The Hanukkah [and Christmas] season is upon us, and it is a good time to reflect about the significance of the season in the life of Messiah Yeshua [Jesus]. Based on the evidence of Scripture, we can calculate that the timing of the Messiah’s birth was probably during the fall feast of Sukkot (pronounced Sue-coat), also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. The determination of this date is the subject of another article, but the evidence is based on the priestly course of Abijah, the birth of John the Baptist, and the fact that Yeshua began His earthly ministry in His thirtieth year (Luke 3:23). Since theologians have long known that Messiah’s earthly ministry was for three and a half years, and concluded with His death at Passover, it is easy to determine that He was born in the fall, most likely the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Indications alluding to this are found in Torah, where “Jacob journeyed to Succoth and built booths/sukkot” for his animals (Gen. 33:17). Since Yeshua was born in a stable or sukkah, we can concur there is a connection to the fall feasts of the LORD and the birth of Messiah. Also, traveling pilgrims, going to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, would have filled up the inns along the way, which explains why Mary [Miriam] and Joseph [Yosef] took shelter in a stable/sukkah.
Considering the timing of the birth of Messiah, we can also count back nine months to His conception during the Hanukkah season. There are many parallels in Scripture that connect Yeshua to the themes of light and the temple menorah (candlestick, lampstand). These are the symbols of the Feast of Dedication, also known as Hanukkah. Here are just a few examples:
“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. And the light shines in the darkness…There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came…to bear witness of the Light…That was the true Light, which lights every man…” (John 1:4-9).
“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:15-16).
“…I am Alpha [in Hebrew: Alef] and Omega [Tav], the first and the last…And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man…” (Rev.1:11-13).
In the Bible, the candlestick or lampstand is a symbol for a congregation of the righteous, who belong to Yeshua. Messiah standing in the midst of the seven lamps or candlesticks is a picture of Yeshua being the center of the menorah. Just as Yeshua is the focus of the menorah, He can also be found in the center of the all the Biblical holidays, Hanukkah included. The Feast of Dedication is connected to the fall Feast of Tabernacles, because it was a delayed eight day celebration of Sukkot, a time of rededication of the Temple, after it was purified in the time of the Maccabees.
During the Hanukkah season, Miriam, the mother of Yeshua, received the news that would save the world. She was to bear the child, foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is. 7:14). Immanuel means God is with us. For Miriam, God would actually be with her in a very intimate way, in her womb. Astounding to imagine! Miriam not only carried Yeshua, she nursed and caressed Him as any loving mother would. Miriam, did you know that when you kissed your little baby, you kissed the face of God?*
Miriam’s child was also the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6-7: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon His kingdom….” Did Miriam know, at the inception of receiving her Hanukkah gift, planted in her womb, just what a treasure she carried under her heart? Miriam, did you know that your baby boy was Lord of all creation?*
This infant, that was to be born, was far and above any other child. He was spoken of before His conception by the prophet Micah. “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” How did one young woman from Galilee become entrusted to carry the everlasting ruler of Israel? Miriam, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?*
This child was from ancient times, from eternity. When He grew into a man, Yeshua said this about his origin, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). He not only existed before Abraham, He was also the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). This is all way beyond human comprehension. Miriam must have been overcome with wonder, during the Hanukkah that she conceived the Light of the world within her. No wonder she treasured things in her heart! Miriam, did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb, the sleeping child your holding is the great I AM?*
Luke chapter one is a great passage to read for Hanukkah. Miriam is an example of a woman dedicated to the purposes of God, no matter what the personal cost was to her own life, her own body, her own reputation. She would submit, and fulfill the will of God. She would learn of a great miracle in Galilee. That with God, all things are possible.
“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS [YESHUA]. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:26-33).
What a miraculous promise for a handmaid of the Lord! Miriam lived in the land of Israel, surrounded by the same type of barbaric, pagan culture of foreign conquerors that the Maccabees endured. Hanukkah is the celebration of the victory of the faithful Jewish remnant over the kingdom of this world. The Maccabees fought for their convictions, to live according to the Torah, and worship the one true God. Hellenism and assimilation were the tools of seduction in their time. Many Jews succumbed to the Syrian Greek way of life, and forsook the commandments of God, and chose to worship idols. If the Maccabees had not revolted against Antiochus IV, a type of anti-Christ, all of the Jews would have been wiped off the earth, and the birth of Messiah could never have taken place. If there had never been a Jewish victory in 164 B.C., there would never have been a Nativity to celebrate. If the Jewish people hadn’t been determined to keep the Covenant of their God, in the days of Antiochus IV, today’s Christians would never have had a “Reason for the Season”.
Only eternity will disclose the full value of one act of submission by one humble woman. Miriam’s faith and trust in the Word, delivered unto her, was pure. Miriam believed God, and she was entrusted to carry the Word within her. For those who think God can not use a woman to bring forth the Word of God, think again.
“Then said Mary [Miriam] unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:34-38)
Miriam, did you know your one humble act of obedience, would change the world? Did you know that out of your womb the LIGHT of the World would overthrow the kingdom of darkness? Did you know that your baby boy, born the King of the Jews, would one day rule the nations?
“Miriam, did you know that your baby boy will some day walk on water?
Miriam, did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.”*
*Lyrics from the song, “Mary Did You Know? By Mark Lowry,
The Hebrew “Miriam” is inserted for the English “Mary.”