Every year as we approach the annual winter holiday season there are two points of contentious debate that come up among people who simply want to ensure they are truly living according to Scripture. The first and more widespread is the debate about whether or not followers of Yeshua should celebrate Christmas, and if doing so is some form of paganism or Satan-worship. This is not going to be the primary focus of this message, as I have already covered this in great extent through other articles.
The other thing that comes up, at least among those who have already come to certain biblical realities about obeying the whole Bible, is whether or not followers of Yeshua should celebrate Hanukkah, which is also referred to as The Festival of Lights and The Feast of Dedication. In fact, apart from a handful of Messianic Jewish leaning Bible translations that use the modern holiday name Hanukkah, most English Bibles refer to this as The Feast of Dedication.
Yes, you read that correctly, there is a reference to Hanukkah in The Bible. Take a look:
Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem. Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade. ••• John 10:22-23 (TLV) •••
There is a lot of debate about whether or not this lone mention of Hanukkah in Scripture is an indication that Yeshua Himself celebrated it. I have contended that He in fact did celebrate this winter festival in my previous article: Did Yeshua Celebrate Hanukkah? So I will not take time in this message to repeat what I shared in that message. However, I will provide you with some highlights from that message. • Yeshua would have walked anywhere from six days to two weeks from Galilee through the winter weather to be in Jerusalem for Hanukkah. Some contend that winter in Israel is not like winter in Siberia or Alaska, but it is still cold and unpleasant, nobody would take on such a journey for no good reason.
• It was at this celebration of Hanukkah recorded in John 10 where Yeshua announced Himself as The Messiah, even saying that He and The Father are one.
• There is no indication of Him railing against the celebration as something against Scripture. We see that The Gospels make it a point to tell us about times where He referred to religious leaders in violation of Torah as being a brood of vipers, hypocrites, and whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones. Also, there was that incident where He flipped over tables and chased people out of The Temple with a whip. Yet with Hanukkah we see no such objection or chastising.
When we examine these points it becomes quite apparent that Yeshua very likely was at The Temple to celebrate Hanukkah, and at the very least did not seem to object to it. This leads us to a point where we need to evaluate the very real possibility that not celebrating Hanukkah is, in fact, an act of breaking The Torah.
Are We Commanded To Celebrate Hanukkah?
I imagine right now you might be thinking how not celebrating Hanukkah is a violation of Torah. After all, we all know it is not one of the commonly referred to “Commanded Feasts” outlined in Exodus 23, Leviticus 23, Numbers 28-29, and Deuteronomy 16. In fact, it couldn’t be as this is a celebration that was established during the time of the Maccabees in the period of history between the Books of Malachi and Matthew.
Many today contend that since there appears to be no Torah commandment to keep Hanukkah we are not to celebrate it. I have even heard people claim it is also a “pagan festival”, much like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween.
Well, if all we looked at were what is directly and most literally stated in The Torah, it would appear on the surface that minor festivals like Hanukkah and Purim are not commanded Feasts. These two celebrations clearly were developed later in history and nothing in Scripture directly commands their celebration. However, there is something we must consider, something that is a commandment from The Torah.
“Adonai your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst—from your brothers. To him you must listen. This is just what you asked of Adonai your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly when saying, ‘I cannot continue to hear the voice of Adonai my God or see this great fire any more, or I will die.’
Adonai said to me, ‘They have done well in what they have spoken. I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their brothers. I will put My words in his mouth, and he will speak to them all that I command him. Now whoever does not listen to My words that this prophet speaks in My Name, I Myself will call him to account.” ••• Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (TLV) •••
Moses said, ‘Adonai your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers. Hear and obey Him in all that He shall say to you. And it shall be that every soul that will not listen to that Prophet shall be completely cut off from the people.’ ••• Acts 3:22-23 (TLV) •••
This is the Moses who said to Bnei-Yisrael, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.’
