Monday, December 5, 2011

Reason Two 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

Although Hanukkah is not one of the "official" Feasts of the LORD given in the Torah, there are tremendous prophetic implications concerning Yeshua's return contained in this traditional festival.  The Gospel of John records that Yeshua was present in Jerusalem at least once at the time of Hanukkah in chapter 10.  In Matthew 24:15 Yeshua makes reference to Daniel 11:31; 12:11, the "abomination of desolation".  This is a direct reference to the history behind the festival of Hanukkah. (see the book of the Maccabees)  Daniel prophesies about the rise of the Greek empire by Alexander the Great, Alexander’s early death, and the dividing of his kingdom into four separate kingdoms.

Daniel 8:19-22 MKJV 19 And he said, Behold, I will make you know what shall happen in the last end of the indignation. For it is for the time appointed for the end. 20 The ram which you saw having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the shaggy goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 And as for that being broken, and four stood up in its place; four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in its power.

Two of the four kingdoms are of interest prophetically. These are Seleucus and Ptolemy. Selucus and the kingdom he establishes is the king of the north in Daniel chapter 11. His kingdom is Syria, the heart of the old Babylonian and Assyrian Empires, and parts of Asia Minor. Ptolemy is the king of the south and his kingdom is the greater Egyptian region but he also had interests in Asia Minor. These two kingdoms will fight over and through the land of Israel from the death of Alexander in 323 B.C. to the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 163 B.C. Daniel chapter 11 chronicles the back and forth relationship between these to kingdoms.[i]

The following list gives the verse in Daniel 11 followed by the King of the North and the King of the South referenced in the verse.

Daniel 11

  1. 5 Seleucus I Nacator (312 to 281 B.C.) Ptolemy I Soter (323-285 B.C.)
  2. Not referenced Antiochus I Soter (281-262 B.C.) Ptolemy II (285-246 B.C.)
  3. 6 Antiochus II Theos (262-246 B.C.) Ptolemy II
  4. 7-9 Seleucus II Callinicus (246-227B.C.) Ptolemy III (246-221 B.C.)
  5. 10 Seleucus III Soter (227-223 B.C.) Ptolemy III
  6. 10-11, 13 Antiochus III the Great (223-187 B.C.) Ptolemy IV
  7. 15-19 Antiochus III Ptolemy V
  8. 20 Seleucus IV Philopater
  9. 21-32 Antiochus IV Epiphanes Ptolemy Philopater
The Ptolemies started out with control of Israel. They were lenient rulers allowing those under their rule to practice their own religion without interference. However the Seleucids were intent on “civilizing” or Hellenizing those under their rule. They pushed the worship of the Greek gods and renamed cities to reflect the new regime. Antiochus III the Great drove the Ptolemies out of Israel and began the Hellenizing process of Israel. It was Antiochus IV Epiphanes, however, who issued an edict forbidding the worship of any but the Greek gods. As you can imagine this did not sit well with most of the Israelites. Needless to say, the province of Israel was not highly regarded by Antiochus.

After one of his forays against Egypt while returning to his own land, he plundered the Temple of God on his way.

Daniel 11:28 MKJV 28 And he shall return to his land with great riches. And his heart shall be against the holy covenant. And he will act, and he shall return to his land.

Two years later, he again attacks Egypt. When it appears that he will finally triumph against Egypt, Rome steps in and gives him a choice to return to his own land or face the power of Rome. Enraged, he returns to his land. This time when he goes through Israel, he murders 80,000 people with the help of the Jews who have been Hellenized. He sets up an altar to Zeus over God’s altar.  This is called the abomination of desolation.

Daniel 11:29-31 MKJV 29 At the time appointed he shall return and come against the south. But it shall not be as the former or as the latter. 30 For the ships of Kittim shall come against him. And he shall be grieved and return, and have fury against the holy covenant. So he shall do; he shall even return and give heed to those who forsake the holy covenant. 31 And forces will stand from him, and they will profane the sanctuary, the fortress, and shall remove the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the desolating abomination.

The family of Mattathias, a priest from Modein, rises up against Antiochus and his generals. Mattathias’ son Judah leads the battles against Antiochus’ forces. They win time after time against overwhelming odds. The defeat of Antiochus’ forces at the hands of Israel brought about the decline and fall of the Seleucid Empire.

Daniel 11:32 NKJV 32 "Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.

Hanukkah commemorates Israel’s victory over Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the rededication of the second temple. The hanukkiah is lit after dark and placed in a window or even better on a porch where all who pass by can see it. It is a proclamation of the miracles God performed in driving the forces of Antiochus out of Israel and destroying the Seleucid Empire.

What miracles has God done in your life? What miracles on the scale of the battles against Antiochus IV Epiphanes will God again do at the time of the end? We can light the candles of the Hanukkiah to remember what God has done in each of our lives, chief of which is bringing us into His glorious Light.

John 12:46 NKJV 46 "I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

We can light the candles of the Hanukkiah in anticipation of when Jesus will return bringing light into the darkness once more.

Revelation 21:23 NKJV 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Brenda and I are hosting an in-depth study of the Feasts of the LORD in our home group each Erev Shabbat.  You can join us in this study on-line via our web site at where the videos of each session are linked.  The Student Workbook is available in the web store. 

[i] Moore, Beth, Daniel: lives of Integrity Words of Prophecy; Lifeway Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 2006

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