THE FEAST OF CHANNUKAH
There are two celebrations every December both from the Judaic Christian tradition, Christmas and Channukah. What is Interesting is that these feasts have some similarities.
Channukah is a Hebrew word meaning “dedication” because this observance marks the rededication of the Jewish Temple after it had been desecrated by the Syrians in their invasion prior to Christ.
The other common name for this feast is Hag'Orim, which means 'the Feast of Lights' It is found in the writings of Josephus, who was a first Century Jewish historian. This second name, however, is based upon a tradition. Supposedly, when the Jews rededicated the Temple and wanted to rekindle the lampstand, they found only enough oil for one day. It would take 8 days to make a new supply they decided to kindle and burn the remaining oil, a miracle occurred as the oil that was enough for only one day lasted for eight days ... thus, the term representing, "the Feast of Lights. This is why the Channukah menorah has eight candles instead of the seven the temple menorah has, 8 candles to commemorate this miracle.
Of the nine major feasts or Holy seasons of Israel, this is one of two, the other being Purim that did not begin with Moses. In fact, Channukah in and of itself, is not found anywhere in the Old Testament, as it originated during the time between the recorded history of the Old and New testaments. This was when there were no prophets to Israel, their were over 400 years of silence. Yet it is a biblical feast in two ways: the events that brought about the Feast of Channukah was predicted prophetically by the Book of Daniel (8:9-14; 11:21-35). Furthermore, Jesus Himself joins in this particular feast by observing it showing that it is legitimate. It should be remembered that none of the historical books mention this miracle, as it originates with the Talmud and not with the books written in the inter-testament period. The historical books that speak of the Maccabean revolt as a real event- such as I and 2 Maccabees - make no mention of any such miracle. Is it is merely tradition? Or is it fact that is recorded in Rabbinic writings. There are 7 feast days mentioned in Lev.23 -2 feasts are not included Purim and Channukah.
The tradition goes like this in 171-164 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanus made a royal law that the Jews are to bow down and to offer sacrifices to Zeus. Soldiers came from the village of Modiin with a statue of Antiochus and took over the temple and erected a statue inside the temple. Jews were forbidden to observe the Sabbath nor study the Torah (therefore it is considered that Antiochus Changed the times and law). A family named the Maccabees with their father Mattitias gathered a small army against the Syrians, Maccabees in Hebrew means Hammer. Mattatias with his 5 sons John, Simon, Judah, Eliazer, Jonathan began to fight. When Mattatias fell ill and died, the leadership went to his son Judah who would lead the army. The Maccabees with Judah as their leader led a few thousand Jews to fight in the hills and defeat 20,000 Syrians. News of the defeat preceded them so as they came to the temple it was vacated left empty and ransacked.Prophesy often times has patterns and we see this in this event. The son Judah is a type of Jesus who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Jesus comes back and fights against Israel’s enemies and cleanses the temple that the antichrist will make desolate in the future. Its also significant that for one to enter the tabernacle in the Old Testament they had to go through the only way which was through the tribe of Judah.
So the Macabee's rededicated the temple, made a new menorah restored it to its proper use (made holy). They found a vial with pure olive oil which was only enough for one day. It would take the priest 8 more days to make more oil, they went to light the menorah anyway. Instead of the oil lasting one day it lasted for 8 days. So this became the feast of lights. The son Judah is a type of Lion of the tribe of Judah, as Jesus comes back and fights against Israel's enemies and cleanses the temple that the antichrist makes desolate in the future.
Once the Temple was 'rededicated, they Proceeded to Observe the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles 3 months later than customary, which they were unable to do because it was under the Syrian control. Years after to commemorate the miracle that occurred, some people burned lights for one night, others for eight. The Rabbis Years after to commemorate the miracle that occurred, decided to make this holiday more special so they designed a special menorah in which eight candles plus the 9th the Shamash candle were represented instead of the usual 7 candle lampstand in the temple. 'From that came the concept of the eight days of Channukah, which in actuality is merely a copying of the Feast of Tabernacles.
That is why the technical name is not the Feast of Lights but, rather, the Feast of Dedication, to mark the rededication of the Jewish Temple Which occurs around the 25th of the month of Kislev (December ). This year it is the 23rd and lasted eight days but did not require attendance at Jerusalem. Assembled in the Temple or in the synagogues of the places where they resided, the Jews sang “Hallel,” carrying palm and other branches.
Many think that Christmas comes from the pagan feast of Rome Saturnalia. I find it interesting we have Jesus condoning this feast in Jn.10 on the same date for the Feast of dedication. Both in the Christmas story in Lk.1 and 2 and the story of Channukah have the same angel bringing revelation to Israel.
