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‘Hanukkah’ – the Feast of Lights
The Feast of Hanukkah proceeded Christmas historically. It is believed that Christmas was invented for the purpose of replacing Hanukkah
In spite of historical antagonism, both feasts speak of the same thing:
-> the Light of God that shines in a world of Darkness
Even though Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Bible, same as with Christmas, both Feasts are spiritually very significant with regard to the Light of God that shines in a world of Darkness.
Hanukkah is a very prophetic celebration in the sense that:
-> it commemorates a great victory of the people of God against the agents of Darkness of their generation,
-> is a prophetic forerunner for the coming of the Messiah who would deliver God’s people from oppression
-> is the fulfillment of a scriptural decree (Zechariah 9:13),
-> helps explain a spiritual confrontation described in the book of Daniel where the “Prince of Greece” is revealed to be one of the worst enemies of God,
-> carries the most significant message of the need for purification from defilement of sin and re-dedication/consecration of the altar of worship” in the “temple of God” in order to prepare a place where God’s Holiness can manifest
Hanukkah means “dedication”
John 10:22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.
[Note: “the Feast of Dedication” is “Hanukkah” in Hebrew, rendered as “enkainia” in the Hellenic NT, the word used by Septuagint Hellenic to explain “hanukkah”]
23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 “I and My Father are one.”
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”
33 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ’? 35 “If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 “do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
37 “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 “but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” 39 Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.
Why is Hanukkah significant?
Other than the prophetic significance explained further below, there are several reasons (I will not list all of them here) – perhaps the most important is that Jesus practically revealed His identity during that Feast in Jerusalem (quotations from text above):
(“If You are the Christ, tell us plainly” -> “I told you, and you do not believe”)
(“I and My Father are one”, and, “You, being a man, make Yourself God” -> “I said, ‘I am the Son of God’ “)
The revelation of the identity of Jesus as Christ and God at the time of Hanukkah was not a coincidence! That had been the very purpose for which God created the circumstances and led the Jewish people to establish this additional Feast of Lights – not only because Jesus is the Light of the world, but also because He came to the world to become the means by which (through whom) carnal humans could become purified and dedicated to God, as “temples” where God could make His abode.
The story of Hanukkah is a story of (re)dedication of the temple of Solomon to God after the altar had been rebuilt and purified in a miraculous way (explained below).
What is Hanukkah?
New English Translation (NET Bible) provides the following notes on John 10:22. I have made minor modifications for better clarity and more accuracy:
–start quote– Hanukkah or the ‘Festival of Lights.’ The Greek name for the feast, τὰ ἐγκαίνια (ta enkainia), means “in new” (the opening event) and was used to translate Hanukkah which means “dedication.” The Greek noun, with its related verbs, was the standard term used in the LXX for the consecration of the altar… The word is thus connected with the consecration of all the houses of God in the history of the nation of Israel.
The feast of the Dedication (also known as Hanukkah) was a feast celebrating annually the Maccabean victories of 165-164 b.c. – when Judas Maccabeus drove out the armies of the Seleucid kingdom of Antiochus Epiphanes, rebuilt the altar, and rededicated the temple on 25 Kislev (1 Macc 4:41-61).
From a historical standpoint, it was the last great deliverance the Jewish people had experienced, and it came at a time when least expected. Josephus ends his account of the institution of the festival with the following statement: “And from that time to the present we observe this festival, which we call the festival of Lights, giving this name to it, I think, from the fact that the right to worship appeared to us at a time when we hardly dared hope for it” (Ant. 12.7.6 [12.325]). –end quote–
The key words/concepts that reveal the prophetic message and significance of Hanukkah are “enkainia”, i.e. make new, through “dedication”, i.e. consecration unto God – now, that could not have happened, if Judas Maccabeus had not miraculously prevailed against the greater military might of the armies of Antiochus Epiphanes, who had been one of the 4 Generals of Alexander the Great
(whose Hellenic Empire was split to each of those Generals after his death – as Daniel had also prophesied, thereby revealing the significance of the spiritual powers operating behind Alexander the Great and his Empire- in Daniel 8:21-22: “And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power”).
Antiochus had tried to abolish the worship of the Jews to God; he desecrated the altar by sacrificing the blood of pigs to Zeus and tried to force the Jewish people to worship the god of Alexander the Great and of the Hellenic Empire
(this god of Alexander was Zeus and the Olympian gods, mentioned in the Bible as the “Prince of Greece” or, the “kingdom of Greece”. By the way, that is what the Olympic Games are all about – worship of Zeus, until today! Alexander was indoctrinated into the Hellenistic culture by Aristotle, and considered it as the mission of his life to Hellenise the whole world of his time – his military might by which he accomplished his goal by overpowering far greater armies, such as the Persians, could only be explained by supernatural spiritual empowerment).
At this point it is good to remember what Jesus said about the altar of Zeus in Pergamos; He called it “Satan’s throne” and the “place where Satan dwells” (Revelation 2:13). That is the famous “altar of Pergamos” which is now in Berlin, an altar to Zeus where even human sacrifices took place. That is to say that from Jesus’ point of view, the worship of Zeus was equivalent to the worship of Satan.
