Although Hanukkah is thought of by most as an exclusively Jewish holiday, in reality, the only place where Hanukkah is mentioned in the Bible is in the New Testament – “At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem” John 10:22. The Hebrew word “Hanukkah” means dedication, and is therefore called, the Feast of Dedication. This Feast commemorates the Jewish people’s rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem to the LORD.
The History of Hanukkah began when the Greco- Assyrians invaded and captured Jerusalem. They attempted to destroy the culture and religion of the Jews, and desecrate the Temple of the LORD. During this time, a group of Greco-Assyrian soldiers marched into a Jewish settlement and demanded that the Jewish priest there, Mattathias, sacrifice a pig to their pagan god, Zeus. Because Mattathias feared the LORD, more than the Greco-Assyrians, he refused to sacrifice the pig as they were unclean. A fellow Jewish onlooker, fearing the Greco-Assyrians wrath, volunteered to sacrifice the pig. In response to this, Mattathias drew his sword and killed him.
This act of conviction and courage so inspired the rest of the Jews that they assembled there and joined Mattathias forming an army. Under the leadership of Judah (Mattathias’ son), this newly formed army of the LORD successfully stopped the Greco-Assyrians from overtaking their settlement, and eventually drove them out of the whole region, including Jerusalem and the Temple. This victory climaxed with the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the inauguration of the Feast of Dedication.
While rededicating the Temple, when the Jews went to light the Menorah (the lampstand in the Temple), there was only enough oil to burn in the Menorah for one day. However, tradition states, that supernaturally, the oil burned for eight days! Thus, the Hanukkah Menorah that Jewish people light each year has eight candles, representing these eight miraculous days of burning. An additional ninth
“Servant” candle on the Hanukkah Menorah is used to light the candles each night.
Just as the ninth candle on the Hanukkah Menorah is used to light the other eight, Yeshua has made us to be “supernatural lights” to the world! “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven!” Matthew 5:14-16.
FEAST OF TRUMPETS
The first of the Fall Feasts is called Yom T’rooah-The Day of Trumpets. In modern day Judaism, it is known as Rosh Hashanah, Head of the Year, and is celebrated as the Jewish New Year. A common custom is to say “L’shanah tovah”, which means, “May it be a good year.” Another custom is to eat apples dipped in honey. The apples and honey represent God’s provision and sweetness that He will manifest to us in the coming year. We read about this feast (Yom T’rooah) in Leviticus 23:24 – “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, in the seventh month, on the first of the month (Tishri), you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of (shofars) trumpets.” But what does the shofar help us to remember? In the Holy Scriptures, there are two passages that speak of the LORD, Himself, blowing the shofar.
The first passage is found in Exodus 19:13, when the children of Israel prepared themselves to go up to Mount Sinai to meet the LORD. The second is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the LORD Himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar; those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air…”
In both of these instances the blowing of the shofar announces God’s manifest presence. In Exodus 19, the sound of a shofar from heaven grew louder and louder so that the people who stood at the base of Mt. Sinai began to tremble. Then God spoke, and more than a million Israelites heard the audible voice of God at the same time. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16, God again blows His shofar from heaven, as Jesus the Messiah returns to the world manifesting the glory of God!
The Blowing of the Shofar Announces God’s Manifest Presence.
At the sounding of the Shofar each year on Yom T’rooah – The Feast of Trumpets, we remember that Messiah Jesus, Yeshua HaMashiach, is returning soon!
DAY OF ATONEMENT
The second of the Fall Feasts is called Yom Kippur-The Day of Atonement. We read about this feast in Leviticus 16 & 17 and in Leviticus 23:27. This is the day that the High Priest would carry the blood of the bull and goat through the veil and into the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle- the Holy of Holies. The High Priest of the Israelites would then pour the blood onto the altar over the Ark of the Covenant and, in doing so, make atonement for the children of Israel (Lev. 17:11). The book of Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 tell us that the blood of the bulls and the goats offered up to the LORD in the ancient Temple was a foreshadow of the blood of Jesus. Through the death and shed blood of Jesus, we are forgiven once and for all! Praise God! Hallelujah!
For us, Yom Kippur is a time of thanking and worshiping Yeshua for His sacrifice and for forgiving us our sins. There is also a prophetic aspect of this feast that has yet to be fulfilled – the turning of the Jewish people to Messiah Yeshua (Zech. 12:10). When He returns, He will lift the veil from their eyes! The book of Revelation foretells this glorious event: “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen” (Rev. 1:7). The New Testament foretells of this same event in Romans 11:26, which states that at Messiah’s return “all Israel will be saved.”
FEAST OF TABERNACLES
The last of the Fall Feasts is called Sukkot-The Feast of Tabernacles. This feast is a joyous and happy time of giving thanks to God for His provision. We read about this feast in Leviticus 23:34-42 “On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD… You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD… It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations… You shall live in booths for seven days.”
During this feast, in many Jewish homes and synagogues, a sukkah will be constructed. A sukkah (meaning tabernacle or booth), is a temporary structure made out of lumber, grass, or any other natural substance, and is decorated with natural materials including tree branches, leaves, flowers, vegetables and fruit.
