Hanukkah for me has been different this year. Maybe it is all the chaos and uncertainty around us, maybe it is the disappointment in the delays of the ministry becoming fully functional, maybe it is simply the transition of the seasons. I am not sure, but I do know Holy Spirit was leading me to begin a re-dedication of sorts to prepare my personal altar (heart) and temple (body) for what lays ahead.
What does dedication/consecration have to do with Hanukkah or Chanukah as I had often seen it spelled? Did you know that the Hebrew word for dedication/consecration is hanukah? With a slight variation in the vowel markings, the Hebrew word chanukah means simply dedication. Now I understand why two spellings. The process involves cleansing, purification, dedication and consecration (being set apart for sacred purposes).
Eight days ago, I found myself nudged by Holy Spirit to research the roots of the Hanukkah festival, as the festival began on the earth. It has become quite the journey of discovery. As we are told today, Hanukkah is the 8 day festival to mark the miracle of the oil in the temple following the revolt of the Macabees around 165 BCE. The Jews needed to rededicated the altar in the temple, the cleansing and purification process was to last 8 days, there was only one day of consecrated oil to light the temple and the miracle was the oil lasted eight days and they were once again able to offer sacrifice on the altar in the temple. Is this whole festival in the bible? Not this specific event, chronologically it happened in the “silent years” between writings of the Old and New Testaments. There are parallels.
We see in 2 Chronicles 6 and 7 – Solomon prayed over the temple and when the prayer was finished and the temple was consecrated/dedicated as the Lord’s House, the glory of God filled the temple. They feasted for 7 days, held a solemn assembly on the 8 day for the dedication of the altar, and then feasted for another 7 days. It is believed Solomon’s feast was held to mark the Feast of Ingathering, Sukkot or Tabernacles as it is known today. God’s glory remained in the temple, until Israel sinned and turned from their Godly ways.
The altar had been consecrated/dedicated each time it was established whether it was Moses and the Tent of Meeting or Solomon’s Temple. In the case of Israel returning from Babylon under the leadership of Zerubbabel altar, temple and walls were all rededicated when they were repaired. Now we can start to see a pattern of God wanting a place to live on the earth, Israel, His choses ones, would make a place for Him, his glory would come, over time Israel would sin and turn from Him, they’d realize their sin, be cleansed, make a offering and rededicate themselves to following God and His ways. Sometimes in their turning away, the temple would be taken over by enemies, defiled or desecrated and the Priests and Levites would cleanse the altar and rededicate it to its proper place as the altar of sacrifice. It is even noted in John 10:22 that Feast of Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. I am still chewing on the deeper significance of this cycle.
Now there are many interesting theories tying the lights of Hanukkah to Jesus becoming the light of the world. I believe it was during the Hanukkah/Dedication celebration that Holy Spirit came over Mary and she conceived Jesus. Yes, that would make His birth around the time of the Feast of Ingathering/Tabernacles (when God comes to dwell with us), there is not a biblical pattern on the earth for marking birthdays, so we can’t be completely certain. I do believe in Heaven, people are celebrated for who they are. We can even draw conclusions between the oil miracles with Elijah and Elisha as well as the New Testament of the 10 virgins and the return of the bridegroom – reminding us to keep oil for our lamps – to the Hanukkah celebration. To me, it makes my spirit come alive within me to search out these mysteries and my desire to have true knowledge of God’s mystery in Christ himself.
What I found this week, as I intentionally pondered the roots of Hanukkah, I was cleansed of some unrighteous attitudes and wrong thinking, for which I repented and rededicated myself to God, my spirit was stirred from the greater revelation coming from scripture which has given me a renewed drive to dig deeper, learning to truly feast on the Word. I have cleansed my temple – being more mindful of the food I eat and the words I speak. There are many new mysteries being revealed and I will gladly search them out as Jesus becomes closer, He is my light and my salvation.
I was also led to ponder more deeply the traditions we have upheld during this Christmas season. What is their root? Are they scriptural? Are they pagan and cause us to stumble? Have I judged things too harshly? This year I put up my nativity the beginning of November, some years it was put up in September for Sukkot, others after Thanksgiving with the Christmas decorations. I have an unexplainable anticipation for what this season, through the end of our Gregorian calendar year, will bring.
As I intentionally make time to seek out the treasures and gifts hidden in the Word of God, I find I am never disappointed and have become filled with a childlike faith. Will you join me in this season to be more intentional about searching your heart for what needs to be cleansed and rededicate your temple to as a place consecrated to housing the Glory of God? Be prepared with great anticipation for the gifts from God that are being released in this season. What an incredible time we live in! Shalom!