Christianity without Hanukkah? Not Possible!

Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s Colonnade.

John 10:22–23 (CJB)

I know that Hanukkah is not a commanded, Biblical feast day or celebration found in Leviticus. Someone who strictly follows those days may hate Hanukkah and think its origins are tainted. Those in Christianity will think it is just a Jewish holiday that has nothing to do with them. This blog post is mainly to inform Christians that do not understand Hanukkah, why it is significant, and that Christianity would not exist without the events that are celebrated at Hanukkah.

One of the reasons that Christians know so little about Hanukkah is that the books that talk about the history surrounding the holiday were removed from their Bibles. Then, they are told not to read these books of the Maccabees because it talks about praying for the dead, and that it is where the Catholic church gets the idea of purgatory. It’s time for everyone to get away from this dark ages mentality.

“Christianity” started from a group of Torah observant Jews who followed the protocols of the Temple. Jesus, or Yeshua in Hebrew, came from the tribe of Judah, and needed the temple to be in place to fulfill his God ordained mission of saving the world. Without Hanukkah there would be no temple, no tribe of Judah, no Messiah and thus no deliverer, and we are dead in our sins. Could the Creator God have found another way? No, not really. He could not go against His own words.

Genesis 49:10–11 (LEB)

10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff between his feet, until Shiloh comes. And to him shall be the obedience of nations. 11 Binding his donkey to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he washes his clothing in the wine and his garment in the blood of grapes.

This prophecy Jacob pronounced over his son Judah could not be fulfilled if it was not for Hanukkah. Hanukkah is simply the celebration of the cleansing of the temple after the Greeks grossly defiled it. It is recorded history that affects every Christian denomination’s very existence, yet nothing about Hanukkah is taught, and heaven forbid if a Christian were to celebrate Hanukkah instead of Christmas. It is no accident that Christmas and Hanukkah are celebrated around the same time of the year.

1 Maccabees 1:41–53 (NRSV)

Installation of Gentile Cults

41 Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, 42 and that all should give up their particular customs. 43 All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. 44 And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45 to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and festivals, 46 to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47 to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, 48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49 so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances. 50 He added, “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.”

51 In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the towns of Judah to offer sacrifice, town by town. 52 Many of the people, everyone who forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; 53 they drove Israel into hiding in every place of refuge they had.

This evil king was trying to wipe out the remnant of Judah and force them to sacrifice to foreign gods, forsaking the Creator. If he had succeeded there would be no route for the Messiah, Yeshua to take the throne. This event happened in 167 BCE.

1 Maccabees 1:54–61 (NRSV)

54 Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah, 55 and offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. 56 The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. 57 Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the law, was condemned to death by decree of the king. 58 They kept using violence against Israel, against those who were found month after month in the towns. 59 On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering. 60 According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, 61 and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks.

On the twenty-fifth day of Chislev, the Greeks sacrificed a pig on the alter of the temple of God. This was around the time of the winter solstice and they sacrificed to Zeus. The interesting part is that this would have been the very pagan festival that Christmas draws much of its traditions. In one town the priest, Mattathias, would not stand for the blasphemy of the Greeks forcing his people to break the covenant and the defiling of the temple.

1 Maccabees 2:19–28 (NRSV)

19 But Mattathias answered and said in a loud voice: “Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to obey his commandments, everyone of them abandoning the religion of their ancestors, 20 I and my sons and my brothers will continue to live by the covenant of our ancestors. 21 Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances. 22 We will not obey the king’s words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left.”

23 When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein, according to the king’s command. 24 When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him on the altar. 25 At the same time he killed the king’s officer who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. 26 Thus he burned with zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did against Zimri son of Salu.

Phinehas was the priest that was so angry with Zimir for being involved with the idolatry of the Moabite women. This example of blending pagan idolatry with the things of God is used as an example throughout scripture. It is even discussed in the seven letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation.

Numbers 25:6–13 (LEB)

And behold, a man from the Israelites came and brought to his brothers a Midianite woman before the eyes of Moses and before the eyes of all of the community of the Israelites, and they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of assembly. When Phinehas son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest saw, he got up from the midst of the community and took a spear in his hand. He went after the man of Israel into the woman’s section of the tent, and he drove the two of them, the man of Israel and the woman, into her belly. And the plague among the Israelites stopped. The ones who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand. 10 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, turned away my anger from among the Israelites when he was jealous with my jealousy in their midst, and I did not destroy the Israelites with my jealousy. 12 Therefore say, ‘Behold, I am giving to him my covenant of peace, 13 and it will be for him and his offspring after him a covenant of an eternal priesthood because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the Israelites.’ ”

Getting involved with other nations’ gods and their items of worship makes Yahuah very angry. Mattathias was in good company being compared to Phinehas.