This is the one who was in the community in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living words to pass on to us. ••• Acts 7:37-38 (TLV) •••
Yeshua is the prophet like Moses that was spoken of in Deuteronomy 18, which means that whatever Yeshua taught—either verbally or through His own actions—is not only something we are to follow because He is The Messiah, but also because we are literally commanded in The Torah to listen to and obey Him. This means that celebrating Hanukkah, assuming Yeshua truly did celebrate it, is commanded by The Torah—thus making it a “Commanded Feast” on exactly the same level as the original seven Feasts of Yah.
To take this line of thought a bit further, Deuteronomy 17:8-13 gives a commandment on how to handle a matter that is not clearly established in The Torah. The responsibility falls on the ruling priestly authority to make a decision on the matter, and that decision is then as binding as anything else in The Torah. Well, as Hebrews 7 tells us Yeshua is our new covenant High Priest, it would seem that His authority is further solidified as Torah. Between this commandment and the commandment to follow Him as “the prophet like Moses”, this is why anything He said or did is not adding to Torah—as some would contend in their attempts to discredit and invalidate Yeshua as The Messiah—because The Torah establishes that anything He says or does becomes Torah. Those who claim that Hanukkah should not be celebrated by a new covenant Believer simply do not understand the depths of how Deuteronomy 17:8-13 and 18:15-19 applies to Yeshua and all that He said and did.
In addition to this, as new covenant Believers I would contend that the Apostles rulings should also be accepted under the parameters of Deuteronomy 17:8-13. In 1 John 2:6 the Apostle tells us that anyone who abides in Yeshua MUST walk as He walked. This is a written as a commandment, and it builds on the Deuteronomy 18:15-19 commandment to listen to and obey “the prophet like Moses”. So, seeing as all indications are that Yeshua celebrated Hanukkah as documented in John 10 and as I present in my article Did Yeshua Celebrate Hanukkah?, celebrating Hanukkah also becomes part of walking as He walked.
What If Yeshua Didn’t Celebrate Hanukkah?
I know this is the big question. After all, if the points I and others have made regarding Yeshua celebrating Hanukkah are wrong and He indeed was not at The Temple to celebrate it on the day recorded in John 10, then what I said about it being a Torah commandment would no longer be true. Right?
Well, hold on a moment, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
A moment ago I pointed out that one of the points that supports the view that Yeshua was at The Temple to celebrate Hanukkah is that He did not lash out at anyone, did not flip over any tables, did not call out any hypocrisy, and did not chase people out of The Temple with a whip. While I believe that this does support the claim that He was engaged in the celebration of the festival, even if He didn’t this fact would indicate that He was not opposed to the celebration.
You see, if at the very least He was not opposed to the celebration of Hanukkah, and we have an obligation through Torah to listen to and follow in obedience whatever He said or taught through His words and His actions, then we are at the very least commanded not to be opposed to celebrating Hanukkah.
Recently I saw a video posted online that caught my attention, so I decided to check it out. I didn’t get too far into it before I turned it off. What caused me to stop watching was when the young lady speaking said, of Hanukkah, that “we should not trade one pagan holiday [Christmas] for another [Hanukkah]”. This, as I will show in a moment, is not true—Hanukkah is not a holiday that originated from any kind of pagan religion.
So then the question becomes whether or not we should celebrate it if Yeshua in fact did not celebrate it—even though the indications, when you really look at everything surrounding His presence at The Temple during the feast, say He was there to participate in the celebration. Well, to this I would say that we absolutely should be celebrating it regardless of whether or not we can come to an absolute conclusion regarding John 10:22-23. Allow me to continue.
Often when discussing the other holiday debated at this time, Christmas, we evaluate the evidence that leads us typically to a very solid “maybe it’s pagan”. Now, make no mistake about it, regardless of the fact that I will acknowledge the information we do have about Christmas simply does not lead us to an absolute conclusion one way or the other, I do believe the facts heavily leans toward it being an outright pagan holiday built on a platform of Satan-worship. There is a LOT of accepted academic sources that say Christmas originated from existing pagan festivals that were repackaged for “Christian celebration”. There is nothing that indicates Hanukkah is exactly what it is—a celebration of the restoration of the Jerusalem Temple.
