- Transcription from Podcast (Revised for Readability)
- The Hanukkah Story
- Part of the Christmas Story
- What Do We Do Today?
- Our Second Chance Is in Jesus
- Can Believers Celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas?
- Restoration and Hanukkah
- Restoration and Christmas
- Hope and Hanukkah
- Hope and Christmas
- Hanukkah and Life
- Christmas and Life
- In Closing…
Can Believers in Jesus celebrate Hanukkah? In part 1 of this 2-part series, Rabbi Curt Landry shares the historical significance of Hanukkah and Christmas. Many of you who are coming to better understand the Jewish roots of your Christian faith have also come to understand the pagan roots of many Christmas traditions.
So then, what do you do with this knowledge and understanding?
Hanukkah celebrates the hope and strength of our freedom to serve God.
Christmas celebrates the birth of our Messiah who came to die for the sins of the world, and was raised from the dead, and now is seated at the right hand of the Father.
If you are a Believer interested in the Jewish roots of your faith, you won’t want to miss this powerful podcast.
Transcription from Podcast (Revised for Readability)
Can Believers in Jesus Christ celebrate Hanukkah? It's an interesting subject, and we have people ask the question, “Can Believers who understand the pagan roots of Christmas celebrate Christmas?”
As a family, we personally celebrate both. We are Hanukkah, Christmas Jews.
- Both represent and speak to God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob being the Light of the world.
- Both of them bring hope and restoration.
- Both of them are great teaching tools for our children and great teaching tools for our children's children.
- Both contain great stories.
The Hanukkah Story
In the Hanukkah story, the Temple is under corruption. It's being misused. It's being defiled. One family, the Maccabees, decides it will make a difference. The family leader, Judah Maccabee, rises up like a superhero.
He's in the city of Modi'in. Antiochus IV’s garrison is there. They tell the Maccabean family at Modi'in, “You will sacrifice a pig on the altar. You will do it our way. You will separate from your God and not honor Him. You will honor us as God. You must obey. If you don't, we're going to cancel you.”
The bravery of Judah Maccabee says, “Enough is enough.” He decides to equip his sons, and they take out the garrison, and they refuse to defile the altar at their house and their Temple there at Modi'in.
The Maccabees Win But They Aren’t Done Yet
They Find a Statue
They travel at night from Modi'in to Jerusalem. Arriving at the Temple, they find a statue of Zeus that has defiled it.
They Find “Fake” Priests
But a statue of Zeus isn’t all the find. They find Hellenized Jews, fake priests who sold out to the Greek culture. They were doing all sorts of sexually immoral things inside the Temple, supposedly representing the people. But they weren’t representing the people at all. They were fake priests with fake messages and fake news, so to say.
They Remove the Statue and “Fake” Priests
Judah Maccabee and his army go in and remove the priests, remove the statue of Zeus. They cleanse the Temple and find one container of oil from the carafe that's left. They light the great menorah and believe for eight days. After eight days, a miracle comes.
Part of the Christmas Story
But what about the Christmas story? The Christmas tree, for example, has pagan roots that come from a Hellenized system. People would encourage themselves during the winter solstice time, during December when things were freezing, by bringing a tree into the house and putting lights on it to overcome the dark winter days.
However, as Christianity spread, the Christmas tree became associated with Christmas. The leaders at the time asked, “What's the easiest way to transition from that pagan culture to a Christian culture? Let's say that Jesus was born on December 25th, at the same time as the winter solstice.”
And so they went down that path, and with their yuletide beliefs, they incorporated the two.
What Do We Do Today?
Here we are today. What do we do? We've got children. You've got symbols all over. We've got menorahs and Christmas trees. What do they have in common?
Well, what they have in common is they have colors, they have food, they have symbolism, and both of them have lights. Both of them point to God. Both of them have miracle stories.
And perhaps the most significant is they both reveal something about second chances.
The Hanukkah story is all about a second chance.
If you'll go ahead and cleanse the Temple and renew the light, then you'll get a second chance. But isn't that what happened with Jesus Christ?
Jesus Christ came and hung on a tree. He said He was the Light of the world. So the Light of the world hung on a tree. It's not far off reach to have a Christmas tree that's beautiful, knowing that the beautiful gift from God, His only begotten Son who takes away the sins of the world, actually is the Light of the world who hung on a tree. Jesus expunged our sins allowing us to be able to enjoy our second chance.
See, both Hanukkah and Christmas are about a need for Lord and a second chance.
So throughout history, the Jewish people were forced out of their land because of disobedience, yet God is a God of second chances. He speaks to his children through the prophet Jeremiah and says, “I will forgive your inequities, and their sins I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). In fact, Jesus associated forgiveness with God's character of enduring patience and instructing to forgive 70 times seven in Matthew 18:22.
The Maccabees Second Chance
So over and over again, God gave His people new chances, and the Maccabees were no exception. They chased after God. He heard them, and He gave them a second chance. Though they were outmatched on the battlefield, God was on their side, and He gave them a second chance to restore and rededicate the Temple of worship to Him.
Jesus' birth allowed for a second chance for the Jewish people and all of God's creation. We all come from Adam and Eve and who fell, leading every generation into a sin nature. Yet God gave us his Son, Yeshua the Messiah.
Our Second Chance Is in Jesus
Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension allow us to have a second chance. Through His blood, we have been redeemed. In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7).
Can Believers Celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas?