27 Then Mattathias cried out in the town with a loud voice, saying: “Let every one who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me!” 28 Then he and his sons fled to the hills and left all that they had in the town.

This started a war in which this band of Jews, dedicated to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, would eventually beat their oppressors at great odds.

1 Maccabees 4:36–41 (NRSV)

36 Then Judas and his brothers said, “See, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it.” 37 So all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion. 38 There they saw the sanctuary desolate, the altar profaned, and the gates burned. In the courts they saw bushes sprung up as in a thicket, or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins. 39 Then they tore their clothes and mourned with great lamentation; they sprinkled themselves with ashes 40 and fell face down on the ground. And when the signal was given with the trumpets, they cried out to Heaven.

These men cleansed the temple as per the instructions of God and had a great celebration when they once again could have a functioning temple.

1 Maccabees 4:52–59 (NRSV)

52 Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year, 53 they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering that they had built. 54 At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. 55 All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. 56 So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving offering. 57 They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and fitted them with doors. 58 There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed. 59 Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.

This year the 25th day of Chislev coincides with December 19th. The very pagan religion that was fought against by the remnant of people from whom the Messiah was born, is now the central theme of the birth of this same Messiah in Christianity. How ironic is this? It really is a terrible situation.

Yeshua is recorded coming down from Galilee for the celebration.

John 10:22–23 (CJB)

22 Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, 23 and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s Colonnade.

If we fast forward several hundred years after Yeshua was celebrating Hanukkah at the temple, we will see something very disturbing. Christianity, now in the hands of the Greeks and Romans, has eerie similarities to 167 BCE when the Greeks were trying to force the remnant Jews to break the covenant with the Creator. The following is from the second council of Nice in 787 CE.

Canon VIII.
That Hebrews ought not to be received unless they have been converted in sincerity of
heart.
Since certain, erring in the superstitions of the Hebrews, have thought to mock at Christ
our God, and feigning to be converted to the religion of Christ do deny him, and in private
and secretly keep the Sabbath and observe other Jewish customs, we decree that such persons
be not received to communion, nor to prayers, nor into the Church;
but let them be openly
Hebrews according to their religion, and let them not bring their children to baptism, nor
purchase or possess a slave. But if any of them, out of a sincere heart and in faith, is converted
and makes profession with his whole heart, setting at naught their customs and observances,
and so that others may be convinced and converted, such an one is to be received and baptized,
and his children likewise; and let them be taught to take care to hold aloof from the
ordinances of the Hebrews. But if they will not do this, let them in no wise be received.

In other words, if a Hebrew abstains from eating pork or keeps the sabbaths as commanded by the same God that these church leaders should be following, they will be cut off from the church. I am hoping everyone can see the irony in this. If not, I will spell it out.

The Greek leader, Antiochus Epiphanes, forced God’s only people on earth to abandon the commandments of this God, Yahuah, making them eat swine’s flesh, and sacrifice to pagan gods at the time of the winter solstice, almost completely wiping out this tribe of Judah from which Messiah Yeshua would come. A brave priest and his family fought back and beat this Seleucid Empire, cleansed and rededicated the temple, and declared a yearly celebration of this dedication of the temple called Hanukkah. Yeshua was born a little over one hundred years later, was circumcised on the eighth day, celebrated all the biblical feasts at the temple, yes even Hanukkah, as well as the Sabbaths. He kept the commandments of God perfectly and taught his followers to do the same. Fast forward about 700 years and the “church” is celebrating the same pagan festivals as the Greeks, calling it Christ’s Mass, and falsely assigning it to the birth of the Messiah. Then if a Hebrew wants to join the “church” they must eat swine’s flesh and not observe the God ordained Sabbaths and feasts.

According to Paul, anyone coming into the faith is grafted into the natural olive tree of Israel through the root of Jesse, or in other words, Messiah Yeshua. Those who cross over as Hebrews being born again in the faith should not be acting the same way Antiochus Epiphanes acted forcing everyone to eat swine’s flesh, forsake Sabbaths, and celebrate the feast of Zeus by falsely renaming it “Jesus’ birthday”. This is a very good reason to celebrate Hanukkah!

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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