So, with regard to Christmas, we have a holiday that has overwhelming evidence that indicates it is rooted in Satanic pagan religions and it’s not a holiday endorsed anywhere in Scripture. This would mean that the most logical conclusion is that it is best to not celebrate it, as in doing so you would most likely be celebrating an unbiblical Satanic pagan festival—and it really wouldn’t matter to The Father whatever you want to say “it means to you”.
In a similar manner, we have the same logical conclusion we should come to with regard to Hanukkah. What we have is a celebration that is in The Bible and Yeshua most likely celebrated based on the available facts. At the very least, Hanukkah is not born out of some pagan festival and it was not opposed by our Messiah. It is very clear in the historical record from the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees—which have long been debated and are included historically in many Bibles, including the famed Geneva Bibles that were among the earliest Bibles used in America—that this is a celebration instituted by the Israelites when they regained control of The Temple and rededicated it for use in worshiping Yahweh.
What this means is that, using the same kind of logical erring on the side of caution we would apply to not celebrating Christmas because it’s not endorsed by Scripture and almost certainly is Satanic paganism, we should celebrate Hanukkah because it is endorsed by Scripture and very likely was not merely accepted by Yeshua but celebrated by Him. This means that celebrating Hanukkah is the only logical conclusion for any serious Believer, because if Yeshua did celebrate it then we have a commandment from The Torah to listen to and follow Yeshua as the prophet like Moses. If we are going to not celebrate Christmas to err on the side of caution, then it appears we must celebrate Hanukkah to also err on the side of caution—since just like the evidence leans heavily toward Christmas being a rebranded pagan festival the evidence also leans toward Yeshua having celebrated Hanukkah as recorded in John 10.
Seeing as there is no violation of Torah through celebrating Hanukkah—as it is not a pagan festival, but at best a national holiday of Israel celebrating their regaining the freedom to worship in The Temple, which was quite essential for Yeshua to fulfill His mission—then there is nothing wrong with celebrating it. When we build on top of this the fact that there are strong indications Yeshua celebrated it, making it part of obeying the Torah regarding the commandment to follow the prophet like Moses, then the only smart thing to do is to celebrate it at the very least just in case it really is essential to obeying this particular Torah commandment. This, again, is no different than shunning Christmas just in case it really is as Satanic as it appears to be. I don’t want to keep repeating myself, but I do want to make sure you get it. After all, research shows that most people need to be told something several times before it really “sinks in”.
There may be no direct commandment in The Bible, be it in The Torah or anywhere else, to celebrate Hanukkah. But there is nothing in Scripture that opposes it and there is a strong case to be made that Yeshua celebrated it. Since we are commanded to listen to Yeshua, obey Yeshua, and walk as He walked (or, do what He did), then if there is even a remote chance that He celebrated Hanukkah—which, again, there are strong arguments to that point—then the only logical thing for a true follower of Messiah to do is to celebrate it too.
When you get right down to it, John 14:15 records Yeshua telling us that if we love Him we need to keep the commandments. I know Christianity often spins their wheels and goes through all sorts of mental gymnastics and a grossly eisegetical approach to this to say that Yeshua was not talking about The Torah. But the fact of the matter is that there really is no other set of commandments in Scripture that He could possibly have been talking about.
I have no doubt that most Christians really believe they love Yeshua. But they do not love Him according to how The Bible defines love, so according to The Bible they don’t really love Him. Scripture does not tell us to love Him with a worldly, secular, humanist, emotionally driven love. It tells us to love Him through obedience to The Torah. If you love Him, you will obey the commandments, regardless of what “all the other Christians” are doing.
To take it even further, 1 John 2:4 says that anyone who claims to know Him but does not keep the commandments is a liar and the truth is not in them. Then it says in 1 John 2:6 that if we claim to abide in Him we must walk as He walked. This would all go hand-in-hand with loving Him through keeping The Torah and following the commandment to listen to and follow the prophet like Moses. No matter how we approach this, the only logical conclusion is that celebrating Hanukkah is as much a part of following Yeshua and The Torah as not celebrating Christmas is following the Torah commandment in Deuteronomy 12:29-31.
