Hanukkah – Today? – For Christians? – how about, YEAH!

Written by Michael

December 9, 2020

In Genesis 1, it tells us how the world was created – but it also describes the entire world as a Temple in which God holds dominion. According to Genesis 1:6, God creates a canopy: expanse (raqia) in the midst of the waters.  The word also translated, “firmament”—is the same word used for the “ceiling” of the Temple: “Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in the expanse (raqia) of his stronghold” (Ps 150:1). Just like the world has an “expanse,” the Temple has an “expanse”; Even the Rabbis believe God built the universe in the same way the Temple was instructed to be built.

God commands the priests to maintain a “light” (maor) in the tabernacle, the mobile design of the Temple: “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light (maor), for kindling lamps regularly” (Lev 24:2). This command references when God made the sun and the moon, which the Bible calls “the two great lights”, the greater light (maor) to dominate the day, and the lesser light (maor) to dominate the night.” (Gen 1:15). Even the seven-day creation corresponds to the span of “seven years” that it took Solomon to build the Temple (1 Kgs 6:38), and the Feast of Tabernacles “before the Lord our God seven days” (1 Kgs 8:65). While other ancient peoples also built temples for their gods, the Israelites proclaimed their God lives and reigns, not only in a single Temple, but over the entire world! – This differentiates and affirms – even before Yeshua came, how Yahweh is the One True, and only Supreme God.

About 175 B.C., during the inter-Testamental period, the Seleucid (one of the 4 provincial kingdoms) emperor Antiochus Epiphanes invaded Judea, outlawing fundamental Jewish practices (feasts, dietary, worship) and violating the temple with a statue of Zeus and the sacrifice of impure animals on the altar. The Maccabees arose in response; this group of Jewish guerilla warriors (we could call them the Biblical-era Mossad) undertook an uprising led by the Levite Mattityahu and his five sons. That revolt was successful, and by 165, the temple had been recaptured and cleansed–with a new altar dedicated, fit for sacrifices to the God of Israel. One problem remained: According to Exodus 27:21, lamps were to burn all night, every night, lit from pure, consecrated olive oil. And only one such jar of oil was found–enough for one day. But, as the story tells us, that small jar of oil lasted for eight days, the length of time it took to bring more pure oil to Jerusalem. And thus, the holiday of Hanukkah was born.

In short, Hanukkah is a celebration of two things: 1) taking what was sacred, having been profaned by invaders, to be re-dedicated for the true worship of Yahweh, and made holy as per the design of the Father. And 2) a great military victory to be celebrated for millennia. The dedication used oil (symbolic of the Holy Spirit) to cleanse the Temple (symbolic of you and I) in re-dedicating it unto the Lord.  It took violence and a conflict to see that victory won

While the Maccabees themselves make for an exciting story, and while that victory was tremendously important for the freedom of worship, its impact did indeed diminish over time. More than diminished. It ended up with the reign of some of the most corrupt and power-hungry rulers in the form of the Hasmonean dynasty, whose infighting and ambition caused Rome to take over Judea from 63 B.C. Power corrupts unless it is guided by holiness and a desire to please God according to His Word.  John Adams even said this about our own laws – “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

There is no doubt (we live in a dark time) that, surrounded by lawlessness and a desire to take the people of the world into the end times.  Power hungry madness is running out of control. The level of fear, depression, anxiety, and discouragement is off of the charts.  Data shows more Americans are being medicated for the latter than ever before in the history of our nation.  Let us fast forward to the time of Yeshua’s ministry on earth.  As Yeshua and his followers were leaving Jerusalem, his disciples marveled at the beauty of the Temple. Jesus responded, “Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (Matt 24:2). How could Yeshua know that the Temple would be destroyed?

The buildings that impressed Jesus’ disciples so much were erected by Herod the Great, who began expanding the Jerusalem Temple complex in 20 BCE. He did not live to see its completion around 60 CE, and it would be destroyed by the Roman army just a decade later. Yeshua was right: the marvelous buildings would be toppled to the ground by Titus in 70 CE. Jesus warned his disciples, “when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place… flee to the mountains” (Matt 24:15-16). Which is what the Maccabees did (flee to the mountains) before organizing against Antiochus.

It seems that the words of Daniel were not just about the desolation of Antiochus in the Maccabean era. Yeshua foresaw the greater desolation of Titus in the Roman period. History does repeat itself here. It seems in almost every generation there are those who seek to ruin and attempt to lay waste the things of God, but the spirit of righteousness that once burned in the Maccabees continues to burn in the hearts of many today.  For example – believers are being awakened to holiness and repentance and examining ourselves.  At the same time, many are falling to fear, and this is the same thing that happened during the Maccabean revolt.  Are we seeking the face of God today like we should, or are we giving up in fear? – God always has used a remnant of people to see victory realized in the earth.  Right now, we are fighting for religious freedom in our nation, because we know currently, there was such global corruption at the highest levels of government regarding our election, as well as much, much more – it takes the people of God humbling themselves and praying, seeking His face, and repenting – in order for God to move in the land – Scripture does not say anything about the heathen needing to repent for this to happen. Righteousness is not just a personal issue; it is a national dilemma – So what does this have to do with Christians celebrating Hanukkah? – let us continue…

John’s Gospel records Jesus’ statement at the “time of the Feast of Dedication” (John 10:22)—otherwise known as Hanukkah—He declares, “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will not walk-in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). This declaration reminds us of God’s first words at creation, and now Yeshua wants to be OUR light, and then cause us to be lights everywhere we go.  In Hannukah, on the hanukkiah (menorah) – “the Great Light” (the middle candle) called the Shamash – lights the rest of the candles – adding one per day.  What a picture and demonstration of Jesus lighting us, filling us with His Spirit, and cleansing us over an 8-day period.

Retaking the temple, (Jesus capturing you and I); dedicating it and creating sacred space again to God (repentance and cleansing); filling it with oil again (refilling of the Holy Spirit), and the fact the Jesus himself, in a moment, placed His identity right inside the “Feast of Dedication” – Hannukah as Light of the World – should be an obvious picture that this is not simply a historic Jewish celebration of a victory won by the Maccabees.  Believers can take this celebration and unite with our Jewish brothers to show solidarity before the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and Yeshua – to take personal inventory of what the enemy has done to invade our temples – and cleanse them before our God.

2 Corinthians 7:1 – Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God… It is time for believers to be cleansed and unite in purpose for His Kingdom – not our own empires and worlds… research the story of Hanukkah and see if it resonates inside you this season – it starts Thursday Night…Blessings

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