This evening begins the holiday of Hanukkah. May you have a very blessed Festival of Lights! Recently, Baruch wrote a brief article concerning Hanukkah and I thought I’d share it with you here. Blessings!
Chanukah, Festival of Lights
The Hebrew word Chanukah relates to dedication, as the Temple was rededicated after the sacrilege which Antiochus Epiphanes committed in approximately 167 BC. However, because this festival relates to the miracle of oil, which allowed the Menorah to continue to be lit for eight days, it is also known as the Festival of Lights. Naturally, there was always a connection between the Menorah and Light.
In the Scriptures, light frequently is related to the Word of G-d. Scripture is G-d’s revelation to humanity and therefore one can anticipate a relationship between Chanukah and revelation. In other words, HaShem wanted to reveal a message to His people through the events of Chanukah. In fact, there are five truths that one can derive from Chanukah.
- Assimilation empowers the enemy: I am using the term assimilation to refer to believers moving away from the instructions of G-d and thinking and behaving like the world. It is very dangerous spiritually when one forsakes the thoughts of Messiah and desires the things of this world. This actually serves as an invitation to Satan and demonic influence to move within a person’s life. A practical way in which we can understand the outcome of this is found in the meaning of the word “Satan”. Satan means the adversary. Hence, when a believer sets his mind on something that does not relate to the will of G-d, he is actually inviting adversity to plague him. When the Greek Empire outlawed Torah observance, it weakened the Jewish people and they began to suffer. G-d’s presence and power lessened among them. When Divine influence is less, Satanic influence increases.
- The Goal of the enemy is to destroy G-d’s people: Whereas G-d wants to bless people, Satan wants his adversity to bring destruction upon individuals. Satan knows very well that the Jewish people are foundational for the Kingdom of G-d to be established. He also knows that it will be only when Israel is in a proper spiritual condition that the Kingdom will come; hence Satan’s strategy is to corrupt people spiritually. Therefore he hates the Word of G-d. In contrast to this, John’s Gospel taught that the Word of G-d is light and it gives life. In one sense, the Word which John was speaking about is Yeshua. Satan hates everything connected to Yeshua. Whereas Yeshua wants people to have life abundantly, Satan rejoices in the physical pain and the spiritual destruction of the individual. Satan’s chief goal is the eternal damnation of mankind.
- True repentance rejects Satanic activity: The miracle of Chanukah, first and foremost, was the victory of the Jewish people over the mighty and numerous Greek army. During Chanukah, we add to the Amida prayer— “You delivered the mighty ones into the hand of the weak ones, and the many into the hand of the few, and the impure ones into the hand of the pure ones, and the wicked ones into the hand of the righteous ones, and sinners into the hand of those who engage in Your Torah.” The vast majority of Israel accepted assimilation and departed from the Word of G-d. It was only because of a small minority who acted without personal concern, denying themselves and standing for the truth of G-d, which led G-d’s presence and power to return to Israel. Satanic activity is all around us and we must reject it. How does one resist? By engaging in the study of Scripture and responding with obedience to what one learns.
- Victory over the enemy is for the purpose of restoration: HaShem used the faithful few to defeat the enemy. This victory came with an expectation that those whom received the victory would use the deliverance to restore Israel to the purposes and plans of G-d. The primary outcome of this victory was worship. Proper worship brings about many positives changes, both individually and nationally. All of these changes have something in common: they are all rooted in the will of G-d. In other words, worship brings about an anointing upon the individual in order to equip the believer to serve G-d. Worship brings the power of G-d to transform the person. This transformed person becomes a vessel of G-d’s glory. In essence, this is what Chanukah reveals, the lighting of the Menorah and the manifestation of its light reminds the people of the Glory of G-d that dwells with them.
- There is a connection between the manifestation of G-d’s glory and the Kingdom of G-d: In the book of Zechariah and chapter 14, there is a prophecy concerning the Kingdom. One of the primary characteristics of the Kingdom according to Zechariah is light. It is for this reason that there is a strong relationship between Chanukah and the Kingdom. John’s Gospel (see chapter 10) shows a clear connection between Messiah and this festival. It is very significant that in this passage Yeshua is pacing back and forth in Solomon’s hall (a location very close to the Holy of Holies). This foreshadows the end of this age, when Messiah will return and enter into the Holy of Holies and inaugurate the Millennial Kingdom. Each Chanukah, one should remember the promise of the Kingdom which Isaiah stated, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the L-rd of Hosts, the whole world is full of His Glory!
May your observance of Chanukah bring you closer to the Kingdom perspective where your focus is not of the things of this world, but as Paul admonitions the believer, Set your mind on the things above where Messiah sits at the right hand of G-d (see Colossians 3:1-2)