Hanukkah and the Greatest Miracle of Our Day

Jewish Days of Distinction: A Messianic Study of the Jewish Feasts and Holidays

By Mark Anthony
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Posted in HanukkahJewish Holidays on December 2, 2015

Feast – Hanukkah, The Feast of Dedication, The Festival of Lights

Biblical References
For nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37, TLV).

Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem. Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade. The Judean leaders surrounded Him, saying, “How long will you hold us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us outright!” (John 10:22-24, TLV).

Summary
In the second century BC, the Jewish population in Jerusalem was under the rule of the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes. By 165 BC, Antiochus had looted, defiled, and desecrated the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The apex of the desolation came with the sacrifice of swine on the altar in the Temple. A large-scale Jewish revolt was sparked against the Seleucids with the intention of the liberation and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Once the Temple had been retaken, Judah Maccabee ordered its cleansing. However, those tasked with the purification duties only found one vessel of consecrated anointing oil for the Temple Menorah. The oil on hand was only enough to keep the Menorah lit for one day. Doing what they could, they used the oil they had. Miraculously, the Menorah kept burning for eight days, the exact amount of time it would take to prepare more oil. Hanukkah, or the Feast of Dedication, became an eight-day celebration to commemorate the miracle of the oil that kept burning for the purification of the Temple.

Devotional Thought
The Hanukkah miracle was such a standout miracle in the history of the Jewish people that Hanukkah remains a worldwide annual event. Unashamedly, the Jewish people proclaim, year after year, that God is a miracle-working God. His reputation as a doer of the impossible has been told and retold for generations. The fact that we have an entire festival every year for the purpose of commemorating a great miracle that God performed over 2,000 years ago is amazing.

I personally take great encouragement from the Feast of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah reminds me that God has been performing miracles for thousands of years. It reminds me that He has been operating in the supernatural, and doing signs and wonders long before I came on the scene. History records that He was delivering his people from the hand of oppression back in the 2nd century BC; and I wholeheartedly trust today that He is still able to do the impossible and bring about deliverance.

Hanukkah is a feast of many fun traditions. We give gifts, light lights, eat sweets, and play Dreidel. When you play Dreidel, you not only get to play a game, you also get to win chocolate, which is a win-win all the way around! A dreidel is a spinning top with four sides. On each side a Hebrew letter is imprinted, each with its own meaning.

The four letters are נ(nun), ג (gimel), ה (heh), and ש (shin).

Each letter represents a Hebrew word, and when you put the words together you get the phrase, “Nes (miracle) Gadol (great) Hayah (happened) Sham (there).” “A great miracle happened there.” The “great miracle” is the oil that burned for eight days, and the word “there” refers to the location of where the miracle took place – Israel.

However, if you play the game while in Israel, some dreidels substitute the fourth letter ש, for a פ (peh), which stands for the Hebrew word “Poh” which means “here.” So instead of saying, “a great miracle happened there,” since you are in Israel you say, “a great miracle happened here!”

Great Miracles Have Always Surrounded Israel

Even the non-religious have been known to acknowledge that miracles occur in Israel. It is widely known that even David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, remarked that in order to be a realist in Israel, one must believe in miracles! How else could a reasonable explanation be made for the fledgling nation to not only survive, but to have thrived against all odds?

Hanukkah is a time to commemorate a great miracle that God performed on behalf of his people. And while it is important to remember what God has done in the past, it is also important to celebrate the miracles God is continuing to do today.

One of the greatest miracles today is the Messianic movement. It is one of the clearest and most glaring examples of a Nes Gadol in our time. The thousands of reports of Jewish men and women coming to faith in Yeshua as their Messiah all over the world is nothing short of incredible.

I sometimes wonder if we adequately grasp the awe of our days. To hear of the numbers of Jewish people coming to faith today is truly a marvel. These reports would have been unheard of only one hundred years ago.

To partner with the Messianic movement and join in on the declaration of Yeshua as the Messiah to the Jewish people is one of the greatest occasions to witness the miraculous in human history.

There is an Opportunity Before Us

So this year I wish you a very hearty “Happy Hanukkah!” May Hanukkah be more than just the commemoration of a great miracle that happened there and then, but may it also be the affirmation of a renewed partnership with God’s purposes on the earth for the Jewish people, and may we see Nessim Gadolim (great miracles) continue to happen here and now.
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Mark Anthony was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel, and holds an M.Div. from Baylor University. He and his family now make their home in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.


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