During the celebration of Sukkot many people will eat their meals, and sleep, in the sukkah for the entire seven days of the feast. While in the sukkah Jewish people remember how they had nothing in the wilderness but God. For forty years the LORD supplied their every need. He fed them supernaturally with manna, gave them water out of a rock, and caused their clothes not to wear out. They had nothing but God, yet He was enough! This is another beautiful foreshadow of how we should live our lives today; totally dependent on Him! Sukkot also involves the tradition of “the waving of the lulav.” The lulav is a gathering of branches made from four species found in Israel: the Palm branch, Myrtle, Willow and the Etrog (Lev. 23:40). We hold the lulav up and wave it before the LORD. By doing this, we are testifying of His beauty and bounty. that He is everywhere, and that all good gifts come from Him! Praise the LORD!
A remarkable tradition that took place during the Feast of Tabernacles in the days of Yeshua is called Hoshana Rabbah. During this ceremony, the priests would march from the pool of Siloam to the altar at the Temple in Jerusalem carrying a pitcher of water. They would then pour the pitcher of water onto the altar. Through this act, the priests were thanking God in advance for the coming winter rains which would produce another bountiful harvest in the spring.
This tradition also represented the pouring out of God’s Spirit at the coming of Messiah to the people of Yeshua’s day.
On this day of Hoshana Rabbah, Jesus cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). By proclaiming this, Jesus was revealing that He was the Messiah
Lastly, the Scriptures tell us that the Feast of Tabernacles will be celebrated in the millennial Kingdom of God. The book of Zechariah tells us- “any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem (during Armageddon), will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zech. 14:16)
Beloved, this is the time of year that ancient Israel brought Father God a special offering for The Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:27, Deuteronomy 16:15-17). In Exodus 25:2 Father God says, “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.” Beloved, we need your help. Please ask God what He is asking you to do, then just obey Him immediately!
FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS
During the Feast of First Fruits in ancient Israel, the Israelites would take the first fruit of their spring harvest and offer it to God, thus sanctifying their whole harvest (Leviticus 23:9-14). Consider this, in the spring, the earth that looked dead during the winter, suddenly comes to life! In the same way, Jesus was dead, but supernaturally came back to life (on First Fruits) and ascended to the Father as “the first fruits of those raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20,23).
The first of the seven feasts given to the Hebrew nation is Passover. It celebrates the Israelites deliverance from bondage. Yeshua celebrated the Passover with His disciples at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-30). Later, He fulfilled it (1 Cor. 5:7). Today, Passover is celebrated at a special dinner called the Seder (Order). This dinner involves symbolic foods that remind Jewish families of their deliverance out of Egypt. The Passover is an image of the promised Messiah, who, as the final sacrifice, delivered us and saved us from our sin (John 1:29).
Passover has been celebrated yearly for approximately 3,500 years. It celebrates the Israelites deliverance from bondage – a story of redemption through the blood of a lamb. Passover has since been fulfilled in Yeshua, “Messiah has become our Passover” (1 Cor. 5:7). Jesus died for us on Passover, redeeming us with His blood. He is the fulfillment of Passover, and is referred to as “the lamb of God” 29 times in the book of Revelation.
FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the day after Passover and lasts for seven days (Lev. 23:6-8). Throughout the week, Jewish Families remove all leaven from their homes and eat only unleavened bread, called Matzah. In preparing for their deliverance from Egypt, God instructed the children of Israel, “when you hear my voice, leave in haste and do not wait for the bread to rise” (Deut. 16:3). Instant obedience was required, in order for them to be delivered. Yeshua is the fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. At Passover, Yeshua took the Matzah and breaking it said, “take this Matzah and eat, this is My body which is given for you”(Luke 22:19). He is the perfectly obedient One, Whose obedience, to the point of His death on the cross, saved us!
Throughout the week after Passover, Jewish families remove all leaven from their homes and eat only unleavened bread called Matzah. This Matzah is pierced and striped – a symbol of Yeshua on the cross. We find in the Scriptures that leaven is used as a symbol for sin (1 Corinthians 5:6-7). Removing leaven from our home is a symbol of purifying our lives of sin. Yeshua came so that all our sins may be washed away.
Shavuot, meaning weeks, (also known as Pentecost, meaning 50) comes from Lev 23:16. In Acts 2 we read that there were thousands of Jews in Jerusalem celebrating Pentecost and remembering how God appeared to them on Mt. Sinai in fire and glory 1500 years earlier, giving them His law on the tablets of stone (Exo. 19:16-19). The disciples encountered this as God filled them with His Holy Spirit and wrote His law in their hearts. This was the fulfillment of what the prophets spoke of in Ezk 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you”. Final atonement for sin was accomplished at Passover and the gift of the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost-Shavuot. Hallelujah!
This feast takes place fifty days after the feast of First Fruits (Leviticus 23:15-16; First Fruit’s is also the day that Yeshua rose from the dead). This feast also came to be associated with the day that the LORD gave the Law to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai. In Acts 2, as Yeshua’s disciples were remembering how the God of Israel manifested Himself in fire at Mt. Sinai, they suddenly encountered that same fire as the God of Israel filled them with His Holy Spirit.