28 Dec No Christmas Without Hanukkah?
I’m going to make a bold statement – without Hanukkah there would be no Christmas!
Hanukkah is not a major religious holiday. We eat fried food, we sing songs, play games and we remember. We remember the miracle of the oil. We celebrate the victory of the Jewish fighters over Antiochus of the Syrian-Greek empire. We remember that Antoichus wanted to destroy the Jewish people – he wanted us to be nothing!
The victory of Hanukkah is that we are able to worship God again with the rededication of the temple. The phrase, “nes gadol haya sham,” meaning “a great miracle happened there” describes the preservation of the Jewish people. If Antiochus had won, the Jewish people would have been eliminated. The Messiah, the Saviour of the chosen people and of the world, would not have been born into our culture. God preserved His people through his saving power on Hanukkah so Messiah could enter the world as a meek child of Abraham.
On Hanukkah, we celebrate the miracle of the light. To rededicate the temple, the Maccabees needed fresh oil to burn the sacred flame. They only had enough for one day, but the oil burned for eight! Every night of Hanukkah, we burn one more candle plus the shamash (servant candle) on the menorah to celebrate the miracle of the light. In the book of John while Jesus was in the temple, he declared: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).
Jesus is our shamash – our servant. He lights our way and His Holy Spirit gives us this light so we can shine in this dark world. A lot of devastating, dark things have happened in 2017. We may feel like we don’t have enough “oil” to preserve us, but God will continue to provide and preserve as He always has.
The miracle of preservation made Christmas possible, and the miracle of the light reminds us of who Jesus is. On Christmas, we remember the birth of Immanuel, God with us. God lived in our broken world. On Hanukkah, God was present with His people as well. God preserved His people for me and for you.
These two holidays ultimately point to Immanuel, Yeshua, the Messiah. Praise God for this season!
Written by Ketzia Barron, Intern for Jews for Jesus Canada.