The angel Gabriel appears to Daniel recorded in chpt. 8:13-14 “Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, “How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?” And he said to me, “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.” (He said to me 2300 evenings and mornings and then the sanctuary will be properly restored.) So after the sacrifices were taken away they were restored. Dan.8:16 the prophet Daniel is made known about the 2300 days. It speaks of the cleansing of the sanctuary. Cleansing the temple took place after Antiochus the Syrian ruler desecrated it in 171 B.C. it was then captured back and rededicated 6 ½ years later thus the 2300 days 164 BC. The word for cleansing here is not in reference to sin but to make right in a moral or forensic sense. The same word is applied in Gen. 44:16 when Joseph’s brothers are confronted by him and reads “how can we who are guilty clear ourselves.”
Dan.8:12-14 Daniel’s prediction has its partial fulfillment in the time of the Maccabees. For us to understand the future fulfillment we need to understand what happened to the Maccabees. Daniel’s prophecy is a picture of what will also happen in the last days. Rev.13:15 with the image of the beast being worshipped and Matt 24:15: “Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place.” This prediction is totally fulfilled in the end times but was partially fulfilled in the time of the Maccabees as prophecy sometimes has repetitive patterns.
There have been multiple fulfillments of the abomination through out history. The event of Antiochus was a type of the future anti Christ in partial fulfillment. As was the destroying of the temple when the Romans came and they set up pagan images on the temple mount such as Zeus and worshipped them to symbolize political dominion over the house of God, this too was an abomination. In the 2nd century the Emperor Hadrian leveled the city of Jerusalem and built a pagan city with the temple of Jupiter which was another type of the abomination of desolation. Another example the Muslims dome of the Rock is a type of a abomination of desolation. On the outside of the dome is a quotation saying of a Sura in the Koran which says “God has no Son.” 2 Jn. says “he who denies the Father and the son is anti Christ.” So this too is a type of what will be done in the future by the Anti-Christ as he speaks against God and his anointed one.
So all these are partial fulfillment's just as the day of Pentecost was fulfilled partially and the summation will be at the 2nd coming when Jesus returns and pours out His Spirit on the whole house of Israel (all flesh) to be saved.(Zech.12:10)
After ransacking the temple Antiochus Epiphanus took a swine and sacrificed on the altar in defiance of the Hebrew's God. The stones for the altar were sanctified so they could not be used for the altar again and they also couldn’t be thrown away. So according to history they stacked them in the corner of Solomon's’ temple and proceeded to build a new altar. The Rabbis said when the Messiah comes He will tell us what to do with these stones of the altar.
Channukah falls in the winter month of December. Observing this feast season in
winter Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem at that time. Here we have Jesus participate
in a feast that is not in scripture. On this occasion, the people remembered some
statements that He had made three months earlier (John 8.12, 9.5). When He claimed to
be the light of the world. Jesus saying He is the
light of the world refers to two lights, in Genesis and the Tabernacle.
Channukah is known for the Feast of lights since the oil for the menorah lasted 8 days. It is observed in remembrance of a miracle: that of the oil. The oil that was enough for only one day miraculously lasted eight days. And the kindling of light emphasizes the miracle believed by the rabbis to have occurred on this occasion. The Ner Tamid (eternal light) was never to go out in the Temple of which type Jesus attributed to himself as the light of the world. Jn.1:4, 8:12, 9 12:44-46
Building on John 8 and 9 where Jesus declared himself to be the light the world, On the Menorah of Channukah the Shamash candle lights all the others, it the middle candle lit first and stands above all the other candles, it is called The servant. This candle is taken out and is used to light all the others. This is symbolic to Jesus who is the light of the world came as a servant and lights up everyone else’s life.
The Old Testament predicts this light, the word would be made flesh. In Isa. 9:2 “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.”
Isa.60:1-3: “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” John echoes a similar proclamation.
John 1:4-11: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all through him might believe.) He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”
Sometimes we need to rededicate our temple. In this way, one puts away the deeds of darkness and resumes walking in the light of the Lord, by obeying the light of the Word.
This passage in Jn.10 where Channukah occurs records a much greater miracle, however, than that which Rabbinical tradition says occurred during the Feast of Tabernacles. It is here that Jesus made three spectacular declarations. First, He asserts His oneness with the Father, Second, He declares His Sonship with the Father. And, third, He affirms His deity. John 10:22-39,In verse 22, the feast of the dedication is the Feast of Channukah. This verse is preceded by a-passage (John --7:1-10.) that deals with events in the life of Christ during, the Feast of Tabernacles. It is no accident that after discussing the Feast of Tabernacles in John 7:1-10, John next discusses the life of Christ in relation to the next feast, Channukah (John 1 0:22-39). Just as the concept of lights and eight days originated from the Feast of Tabernacles, so in the Gospel of John the events of Channukah in Messiah's time also originated from the Feast of Tabernacles. During this Feast Jesus declared Himself to be the light of the world John 8.12; Jn.10 is picked up three months later when Jesus made some more claims concerning Himself during the Feast of Channukah.
