Hanukkah is the celebration of the rededication of the Temple and a Miracle concerning the Menorah, the 7 branched Lamp in the Holy Place.
The Temple held the presence of God on earth – the Place where Sacrifices were offered, and atonement might be found- The place that was the Testimony of God on earth.
The Menorah in the Holy Place represented the Light of the Lord. First there was the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Then Solomon built the Temple which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and then Zerubbabel over saw the rebuilt Temple. Illustrations power point.
The Events that precipitated Hanukah occurred after the Old Testament was completed and before the events chronicled in the New Testament.
The incidences concerning Hanukah were orchestrated by the Lord and are noted as historical fact in the New Covenant when Jesus was in the Temple in John 10:22-23 which is Hanukkah.
At that time the Feast of Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon
The events of Chanukah are also chronicled in the book of Maccabees which is part of the Apocrypha. Historical but not accepted by both Jews and Protestants as part of God given Scripture.
Chanukah is Hebrew for the word “dedication” or “consecration”.
But it is important for us to understand that without the events of Chanukah there would have been no Christmas
For the stage to be set for the coming of Yeshua, the Temple needed to be in full operation. The prophets foretold that the Messiah was going to come to the Temple. If there was no Temple, then prophecies regarding the Temple could not have been fulfilled.
Over and over again Matthew writes that the actions of Yeshua were to fulfill the word of the prophets.
Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.
So, the events in-between the testaments, the so-called 400 silent years, were crucial and should be of interest to God’s people. We need to remember that God is sovereign over all that happens in the world.
In 171 B.C. Antiochus 4th came to power over the Syrian Empire, He called himself Epiphanes, which means the manifest God. Antiochus’ goal was to unify his kingdom back to the glory of Alexander.
When Alexander died, his kingdom was divided and left to four leading generals to lead and govern. The most successful of the four were the Ptolemaic and Selucid empires.
The Ptolemaic kingdom was centered in Egypt while the Selucid was centered in Syria. The cities of Antioch were named for the Syrian Kings. Antiochus 4th was set on unifying his kingdom including Judea, into one monolithic Hellenistic (Greek) culture.
The events that led to Hanukkah began in 167 B.C. in reaction to Antiochus’ forced unification. Which included the building of pagan temples to the gods of Olympus and the outlaw of worship to the one true God of Israel and observing His Commandments.
Antiochus’ soldiers forced the Jewish people to offer sacrifices to the gods of Olympus and assimilate to Hellenism.
Hellenism, refers to Greek culture and worship that began with the conquest of Alexander the Great in the fourth century, B.C.E. It was the culture that united Alexanders Kingdom. One world govt and Language
And so, a massive struggle began between cultures: Judaism (monotheism) vs. Hellenism (polytheism). With overwhelming strength Antiochus captured Jerusalem and took over the Temple and began transforming it into a Sanctuary for the gods of Olympus.
Antiochus erected an image of himself as the chief god in the Jerusalem Temple and sacrificed a pig on the Altar defiling the Temple.
He sent his armies from town to town forcing the people to offer sacrifices to the God’s of Olympus.
Mattathias, a priest, a descendant of Aaron, led a revolt against these armies. Joined by his sons be began guerilla warfare against Antiochus’ army and Hellenism. Their uprising began a revolutionary war against Syria.
One year after the start of their attack Mattathias died in 166 B.C. His oldest son Judah then led the revolt in his place. They would pounce on the Syrians and came to be known as Maccabees or “hammerers” in Hebrew.
Miraculously another war broke out in the Eastern part of the Empire and Antiochus left Israel to lead the fight and died there in battle.
With the king dead, The Maccabees recaptured the Temple, cleansed it, and dedicated it on of the 25th Kislev in 165 B.C. It was at this time that the Miracle of the Menorah occurred.
The word Chanukah is Hebrew for “dedication” and refers to the dedication of the Temple in 165 B.C. after it’s desecration by Antiochus.
For the Temple to function the Menorah in the Holy place was to continually burn. The oil used in the Menorah had to be pure olive oil, which had to be consecrated in a procedure detailed in Leviticus.
