Friday, December 16, 2011

Why Do I As A Christian Celebrate Hanukkah?

 This year my family is excited to be celebrating The Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah. I have to say that it still amazes me that after many years of celebrating Hanukkah is the reaction it invokes from other Believers. When I tell others that we celebrate Hanukkah, people are usually surprised and ask if I’ve converted to Judaism, or ask if I don’t believe that Yeshua/ Jesus is God and died for my sins.

The truth is that I/we do believe that Yeshua/Jesus died for our sins, and fulfilled all the law; But He did not come to make the Old Testament irrelevant. The Festival of Lights is celebrating the miracle of a small amount of oil that lasted eight days. What an amazing time of the year to remember the great miracle that God has done for us, by giving us new light and new life through Yeshua/Jesus.

I don't celebrate Christmas. Yes, you heard me right. Instead we have chosen as a family to celebrate Hanukkah(or Chanukah). Yeshua/Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, and that is a good enough reason for our family to as well! This festival was important to our Messiah, since He was at the temple at the time of the feast.

John 10:22-24

Jesus at the Festival of Dedication
 22 The time came for the Festival of Dedication[a] in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple, walking in the covered porch named for Solomon. 24 The Jewish opposition circled around him and asked, “How long will you test our patience? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

On another occasion, He said,

Matthew 5:16

16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven. 
Hanukkah means “dedication” it is an 8-day celebration beginning on the 25th day of Kislev that celebrates much faith in God. Dedication of the temple in Jerusalem after the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks.  The miracle of oil, which is described in A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays.
When the Jews cleaned out the temple idols, they found only one small cruse of oil with only enough oil for one day to light their holy lamps. They decided to light the menorah (the temple candelabra) even with the small amount of oil. To everyone’s amazement, the menorah miraculously burned for eight days until new oil was available!”
At our home, we decorate a little. As a family each night we read scriptures and then we light the Channukia and use the “Servant Candle”or “Shamash” to light the others. We read the Hanukkah story and discuss the price that disciples who followed God full heartily had paid to uphold and guard the ways of the Torah throughout time. We then have a small gift for the kids to open. Some families do a gift every night for 8 days of Hanukkah or may only do 1 gift. We do what ever the Lord provides. This year we have 5 gifts. One of them being a larger gift. We don't make gift giving the highlight of the celebration. We don't want Hanukkah to be a replacement of Christmas.
Hanukkah is celebrated by retelling the Hanukkah story (story of the Maccabees), lighting oof the Channukia and playing the game of dreidel. The festival does not traditionally have gifts associated with it. Through out the years gifts have been given during this time.
It is a tradition to eat foods that are fried in oil or made with oil during Chanukah, such as latkes ( potato pancakes), soofganiot (jam-filled donuts), and loukomades (fried dough balls with honey) The fried food signifies the miracle of the little oil that lit the menorah for the 8 days.

The servant candle or Shamash lighting all the other candles is a picture of Yeshua’s light shining in all believers. Yeshua told His disciples:

John 8:12

Jesus continues to teach in the temple
12 Jesus spoke to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

The celebration of Chanukah is relevant and important for all believers. It is the story of zeal for Torah, devotion to God's commandments, and the will to stand up for what is right and holy. It is the story of  re-dedication to God.

Where Can I Learn More about Celebrating Hanukkah as a Christian? Here are just a few resources:

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