Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Date in Hebrew calendar: 25th of Kislev to 2nd of Tevet (November--December).
Scriptural references: Daniel 8:22-25, 11:20-45; John 10:22-42.
“Chanukah” (the word means “dedication” in Hebrew) is a celebration of God’s faithfulness and deliverance. The events it celebrates took place during the inter-testamental period, in approximately 165-163 B.C.
Over 150 years earlier, Alexander the Great had conquered the entire ancient world of the Eastern Mediterranean. Upon his early death, four of his generals divided up his empire. The area of Judea eventually came under the control of Antiochus IV “Epiphanes.”
Antiochus tried to force the Jews to accept Greek culture, even defiling their temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar and erecting a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies! This was the first “Abomination of desolation” and was prophesied by Daniel (11:31-32).
Finally, the Jews revolted. Although greatly outnumbered and overpowered, they fought a courageous guerrilla war and drove out the Greeks in 163 B.C., re-entering the city and the temple.
There was only enough of the special oil burned in the temple menorah to last one day, and it would take 8 days to make more. They lit the menorah anyway, and the oil miraculously burned for 8 days while more was being prepared.
Thus began the Feast of Dedication to celebrate this miracle, their great deliverance from oppressors and the dedication of the newly cleansed temple.
Yeshua (Jesus) went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication, and while in the temple area He proclaimed His divinity—“I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
Today Chanukah is celebrated with a 9-branched candelabra. Eight of them recall the eight days the oil miraculously burned, while the 9th is the “Servant” candle used to light the others. Each evening during the eight day feast, more of the eight candles are lit—one the first night, two the second, etc. until all eight, plus the servant, are brightly burning in the homes of all Jews on the last night. It is also called the “Festival of Lights,” and is often accompanied by the exchange of gifts.
Chanukah celebrates one of many deliverances of the Jewish people from those who would try, again and again, to destroy God’s Covenant people. In recent history we have two horrible examples of this—the pogroms in Russia, and the Holocaust. Yet the Lord’s people are alive today and back in their own Land against unbelievable odds.
But the enemy has not given up, and he is trying and will try to destroy them again. Pray for God to deliver His people again, and to breathe His Spirit into their revived bodies (Ezekiel 37:14), fully restoring them to Himself.