I say yes. As Believers, we can see how the holiday points to the miracles, the provision, the hope, the mercy and the restoration. Both Hanukkah and Christmas tell us of that rebirth, rededication, new beginnings and life as part of God ultimate's plan for redemption and salvation.
Furthermore, Hanukkah and Christmas both point to Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father except through me” ( John 14:6).
Restoration and Hanukkah
Hanukkah celebrates the restoration brought to God's people through the Maccabees. The victory broke them free from their oppressor, and brought them back into the instruction and the patterns of life of worship serving God. Their hope and their hearts were restored.
Restoration and Christmas
Christmas, Jesus' birth, started a chain of events that brought restoration to all who have called on His name and are willing to accept Him as their Lord and Savior. He restored both Jew and Gentile to the Father. He gave us His Holy Spirit to live within us. As a result, we can be restored to Him daily. God is the ultimate restorer.
- “Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things which God has spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since the world began.”–Acts 3:20-21
Hope and Hanukkah
Hanukkah celebrates hope brought into the Maccabees after years of fighting to reclaim their freedom and the ability to serve God. They receive victory against all odds. Then God allowed the oil to last and provide light. This light brought them hope that God was with them and that the task to rededicate the Temple would be completed.
How many of you need to know the oil of the Holy Spirit that's in you will not run out? Are you going to take a fake anointing? Are you going to go get some counterfeit oil? No, you're not. You're going to believe as you celebrate Hanukkah if God supplied eight days of miracle new beginning oil for the Maccabees, that He'll do it for you.
Hope and Christmas
Jesus, through His birth, life, death and resurrection and ascension brings hope to the world. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick. But when the desire comes, it's the tree of life.”
When you set up that Christmas tree in your house and decorate it with your best lights and ornaments, you are saying…
- “My hope is not deferred. I'm celebrating Calvary. I'm celebrating the great tree of life. I'm celebrating the joy of the Lord that the light of the world hung on a tree for me to literally cast out the darkness.”
Jesus is the hope for our souls, for once we who were far off are brought near by His blood. He gives us truth, hope, and life.
Romans 5:5 says, “Now, hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
Hanukkah and Life
Hanukkah is the celebration of life. When the Maccabees were faced with death, God stepped in and provided light. Every night you light that Hanukkah candle and start with the shammash, the servant candle, you say, “Jesus lit my light.”
The Hanukkah Candles…
With the first candle, I say, “Number one, I say that God, Jesus is number one in my life.”
I light that second candle, and I say, “Second, I'm in agreement with candle one and two. Thank you, Lord.
We've got three candles lit. “We're a threefold cord. God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I will follow you, body, soul, and spirit.”
That fourth night, you light that candle, that's the door of the dalet. “Thank you Lord, You're opening doors.”
Five, the fifth candle, I say, “Oh, thank you, Jesus for grace, the number of five. I thank you, Lord, that I'm in agreement with God the Father, God the Son, and I'm into a new beginning and a three-stranded cord. The doors are opening and I have grace to go through.”
Six, the number of man. “Thank you, Father God, that the oil of God is being poured upon my head and I'm being anointed as a king and priest according to the order of Melchizedek, canceling that manness, so to say that humanness that wants to drift away and not follow after God's ways. Thank you, Lord, that the anointing is upon me to break the yoke. The anointing of God is upon me to strengthen me so that I might walk in seven, which is perfection.
Seventh candle, perfection, “And I give all credit to that first candle that was lit, the miracle oil of Jesus, that servant candle that came to the earth on command of his Father, to bring life and light to all men who a call on His name.”
And eighth, when you light that eighth candle, you can say, “Praise God. It's a new beginning for me and I'm in a new place, and I have overcome just like the Hanukkah story and the Maccabees.”
Christmas and Life
And then we come to Christmas, and Jesus is the way. Jesus is that eighth candle. He is the life. He is the life on earth. And through Him, we have eternal life. Through His blood, He has given us life.
He's given us the Holy Spirit that guides us in abundance. We decree and declare that the thief, Satan, has come to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus says, “I have come that you might have life and life more abundantly.” That abundant life is found in the story of Hanukkah in its traditions, and it's found in the story of Christmas in honoring the one who hung on a tree, that hope deferred.
So as I close with this, as we enter this season in the Holy Spirit…
- Hanukkah has lights, and Christmas has lights.
- Hanukkah has miracles, and Christmas has miracles.
- Hanukkah has a second chance, and Christmas has a second chance.
- Hanukkah brings restoration, and Christmas brings restoration.
- Hanukkah brings hope, and Christmas brings hope.
- Hanukkah brings new life, and Christmas brings new life.
“Father God, in the name of Jesus, let liberty and freedom and the joy of the Lord be the strength of all those who call in the name of the Lord. And may we come together as Jew and Gentile, one in Messiah. And Lord, let us glean light from Hanukkah and Christmas and the good. We cancel all pagan roots. We focus on that which is good and pure and of good report that the God of Shalom might guard our hearts.”
Thank you so much. Happy Hanukkah. Merry Christmas. Be at peace with one another. And remember how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It's there where God commands the blessing of life, life forevermore. God bless you. We'll see you next time. Shalom.
Curt Landry, founder of Curt Landry Ministries, and his wife, Christie, travel extensively, preaching and teaching about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. Together, their passion is to empower families to live and leave Kingdom legacies and understand their own personal heritage.