On December 24, Hanukkah and Christmas converge, marking only the fifth time in the last 100 years that the first day of Hanukkah fell on Christmas. Is God releasing yet another significant signpost to us?
Hanukkah is regarded as a Jewish holiday, but John 10:22-23 tells us that Jesus was at the temple for the Feast of Dedication, which is Hanukkah. Hanukkah means “Dedication” in Hebrew and it begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar.
“At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.” John 10:22-23
The meaning of the Greek word for “Dedication” used in this verse is renewal or new beginning, so the festival was also known as the Feast of Renewal.
In 167 BC, the tyrant ruler, Antiochus IV, of Greece outlawed Jewish religious observances and forced the Jews to conform to Greek culture. He desecrated their temple by offering a pig on the Lord’s altar and filling it with pagan idols.
The Jews rose up under the initial leadership of Matityahu and then by his son, Judah the Maccabee, and fought a three-year battle. Against all odds, the Maccabees finally defeated Antiochus’ armies and reclaimed Jerusalem in 164 BC. The Jews had regained their right to worship God and be who they were created to be. Their victory was reason to celebrate. They set to work rebuilding and consecrating the Temple, but before they could hold a worship service, they would need oil to light the lamp. They found only enough oil to light the lamp for one day. Eight days were required for oil to be consecrated, but they did not want to delay the celebration. By faith, they committed themselves and their resources to God and decided to go ahead with the Festival of Dedication. The miracle came when the lamp did not go out for eight days until the next supply of oil was prepared. For this reason, Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration of God’s miracle-working deliverance and provision.
God saw the zeal and excitement in His children because of the profound victory over the Greek army and their desire to worship Him. He was pleased by their faith. They took all the steps they could take toward the new beginning of worship in the Temple. Then Father God stepped in to complete the process, He caused the oil to multiply and the lights to shine. He bridged the gap until the normal process of producing oil could resume.
Three years ago, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah started on the same day. This had never happened since Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1863. They will not coincide again for another 79,000+ years. I believe this was a sign from God specifically to America. What He began in 2013, continues today as we close out 2016. God’s Love and Desire for America is on display. He is sending reminders of Who He is – Deliverer and Provider – for His people. This election season was a sign that He is pleased with the response of His remnant to return to our covenant roots and remember why we live in this nation. It is His doing! He established this Nation for His purpose. Just as the Jews faced the Greek government in their day, we stand against the worldly systems that want to destroy our Christian heritage and testimony. Our government cannot deliver us from the mess we are in, but He alone can. Jesus is our new beginning! The numerical value of Yeshua’s name is 888 – the number of new beginnings.
The convergence of the manmade holiday of Christmas and the Festival of Renewal signify God’s pleasure to reestablish His Rulership, His Glory in this earth. As we submit to the Kingship of Jesus and walk in faith, He releases miracles to catapult us far beyond what we would normally expect for the purpose of building His Kingdom on the earth and refreshing us with joy! He reigns over all and is preparing the earth for His return. 2017 is going to be an amazing year to watch God’s miraculous power and the new beginnings He is releasing to His people. The eight days of Hanukkah conclude on January 1, 2017. We are divinely positioned to see God move mightily as 2016 comes to a close and the year of Renewal begins.