The following is an excerpt from our children’s book, Walk With Yeshua Through the Jewish Year by Janie-sue Wertheim and Kathy Shapiro. In addition to the Bit of Background” and “Digging Deeper” sections presented here, each chapter highlights a passage of Scripture with study questions, describes holiday traditions, offers celebration ideas and suggests a memory verse. The book covers eight major Jewish holidays and is great for homeschooling, Sunday School or even grown ups who are looking for a concise explanation of the Jewish holidays. The book is 68 pages, with a full color cover and plenty of “color-it-yourself” illustrations inside. It is only $7.00 plus $1.05 postage and handling (California residents add 7.25% sales tax). To order on the web, go to Jews for Jesus Store/a> or call us toll-free at 1-877-4-MESSIAH.
A Bit of Background
Throughout the history of the Jewish people, wicked people have tried to wipe us out—but God’s power has always preserved us. One evil ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes, tried to destroy our people by making us serve false gods. The brave Maccabees defeated that evil man, but it was God’s power that enabled the small band of Israelites to defeat the mighty Greek army.
Tradition says that after the Maccabees cleansed and dedicated the Temple, there was only enough oil for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days! That is why the holiday is also called “The Festival of Lights.”
Hanukkah is such a well-known holiday for Jewish families, yet the only Scripture that mentions Hanukkah is in the New Covenant!
When Yeshua was here on earth, the Roman government ruled over us. Our people longed for freedom. Many thought Messiah would come as a great warrior to defeat the Romans. But God wanted to give His people more than a temporary victory over an earthly ruler. God sent Yeshua to defeat sin and death so that we could love and worship Him.
The worst thing that Antiochus Epiphanes did was try to turn the Jewish people away from God. He put up a big idol (false god) and sacrificed a pig in the Temple to keep our people from worshipping the one true God. Sometimes we can get so caught up in thinking of the oil that lasted eight days that we forget the reason for the oil. It was to dedicate the Temple so that we could worship God properly once again. Hanukkah is a fun holiday, but it’s also a time to think of ourselves as temples. If you have invited Yeshua into your heart, the Bible says His Holy Spirit lives inside of you just like God’s Spirit once dwelled in the Temple. When we allow other people or things to be more important to us than God, it’s like having idols in our hearts.
Hanukkah is a great time to make sure that we are putting God first and that our hearts are nice, clean places for the Holy Spirit to live. We can ask God to cleanse us and help us be rededicated just like the Temple was rededicated. If we do, God will make a miracle in our hearts. Because even if we don’t have all the goodness it takes to put God first, God will provide what we need to dedicate ourselves to Him just like He provided the extra oil for the Temple.