We Gentiles (those who are not Jewish by blood) can receive much teaching from the festivals. While we are not to require anyone to observe any feast or festival, we should nevertheless pay close attention to the prophetic significance of what the feasts "prophesy" to both Jew and Gentile. In virtually every case, Jesus Christ is to be seen as a prophetic picture.
Founder, ElijahList and ElijahRain magazine
Jeris Cribbs: History of Hanukkah
The Feast of Hanukkah celebration begins tonight at sunset, December 4th (the 25th day of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar), and is celebrated for eight consecutive days. Oftentimes misunderstood as a "Jewish Christmas," Hanukkah, which means, "dedication, consecration, or inauguration" in Hebrew, is also referred to as the "Feast of Dedication," or "Festival of Lights." It is celebrated in commemoration of the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem after a victory in 165 B.C., when the Jewish people, led by the Maccabees, defeated the army of the Greek Seleucid ruler, Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
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Antiochus had set out to destroy the Jewish religion, issuing decrees forbidding the practice of the rituals of the Laws of Moses, even to the extent of destroying copies of the Torah. Decrees were made against the observance of the Sabbath, the Feasts and circumcision. Antiochus also set up an altar in the Temple to the Greek god, Zeus, with offerings of the flesh of swine. These actions sparked the Maccabean revolt, led by the priest, Mattathias and his sons, where after three and a half years the armies of Antiochus IV were at last defeated by these heroic Jewish forces.
Three years to the day from when the Temple was desecrated, on the 24th of Kislev, 165 B.C. the temple was cleansed and rededicated. As part of the Temple rededication, holy consecrated oil was needed to light the great Menorah, but only one small cruse of the sacramental oil was found, enough to last just one day. Knowing it took eight days to prepare more holy oil, they nevertheless lit the great Menorah with the little oil they had. Miraculously, the oil burned for "eight days"--a witness of the Lamp of God--the Light of the world--Jesus Christ!
Jesus Christ--The Light of the World
Jesus Himself, the Light of the world, is recorded in John 10:22-23, as being at the Temple in Jerusalem and walking in Solomon's Porch during the Feast of Dedication:
"…the Feast of Dedication (of the reconsecration of the temple) was taking place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in Solomon's Porch in the temple area."
In celebrating Hanukkah, a special menorah is used as a symbol of the miracle of the oil. Unlike the Temple menorah having seven branches, the Hanukkah menorah has nine. Eight branches which signify the eight days the oil burned in the Temple, and the ninth branch, the Shammas or Servant branch, located either above or set in the center, holds the candle from which all other eight candles are kindled.
The original seven branch menorah given to Moses during the Exodus, symbolized the promise of the illumination that was to come through God's Anointed One--Jesus (see Exodus 25:31-40 and 37:17-24).
The Hanukkah menorah not only symbolizes illumination through Jesus, but adds the eighth branch, the branch of new beginning, plus the ninth branch, the Shammas or Servant branch (Jesus) which lights all eight branches. Jesus is indeed the eternal Light of the world who lights the way for a new beginning for all who come to Him.
Zechariah not only prophesied the rebuilding of the Temple in 520 B.C. as did Haggai (see Haggai 2:18-19), but he also prophesied of the additional two branches added on to the traditional seven branch menorah, creating the nine branch Hanukkah menorah in Zechariah 4:
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"Then the angel who had been talking with me returned and woke me, as though I had been asleep. 'What do you see now?' he asked. I answered, 'I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl of oil on top of it. Around the bowl are seven lamps, each having seven spouts with wicks. And I see two olive trees, one on each side of the bowl.' Then I asked the angel, 'What are these, my lord? What do they mean?'
'Don't you know?' the angel asked.
'No, my lord,' I replied.
Then he said to me, 'This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel's way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: "May God bless it! May God bless it!"'
Then another message came to me from the LORD: 'Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the LORD of Heaven's Armies has sent me. Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel's hand.'
Then I asked the angel, 'What are these two olive trees on each side of the lampstand, and what are the two olive branches that pour out golden oil through two gold tubes?' 'Don't you know?' he asked. 'No, my lord,' I replied. Then he said to me, 'They represent the two heavenly beings who stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth.'"
Moving from the Finished Cycle to a New Beginning
The number seven symbolizes completion, fulfillment, or finished cycle through God's Anointed One, Jesus Christ. This year as we light the eighth candle of the Hanukkah menorah representing, a new beginning, remember that the year 2007 is ending in just a few weeks--the Jewish year 5767, has already past as we celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year in September--prophetically passing through a time of completion.
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So, be encouraged! We have stepped into a divine season of leaving behind the past and are moving forward into a new beginning--the next phase of our destiny.
When we observe Hanukkah, we not only reflect on a momentous event in history--an uprising resulting in religious freedom for the glory of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--but we look on it as truly a time of a celebration of Light. The Light of the world, Jesus Christ, illuminating the world with a promise of a new life, a new beginning for all who come to Him!
Jeris L. Cribbs,
Jeris Cribb's Bio:
Jeris Cribbs joined The ElijahList team as an Editor for ElijahRain magazine. She comes to the ElijahList with prior experience in management at MorningStar Ministries Publications, and is a graduate of FIRE School of Ministry, under the direction of Dr. Michael L. Brown, in North Carolina. Jeris and her husband, Hack, have two daughters and reside in Oregon.
With Jewish heritage, Jeris holds a deep burning desire toward the nation of Israel. Her passion is to see Israel come into her fullness, beholding the Messiah square in the face as her Kinsman-Redeemer, Yeshua, just as God had intended from the beginning.
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