It may come as surprise to some but instead of celebrating the birth of Jesus [Yeshua] on December 25th, He most likely celebrated a notable Jewish festival on this very date; as recorded in the gospel of John.
John 10: 22
Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus [Yeshua] walked in the Temple, in Solomon's porch.
1 Maccabees 4: 36-38, 47-51
Then Judas and his brothers said, "Now that our enemies have been crushed, let us go up and purify the sanctuary [Temple] and rededicate it." So the whole army assembled, and went up to Mount Zion. They found the sanctuary desolate, the altar desecrated, the gate burned, weeds growing in the courts as in a forest or some mountain, and the priests chambers demolished. And they took uncut stones, according to the law [Torah], and built a new altar like the former one. They also repaired the sanctuary and the interior of the temple and purified the courts. They made new sacred vessels and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table [of shewbread] into the temple. Then they burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps on the lampstand, and these illuminated the temple. They also put loaves [of shewbread] on the table and hung the curtains. Thus they finished the work they had undertaken.
1 Maccabees 4: 52-56, 58-59
Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, that is the month of Chislev ["December"], in the year one hundred and forty eight [164 B.C.], they arose and offered sacrifice according to the law [Torah] on the new altar of holocausts [burnt offerings] that they had made. On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it, on that very day it was reconsecrated with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals. All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven [HaShem] who had given them success. For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar and joyfully offered holocausts and sacrifices of deliverance and praise. There was great joy among the people now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed. Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar [Temple and all its vessels] should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev ["December'].
1 Maccabees 1: 21-23, 54-57, 61-62
He [Antiochus Epiphanes IV] insolently invaded the sanctuary [Temple] and took away the golden altar, the lampstand for the light with all its fixtures, the offering table, the cups and bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, the golden ornament on the faade of the temple. He stripped off everything, and took away the gold and solver and precious [holy] vessels. On the fifteenth day [twenty-fifth??] day of the month Chislev ["December"], in the year one hundred and forty-five [167 B.C.], king Antiochus Epiphanes IV erected the horrible abomination upon the altar of holocausts, and in the surrounding cities of Judah they built pagan altars. They also burnt incense [to pagan gods] at the doors of the houses in the streets. Any scroll of the law [Torah] which they found they tore up and burnt. Whoever was found with a scroll of the covenant and whoever observed the law [Torah] was condemned to death by royal decree. But many in Israel were determined and resolved in their hearts not to eat anything unclean; they preferred to die rather than be defiled with unclean food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. Terrible affliction was upon Israel.
COMMENTARY: The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus mentions that this celebration known as Feast of the Dedication which our LORD and Savior observed is the 'Festival of Lights' or Hanukkah ["Dedication"], which is derived from the revolt of Judas Maccabees and his brothers over the pagan armies of Antiochus Epiphanies IV and cleansing the Jewish sanctuary of ritual defilement. The lighting of the Menorah symbolizes the miracle that God performed because there was only enough oil to light the lampstand for one day but it lasted for eight. Instead of the entire festive atmosphere which usually surrounds the typical Yuletide and holiday Season, December 25th should be a solemn reflection and reminder about a people willing to sacrifice their very lives for their religious faith in order to please God and keep His covenant. On a spiritual level, just as the sanctuary was purified of defilement the believer must do the same with the temple of his body and rededicate it again in holy service to God (Cp. Romans 12: 1-2; 1 Corinthians 3: 17b).
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December 25, 2011
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