A popular justification for the celebration of Hanukkah by Messianics is the claim that Yah'shua (Jesus), as "the light of the world" (Jn.8:12; 9:5) was conceived during the 'Festival of Lights' (Hanukkah) and born nine months later during the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot. Using the same logic we could claim that Yah'shua actually was, or should have been, born at Christmas because that, too, is a 'festival of lights' and...well, Yah'shua is the "light of the world". As we have seen in a recent study, there are many other 'light festivals' at this time of the year and Yah'shua can't possibly be co-opted to justify all of them. Each 'light festival' must be seen for what it really is so that the Saviour of Mankind is not blasphemously linked to any that is not actually from heaven. And as our study showed, Hanukkah is, in fact, just an adapted pagan winter solstice festival with some historical facts but with a lot of Pharisaic myth added to it.
When was Yah'shua actually conceived and born? All Messianics are agreed that He was not born during the winter months because the sheep were outside at pasture and it could well have been the lambing season (Lk.2:8). Furthermore, since every festival is somehow tied to the Messiah and pointing to Him, it is possible to try and link His birth to any of them, and you would find some sort of connection. Yah'shua was not, after all, only the "light of the world" but many other things too. He was also our sacrificial lamb, which could tie His conception to Passover Pesach, or to the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. He was also the firstfruits of the resrrection which could tie His conception to the Feast of Firstfruits or Yom haBikkurim. The only thing we can be nearly totally certain about is that the Messiah was born at some time between mid-March and mid-October (see When was Yah'shua (Jesus) Born? and Why We Believe Christ was Born on 6 April). But since these studies were made a long time ago, it is probably time that we made a fresh one based on the knowledge we have acquired over the last decade
Before we consider biblical chronologies, it is important that we take a brief look at symbolism. The Festivals of Yahweh are a spiritual and chronological map that show us, in detail, the Plan of Salvation with all its component parts. It begins with Passover depicting the spiritual conception of a new believer, leading to the new birth at the Feast of Firstfruits, the covenanting life at Pentecost or Shavu'ot and ends with the Marriage Feast of the Lamb for the Bride of Messiah at the Feast of Tabernacles. As such, then, this is the chronology of the spiritual life as it pertains to a man trusting in Christ. It is not about the chronological life of Christ even though the sequence from Passover to Tabernacles is indeed sequential, starting as it does with the Cross and ending with the Second Coming at the Day of Trumpets or Yom Teruah, the Judgment at the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur and the Union of Bridegroom and Bride at Tabernacles. Where, then, would you expect to 'fit in' the birth of Messiah? At the beginning or end of this sequence? Most Messianics want you to fit it in at the end - at Tabernacles - but the rest of us believe it has to be at the beginning because the birth of Messiah better harmonises with the spiritual conception of a new believer than with the second coming and final glorification. And birth is more commonly associated with spring rather than with autumn/fall, is it not? Symbolically and chronologically it makes more sense to have the Birth of Christ at the beginning of the cycle of festivals.
It is significant, I think, to note at this point that Christians have been trying, unsuccessfully, to date the birth of Christ using Scripture and the scant historical narratives on the subject without any success. Theologians have placed the birth in February (Wagenseil), March (Paulius), April (Greswell), June (Lichtenstein), August (Strong), September (Lightfoot), and October (Newcome). Broadly speaking, though, they claim that He was born in either the spring (Clinton) or autumn/fall (Larchur). One thing we do absolutely know is that He was not born on 25 December (Catholic, Protestant, Seventh Day Adventist and Mormon Churches) or on 7 January (Eastern Orthodox Church).
The ambiguity would seem to be purposeful because if Yahweh had wanted us to celebrate the birth of His Son He would have commanded it whether through Yah'shua Himself or His apostles, but there is not so much as a hint that this was desired, let alone commanded. And this article has not been written to persuade you to celebrate it on one date or the other. Scripture is more interested in the New Birth that comes about as a result of trusting in the Death of the Son of the Most High, and it is that we must always focus on. This being so, why the move to link His conception with what was essentially a late Sukkot - with a feast that couldn't be observed on time because of religious and military oppression by an occupying power and a civil war? Hanukkah was originally 8 days long because Sukkot is 8 days long, not because of the ficticious miracle of one day's oil supply for the Temple menorah supposedly lasting 8 days. Yah'shua was not born 'late' but on time by divine appointment. There were no myths or fables surrounding His conception as there are with Hannukah. His conception was immaculate, Hannukah's full of flaws. And the light that Hanukkah represents is a false light, not the true one which was Yah'shua the Messiah.
It took my family several years to see through the illusion that is Hanukkah so I don't blame you if you are confused. Many cling onto it simply because it is 'Jewish' as if everything 'Jewish' has by default a divine imprimatur or authorisation. The Jews, like everyone else, have made mistakes, and like everyone else, they have fallen into unbelief and apostacy. The Old Testament tells you that in no uncertain terms which is why we are to look to Joseph in the New Covenant, not Judah.
The light of truth concerning Hanukkah only dawned on me gradually - it was the last bit of Jewish house-cleaning I had to do to make sure my family was following kosher traditions and not man-made ones. This year we have totally ignored Hanukkah as we have for some years now, and as we ignored Christmas some 25 years ago to the disapproval of both orthodox Christians and Messianics. Instead, we have focussed on the 10th Rosh Chodesh of the year and have been hugely blessed doing that, knowing we have been treading on safe ground in the fear of Yahweh.
Even if Yah'shua was conceived during Hanukkah (and it has to be admitted that that is a possibility) it would still not legitimise it. Making a 'light' connection is not good enough. It is not too late to renounce the lies of the Talmudic elders and ask Yah'shua for a spiritual clean-out of your being, even while Hanukkah is still in progress. There are many messianics who have done this, along with messianic evangelicals such as ourselves. My eyes are on the next Rosh Chodesh! I hope yours will be too. Shalom!