Can Christians celebrate Hanukkah?
The history of Hanukkah was briefly covered in two previous articles so this brief history will not be covered. Some of the questions that Christians ponder upon are the reality that when we became Christians we were grafted into the root system of the good olive tree which represents the Jewish side of the people of God. Let us look at:
For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
Hence the question arises sometimes “can I participate in things that are Jewish?” For example, participating in the Passover seder; Pentecost, Day of Atonement, Feast of Trumpets, or even Hanukkah. Of course, you could always begin attending a Messianic Christian church which blends both Judaism and Christianity together or a Christian can simply participate on their own and still attend a traditional Christian church.
Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights celebrates the rededication of the Temple that had been desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes in 165 B.C. While currently there isn’t any physical Temple of God in Jerusalem, as a Christian, this author celebrates on her own. How do I do this? For Christians the Temple has been re-established in each individual believer and has been made completely clean by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
The miracle that occurred in the rededication ceremony in 165 B.C. was that there was only enough oil left in the Temple to burn for approximately one day and yet God caused the oil to last and provided enough to last for eight days. This is why the Jewish people celebrate the Festival of Lights by setting up a Menorah that holds eight candles and they light a new one each night until all eight have been lit.
Here is a link to a video: Hanukkah Menorah
In the Bible, numbers constitute unique representations of truths that God wishes to highlight for our studies. However, a word of extreme caution should be given here, a person can become so embroiled in the study of numbers found in the Scriptures that it can almost become a form of idolatry. How so? A person so studies the numbers that they become lost in them and hence the very reason that God employed them becomes lost as well. God used numbers to show that He alone is God of the universe and therefore all numerical systems belong to HIM and therefore they were used to lead us to worship HIM. When a person is led astray by them, they at first inadvertently begin to worship the creature more than the Creator. In the end, the numbers become an idol in our hearts and we no longer are worshipping God, but the numerical system.
Now that I have pounded my pulpit…the number 8 represents a ‘new beginning’ and this is exactly what happened at the physical Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C. and when the Lord Jesus Christ began to shift the focus of the physical Temple and pointed to Himself as the new Temple of God. The number shifted from 8 to 3; or in other words, ‘a new beginning’ to ‘completeness.’ We find this in:
Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
The Lord Jesus knew that He was definitely called to be the Messiah for the Jewish people, but He also knew that He was going to be the Savior for the Gentiles as well. These particular Jewish people did not perceive what the Christ was really telling them, that He was the new Temple of God.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Eventually, in the fullness of God’s timing, both Jews and Gentiles will be brought into one fold. Of course, if you have accepted the Lord Jesus as your Messiah then you immediately enter into that ‘one fold.’ But what this author speaks about is that there will be a brand new and totally completed glorious Temple of God….all the people of God who have bowed our knees to the Son of the Most High God, the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this to be truth because we find that “It is written!”
1 Corinthians 3:16
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1 Peter 2:5
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
So can Christians celebrate Hanukkah? Yes! It should be a reminder to every Christian that we have been grafted into the rootstock of Israel and that we are the Temple of God. Amen. Go ahead and light your candles!