Get ready for a festive revelation that will add a vibrant twist to your holiday season! While Hanukkah is often seen as a Jewish celebration, did you know that its biblical roots are found in the New Testament? Yes, you heard it right, and the star of the Hanukkah show in the Bible is none other than Jesus himself.
Set the Festive Mood: Dive into the Hanukkah Celebration as You Explore the Article!
Hanukkah in the Gospel of John
The Gospel of John unfolds a hidden gem: “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter” (John 10:22). Surprise! The Hebrew word for “dedication” is none other than Hanukkah. This snippet unveils a fascinating truth—Hanukkah is not confined to the Old Testament but beautifully weaves its way into the New.
The First Hanukkah: A Story of Resilience
The inaugural Hanukkah unfolded during a dark chapter in Israel’s history when the very “light” of God’s presence among His people faced the threat of extinction. The stage was set with Alexander the Great’s conquests, granting religious freedom until Antiochus Epiphanes took the reins, oppressing the Jewish people with cruelty.
Antiochus outlawed Jewish rites, massacred those who resisted, and even defiled the Holy Temple with unclean sacrifices. The brave Maccabees, led by Matityahu and his son Judah, rose against the oppression in a miraculous guerilla warfare, driving out the foreign forces and reclaiming the Holy Temple.
The Miracle of Light: A Divine Spark
Enter the miraculous: As the Maccabees sought to relight the Temple Menorah, they found only a small jar of oil with the High Priest’s purity seal. Yet, this tiny jar defied logic, burning for eight days until a new supply of oil could be prepared. This miracle birthed the tradition of lighting candles for eight days in celebration of victory.
Hanukkah in the New Testament: A Prophetic Glimpse
Fast forward to the New Testament, specifically Matthew, where Jesus himself hints at the recurrence of Hanukkah-like events. While discussing the end of the age and His Second Coming, Jesus warns of a future Antichrist who will force assimilation and demand acknowledgment as a god. A chilling reminder of the tribulations to come.
In Matthew 24:20-21, Jesus says, “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.” A poignant connection to the historic Hanukkah and a timely call to prayer as we navigate through the darkness of our world.
A Call to Dedication: Insights from Ray Bentley
Renowned Senior Pastor Ray Bentley of Maranatha Chapel in San Diego, CA, echoes the call to rededication in these challenging times. In the face of a dark world squeezing believers to conform, a new remnant is rising—passionate and resilient. Bentley urges believers to re-dedicate, re-fine, and re-burn their hearts and lives for God.
So, dear readers, as you prepare to light up your holiday season, remember that Hanukkah isn’t just a historical celebration; it’s a vibrant thread in the Christian tapestry, reminding us to stand resilient, dedicate ourselves afresh, and shine brightly in the face of darkness. Let the joyous celebrations begin!
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Joshua Swanson is the Editor-in-Chief of Worship Leader. He's also the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Authentic Media, Worship Leader's parent company, and the former CEO and Co-founder of the creative agency GTMA. His proudest achievement is his marriage to Rachael Joy and partnering with her in founding New Hope Children. As a performer and speaker, he’s appeared on TV networks like ABC, NBC, Lifetime, and Hallmark. His companies have worked with major brands like Sprint, Pokemon Go (he was also in a Pokemon movie), Pepsi, The Latin Grammys, the Billboard Awards, Corona and over 75 national developers. He’s narrated over a hundred audiobooks and was awarded Best YA Voice twice. His companies have been Inc. 5000 three different times.