This week, instead of looking at the continuing narrative of Joseph and his sojourn in Egypt recorded in parashah Miketz, Genesis 41:1–44:17, let’s look at the Haftarah for the Shabbat of Hanukkah, Zechariah 2:14 – 4:7. But, before looking at Zechariah, I will briefly address an issue that I have heard mentioned in some Christian circles, specifically that Hanukkah is not a scripturally sanctioned holiday; rather it is simply a historic, national holiday. Though Hannukah is not included among the moedim (festivals) listed in Lev. 23, its importance should not be diminished. In John’s Besorah we read,
Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem. Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade. Then the Judean leaders surrounded Him, saying, “How long will You hold us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us outright!” Then Yeshua answered them, “I told you, but you don’t believe! The works I do in My Father’s name testify concerning Me. (John 10:22-26)
Sanctioned or not, John chose to record Yeshua’s presence in the Temple during Hanukkah to affirm the fact that Yeshua was the Messiah. Just as Joseph’s brothers did not recognize him (Genesis 42:7), the Judean leaders in John’s account did not recognize Yeshua as Messiah, although in time they will. Sha’ul affirmed this fact in his letter to the Yeshua followers in Rome.
I say then, they (Israel) did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their false step salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke Israel to jealousy. Now if their transgression leads to riches for the world, and their loss riches for the Gentiles, then how much more their fullness! (Romans 11:11-12)
Each Hanukkah we have a hint of what this future fullness will look like as we read these words from the prophet Zechariah,
“‘Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming, and I will live among you’—it is a declaration of ADONAI. ‘In that day many nations will join themselves to ADONAI and they will be My people and I will dwell among you.’ Then you will know that ADONAI-Tzva’ot has sent me to you. ADONAI will inherit Judah as His portion in the holy land and will once again choose Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 2:14-16)
The many nations are the multitudes of non-Jews who have come into the kingdom, grafted into the olive tree that is natural Israel (Romans 11:17), not becoming Israel but very much becoming accepted as HaShem’s people through their faith in Messiah Yeshua. With this in mind, let’s continue looking at the Zechariah passage, where HaShem is addressing Israel. After these many nations have joined Israel, HaShem reaffirms that he will dwell among Israel, and then that all of Israel will know that “ADONAI- Tzva’ot has sent me to you.” Who is the ‘me’ mentioned in Zechariah 2:15? I suggest that the “me” whom ADONAI- Tzva’ot sent to Israel and would one day be fully recognized, is Yeshua, the one who was hidden and one day would be fully revealed. That revelation will truly be a reason for singing and rejoicing!
Hanukkah is the season of lights and rejoicing. Hanukkiot brighten Jewish, as well as with many Christian homes, both in Israel and throughout the world, in celebration of the victory of the Maccabees all those centuries ago. Tonight, as we light the candles for the sixth night, may we focus not only on the victory of the Maccabees but more so the victory of the one who proclaimed,
“I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me will no longer walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Just as assuredly as Antiochus Epiphanes was defeated in the days of the Maccabees, so too has darkness been soundly defeated. The light has come into the world (John 1:4-5) and is now among us. Sing and rejoice in the knowledge and assurance that “I (HaShem) will dwell among you. Then you will know that ADONAI-Tzva’ot has sent me (Yeshua) to you.”
Shabbat Shalom and Hanukkah Sameach!
* All Scripture readings are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.