Celebrating Chanukah Study: What is Chanukah? {Part One}

Menorahs, latkes, dreydl, oh vey!  What do all of these have in common?  Chanukah, you might say?  Did you know Chanukah is this week?  I was so excited overjoyed about sharing this post with you because I love to teach about the Jewish roots of the faith.  We started to study the Jewish roots of the faith 15 years ago when we found out our families have Sephardic Jewish roots.  At that time, Ruben and I were led to observe the Biblical feasts and teach others about the Jewish roots of the faith.   Chanukah is a wonderful time for us to reflect on God's miracles, Jesus as the light of the world and for rededication to the Lord.  

It’s so exciting that this year both Thanksgiving and Chanukah will fall on the same day.  This will be a special holiday...since the next time these two holidays will converge will not take place for another 79,000 years!  Wow!  The first day of Chanukah begins at sunset this Wed. night till Thurs night completing the first night. Our family is looking forward to Thanksgivikah.   The day will definitely be a feast that’s for sure!  

In this series leading up to Chanukah, we will learn about the importance of this holiday for us as believers in the Lord Jesus Yeshua.   I promise you, you will come away with a new understanding like never before. 

Here are four things you'll learn about Chanukah:    
  1. What is Chanukah? 
  2. The symbolism of the Menorah.
  3. The history of Chanukah.
  4. How Chanukah relates to Jesus and our faith walk with Him.  
In today’s post, I will give you a better understanding about “What is Chanukah?” and the symbolism of the Menorah.  Are you ready?  Let's go! 

What is Chanukah?  
Chanukah is a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, but popular among gentiles(non Jewish people) because it usually takes place in December.  For some, it may be thought of as the Jewish Christmas since a gift is usually given for 8 days.   I want to clear this up as a myth.  It wasn’t until many years later when the holiday became commercialized to parallel with the gentiles gift giving at Christmas.

The Hebrew word for Chanukah is "dedication".  

Chanukah is also known as the Feast of Dedication or Festival of lights.  Lights, because it includes the lighting of the candles for eight days on the menorah.  The menorah or lamp stand has nine lamps.   The middle lamp or the Shamash in Hebrew, is the servant lamp or candle.  The servant lamp lights all the rest of the lamps each night.  This makes a total of nine.  Symbolically, Jesus is like the Shamash.  Jesus came to serve and not to be served.  He is our giver of light.  As children of God, through Jesus we shine our light to the world.  He is shining through us.  

So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.  While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them.  John 12:35-36
No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.  Luke 11:33 

Did you Know Jesus observed Chanukah, the feast of dedication?  
Although there are no recorded writings of Chanukah in the Old Testament, the history is found in the book of the Macabees. The book of Macabees is a Jewish history book.  It is not found in the Tanach or Old Testament, however we know that Chanukah existed because it is recorded in the New Testament when Jesus observed this Biblical feast in John 10: 22.   This is very important, because Jesus observed Chanukah as being the ultimate fulfillment - the light of the world as it says in John 8:12.  Jesus said, " he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.  The New Testament book of John is the only reference to Chanukah and also full of references of Jesus as the "light".   

As followers of Jesus, his light shines through us to the dark world.  Through Jesus, we have life, and not just religion.  He is the light of the world.    
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 5:16 

Today, let us reflect and ponder this question. . . 
How are you shining your light to the world?  
Are you shining your light or are you hiding it? 
Lately, this is something that I'm compelled to pursue.  I can get so consumed with my own life, and be so selfish.  However, I love to be an encourager and that is one way I shine my light, hopefully more as the days go on.

I'm looking forward to being with you for tomorrow's post about The History of Chanukah and how it relates to Jesus and our faith walk with Him.  I also have some more surprise goodies coming up in the next post so come back again!  

{Click here to read Part 2: Celebrating Chanukah}

Blessings and Shalom, 

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