My family and I celebrate Hanukkah. By that I do NOT mean that we put up a "Hanukkah Bush" and place presents under it, or that we give our children a gift once a day for eight days, or that we even light a menorah in memory of oil lasting for eight days (which may not even be a true historical occurence). What I mean is that we remember (during this time of the year) the story of 1 Maccabees 1-4. It's a beautiful story; a historic account of how many people in Israel lost their lives for holding fast to Yahweh's law. It is also a record of how a "broken" temple, and temple of Yahweh that had been desecrated, was eventually taken back for the purposes of Yahweh and dedicated to the service of Yahweh. It's truly an amazing story; one of my favorites.
Many people do not know that you can find a brief mention of Hanukkah in John 10:22 under the name Feast of Dedication. The word dedication in the Hebrew language means Hanukkah (it is actually #2597 in Strong's Exhuastive Concordance). Therefore when I mention or anyone else mentions Hanukkah, don't let it throw you. Don't think that we are talking about some kind of mystical thing or celebration. It is simply a word that means dedication, and dedicate to Yahweh the Israelites in 1 Maccabees 4 did. We learn from John 10:22 that this was a feast celebrated in Jerusalem during the time of Yeshua by the Israelites; we also learn it was celebrated in winter.
Some people object to the celebration of Hanukkah because it is not commanded by Yahweh in the Torah (law). This objection stems from two problematic paradigms. One, my family and I, nor anyone else I know that celebrates the feast, believes it is commanded. We see it as a custom in Israel; something that is optional. Two, Yahweh does not condemn festivals that are instituted for reasons other than paganism or mixing evil with good, etc. For example, the Judahites in Esther's day instituted Purim (Esther 9:17-26); it was a custom in Israel for the people to mourn the death of Jephthah's dauther four days a year (Judges 11:39-40); the Israelites in 2 Chronicles 30 added an additional 7 days to the Feast of Unleavened Bread making the feast last 14 days instead of the commanded 7. Were these institutions sinful? Were they a violation of the commandments of Yahweh? Absolutely not. Are they commanded? Absolutely not. One can choose to celebrate these type things or not; they are a matter of liberty similar to the drinking of wine or eating of meat (Romans 14).
When I read the account of the Hanukkah institution in 1 Maccabees, it just makes me want to remember the feast as something special. I can't help but get emotional when I read the text. I hope you will take the time to go and read it for yourself.
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Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.