Embracing the light - A Christian view of Hanukkah

Christians have much to learn from the spirit of Hanukkah, and Jews must stop trying to blend pagan symbols of Christmas with their own miraculous victory over the forces of darkness..

Rev. Anthony Abma

OpEds Kohen lights menora in priestly garments
Kohen lights menora in priestly garments

What does Hanukkah really represent and should it mean anything to Christians?

What many fail to understand, is the immense historical and spiritual significance of the incredible victory God blessed the fervent Jewish people with in 167 BCE. The Jews of Jerusalem and surrounding area – then as now - were horribly outnumbered in a battle they had little or no hope of winning. Tragically, it was a battle that had at its core, pitted Jews against Jews. 

Jews who had become secularized and assimilated with the prevailing pagan Greek philosophy and culture – sided with and supported the Seleucid Greek General’s invasion. His intent was to rid Jerusalem and Israel of the fervent, religious Jews - who then as today – are intent on remaining true to the commands of God given through Moses. Their miraculous victory and the subsequent rededication of the Temple after being horrendously defiled by the graphic sacrilege of swine sacrifice and blood, is what they were commemorating. 

Thus, eight days of lighting the candelabra not only epitomize the indomitable spirit and determination of the Jewish people, but the eternal “spark” embodied within. The Christian Church has never in any way, shape or form ever replaced the Jewish people. It’s absolutely contrary to even assume that God’s eternal Covenants with the Jewish people will ever be altered or changed.  

Hanukkah embodies a choice for Christians. Are we mere spectators who are passively condoning by our inactivity the secular forces at work in Israel who are seeking to undermine and cast off the true Jewish identity? Or will we recognize that we are inseparably connected with God’s covenants and plan of redemption which unequivocally calls for Israel’s full restoration in Sovereignty over their entire ancestral homeland. 

Hanukkah is a call for Christians to put our faith into action, to call for and support Israel’s full restoration. To stand with the “Maccabeans” of today who embody the very means by which God’s light in Jerusalem is to be restored. Only then will the light of God radiate out from Jerusalem unto all nations as promised in Isaiah 49:6 “…I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”

Embracing this truth and acting upon it - is to become one with the light of truth and thus, the light and glorious truth of Hanukkah. This is the powerful message of Hanukkah that is important for us as Christians.

Christians would do well to read John 10:22. There it is recorded that Jesus himself went to the Temple in respect and in honour of the event at the heart of Hanukkah – the winter commemoration of the rededication of the Temple. 

I am deeply troubled  when I see Jews trying to blend Hanukkah with Christmas. Doing so is not only misleading Jews, but Christians as well. I take great offense to the reindeer, a fat red suited man and an ornamented tree, mistletoe, colorful lights, all of which has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. Tracing it back, it was a deception that was implemented by the Catholic Church which adapted the pagan festivities of the winter solstice - in order to gain more "followers/members” by this deceitful amalgamation.

Hanukkah travesty