The plan of Antiochus to enforce the worship of Zeus and completely Hellenise the Jews was as demonic as the ongoing current day efforts to eliminate all ties of the Jewish people to the Temple mount and Jerusalem. But God gave an unexpected victory through Judas Maccabeus who received a supernatural empowerment to overcome their enemies that was greater than the supernatural empowerment they were receiving by their god, Zeus.
That was one of several ways that we can understand Zechariah 9:13, which is both, a prophecy, and a decree by God, which was fulfilled through Judas Maccabeus and the Jewish people that he led to the battle against the army of the Seleucids who enforced the Hellenistic Empire and imposed the worship of Zeus:
Zech. 9:13 I will bend Judah as my bow; I will load the bow with Ephraim, my arrow! I will stir up your sons, Zion, against yours, Greece, and I will make you, Zion, like a warrior’s sword. 14 Then the LORD will appear above them, and his arrow will shoot forth like lightning; the Lord GOD will blow the trumpet and will sally forth on the southern storm winds. 15 The LORD who rules over all will guard them, and they will prevail and overcome with sling stones… 16 On that day the LORD their God will deliver them as the flock of his people…
(the spiritual confrontation between the “prince of Greece” and the “sons of Zion” continues to this day, and there are several more ways to interpret these prophetic words of Zechariah – all of which are equally valid and important)
What is the “Hanukkiyah” or “Hanukkah-Menorah”?
It is the 9-lamp menorah (candelabra), as opposed to the traditional 7-lamp Menorah that was in the Holies inside the Tabernacle of Moses, a symbol of the nation of Israel.
The Hanukkiyah is to commemorate an amazing miracle of divine intervention that happened after the first miracle of the defeat of the armed forces of the Seleucid Hellenistic Kingdom of Antiochus Epiphanes by the Maccabees. Because Antiochus had desecrated the altar to God in the temple, it had to be re-dedicated to God, to be consecrated again, to be holy onto God.
They needed to burn oil for the lampstand for 8 eights, because the process of consecration lasted 8 days. But in the temple there was holy oil left that was enough only for 1 day, and, they could not dedicate new oil, because the altar was not consecrated (and they could not use ordinary oil for the consecration).
Since there was nothing else they could do, they started burning that oil to start the process of consecration, and the miracle was that the fire of the lampstand did not go out for 8 days – so that was a miracle of multiplication of holy oil.
Those two miracles (the defeat of the Hellenistic forces and the multiplication of the holy oil) were so amazing that they decided to commemorate them for the generations to come by turning the 7-lamp Menorah to 9-lamp (8 main lamps for the 8 days of consecration, plus 1 service lamp that is used to light up the main 8).
The prophetic message of Hanukkah
The original Hellenic (Greek) of John 10:22 (main text of this article, above), reads: “Now it was ‘enkainia’ in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple…” (‘enkainia’ translated for clarity into “Feast of Dedication” in most English Bibles).
‘Enkainia’ is an event of celebration for “in-new” of a building, meaning “make new through dedication/consecration” that makes everything new, as if created for the first time! As it was later to be written in the NT about being ‘in-Christ’, in 1 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
The temple of God in the OT was made as a building by stones, but the temple of God in the NT is made of “living stones”, human beings who have re-dedicated, i.e. consecrated their lives onto God, through Jesus Christ – so that they/we can establish an altar of worship onto God in their/our hearts, as well as their/our dwelling places and places of corporate worship.
The celebration of Hanukkah, which is the Feast of Lights, i.e. the ‘enkainia’ which was the re-dedication of the temple, speaks of the multiplication of holy anointing oil which resulted in consecration – that is exactly what the Holy Spirit came to do when Jesus ascented to His Father in heaven and sat by His right side!
Hanukkah is a prophetic celebration of the Light of the world manifesting through the ‘burning’ of ‘holy anointing oil’ of God within, and, through re-dedicated human vessels, whom the Bible calls ‘lights of the world’! Dedicated “temples of God”, consecrated by the indwelling Holy Spirit which never runs out!
But there is more to it… there always is… (when it comes to spiritual things)!
Hanukkah declares the defeat of the Prince of Greece!
As Judas Maccabeus (ref. “sons of Zion” of Zech.9:13) defeated the armed forces of Antiochus Epiphanes (ref. “sons of Greece” of Zech. 9:13) and the worship of Zeus (Hellenistic mindset) was not able to prevail over the worship of God of Israel (who sent His Son, Jesus Christ to be the Light of the world)…
…so Hanukkah is a statement from God of Israel to the ‘ruler of this world’ that the “spirit of Greece” shall not prevail over the God of Israel!
It is not possible in this article to enter into a teaching on what is the spirit of Greece, which produces the Hellenistic mindset and the resulting secular humanistic culture of western civilisation (versus the deistic religious mindset of Islam and other dead religions of similar nature).
