From Hanukkah to Christmas

Menorah

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 click here

Valediction

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14 comments

  1. Wonderful article! Thank you for showing the “Red Thread” that is woven between the Old & New Testament to bring out all together! Christ Jesus!

    “The Lord continue to bless you and keep you. The Lord turn His face toward you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”

  2. […] I heard the bells on Christmas day Their old familiar carols play And mild and sweet their songs repeat Of peace on earth good will to men And the bells are ringing (peace on earth) Like a choir they’re singing (peace on earth) In my heart I hear them (peace on earth) Peace on earth, good will to men And in despair I bowed my head There is no peace on earth I said For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men But the bells are ringing (peace on earth) Like a choir singing (peace on earth) Does anybody hear them? (peace on earth) Peace on earth, good will to men Then rang the bells more loud and deep God is not dead, nor does he sleep (peace on earth, peace on earth) The wrong shall fail, the right prevail With peace on earth, good will to men Then ringing singing on its way The world revolved from night to day A voice, a chime, a chant sublime Of peace on earth, good will to men And the bells they’re ringing (peace on earth) Like a choir they’re singing (peace on earth) And with our hearts we’ll hear them (peace on earth) Peace on earth, good will to men Do you hear the bells they’re ringing? (peace on earth) The life the angels singing (peace on earth) Open up your heart and hear them (peace on earth) Peace on earth, good will to men Peace on earth, peace on earth Peace on earth, Good will to men To start at the beginning of this Advent/Christmas series, click here […]

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