As our Chanukah candles flickered and slowly burned themselves out last night,
I was filled with gratitude for their gentle light and beauty,
which points me to my Jesus who is the Light of the World.
The first time we celebrated Chanukah, three years ago,
as I studied and learned more about the festival,
I was most grateful to celebrate the fact that in this country
we still have religious liberty~the freedom to worship God
according to the dictates of our conscience~
(~or not~if one so chooses~!)
a liberty the Macabees fought and paid for dearly
back in the days of Antiochus IV.
(If you're unfamiliar with Chanukah,
it commemorates actual events in the history of God's people which occured
between the Old and New Testaments, around 164 B.C.,
after the Greek Alexander the Great died
and before the Roman conquest...
and it is recorded mainly in the Talmud,
but also in historian Flavius Josephus' work,
Antiquities of the Jews, Book 12, Chapter 5,
as well as the Apocrapha books of the Macabees.
If you want to learn more, the juvenile literature department
of your local library is a great place to start!)
Last year, it was the miracles~
the mighty hand of God,
working on behalf of his obedient people~
that really captured my interest.
That a small band of guerilla warriors could effectively wrest back their beloved homeland
from the great and mighty armoured elephant armies of the Greeks,
and, while cleaning up their beloved temple find only one small flask of pure olive oil
that had not been destroyed during its three year occupation and desecration by the pagans,
and, that the oil which was sufficient for only one day continued to burn for eight days,
the amount of time required to secure a new supply of pure oil,
and, that the Temple was rededicated to the service of the one true God
on the exact same date (Kislev 25th) it had been desecrated three years earlier...
some may consider it coincidence...
but I believe that 'coincidence is simply God's way of remaining anonymous.'
And this year?
It is the oil...the flame...the light.
Jesus is the light!
It delights me to read that Jesus kept Chanukah:
"And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication,
and it was winter.
And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch."
"The law did not require Jews to be at the Temple in Jerusalem, as this was not one of the pilgrimage festivals. Every one observed it in his own place, not as a holy time. Jesus was there that He might improve those eight days of holiday for good purpose.
"Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch when the Sadduciens asked him "How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ tell us." They pretended to want to know the truth, as if they were ready to embrace it; but it was not their intention.
"Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (John 10:25-27)
"He had told them, and they believed not; why then should they be told again, merely to gratify their curiosity?...
"Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus and departed, and did hide himself from them. (John 12:35-36)...
"Many believe that our Messiah, the 'light of the world,' was conceived on the festival of lights--Hanukkah. The Bible does not specifically say the date of Jesus' birth. It was not during the winter months because the sheep were in the pasture (Luke 2:8). A study of the time of the conception of John the Baptist reveals he was conceived about Sivan 30, the eleventh week (Luke 1:8-13, 24). Adding forty weeks, for a normal pregnancy reveals that John the Baptist was born on or about Passover (Nisan 14). Six months after John's conception, Mary conceived Jesus (Luke 1:26-33); therefore Jesus would have been conceived six months after Sivan 30 in the month of Kislev--Hanukkah. Was the 'light of the world,' conceived on the festival of lights?
"Starting at Hanukah, which begins on Kislev 25 and continues for eight days, and counting through the nine months of Mary's pregnancy, one arrives at the approximate time of the birth of Jesus at the Festival of Tabernacles...
"Many scholars believe Jesus was born during the Feast of Tabernacles. Matthew Henry states:
It is supposed by many that our blessed Saviour was born much about the time of this holiday; then He left his mansions of light above to tabernacle among us (John 1:14), and he dwelt in booths. And the worship of God under the New Testament is prophesied of under the notion of keeping the feast of tabernacles, Zec. 14:16. For, [1.] The gospel of Christ teaches us to dwell in tabernacles, to sit loose to this world, as those that have here no continuing city, but by faith, and hope and holy contempt of present things, to go out to Christ without the camp, Heb. 13:13, 14."
(quotes above from
by Robin Sampson & Linda Pierce)
Interesting ideas...fascinating to study in depth for onesself.
My next Chanukah related study will be to understand the Tabernacle/Temple
and all its construction details, its furnishings, and its ceremonies.
All point to Jesus!!
Blessings to each of you this Season...
and may you always remember
the Reason for the celebration!