Even more difficult would be to explain how the Hellenistic mindset is manifest even among the religious Jews of the days of Jesus, to whom He said (John 10:26, in the text of this article) “you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep” even though they were descendants of Abraham and believers in God of Israel – to whom He also said on another occasion, thus revealing the spirit of the Prince of Greece manifesting through them:
Matthew 11:18 “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
The cutting edge of the spirit of Greece is humanistic wisdom; that is why Jesus was so hard and blunt towards Peter, when the ‘spirit of Greece’ (human wisdom according to the senses of this world) manifested through him (in Matthew 16:22), saying:
Matthew 16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 “For whoever desires to save his soul will lose it, but whoever loses his soul for My sake will find it.
A personal testimony on Hanukkah & the Hanukkiyah
I will close this article with a personal testimony that may help explain the ongoing confrontation between the “sons of Zion” and the “sons of Greece” in the spirit realm.
In 2003 the Lord told me to establish a House of Prayer in Athens. After He showed me the place of His choice, He said I should call it “Shalom Center”. When I asked Him why He gave a name that would be a challenge and a stumbling block in a place such as Athens (from where the spirit of Greece has spread to the entire western civilisation), His answer was: “Because I want it to be a testimony in the land of the Prince of Greece, that God of Israel is alive” – and He told me to dedicate it to Him on Hanukkah of that year…
We consecrated and dedicated Shalom Center, Athens, to the Lord God of Israel, whose name is Jesus Christ, on December 12, 2003. It was Hanukkah of that year, and I also made a custom-made 9-lamp stand to fulfill one more instruction I received…
He instructed me to light all 9 candles during our worship services of Shalom Center, as a commemoration of the defeat of the “sons of Greece” by the “sons of Zion” (the Maccabeans)-a declaration of victory of God of Israel over the spirit of Zeus! The Hanukkiyah in the photo has been lit at each service over the last 13 years (an estimated over 2,700 times until today).
An article by Tomas Sandell on Hanukkah & Christmas
There are very interesting connections between Christmas and Hanukkah, some positive, some negative. What is most important in our day and generation is that the enemies of both Christianity and Israel have launched a very serious effort to de-Christianise the world, as well as to wipe Israel off the map and exterminate the Jewish people. In the face of this imminent threat, the stewards of these two celebrations (Christian and Jewish leaders) need to hold hands in support of each other in order to stand strong in the face of the common enemy. Right below follows an important, timely message by Tomas Sandell, which helps explain more of that.
The reason for the season — now outlawed by the UN?
Tomas Sandell is a Finnish journalist who has been accredited by the European Union. He is today the Founding Director of European Coalition for Israel.
Below is a part of his message, click here to read the full article: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-reason-for-the-season-now-outlawed-by-the-un/
There could not have been a more bizarre backdrop to the already infamous UN Security Council Resolution 2334 than the simple fact that the resolution was passed on December 23rd, when world leaders tried to contradict the core message of two religious holidays, Christmas and Hanukkah. This year, incidentally, both holidays were celebrated on December 24th.
Let us recall the story lines. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Jewish Holy Temple in 164 BCE, after the Hellenistic (Greek) superpower of the time, the Seleucid Empire, had started a campaign to “de-Judaize” (sounds familiar) Jerusalem by aggressively Hellenizing the Jewish capital. Today, more than 2,150 years later, few of us have ever heard of the Seleucid Empire, while Jerusalem is still at the center of world attention.
Less than 200 years after the rededication of the temple, a young Jewish girl by the name of Miriam (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn son Yeshua (Jesus) in Bethlehem, the town of David. She had travelled together with Joseph, to whom she was betrothed, from the town of Nazareth to Bethlehem in Judea, because Joseph belonged to the house and line of David. This is the familiar Christmas message which is read each year in millions of homes around the world.
But, wait a minute. What business does this Jewish couple have in occupied Palestine? In three separate UNESCO resolutions this year the Jewish links to the land of Israel were denied as all the holy places in Jerusalem were referred to only by their Arab names. The resolution is implying that there has never been a temple in Jerusalem, thus trying to falsify the core message of both Hanukkah and Christmas. The New Testament clearly records that the baby Jesus was brought to the temple in Jerusalem to be dedicated on the eight day after his birth.
But if there was no temple in Jerusalem at the time of the birth of Jesus, none of this makes any sense and our Western civilization will fall apart like a house of cards. No temple, no Jesus, and our measure of time will have revolved around a false assumption for 2016 years!
The United Nation’s newly revised version of the Holy Bible will need some serious editing. Jesus could not possibly have been born in Bethlehem as there were no Jews in Palestine at that time, unless Jesus was the first Palestinian, as Mahmoud Abbas claimed some years ago. But the same Abbas also claimed that there was no Jewish temple in Jerusalem. When the Messiah, according to Christian and Jewish beliefs, one day will return to the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, he will clearly be violating international law as his return would be considered “illegal settlement activity”.