Friday, December 9, 2011

Reason Three for Christians to Celebrate Hanukkah

(This year Hanukkah begins at local sunset on December 20th.  The following is an excerpt from our book "Reasons For Christians To Celebrate The Biblical Feasts". The book is available from and through the bookstore at  It makes a great gift!)

The third reason to celebrate Hanukkah is that the events commemorated by Hanukkah are spoken of by Jesus as having future prophetic significance. The words He speaks to His disciples telling them of the signs of His coming and the end of the world resound with Hanukkah language. First, Jesus speaks of another abomination of desolation. Then He goes on to invoke images of the horror inflicted on the Jewish people during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

Matthew 24:15-21 MKJV 15 Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand). 16 Then let those in Judea flee into the mountains. 17 Let him on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house; 18 nor let him in the field turn back to take his clothes. 19 And woe to those who are with child, and to those who give suck in those days! 20 But pray that your flight is not in the winter, nor on the sabbath day; 21 for then shall be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world to this time; no, nor ever shall be.

Antiochus set up an altar to Zeus over the altar of God in the Temple.

I Maccabees 1:57-59, 62 On the fifteenth day of Chislev in the year one hundred and forty-five (December 8, 167 B.C.) the king erected the abomination of desolation above the altar; and artars were built in the surrounding towns of Judah and incense offered at the doors of houses and in the streets. On the twenty-fifth of the month sacrifice was offered on the altar erected over the altar of holocaust.

Those in Judea fled into the wilderness taking most of their possessions with them. They were pursued and attacked on the Sabbath.

1 Maccabees 2:29-30, 32, 38 At this many who were concerned for virtue and justice went down to the desert and stayed there, taking with them their sons, their wives and their cattle, for the burden of their wrongs had become unendurable. A strong detachment went after them, and when it came up with them ranged itself agaist them in battle formation, preparing to attack them on the Sabbath day. The attack was pressed home on the Sabbath itself, and they were slaughtered with their wives and children and cattle, to the number of one thousand persons.

Those in Jerusalem didn’t fare any better. In fact the slaughter there was even worse.

2 Maccabees 5:24-27 The king also sent the mysarch Appolonius at the head of an army twenty-two thousand strong, with orders to put to death all men in their prime and to sell the women and children. Arriving in Jerusalem and posing as a man of peace, this man waited until the holy day of the Sabbath and then, taking advantage of the Jews as they rested from work, ordered his men to parade fully armed; all those who came out to watch he put to the sword; then running through the city with his armed troops, he cut down an immense number of people.

Josephus writes that ten thousand women and children were sold into slavery on that day and the temple was totally plundered of all its wealth. Those who resisted by reading or even having a Torah scroll, by observing the Sabbath, or circumcising their sons died a horrific death. This was especially true of women who circumcised their babies. Josephus records in The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 12, Chapter 5, line 256:

“…for they were wipped with rods and their bodies were torn to pieces, and were crucified while they were till alive and breathed; they also strangled those women and their sons whom they had circumcised, as the king had appointed, hanging their sons about their necks as they were upon the crosses.”

The words of Jesus in Matthew 24 match that day in December exactly. The abomination of desolation was set up in the temple in the winter. The people were horrible attacked on the Sabbath more than once. And woe to the women! Those who circumcised their infant sons died grievous deaths.  As horrible as those days were, Jesus said the days leading up to His return would be even worse. He warns them not to try to bring their possessions with them but to flee immediately. He says that THEN shall be great tribulation worse than has ever been seen before. The events December 167 B.C. foreshadow the events of the great tribulation. Antiochus IV Epiphanes is a shadow of the Antichrist. His reign name of Epiphanes means “God Manifest.” Paul tells us that the Antichrist will set himself up as God.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 MKJV 3 Let not anyone deceive you by any means. For that Day shall not come unless there first comes a falling away, and the man of sin shall be revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself forth, that he is God.

Judah Maccabeus is a shadow of Jesus. Jesus is of the line of David of the tribe of Judah. Jacob’s blessing over Judah includes describing him as a lion.

Genesis 49:9 MKJV 9 Judah is a lion's whelp. My son, you have gone up from the prey. He stooped, he crouched like a lion; and like a lioness, who shall rouse him?

Judah Maccabeus is described similarly in I Maccabees.

I Macabbees 3: 3-4 He extended the fame of his people. He put on the breastplate like a giant and girded on his war harness; he engaged in battle after battle, protecting the ranks with his sword. He was like a lion’s whelp roaring over its prey.

Jesus is a priest on the order of Melchizedek. Judah Maccabeus is a priest of the line of Aaron. Judah ruled over Israel at the time of the rededication of the temple. Jesus will rule over Israel and the whole world. He is the one who will build the third temple of God.

We can celebrate Hanukkah as we look forward to Jesus’ return, learning and watching so that we are not caught sleeping or unaware. We light the Hanukkiah to remind us that we are of the light and need to keep watch for the signs of His coming.

1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 MKJV 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness, that the Day should overtake you like a thief. 5 You are all the sons of light and the sons of the day. We are not of the night, or of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us watch and be calm.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

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