There was a period of time between the events of the Old and New Testaments, that a successor of Alexander the Great decided it was time to annihilate the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. Interesting how century after century, bloodthirsty despots have been filled with the same hatred for God’s people – from the Amalekite terrorist attack on Moses as he led the Hebrews to the Promised Land, to the Philistines led by Goliath, to the Midianites that Gideon’s 300 fought, to the Babylonian invasion, the Roman persecution, the Catholic Inquisition, the Nazi Holocaust, and even today, the many enemies of Israel who openly declare their desire to kill all Jews. This is a visible image of the devil’s hatred for any who are chosen by God. But, back to the story…
History tells us this Greek emperor was Antiochus Epiphanes, who believed himself to be a god incarnate. Not any god, but Zeus himself, or Jupiter according to the Romans, or Mithris according to the Persians, Osiris by the Egyptians, and various other names depending on the culture – different names, same demon. He was the sun god who was said to have been born of a virgin on the 25th of December. In his hatred for the Jews and the God of Israel, Antiochus Epiphanes invaded Jerusalem and took possession of the Temple, where he killed the High Priest, erected a temple to Zeus on the Temple grounds, and sacrificed the blood of pigs on the altar of God to defile God’s House. This was a horrific event. The Jews who had not fought in any wars since the Babylonian exile, gathered their inexperienced men in a revolt against the Greek (Selucid) army, what historians call the Maccabean Revolt. Though the Bible doesn’t explain this event, it is foretold in the book of Daniel.
But God, as always, is faithful to His promises. The men of Israel, led by Judas Maccabes, a son of the High Priest, fought a three-year battle to take back their land and their Temple. God miraculously gave them victory as they smashed the altar of Zeus, purified the altar of God, and relit the menorah with holy oil to symbolize that God’s presence was still with them, and rededicated the Temple. Ironically, that victory happened on December 25th, the supposed birthday of that false god.
“But that’s just a Jewish holiday, it has nothing to do with us,” say some Christians. “It’s a commercialized celebration just like Christmas.” Whenever God gives victory to His people, it has everything to do with us. But more than that, ask yourself: why did Jesus celebrate Hanukkah? Bible translators refer to Jesus coming to the Temple for the Feast of Dedication in the winter. But the word “dedication” in Hebrew, is “hanukkah.” That was the day Jesus proclaimed that the Father was in Him, and He was in the Father. He clearly announced that He was God, standing in His own Temple, but the Pharisees were enraged and wanted to stone Him to death for blasphemy.
This snippet of history that few Christians even know about, explains a few points of why our church doesn’t put much stock in honoring December 25th as the birthday of Jesus (the Bible seems to indicate that Jesus was born during lambing season which is in the spring). And these points are why I plan to celebrate Hanukkah this year with my family:
- The daily mindset of a Christian has to be one of revolt, keeping our “holy of holies” pure and renewed. Ruthlessness against the devil is non-negotiable.
- Our daily desire is to keep the light of God shining inside of us, the Holy Spirit who protects and guides us.
- Our awareness that an “abomination of desolation” is coming soon, according to Jesus’ warnings – a demonic image will be erected on the Temple Mount when Jesus’ return is imminent. This is the time for radical faith.
- As the spirit of the antichrist is so clearly on the rise today, why celebrate the birthdate of his representative who defiled God’s Temple? Why celebrate a pagan holiday that was later “Christianized?”
- If Jesus celebrated the rededication of God’s Temple, why not celebrate a rededication of our temples to Him as well?
The Jewish calendar marks the week of Hanukkah for 2016, as beginning on December 24th, and ending New Years Day. My family and I plan to be extra thankful to God, make special prayers of revolt against anything the devil is trying to defile in the lives of those we minister to, and trust that His light is shining bright in us day and night. No better follow-up to the Israel Challenge than that!
The Feast of the Dedication was at Jerusalem, and it was winter. Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s Porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him, saying, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you did not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life. They shall never perish, nor shall anyone snatch them from My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them from My Father’s hand. My Father and I are one.” (John 10:22-30 MEV)