Tuesday December 4th: 26 Kislev
Today let’s address the issue of whether or not believers in Messiah should keep Hanukkah. Some would say that we shouldn’t because, it’s a Jewish holiday and is not biblically mandated. It is true that is not a holiday that is commanded in Scripture but was instituted by Judaism in commemoration of something that happened in Jewish history. Therefore, Scripture does not require us to observe the Feast of Hanukkah. However, it is also true that Jesus acknowledged it, at the very least, and used the celebration of Hanukkah to proclaim to the Jews who He was:
“Now it was the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.’” (John 10:22-25)
So, very clearly we see that Christ chose to be in the Temple at the time of Hanukkah and used this festival as the backdrop to make the claim, “I am the Messiah. And the things that I do should speak for themselves. It should be self-evident that I’m the Messiah.”
While this doesn’t equate to a command for us to keep Hanukkah, it certainly does make it clear that Jesus used Hanukkah to teach others about Himself and about His mission. Here is point: Why wouldn’t we want to observe a holiday that focuses on cleaning out the old and the profane from my life? Why wouldn’t we want to observe a holiday that calls upon us to purge from our lives those things that offend the Creator? Why wouldn’t we wish to acknowledge a celebration that focuses on rededication to God and to purity? Aren’t all of these things sensible in light of what Christ did for us? He made it possible for our temple – our body – once defiled and cut off from hope to be cleansed and a proper habitation for His presence.
Perhaps our approach to the issue should not be a question of whether we should or should not Hanukkah. Maybe our approach should be, we get to do it and choose to do it because of its message. We can express to all that our lives – our Temple – has been cleansed and rededicated as His Temple and, through us, the Light of the World has come that the darkness might be dispelled. Therefore, it is quite proper to embrace the the essence of what Hanukkah is all about. And so, we say, “Shalom! And Happy Hanukkah!”