When the Maccabees retook the Temple, they were only able to find a one-day supply of oil that had been sealed and not defiled. It would supply the seven bowls of the Menorah for only one day.
According to the requirements of Scripture it would take one week to prepare more oil. The miracle according to tradition, was that the one day of supply lasted eight days, long enough to prepare new oil.
This is why on Chanukah we light an 9 stemmed menorah to commemorate each day of the miracle. The 9th or middle light is called the Shammash or servant which lights the other 8 candles.
In John 8:12 Jesus declared Himself to be the Light. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Jesus according to the prophet Isaiah was the Promised Servant of the Lord who came to bring light to the world.
The Gospel of Mark tells us that Yeshua “went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
The Light of the World came to bring God’s Light to mankind
(John 1:4-5) “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:14 that His disciples are to be light to the world. When the Jewish people today kindle the Chanukah menorah, they first light the Shammas and the Shammas lights the rest of the candles.
The word Shammas means servant and God sent His Shammas, His servant, to illuminate those who receive Him.
If we earnestly desire to bring God’s light into a dark world we too must first be illuminated by God’s servant and then allow the oil of God’s Spirit to keep our light burning brightly. (Phil 2:3-7).
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, humbled himself.”
As we said Chanukah means dedication. It is a day we celebrate the victory of the Maccabees, and the dedication of the Temple for service unto God.
There are some Bible scholars who believe that Christmas Day, the 25th of December, was chosen because of its relationship to Chanukah.
Here’s how: Jesus was a greater Temple John 2:19 Jesus said “destroy this temple and I will raise it again in 3 days.
The Temple was the place chosen by the Lord for the Presence in the Person of His Spirit in the Holy of Holies. The body of Jesus was where the Spirit of God dwelt.
It is quite possible that the “greater Temple” Jesus, was dedicated on the 25th Kislev which corresponds to our December and some Biblical scholars believe this is where December 25 was chosen for his birth.
There are some who argue against a date in winter for his birth is that shepherds do not graze sheep then. And Shepherds guarding their flocks were called to witness the new child born.
However, Jerusalem was a holy city and sacrificial lambs could not be raised there. So, they were raised in nearby Bethlehem in the care of Levites, who guarded them, so that they would remain unblemished for sacrifice.
Who would be more appropriate for God to choose to witness the birth of the “Lamb of God” than Levites who oversaw the sacrificial lambs?
Just as in the days of the Maccabee’s when the Temple was rededicated or sanctified for service on Chanukah, so too, it may have been, that Yeshua, the true Light and greater Temple was born.
It’s possible that Jesus was born on Chanukah the 25th of Kislev. As believers we should be reminded of God’s call to sanctify or dedicate ourselves to the Lord.
When Jesus died on the Cross the sign God gave that the Spirit of God left the Temple, was the torn veil (Slide 12). It was the veil that separated the holy place from the holy of holies, where God’s presence was over the Mercy seat on The Ark of The Covenant.
On the day of Pentecost after Jesus rose from the dead the Presence of God that dwelt in the Temple came upon those who place their faith in His atoning death, and He now resides in His children. Acts 2:1-4
What made the Temple Holy was the presence of God’s Spirit. God’s Children today are described as His Temple. When we come to faith in Messiah, we become God’s Temple.
As we consider Hanukkah we should understand that as the Maccabees of Old laid down their lives so that the Temple of God might be Holy to the Lord, preparing the way for Messiah, so too God calls us.
Rom 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Antiochus defiled the Temple to further his Hellenistic agenda. His spirit of defiance to God lives in the world today. The Spirit of Antichrist
When we live in a worldly way, we desecrate our Temples and hinder the Work of God’s Spirit in and through us. This Chanukkah/Christmas may we sanctify God in our hearts. May we offer our lives afresh and anew so God’s light might burn brightly in our lives.
We are a part of a miracle that God is doing in these last days. Building His Temple and filling it with His light with the Oil of His Spirit.