I’ve always wondered what Hanukkah was about and why people celebrate it. I’ve also wondered if it was bad if Christians were celebrating Hanukkah along with Christmas. This blog tells you what I found through my research.
Should Christians celebrate Hanukkah? It is not wrong for a Christian to celebrate Hanukkah. The Jews celebrate the holiday as a reminder of the victory God brought to them after a time of severe oppression. They also celebrate His provision of oil for the menorah after the rededication of the temple in 164 BC. God did not institute Hanukkah in the Mosaic law and thus no one is required to celebrate it.
The question is not whether Christians should celebrate Hanukkah but whether there is any reason for a Christian to celebrate Hanukkah.
What Is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is an annual 8-day celebration of the Jews honoring the dedication of the temple and the miracle of the oil in 164 BC, on the 25th day of Kislev in the Jewish calendar.
On the Georgian calendar, Hanukkah usually falls somewhere in either November or December. In 2021, Hanukkah will begin at sundown on November 28th and will end at sundown on December 6th.
Hanukkah is also referred to as the Feast of Dedication or the Festival of Lights, as it celebrates both the rededication of the Jewish temple and the lighting of the menorah lampstand.
History Of Hanukkah
During the reign of Alexander the Great from 336 to 323 BC, the Jews were allowed to serve the one true living God according to His laws and commands. However, due to the invasion of Greeks with Alexander’s reign, many of the Jews converted to Hellenistic culture, traditions, language, and dress.
Several years after Alexander the Great had reigned over the land of Judah, another leader rose into power named Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Antiochus IV was cruel and despised the Jews. He began oppressing them severely by making their temple unholy. He placed a Hellenistic priest in the Jewish temple, which was dishonoring to God and the Mosaic law.
He also massacred many Jews, prohibited Jews from practicing their faith, and required pig sacrifices on the altar at the temple, which is a non-kosher animal in Jewish culture as it is considered unclean to them.
During this time, a rebellion was formed out of a small group of Jews who rose to fight against Antiochus. This group was led by Mattathias Maccabee and his son, Judah Maccabee.
Despite Antiochus’s great army, the Maccabees were able to drive all of the foreign armies from their land and reclaim Jerusalem in December 164 BC.
After this, the Maccabees purified the temple and dedicated it back to the one true living God in the month of Kislev on the 25th day of the month.
When it was time to relight the menorah lampstand, they searched the ruins of the temple and found only one day’s worth of oil that had the pure seal of the high priest. That small jar of oil burned for eight days until more oil could be provided.
Because God miraculously provided oil for those eight days to keep the lampstand burning in the Jewish temple, the Jews observe Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, as a way to honor and celebrate this victory God gave the Maccabees and His provision of the oil.
Is Hanukkah In The Bible?
In the Bible, Jesus is recorded to have gone to the Feast of Dedication at the temple in Jerusalem during winter. This is the same festival that is now known today as Hanukkah.
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 NKJV
During this scene in the Bible, Jesus starts to share that He and God the Father are one, thus claiming to be God. The Jews, considering this to be blasphemy, pick up stones to try to stone Him, but He escapes from them.
Seeing Jesus at the temple during the Feast of Dedication shows that this holiday was part of Jewish culture. Jesus partook in it as a Jew, so it is not unbiblical to celebrate it. However, this is the only time in the Bible that the Feast of Dedication is mentioned.
This is because Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, was not instituted by God as part of the Mosaic Law. Thus, it is not required to be celebrated by God.
Christians do not need to participate in Jewish holidays because we are no longer under the law but can live freely in Jesus Christ.
Christians can look at the Feast of Dedication as a reminder to also celebrate God’s protection over those who call upon His name.
We can also be reminded that He gives victory to those who are faithful to worship only Him and that He hears our cries when we go through suffering and persecution.
We must be careful not to fall into the trap of legalism. As Christians and even for Messianic Jews who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, it is wise to be cautious about how much we participate with culture. However, it is not unbiblical to celebrate the victory and provision God has given to His people.
Jesus: The Light of the World
Hanukkah is also considered to be the Festival of Lights. During this holiday, Jews all over Israel and in other parts of the world will light menorahs at night in their houses, as well as their synagogues. Tiny flames of light can be seen everywhere.
Curiously, other cultures and regions of the world also have their own Festivals of Lights. These are each celebrated in different ways, and all have an underlying significance to their culture and gods.
As a Christian, it is important to never get caught up in culture or tradition. Rather, we should be looking for opportunities to share who Jesus is and what He has done for us with others during festivals like Hanukkah.
During Hanukkah, we are reminded that Jesus is the Light of the world who overcame the darkness. Through His death and resurrection, He defeated the enemy who once had reign over you.
Now, if you have confessed your sins, repented, and placed all of your trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are His temple and He lives inside of you.
As the temple of the Lord, you now have His Light in you, and every day you can celebrate the victory He won over sin and death.
If you want to celebrate Hanukkah, remember that the Lord Jesus Christ lives in you and that His light dispels all darkness in every corner of your life.
As Christians, we are not obligated to celebrate any Jewish festivals because we are not under Jewish law. In Christ, you and I have been set free for His purposes.
You can also celebrate the good news that God provided His one and only Son Jesus to die in your place so that you can now live in victory. He drove out all of your enemies, sin, death, and the devil so that you no longer need to live under darkness and oppression.
You can also celebrate how the Lord provides the daily oil of intimacy through the Holy Spirit and that it never runs out.
If you abide in Christ, you will always keep your lamp burning and He will shine through you into the lives of others.