Who First Mentioned Hanukkah in the Bible?
Several years ago, Pastor Larry was asked by a rabbi to come and teach at their Hanukkah service. They were having a special celebration in the mall with around 350 people there. He was sitting with the rabbi off to the side of the stage. They were lighting the menorah and the rabbi was sharing with him about the significance behind the lighting of each candle. The rabbi had known that Pastor Larry taught the Jewish roots of the Bible, but was unaware that his church observed all the biblical feasts, including Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.
Pastor Larry began his message asking, “Where is Hanukkah mentioned in the Bible?” Not expecting an answer, he answered himself saying, “The patriarch Abraham, the father of the faith, didn’t mention it. Moses who led the children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt and received the Torah, didn’t mention it. Only Jesus, mentioned it.
What the Jews Were Really Looking For From Jesus?
As a Jewish man, Jesus observed the Law and the prophets, attended the synagogue, kept the Sabbath and all the feasts of the Lord. The Apostle John, and writer of the Gospel of John records Jesus’ teaching at the winter celebration, the Feast of Dedication in John, Chapter 10, starting with verse 22.
“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked into 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 Christ tell us plainly”. Then Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me but you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.”
What’s critical to understand is that those questioning Jesus were corrupt Jews. Jesus was not saying that all Jews were not His sheep, only that these men were not. That’s why His answer is very important. He says, “For my sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.” This is a powerful passage. Why did Jesus use the Feast of Dedication, or Hannukah to say this? To answer those questions, you need a little background.
Miracles Happen When God is Involved
One hundred and sixty-five years before the time of Jesus, the Greeks in Syria were oppressing the Jews in Israel. They wanted to stop their worship. They desecrated every altar, place of worship, the local synagogue, and the Temple in Jerusalem. On December 25th, they removed the Table of Showbread, the 7-Branch Menorah, and the Ark of the Covenant from the Temple. Then they took a pig, an un-kosher animal, and looked for a Jewish High Priest to slaughter the pig and place it on the altar. But the High Priest refused. Eventually, they killed the pig and placed it on the altar. Then they forbade the Jews to worship their God and instead bow down to their false gods.
One Jew had enough. He left the Temple, declared war on the armies, and gathered a rebel force of his two sons, and a handful of other men armed with slings, sticks, rocks, and a few swords. The Maccabees, as they were called were outnumbered, yet they defeated the Greek and Syrian troops. Victorious, they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem and removed the pig from the altar and the idols. Then they prepared to light the menorah. Seven is the divine number of God and His presence. They wanted the light to shine again to the whole world. In the Temple when they would light the menorah, it meant that God’s divine presence from Jerusalem was shining to the whole world.
Against All Odds – God Brought Back the Light
The oil had to be from a particular kind of olive tree and totally pure. The region the oil came from was in the city of Amos, the hometown of the prophet. It had to be sanctified, a process which took seven days. The purified oil they find in the Temple is only enough to light the menorah for one day. They lit the entire menorah. When they returned the next day, the oil had multiplied. None of the lights had gone out. This happened day after day for eight days. By that time, they had more than enough oil so that the light would never go out. It was a time of dedication, standing and fighting for God and bringing His light to the world. That’s why the menorah to this day continues to have eight candlesticks to mark the eight days of miracles. God always brings us victory against odds that seem impossible. He brings light back into our lives and circumstances.
We want to share some interesting things with you about both menorahs. You can get your own menorah here and we also have instructions on how to light the menorah here. The Temple Menorah has seven candlesticks. The Hanukkah Menorah, in the temple menorah, has nine candlesticks, or bowls for oil, but only eight are counted. The middle lamp, called the Shamash in Hebrew means servant, anointed one and Messiah. The Shamash is the first to be lit. All the other candlesticks are lit from the middle Shamash candlestick. It is symbolic of the Messiah standing in the middle of the other candlesticks. Interestingly, standing there on Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, the small group of Jews asked, “Are you the Messiah.” “Do we look for another?” They wanted to know if the Messiah was still hidden. During the time of Jesus, the Jews were looking for a conquering king riding on a white stallion and not a suffering servant. Jesus the Messiah is the “light of the world.” He’s above all the other lights. He is eternal. Yet, He bows to be a servant.
Light Comes When Somebody Else Brings It
The Shamash, the eternal light in the Temple Menorah never went out. Miraculously, it burned continually, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, year after year. Jewish history records that the year that Jesus was crucified, the candles could no longer be lit in the Temple. The eternal light went out. They had to keep lighting it and lighting it and lighting it. Then the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Jewish teaching reveals that every human being has a divine call by God to be a Shamash. That is why Jesus said, “As My Father sent Me to bring you light, now I send you. You are the Shamash.” You and I are the light of the world. Light can only come when someone else brings light to it. Every candle must be lit by another flame.
The Temple Menorah was only lit during the day, and the Hanukkah Menorah was only at night. It’s a reminder that God is waiting for you and me to be light to someone else. As we shine the light to the world around us, darkness flees. Have you wondered why when we celebrate, we turn off the lights, and then the flame of one light spreads to one at a time, candle by candle to the next person. The darkness is pushed back all around us. The enemy is defeated. The supernatural presence and power of God is all around us. Miracles are happening. Who is waiting for you to be light to them? Who is wanting the flame of our light to bring the light of Jesus, our Messiah to their life?
Israel is waiting for your light.
Together we have accomplished so much in caring for the Jewish people. It’s only through your prayers and generous offerings that God’s will is being done, Bible prophecy is being fulfilled, and the widows and orphans are being cared for. Being a blessing is the essence of the Gospel—It’s exactly what the Lord was teaching when He said:
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone
will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14, 16 NLT
Your good deeds are a light to the Jewish world with God getting all the glory!
Tzedakah— righteous giving
As we enter into another Christmas and Hanukkah season, we would like to ask you to sow a special holiday offering to bless Israel. This particular offering is considered a ‘tzedakah’ offering. The Hebrew word ‘tzedakah’ means righteousness. Although many Christians were raised to think righteousness means right living, flawless, and without sin; God uses this word to mean charitable, generous, and kind. When Jesus taught us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all these things will be added unto to you” He meant to seek opportunities to be a blessing, to be a light. (Matthew 6:33)
Be assured we will put your tzedakah offering to work this month through these four key outreaches:
• Assisting with medical therapy for Jewish children victimized by terrorism
• Delivering food and support to elderly Jews and Holocaust survivors
• Renovating the outdated bomb shelters in our senior citizen facilities
• Rescuing Jewish people through prophetic Aliyah flights to Israel.
Your gift, no matter the size, will help bring a miracle to someone who greatly needs it. We invite you to consider giving your special holiday offering today! There is no better season to express your love and support for Israel.
We are deeply grateful for all you do! Thank you for standing with us as we stand with Israel.
As this year comes to an end, we pray that our Lord continues to bless you, as you
During this special time share your light everywhere you go, and with everyone you meet. Share the love and light of Jesus.
From our family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah,
and a blessed New Year!
Larry Huch Ministries