Messianic Overtones
in Judaism

A Study of Rites and Rituals in Types and Shadows


Channukah is a memorial to an event that happened during the intertestment period, and became a traditional holiday. Even though there was never a command to observe it, it appears on the Jewish calendar, and was recorded to have been observed by Jesus in John 10:22. It was known as a Feast of Dedication, and is celebrated in December, but because the Jewish calendar is based on lunar calculations, it doesn't have a fixed date, but occurs from early December on, even sometimes coinciding with the Christmas season.

During the 3rd century BCE, the army of Antiochus Epiphanes marched into Jerusalem,.besieged the city and overthrew it, and as their greatest sign of victory, entered their enemy's place of worship, tearing down their last stronghold, as was the custom for victors in that day. Tradition tells us the story of how they ransacked the Temple, overturning the barrels that contained the pure pressed olive oil that was used to maintain the Eternal lamp. The Jews were commanded that the light in the sanctuary must never be extinguished, because it was a symbol of the Eternal Spirit of God, and of His abiding Presence. To add insult to injury, before they left, the soldiers killed a pig and smeared its blood on the sacrificing altars, thereby desecrating the altar, because a pig is deemed an unclean animal in the Torah,(law), and never used in sacrifice.

Judah Maccabee, the leader of a small Jewish band of soldiers, attacked the enemy, and day after day, hammered at their weakest parts, until finally, Maccabee and his band wore their attackers down, and put them to flight. What was left in their wake was a desecrated altar, a flickering lampstand with no supply of oil, and a Temple left in ruins. The repairs to the sanctuary could be made without problem; the altar could be cleansed and rededicated, but their major concern was the oil replacement, for it had to be pure pressed olive oil, which took several days to process, and time was of the essence.

Tradition tells us the flame was already low and flickering, and it seemed hopeless. In spite of the circumstances, they began their search for olives to begin the process, but every day, their hopes flickered with the Eternal lamp's flickering waning flame..every morning, as they came into the sanctuary, they were amazed to see the lampstand still burning...and finally, on the 8th day, the new oil was ready and with great joy and worship, they cleaned away the dross and renewed with fresh oil, and the flame grew bright, never to go out until 70 AD, ( when God allowed the armies of Titus to besiege Jerusalem and overthrow the city, destroying the beloved Temple.) Jesus had already become the final Sacrifice, once, and for all, so, in the eyes of God, perhaps the Temple had lost its usefulness and purpose? Jesus said, we had become the Temple of God, and we were to present ourselves as a living sacrifice. From that year on, the Jews memorialized the event by lighting 8 candles, one for each day the candle flickered beyond its normal capacity, until fresh oil was made. It is the custom to light a special lampstand, (called a menorah), that holds 9 candles...(8 candles for the days, and a "Shammas" or candle lighter.) It has become a time of rededication of one's life, of renewing one's commitment, and in contemporary observance, small gifts or money, (channukah gelt ), is given on each of the 8 nights, and a retelling of the story in synagogues.

There are various legends lending itself to this historical event, regarding the origin on the 8 lights for the 8 days, but regardless of the fables woven through the holiday, the events of the battle, the desecration and the renewal of the Temple is a fact that the people honored and remembered from BCE until today. Jesus observed this day, and along with other Jews, went to the Temple with an attitude of rededication. (He Who was the Personification of the Light of the World, went to celebrate the lights that represented Him!) By virtue of the fact that Jesus observed Channukah, it should validate to us the need for our spiritual renewal, which, through God's Spirit, can happen on a daily basis. The NT teaches us that our bodies are the temple of the Lord.( 1 Corinth 6:19) Jesus described Himself as the "Light of the world", and through the baptism of the Holy Ghost, ( Acts 2:4), we can have that Light ever constantly burning within our temples,( our bodies), giving Light to the lost world. John affirmed to us, "be ye filled with the Spirit"...never let the Light flicker or go out! It is our purpose, and obligation, before God, to keep the temple cleansed; to let the High Priest of our Salvation , (our Divine Shammas), daily minister to the to the cleanse it to allow the oil to flow freely, for greater illumination for those around us in darkness. As with the candle wick, as the flame burns brightly, it burns out the dross and impurities. With the Eternal Spirit burning brightly within our temples, we can live in a state of constant renewal as He continually cleanses, and we die out to carnality and impurities that come with life's daily assaults! It's interesting to note that in Bible numerics, the number 8 is associated with new beginnings...(the 8th day of the week would actually be a beginning of a new week; the eighth note of the scale would be the beginning on a new octave; etc.)

We see, in the story of Channukah, the 8th day analogy of new spiritual beginnings. Commitment and dedication are born out of a willing can never be legislated, which probably explains why Channukah did not come out of the Levitical Law. All the rest of the law was strictly observed by command, but this Feast Day came by the heartfelt desire to serve God, by submission and commitment. As in everything He did, Jesus fulfilled righteousness by observing this Feast of Dedication, giving us another example of renewing and commitment that would give Light to a world struggling and stumbling in darkness. We are reminded, as each candle is lit, of Scriptures that tell us " The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear", "Your  word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path", (Psalms 119:105); "I am the Light of the world", ( John 8:12); and one day, in New Jerusalem, we shall see Messiah as the Light, "...and I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and, (even), the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illuminated it, and its Lamp is the Lamb." ( Rev 21:22-24) The Feast of Dedication speaks to us in every way in types and shadows of Yeshua, our Messiah, for we see Him as the Eternal Light; the Holy Oil, (Spirit of Anointing), the Lampstand; the Servant Light Bearer, (the Divine Shammas), and the High Priest of our Salvation who daily ministers in our lives, enabling us to enjoy the Feast of dedication continually...