It may come as a surprise to some of you that the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is actually linked to the Christian celebration of Christmas, but not in any obvious sense. We first need to understand some of the history of each to get to the place where we see the connection, so let’s start there.
About 170 years before the birth of Christ, a Seleucid king from the Greek empire, Antiochus the IV, began persecuting the Jews. In fact, he desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs there. A big no-no on both accounts. The Jews therefore mounted a revolt and within a few years they had ousted the pagan Greeks from the Temple Mount. Then a priest named Judah ordered that the Temple be cleansed and a new altar to Yahweh be erected along with new clean instruments to carry out the Mosaic law and sacrifices. The new menorah being placed in the Temple needed extra virgin olive oil to burn all night, every night. They only had one flask of the kosher oil, but they needed a lot more. However there was none to be found, as it took 8 days in order for the priest to declare the oil kosher. Miraculously, that flask of oil, enough for one night, lasted for all 8 nights! And this is the roots of the celebration of lights, or Hanukkah.
In Genesis 1:1, the first 4 words are “In the beginning, God”. And as we look 165 years after the miracle of Hanukkah, we see another miracle. The birth of a baby boy to a virgin woman. And so we read in John 1:1, these words “In the beginning, God” yet again. You see, in Genesis, God created the world as He wanted it. But our free will, our own ability to choose for ourselves, and our desire to sin, broke our relationship with God. And this was not His desire but also it was not a surprise to God. He knew some one turn away from their own Creator. But He had a plan, a plan to save us from ourselves. And so as we see God creating the world the way He wanted it in Genesis, we see Him creating a way for us to get back into relationship with Him, as He originally desired, in Jesus. God has a mysterious presence. He is one God, in three persons. This mystery is called the Trinity. And as such, we see God, or Yahweh or Jehovah, as the master architect. And we see the Word, or the one who carries out the plans for the architect, and He fulfills all the thoughts, ideas and activities of God. His earthly name is Jesus. And He came to this dark planet, in order to bring forth light. To be a beacon in the night. To be the safe harbor and lighthouse in the midst of the tumultuous seas.
His presence on earth brings forth light. It righted the relationship between God and man. It cleansed the Temple of legalism and transactional religion. He was born, lived a perfect life, and despite being wrongly killed, His light rose from the grave and was not snuffed out. His light still miraculously shines, guiding our path. He is the fulfillment of God’s desire to be with His creation. And this is why we celebrate His birth.
So during this season, look for the light in your life. If you don’t see it, ask God to show it to you. Jesus is always here for you and me, we only need to seek Him, and keep Him as our guiding light.
Next up in the Advent/Christmas series: https://bradflack.com/2018/11/27/the-wise-men-and-their-gifts/