The Miracle of Light

Why Gentiles Should Celebrate Hanukkah

Miryam E.

Festivals

Christianity Gentiles Hanukkah Maccabees

Any Messianic Gentile might come across the holiday of Hanukkah (or any Jewish holiday) and ask, “What does this have to do with me?”

After all, it wasn’t the Gentile nations that the Maccabees saved. People from the nations couldn’t even go into the Temple, and they seemed to have nothing to do with the oil on the menorah lasting for eight days. So why should Messianic Gentiles celebrate Hanukkah?

Let’s start off with another question. Why do Jews celebrate Hanukkah? They are celebrating the salvation of the Jews from the Seleucid Army. But about 240 years later, we were all expelled from Israel by the Romans. It’s wonderful that the oil in the menorah lasted for eight days, but we no longer have any sacred oil, much less a menorah for it to light. On top of that, nowhere in the Torah does it command us to celebrate this holiday. So why did the sages feel that they had the right to command us to recognize this moment? The overarching question is, what does this holiday have to do with the modern world and why do we still celebrate it?

The answer to that question is something that many Jews have yet to understand alongside Messianic Gentiles. In truth, the miracle of Hanukkah isn’t what it seems to be on the surface. The ancient rabbis saw a much bigger miracle that benefited not only the Jews, but also almost every culture and people on the earth today.

Let’s go back to the beginning. What if the Maccabees never won the battle against the Seleucids? What if there were no Maccabees, and everyone was too scared to fight against them? What would have happened? Let’s try to imagine this alternate reality.

If Judah had never been brave enough or had enough faith in God to oppose the seemingly undefeatable army, the entire Jewish population would have fallen into the hands of the Seleucids. Every Jew would either have been murdered or assimilated into Hellenistic culture. There would no longer be any identifiable Jewish people.

One hundred and sixty years later, Yeshua (Jesus) would never have been born. He would never have had twelve disciples. None of those disciples would have written the Gospels or preached faith in Messiah Yeshua to the nations. The now major religion of Christianity would never have existed.

The Roman Empire would never have adopted Christianity as their main religion. Most of Europe would still be polytheistic and practice pagan religions.

America would not be what it is today. Who knows what it would have been like? But the moral principles of the Bible would not be dominant influences in the culture. Laws such as “do not murder” and “do not steal” would not be as prevalent as they are today across the globe.

Another major religion, Islam, would never have existed. There would never have been an “Islamic Golden Age,'' which bore great advances in science, philosophy, medicine, culture, history, science, and mathematics. Without this phenomenal age of acquiring knowledge, the modern world would be way less advanced. We would not know anywhere close to as much about the world that God has given us.

The world would be covered in idolatrous, power-hungry, violent empires. The Bible would have been a forgotten ancient scripture instead of a book known worldwide and followed as a moral compass, integrated into countless countries and cultures.

Violence and murder would be even more rampant than they are today, leading to a world governed by materialism and evil inclinations.

Essentially, we Jews would have failed at our mission to show the light of God to the nations. As it says in Isaiah 49:6: “I will also give you for a light to the nations, so that my salvation may extend to the end of the earth.”

But, fortunately, none of that happened. Jewish people are very influential in today’s world and are becoming more so with the State of Israel. That is the miracle of Hanukkah.

The true miracle is not in the fact that we took back the Temple or oil that burned quite slowly. This is often what is focused on, but the essence of Hanukkah is completely missed.

Perhaps the miracle of light is a living metaphor for the light of the Jewish people continuing to burn despite all the forces in the world attempting to extinguish it. And you, my Messianic Gentile friends, are living proof of that. You give purpose to Jews continuing to survive and continuing to spread the light of God.

So not only should Messianic Gentiles (and all Gentiles) care a whole lot about the miracle of Hanukkah, but Messianic Gentiles are the miracle of Hanukkah. The existence of non-Jews walking in Israel’s light is proof that Jews are doing their job.

The Maccabees not only saved the Jewish people, but the entire world. They are still saving the world with the rising popularity of Messianic Judaism. Because of this, I would argue that Gentiles, Messianic Gentiles in particular, have just as much a reason to rejoice during those eight days in the winter. You might not have an obligation to light a menorah or to say Maoz Tzur and Hanerot Hallalu, but you still have every reason to express happiness and gratitude by stuffing your stomach with sufganiyot and playing dreidel until midnight.

Now, because of the bravery and faith of the Maccabees, every one of us is able to continue immersing in the light of the Torah and Yeshua together.

About the Author

Miryam is a Messianic Jewish teenager living in Wisconsin.

Festivals

Christianity Gentiles Hanukkah Maccabees

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