חנוכהIt is a century and a half before Jesus was born, Isreal is conquered, Jerusalem is occupied, and the world is undergoing a cultural revolution of a scope unrivaled in the millennium before or after. Hellenization. The propagation of Greek thought and culture from Spain to Syria. Throughout Israel, many Jews are giving in to the prevailing winds of culture, forgoing the study of the Torah as it is outlawed. Some go so far as to un-circumsize themselves so as to appear as gentiles in the public baths and gymnasiums. God's home on Mount Zion has been desecrated, a statue of Zeus erected, and pigs slaughtered on God's altar. Hellenizing influences have declared all out war on the traditional Jewish way of life, and by all appearances, they have won.
God still needed the Temple. So the Hanukkah Miracle began.
A Priest by the name of Maccabee led a rag tag geurilla offensive against the most powerful, most disciplined army in the world. They ran, much like their fore-fathers ran into battle after battle in Canaan, with no hope of victory. They picked a fight with a giant. They gave their all and against all odds they regained the city, and the Temple. Those who survived the campaign walked, battle weary, into the temple and started the work of re-dedicating it. Destroying the Statue of Zeus, scouring the temple of anything that might be unclean. All that work done, imagine their dismay at the sight of only one sealed container of consecrated oil. Only one day's worth of oil to light the Menorah that must burn for eight. They gave their all, they fought with everything they had, they were spent. They had nothing more to give, and it wasn't going to be enough.
Then God showed up, as he always does, when his people give everything they have. The oil lasted through each day of the week that it would take to re-dedicate the Temple. From then on God's people celebrate the Feast of Dedication, The Festival of Lights. One more example of God's intervention on behalf of his people so that each and every event could lead to the culmination of every tradition and Holy day, the Ultimate Passover.
Celebrate it because Jesus celebrated it (John 10:22-39), and celebrate it knowing that it is one strand in the Messianic thread that runs through the tapestry of history.