In John 10:22-23, we read, “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem and it was winter. And Yeshua walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.”
For Messianic believers, we see Yeshua in Hanukkah as He is the light of the world (John 8:12). We also see him when lighting the menorah, a nine branched candelabra. Every night for 8 days, we light a new candle. The middle, or “shammash” candle is known as the servant candle which is used to light all the others. It reminds us of Yeshua who came to serve and bring light into the world. He stated in Mark 10:44-45 “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the servant of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
The two book of the Maccabees in the “Apocrypha tell the story of Hanukkah. At that time, the Jews were subjects of the Seleucid Empire, one of the states formed out of Alexander the Great’s empire. The Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, called Epiphanes, wanted his subjects to adopt Greek culture and customs. Many Jews did this, almost to the point of abandoning their religion. But others resisted.
Antiochus also wanted to get possession of the treasures in the Jews Temple. In 168 or 167 B.C., angered by Jewish resistance to his policy, Epiphanes entered Jerusalem, killed many of the people and defiled the Temple by building an altar to a pagan God there. This is known as the Abomination of Desolation prophesized in the book of Daniel. The practice of Jewish law was forbidden, and copies of the law were destroyed, Jews who disobeyed were killed.
In 165 B.C, a small, yet bold group of men, led by Judah Maccabee and his brothers, revolted against Epiphanes and the Syrians. After three years of fighting and four decisive battles, Judah and his army were able to clear Judea of the Syrians. Then they took possession of Jerusalem, cleansed the Temple of all Syrian abominations and rededicated it to the worship of the Lord God of Israel. The Feast of Dedication-Hanukkah was held on the 25th of Kislev, exactly three years after the Syrians had defiled it, around the year 164 B.C..
However, this victory did not mark the end of the war for the Jews. For several years they continued to fight. Then Antiochus died and there was a scramble for the Syrian throne among other powerful generals. One of these generals, eventually, made a peace treaty with Judah to restore religious freedom back to the Jews.
In the years that followed, Simon, one of the Maccabees, was appointed High Priest and head of the Jewish community. He became the ruler of the country and established the Hasmonean dynasty of this new, independent kingdom.
So, what does all of this have to do with Yeshua? Hanukkah was the first war fought over religious freedom. The Jewish people believed in the true and living God. If Antiochus had succeeded in his mission of Hellenizing the Jews, there might never have been redemption for mankind. It was Satan’s plan to destroy the lineage of Judah. If he had, there would be no Messiah. Hanukkah commemorates God’s victory over Satan’s efforts once again.
Antiochus is a type of the anti-Christ. The abomination of desolation is prophetic of the Anti-christ and his future abomination of desolation, when he will declare himself to be God and sit in the temple, cause the world to worship him and persecute the Christians and Jews.
Just as the Jew
s were indoctrinated into the ways of the Greek world, today’s world is facing the same challenges. People are compromising their relationship with God and worshipping the idols of the culture. They are being blinded and cannot see that friendship with the world is enmity with God.
As Christians and Messianic Jews we must rise above the lies of the enemy. We must be like the Maccabees, a small, but mighty remnant who will stand up for our beliefs and proclaim the truth of Yeshua the Messiah. He is our light of the world and for those of us who believe, he will guide us.
In one of my favorite Hanukkah songs by Marty Goetz, it says, “ And with every candle on the menorah, that illuminates the night, comes a prayer that kindles in me Messiah, a desire for your fire and for your light.”
May the light of Hanukkah and Yeshua fill your heart and may you dedicate your life to Him for “such a time as this”.