This festival in the Jewish calendar lasts eight days and falls during the month of December. It is called the Feast of Dedication or sometimes referred to as the Festival of Lights. It started over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea in the heart of modern day Israel.
During the 2nd century, the Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes (an oppressor and forerunner of the Anti-Christ as foretold in Daniel 11:21) attempted to force the Jewish people to assimilate into the Greek culture outlawing all Jewish religious observance. Eventually the Maccabees, a Jewish rebel army, defeated Antiochus’ armies and the Jewish people reclaimed their inheritance and restored their ways.
In December of 164 BC, the Jewish fighters made their way back into Jerusalem and found their Holy Temple had been defiled and desecrated by the foreign armies. The enemy had defiled the Holy Temple by offering a sow (pig) on the altar and raising a statue of Zeus in the Sanctuary.
As depicted in the First Book of Maccabees (a respected historical account of Jewish history found in the Apocrypha), a revolt was launched by the priest Mattathias and later led by his son Yehuda (Judas) Maccabee.Thus the work of cleansing the Temple of the pagan idols began and was followed by a rededication of the Temple of the Lord on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev.
A Miracle within a Miracle
When it came time to once again light the menorah, or lampstand, of the Lord in the Temple, there was only found one small jar of sacred oil for the burning of the fire in the lampstand. Miraculously, the small jar of oil burned for eight days, until a new supply of oil arrived. It was viewed as an authentic miracle! From then on, Jewish people everywhere have observed this holiday for eight days and nights in honor of the historic victory and the miracle of the ever-burning oil.
This is known as the miracle of Chanukah! This is the Festival of Lights which is now observed by the lighting of a special Chanukah menorah with eight branches (plus a “servant” candle), adding one new candle each night.
In the New Testament, you might recall the story of Jesus (Yeshua) , when He was at the Temple for the celebration. “At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon” (John 10:22-23). I personally love celebrating Chanukah knowing that my Messiah Jesus honored his Jewish traditions during his physical time on earth! I have personally observed this Festival in my own home over many years. Why shouldn’t we?
Our Applications in Prayer
In our global Prayer Storm this week, let’s remember Chanukah and let’s call forth for the “Light of the World” to shine in each of our homes. Let’s also call forth the multiplication of oil in our own lives. It is a time to recall God’s miraculous provision in history past knowing we can rely on Him in our own lives, families, ministries and congregations for His unlimited supply today! Let’s observe the Feast of Lights as Jesus did and call forth His abundant supply for our needs today! Amen and Amen!
James W. Goll