This is a rare and special year. The first day of Hanukkah is also Christmas Day!
Think of it. On the very day the dedication of the Temple is celebrated, we will also celebrate the birth of the Temple of God, whose name was Jesus. Every aspect of the Temple is fulfilled in Him. He is the brazen altar of sacrifice, the cleansing living water, the bread of life, the light of the world, and the fragrant offering and aroma to God – all represented as indispensable parts of Temple worship. His once-for-all sacrifice caused the veil of the Temple to be torn in two from top to bottom so that we, through His blood, may now draw near to God in full assurance of faith (Hebrews 10:19-25). Jesus prophesied to His enemies, “Destroy this Temple (meaning His body) and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:18-19)
So, what is Hanukkah? First, it is the Hebrew word for dedication. (John 10 records Jesus’ participation in this eight-day Feast of Dedication.) During the Maccabees’ time (in the mid 160’s BCE) the Temple in Jerusalem was horrifically desecrated by Antiochus IV. After a successful revolt against the Seleucids,
the Jews cleansed and rededicated the Temple on the 25th day of Kislev, which is usually in our month of December. (Many believe that the date of December 25 is derived from this holy day of temple dedication, meaning that many believed Jesus was born on the day of dedication!) As part of the temple rededication, a makeshift menorah was devised to illumine the Holy Place because the original had been destroyed. Only one vial of the sacred, pure oil was found to light that menorah. Miraculously, the one vial lasted eight days until more oil could be produced. Hanukkah, therefore, is also called the Festival of Lights during which one candle per day of a special menorah with eight candles, representing the eight days, is lit in remembrance of the miracle.
So, this year, the first day of the Feast of Dedication (of the Holy Temple), which is also called the Festival of Lights (illuminating the Holy Place of the Temple) , falls on the same day that believers in Yeshua celebrate the Holy Night when the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest!” What a beautiful season to remember and worship the Lord!
In these dark times, O how we need the Light of the World, the “Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” And O how the world needs the followers of Messiah to dedicate themselves and live as Kingdom citizens.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ … To the extent that you did it, even to the least of my brothers, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)
Every year, December 25 comes right after the darkest day of the year, aka the winter solstice. And every year, just as there is a glimmer of increasing light in the form of longer days, we get to rededicate the temples of our own bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) to the Light of the World who came to lead and empower us to give glory to God with every attitude, thought, word, and action.
“Let your light so shine before men that they may
see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) “Come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.” (from the hymn, Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne by E. S. Elliot)