The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah — the Festival of Lights — is about to close. I’m late because, back in Gentile country, I’ve lost my bearings on the Jewish calendar. Still, let us consider it for a bit.
When Alexander the Great died, his Greek empire was split among his four generals. The people of Israel were located at the boundary of two of the divisions: the Ptolemaic Kingdom (Egypt) and the Seleucid Empire (Syria). In 200 BC, the Selucids took Judea, and Antiochus III had every intention of allowing Jews to “‘live according to their ancestral customs’ and to continue to practice their religion in the Temple of Jerusalem” (Wikipedia).
His son Antiochus IV had other ideas. Some disgruntled Greeks asked the king to take back Jerusalem from their pro-Egyptian opponents. Antiochus Epiphanes obliged.
His army, the historian Jospehus tells us, “took [Jerusalem] by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favored Ptolemy, and sent out his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.” Wikipedia goes on to say that “in 167 BC Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He banned circumcision and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple.”
Well, as you can imagine, zealous Jews were not going to take this lying down.” Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons — Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah — led a rebellion against Antiochus. Judah became known as Yehuda HaMakabi (“Judah the Hammer”). By 165 BC the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated.” (Wikipedia).
For a hundred years, the Jews ruled themselves. Then the Romans came.
There are different stories explaining the eight days and the candles. I do like the more mystical ones. You can read about those in Wiki’s Hannukah entry, from where I’ve taken a lot of my info.
I just want to point a few things out.
Hanukkah is a rabbinical rather than Levitical feast. It is not mentioned in Tanakh (Hebrew scriptures) but it is in the New Testament. In John 10:22 we read: “Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.”
Yeshua… always at the temple… especially for the feasts. In this passage, he has another meaningful argument with the unbelieving leadership.
“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe.”
Even now he is telling them, “Yes, I am the Messiah!”
After a few more words, they pick up stones. They think he’s blaspheming. It’s not blasphemy if it’s true.
When Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple, it was a partial fulfillment of the end of Daniel 9. It was the abomination that causes desolation.
We know it’s partial fulfillment because there are so many other things to talk about in Daniel 9. Also, in Matthew 24, where Jesus tells us the signs of the end (as well as what are not the signs of the end — read the passage carefully), he quotes Daniel 9: “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
I’m only hinting at things. This is not a study. Today, I just want to whet your appetite. I want you to see that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah… and he speaks very much like a Jew. To understand him, you must see the Jewish position. You must be willing to understand the Jewishness of the Scriptures, even of the “Christian” gospel. The good news is that the Messiah did come — as promised — and is coming. Just read the intro to Romans 1, but instead of the Greek-rooted Jesus the Christ, we’ll put Hebrew-rooted Yeshua the Messiah:
From: Sha’ul, a slave of the Messiah Yeshua, an emissary because I was called and set apart for the Good News of God. God promised this Good News in advance through his prophets in the Tanakh. It concerns his Son – he is descended from David physically; he was powerfully demonstrated to be Son of God spiritually, set apart by his having been resurrected from the dead; he is Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord.
The other thing I hope you see as you visualize John 10:22 — Jesus walking in the Temple celebrating it’s rededication — see him walking in Jerusalem, on the whole earth even, after he’s vanquished Satan once and for all (Revelation 19).
Yes, Jesus is love… but he is also Yeshua HaMakabi, the hammer of justice that will vindicate God’s name and those faithful to the God of Israel.
Just a bit of fun to close the post. Here’s the Maccabeats version of the revolt’s events. Shalom.