IS IT RIGHT TO CELEBRATE “HANUKKAH”?

"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!" (1 Kings 8:27)

Leslie M John

The “Feast of Dedication” also known as “Hanukkah” is celebrated by Jews and Jewish Christians with much fanfare and joy. It is known as a festival of lights bringing into memory the victory Maccabees scored over atrocious Antiochus Epiphanes, who profaned their second temple (Zerubbabel’s Temple, the first being Solomon’s Temple, which was destroyed by Babylonians).  At a time when they were worshipping God by offering sacred sacrifices in Zerubbabel’s Temple, Antiochus (175-164 BC) desecrated by offering pig as a sacrifice on the altar of Zeus (The idol is said to be the god of the sky and ruler of the Olympian gods) 

During Apostle Paul’s time people thought Antiochus Epiphanes, who lived from 175 BC to 164 BC), was Antichrist.  Although that thought was not right, Antiochus did much harm to Jews. The desecration of their temple was unbearable emotional stress for them.

However, when Antiochus faced utter defeat at the hands of Maccabees, there was opportunity for Jews to rededicate the temple to God.  Right at that time they found a jug of oil in the temple which was not profaned.  The oil was sufficient to light up one candle for only one day.  Miraculously, the oil lasted until eight lights were lit and kept burning.

Eight candles spreading light for eight days, and one candle that was used to light up the candles, made up a “Hanukkah Menorah”, the lampstand that was used exclusively for the purpose of bringing joy in the hearts of Jews. 

Enough was it to celebrate in a secular way, just as anyone could celebrate birthday party, or wedding anniversary or even like celebrating Christmas and rejoice. But is it right to celebrate this festival based on Bible? 

There is no basis to celebrate such festival and no such incident cited in the Bible, except for two consecutive verses that do not support that Jesus or anyone in the New Testament period celebrated “Hanukkah” (Feast of Dedication). The two verses mentioned namely John 10:22 and 23 read…

“And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch” (John 10:22-23) From this verse it is evident that there was a feast of dedication, and it was in winter season that this festival celebrated, and Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch,  but it does not say Jesus celebrated the “Feast of Dedication”.

Celebration would, of course, bring joy and remembrance of the sufferings Jews had to go through and the joy that came after such sufferings consequent upon the ignominious defeat of Antiochus Epiphanes.

There is a danger in celebrating festivals like “Hanukkah” and “Christmas” because people are likely to forget what God intended man to do. Except for the seven festivals that God ordained to be celebrated by Jews as recorded in Leviticus 23:1-44, which signify important dates and events of God’s program from Passover to second coming of Jesus and finally to millennium, the LORD did not specify or command to celebrate any other festival.

December 25th is considered to be Christmas day, but there is no mention of it in the Bible, and more so, there no such character as “Santa Claus” in the Bible. It is made up to bring false joy and false entertainment into the lives of innocent children of God and deviate from the truth. 

The children of Israel looked at brass serpent lifted by Moses in the wilderness and got saved from dying, but this has gradually become ritual for the children of Israel until the brass serpent became their idol for worship.

God said that they shall not have any other god before Him, and they should not make any idols to worship. This ritual continued until King Hezekiah came on to the scene and demolished all idols, and broke the brass serpent that Moses made. They burnt incense to it until that time. However, after destroying it King Hezekiah called it as “Nehushtan”, which means, it is simply a piece of brass!

“He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.  (2 Kings 18:4)

New Testament says…

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Except for local gatherings in the Church to worship God and to perform related activities, no physical building or temple needs to be remembered or worshipped or celebrated.  1 Corinthian 3:16 and 6:15 say that our bodies are the temples of God. The Lord lives in us and we worship God, who is invisible to us. We see God in creation and know Him by His power.

True, the second Temple, which was Zerubbabel’s temple, was desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes, who brought into it an idol called Zeus, the god of Greeks, and sacrificed pig in the temple. Maccabees were successful in fighting out Antiochus and celebrated festival of lights for eight days in remembrance of the victory they scored against Antiochus. The Jews rededicated temple and were lighted up eight candles, one each a day, with the oil that was sufficient only for one day, and yet miraculously lasted for eight days.

The lampstand with nine branches, contradicts the pattern Jehovah specified in Exodus 25:35-37.  The Hanukkah “Menorah” is said to be not a representation of the original lampstand that was in the Tabernacle.

The original lampstand had seven branches each branch holding a candle. However, Hanukkah Menorah is made of nine candles, eight candles one for each day for eight days, and one candle to light up other eight candles. 

Thus Hanukkah Menorah is made of nine branches and each branch holding a candle. It looks like lampstand that was in the Tabernacle, but careful observation shows that there are nine branches each holding a candle, contrary to the instructions God gave in Exodus 25:35-37.

“And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it”  (Exodus 25:35-37)

When Solomon built the first temple he realized that God cannnot be accommodated in a temple.  The Scriptures say heaven is the throne of God and earth is His footstool.

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 ESV)

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1)

Stephen testified about God quoting..

“Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?” (Acts 7:49)

The scriptures say that Lord Jesus Christ is our mediator, and He was our perfect sacrifice. We are saved by grace through faith. We are saved by confessing our sins to Him, and confessing that He is Lord, and by believing in heart that God raised Him from the dead.  There is no other way to receive salvation. 

No physical earthly building deserves to be remembered or given pre-eminence over Lord Jesus Christ, who is the head of the Church. We, who are saved, are members of His body.  There are no more animal sacrifices required to be offered now for covering our sin, and no priest is required to mediate between us and God.

We are given the privilege to have access to the most Holy presence of our God and worship Him. The curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom, signifying that we can boldly approach God now through the only mediator Lord Jesus Christ.

Then, why do some Christians, especially Jewish Christians celebrate the temple rededication as a festival.  The purpose of celebrating “Hanukkah”, seems to be against God’s desire that man should worship Him and Him alone. There is no temple for Jews to offer sacrifices, and they do not believe in the New Testament; then how are their sins forgiven?  The writer of Acts of the Apostle gives us answer…

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

Apostle Paul writes…

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11)


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