observing the Feast of Dedication. Their initial shock fuel the response, “but you’re not Jewish.” Ha, just the response I was looking for! Because it provided me with the opportunity to share my perspective.
“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.”John 10:22-23
John 10:22-23 gives us a glimpse of Jesus observing the Feast of Dedication. I find it vitally important to pay attention to Jesus revealing himself as the Messiah and the safety he provides. Throughout biblical history, the Israelites were overtaken by enemies who had no problem defiling them as people as well as their holy Temples. In John 10:24-39, Jesus made it very clear he was the Good Shepherd who gives eternal life to those who dedicate themselves to him and return they will not be snatched from the Father’s hand. I literally took Jesus at his word when he stated, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Yes, Jesus made this statement during the Passover meal with his disciples. However, I literally apply this command to every biblical mandate and observance. My prayer is always, “Jesus, help me to see you in everything I do that brings honor to your sacrifices.” I believe that Jesus’s statement goes beyond our participation in communion and should spill over into every aspect of our lives.
The Feast of Dedication reminds me of what Jesus has done for all of us. Just as Judas Maccabaeus led the revolt to uproot and destroy the defiling ungodly acts from the Temple, Jesus has done the same for us. He offered himself as a living sacrifice, taking on our sins, to reconcile us with God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Jesus’s consecration (Hebrew 10:20) is the reason why my family and I will observe the Feast of Dedication. Tonight, as we light our first candle on the menorah, we will sing praises to Jesus honoring him for providing a way for us to uproot and destroy ungodly acts from our lives. We will honor the Feast of Lights because God has made provision through his son Jesus to be the light of the world as well as the light in our lives (John 8:12). The eternal flame of Jesus’s light will always stay lit; He brings God’s presence, protection, and guidance. We will celebrate because our bodies are a temple of God’s Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19); and we will commemorate Jesus cleansing us. We will continuously rededicate ourselves back to God in order not to violate his standards for living. Lastly, we will celebrate and observe Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication / Feast of Lights because we will do it in honor and in remembrance of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ!
Whether you choose to observe the Feast of Dedication or not, ask yourself, “Is Jesus the light of my world?”
For historical background I encourage you to read 1 & 2 MaccabeesShatoya Aylor, Virtuously Unveiled