It’s really fascinating when you stop and think about it. When you approach this from a “worst case scenario” ideology, then the majority of Christians are defying The Father and His Torah both in their celebration of Christmas and in their not celebrating Hanukkah. They would find a message like this to be ludicrous in even suggesting such a thing, yet the facts say exactly that. I would suggest taking time to also read my article Defiling The Temple, where I show how Hanukkah teaches us to care for our own physical body and for all Creation. I think it would be hard for any serious Believer to continue celebrating Christmas and not celebrating Hanukkah after reading it.
It’s Bigger Than A Holiday
Often the case is that when I tackle a subject like this and write a message along this line, people think I am making too much of what they feel is a rather petty issue. As the old saying goes: Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. In other words, don’t take something that’s “not that big of a deal” and turn it into a major point of contention and division.
But this is not just a matter of whether or not Christians should celebrate Hanukkah or should not celebrate holidays like Christmas. This is a much bigger issue—it’s the exposure of a heart condition found in most Christians today.
While I seek to draw attention to the whole Bible, when I discuss topics like those focused on which holidays are biblical and which are not, keeping The Sabbath Day, not eating unclean things, not wearing wool and linen together, not tattooing your body, and other such things there are people who think that’s all I talk about or that I am drawing too much attention to things they believe to be “lesser matters”. Of course, this view stems from Yeshua commending religious leaders in His day for paying tithes on mint and dill and cumin but ignoring “weightier matters”. People often miss it with this and think that “weightier matters” are limited to the three things Yeshua stated in that setting: justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23).
I think we need to do a serious reevaluation of what “weightier matters” are. What if we approached “weightier matters” of God’s Law as whatever parts of Torah are being rejected by religion in a given time in history?
Think about it. Because Yeshua listed these three things as examples of “weightier matters” and because modern Christianity has a warped view of who He was you will rarely find a solid Christian ministry, preacher, or believer who is not strongly focused on justice, mercy, and faithfulness. While their concept of these words may not always be quite what they are meant to be biblically, most Christians today are all about justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
So what if we refocused “weightier matters” and instead of strictly defining them as justice, mercy, and faithfulness we took a broader approach to them being whatever parts of Torah the majority is ignoring in the present day. In this case celebrating secular-pagan holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween in direct violation of The Torah would be a “weightier matter” in our generation (Deuteronomy 12:29-31). Not celebrating the holidays listed in The Bible—the Spring and Fall Feasts listed in Torah as well as the feasts of Purim and Hanukkah that we see Yeshua celebrated—would be “weightier matters”. The rejection of the Leviticus 11 food laws, the Leviticus 19:19 commandment against wearing wool and linen together, and the Leviticus 19:28 commandment against tattooing your body would be “weightier matters”.
You see, when we look at it from this perspective it really opens this up to being a heart issue. Only someone whose heart is hardened against The Father would reject the truth in favor of popular religious tradition. I do not write simply to try to convince anyone that they should be keeping Bible holidays instead of pagan holidays or that they shouldn’t be eating things like pork and shellfish. I write to expose the hardened hearts of religious people who actually believe the right thing to do is the opposite of what The Bible says.
Hanukkah was born out of oppression where God’s people were killed for refusing to eat pork or break The Sabbath under a tyrant ruler that most theologians would tell you was a prophetic preview of the Anti-Messiah. Today’s Christian, however, is more interested in following popular religion and not being seen as a “weird religious fanatic”. They will live within the boundaries of cultural holiness, but draw the line at doing anything The Bible commands if nobody else in their circle of religious friends is doing it.
Something else to think about is the Hanukkah menorah (called the Hanukkiah) that has nine branches as opposed to the original seven-branch menorah used in the Israelite Tabernacle and later the Jerusalem Temple. Many who have studied the prophetic significance of The Feasts of Yahweh use the original menorah to show the three Spring Feasts set in the first three branches, The Feast of Shavuot (or Pentecost) set as the middle branch, and the three Fall Feasts as the latter three branches.
