POSTED 19 DECEMBER, 2016
This month of December 2016, the Jewish and Messianic Jewish communities will be commemorating Chanukah or the Festival of Dedication. Chanukah is a very warm time for Jewish and Messianic Jewish families, mainly as they reflect back on different family memories, special times of fellowship, gift giving, and of course eating many specialty foods. In many Messianic congregations the world over, there will be dedicated times of reading from the Books of Maccabees, focusing on the ancient history of the Seleucid invasion of the Land of Israel, the resistance that opposed Hellenism and upheld God’s Torah, and which assured not just a Jewish victory over evil but the very survival of the Jewish people. For those of us in Biblical Studies, the Maccabean crisis of the Second Century B.C.E. significantly impacted the Second Temple Jewish world of Yeshua of Nazareth, and in particular the attitudes of many within the Jewish community to their Greek and Roman neighbors. Many of the conflicts in the First Century ekklēsia that took place, as Greeks and Romans began receiving the Messiah of Israel into their lives—and whether these people had to be circumcised as Jewish proselytes in order to truly be reckoned as God’s own—can trace their way back to the effects of what we review during the season of Chanukah.
Ten to eleven years ago (2005-2006), in my family’s Messianic quest, we fully embraced the remembrance of Chanukah. Up until this point, we had moved beyond Christmas on December 25, but were unsure of the Festival of Dedication. We certainly had no problem with joining in to various congregational activities which took place on Shabbat, in order to remember Chanukah, which mainly included various readings from 1&2 Maccabees and lighting the chanukiah. The significance of the Maccabean crisis really began to come into focus for us, as I started writing Messianic commentaries on various books of the New Testament, and found myself referencing not just the Maccabean revolt—but its psychological impact on later Jewish generations. Without the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Greeks, there would be no Jewish people into which the Messiah of Israel would be born. Chanukah should be remembered by today’s Messianic community, no different than how Americans celebrate the Fourth of July.December_2014_OIM_News