Sunday, December 9, 2012


Should Christians be interested in the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah? After all, It celebrates a part of Jewish history that appears to have no relevance to Christian belief. It recalls the rededication of the temple after the Syrian King, Antiochus Epiphanes had desecrated it.

After three and a half years occupying Israel, and following an aborted attempt by Epiphanes to conquer Egypt, he returned in anger to Jerusalem in 167 BC. He forbade the morning and evening sacrifices in the temple for a further three and a half years.

During that latter period, pigs were roasted on the temple altar, and Epiphanes erected a statue to the goddess Diana in the temple precincts. That became known as the “abomination that causes desolation.”

Judas Maccabeus and his band of renegades fought a guerilla war against Epiphanes and defeated his army in 164 BC. Time now for the temple to be rededicated to the Lord. A search began for sanctified oil to light the lampstand in the Holy Place.

Only sufficient oil for one day was found. But the lampstand stayed alight for eight days on that one day’s supply, until a fresh supply was available. This Festival of Dedication (Jesus attended in John 10:22) is now celebrated as Hanukkah.

So what is the significance for Christians? Jesus referred to Epiphanes “abomination” in Matthew 24:15, pointing to that past event as a picture of a similar future event. That future “abomination” would be a sign of His near return at the end of the age.

Daniel himself, while recording prophetically Epiphanes’ first “abomination” in 11:31, referred to one that is still to come, 9:27, 12:11. Revelation, chapters 11 to 13 predict a new occupation will also extend for a period of seven years, with an interruption of the sacrifice at the halfway mark.

Hanukkah gives us a historical event as a picture of a future event. That future event will precede the final coming of Jesus the Messiah to finally cleanse, not only the temple, but also the whole earth of defilement. If we miss the significance of the historical event that Hanukkah preserves, we may not recognize the final events leading to Messiah’s promised second coming to earth.

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