Well, the Israelites were given seven original Feasts, but the pagan festival calendar contains eight festivals that are sacred to Satanists, Wiccans, and the occult. These festivals include Christmas, Easter, and Halloween—though in pagan religions these are more commonly referred to as Saturnalia/Yule, Eostre/Ostara, and Samhain, along with the other five sacred festivals of Satanic paganism: Imbolic, Beltane, Litha, Lammas, and Mabon. It should make any serious “Christian” sick to their stomach that they have been unknowingly celebrating holidays that belong to Satan-worship, but sadly my finding is that most of the time you can show them all of the evidence and they will just make their excuses, starting with saying “that’s not what it means to me”.
So then we come to the Hanukkah menorah and we have nine branches. Two added branches, two feasts that came about as celebrations of The Father preserving His chosen people. Two more candles to ensure that God’s ways are always better than Satan’s ways. The devil wanted to come up with eight festivals, one more than originally given to God’s people, so He just smiled and said “OK, here’s two more feasts for My people, now what are you going to do?” Well, we know what Satan did, he deceived already compromised “Christians” into putting a “Christian mask” over some of his festivals and eventually they became solidified as tradition and today most “Christians” are literally celebrating Satan’s festivals, know nothing of their Father’s Feasts, and they are totally oblivious to the whole thing.
You should really be careful about traditions, especially religious traditions that come directly from Satanic pagan religions. In Mark 7:8, 9, and 13 Yeshua rebukes those who leave behind the commandments to hold onto the traditions of men, set aside the commandments to validate their own traditions, and make void the Word of God with their insistence to keep their traditions that have been handed down. You literally have to leave behind, set aside, and void the power of The Torah and the rest of God’s Word in order to celebrate Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. You have to renounce God’s Laws, saying in your heart “I don’t care what God said, I want to do what everyone else in the world is doing” to celebrate these things. And the craziest part of the whole thing is most “Christians” today have hearts this hardened to The Father’s Torah.
Sin is sin. The Bible says that if you transgress God’s Law in even one area you are guilty of violating the whole thing. What happens if God, as would be a very biblical approach to the topic, views what religion considers minor and even dares to say “is not sin” really is considered equal to those things people call “big sins” like murder or adultery? This would mean that what sends the most people to hell will not be what religion considers the most vile things, but those things that the overwhelming majority of even Christians are doing in violation of The Torah. It would mean that eating unclean things, celebrating the Satanic secular-pagan holidays, and not celebrating God’s Holy Feasts would send more people—and most Christians—to hell than anything else. And since The Father’s heart is that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9) it only stands to reason that those sins that may send the most people to hell are the ones He is the most concerned with, even if they are the things religion calls “petty and insignificant”.
Arguably the worst sin in the entire Bible was that first one that caused the entire sin problem and need for Yeshua to suffer in the first place. And what was that sin? They ate something The Father said not to eat. Think about that as the majority of Christians love their pork and shellfish. Think about it when nearly every Christian church in the world is adorned with decorated evergreen trees that bear a striking resemblance to what Jeremiah 10:1-5 in great detail says not to do. Think about it when people in religion claim they are not under God’s Law and that the holidays of The Bible are “Jewish” and they themselves are “Gentiles”.
Whenever someone hears those words from Matthew 7:23, “Depart from Me, I never knew you, worker of lawlessness,” it hurts The Father’s heart because His desire is that none should perish. Since lawlessness (sin) is the act of breaking The Torah (1 John 3:4), then it doesn’t matter what act of Torah-breaking is involved, the Scripture says they will be cast away because of their lawlessness. This would mean that potentially more people hurt The Father’s heart because of what they eat or what holidays the celebrate or don’t celebrate than anything else.
You see, if all I were doing were teaching you right from wrong, then you would likely obey purely from legalistic motives. But if we can tackle the heart issue, then you will find yourself obeying Torah and rejecting religious traditions that Yeshua said void The Word of God (Mark 7:13) not to “earn or maintain” salvation or because you think it’s the right thing to do, but because you have found the place where you love The Father with a true biblical definition of love—which is where you obey The Torah because you are consumed with love for Him. And that’s why I take so much time to teach what I do—not to convince anyone that celebrating Hanukkah is part of obeying The Torah, but to challenge you to examine the condition of your own heart and why you either obey or disobey The Father’s commandments.
~Blessings and Shalom~
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