But really it is the feast of miracle’s which is its real emphasis. Jn.10:22-24: describe for us what happened at this time Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's’ porch, the people asking him if you are the Christ tell us plainly. In Jn.10:25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me.” He attributes all the miracles to himself. This is to have the people to come to his person and not follow his miracles his miracles authenticated his person. But the people wanted the show and not the person nor his message. Their reaction to Jesus stating “I and my Father are one” was in vs.31-33 “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.” Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” The people finally found out what to do with the stones of the temple that were desecrated from Antiochus and put aside when the Messiah would come. They were used to be thrown at the Messiah for telling them the truth that he was God. The stones that were torn down because of the temple desecration by an abomination were then used against the Messiah who was the temple made without hands.
Jesus was to fulfill all the Holy days but not the way they thought. For example at the triumphant entry into Jerusalem the people sang the Hallel Rabah to Jesus “Baruch habah hashem Adonai.” It is sung twice, once at Pesach with the hands waving to the Son of Joseph. The time at the Matzur, at the feast of Tabernacles, they use the Luvaim for the Son of David. But instead they used this at the Passover (Pesach) singing for him to deliver them now. In other words they didn’t want the Son of Joseph who was to be the suffering Messiah, but they wanted the Son of David. They wanted his rulership to overthrow Rome and his blessing and prosperity, not his suffering . as Jesus spoke to the disciples after the resurrection on the Emmaus Rd. in Luke 24:25-26: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”
There is not much difference today. The same mistakes that caused the Jews to miss his first coming will be made for his 2nd. This is promoted by those who teach dominion theology, prosperity and a wrong view of signs and wonders. The Jews were looking for a political deliverer one who would use force to free them from being under Roman tyranny. They were looking for him to be like the Maccabee’s, instead he came as the Son of Joseph. A suffering messiah that would free them first from their true bondage they didn’t recognize, sin.
When we come to the New Testament Jesus comes from heaven as a harmless babe rather than the King of Kings and the judge of all the earth who will rule with a rod of Iron. When he comes again, he will come back as the lion of Judah not as the lamb. He would come as the son of David and crush his enemies and as Isaiah 9 say's his dominion would be an everlasting one.
For 400 hundred years God has been silent with no prophets proclaiming messages to Israel and soon a baby will be born and a child shall lead them. A savior who will not bring salvation by His teachings, not by a church although they point to Him, but by Himself. Salvation of all mankind is in a person; Jesus whose name means salvation. Because He will save his people from their sins. He didn’t come to restore a temple made in stone but became the living tabernacle in which the glory of God would dwell and reveal himself to people. As the angel announced to the shepherds glory to God in the highest and peace on earth among with whom he is well pleased. Those who repent and turn around, from going away from God to relying on him, he is well pleased with them, they will see his peace. Did you ever wonder why the angel gave the message of God to the shepherds first. Because they took care of his lambs. These were the lambs that would be sacrificed. The birth of the chief shepherd of the sheep was proclaimed to them first, announced to those who were already doing the type of ministry he would fulfill. David was a shepherd before he became a king, in like manner Jesus came as the shepherd before he would reign as King.
In Micah 5:2: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler (shepherd) in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (from eternity ).” Here is God speaking of another person who is from eternity past and will be the (ruler) shepherd in Israel, we know this is the Lord Jesus himself, the Son born in Bethlehem. the shepherd Being the Lord of Ps.23. as Peter himself calls Jesus “the chief shepherd. ”
Isa.7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name, God with us. This was to be a sign to the nation Israel. The miracle was not the birth but the conception. Here we find the Son is God not just a human. Luke 1:35 he will be called “the Son of God.” Son = God. Meaning as the Son he has the same nature as his Father.
This was the miraculous conception without a man, having no human Father. This would be a sign of a super- natural means of bringing Immanuel into the world.
Since Christ was to be the high priest and our mediator He had to be taken from among the human race.
If he was born of both a human Father and mother there could have been no authentic claim to be deity. On the other hand if he had come with no relation to human parentage then he could not claim to be an authentic human. The perfect solution worked out from before the foundation of the world and prophesied in Gen.3:15 the seed of the woman fulfilling Isa.7:14 a virgin conception..
Isa. 9:6 tells us a child would be born, this refers to his birth and humanity. It also says a son will be given this refers to his nature as deity since he already was the Son in his pre-existence. He is sent from heaven as the son, The means of the incarnation involved the Holy Spirit. When Mary asked how can this be since she was a virgin, having no sexual relations with a man for this to be possible? Gabriel's reply was the Holy Spirit will overshadow her, it will be a miraculous conception unlike any other, not a miraculous birth.
The Holy Spirit who is God protected His sinlessness as God the Son entered the womb and the egg of Mary and took upon himself a human nature in addition to his divine nature he already had .Jesus was the real son of Mary, being the son of man and he was the real son of the Father, being the Son of God from eternity. The mystery is eternity becoming subject to time, deity united with humanity, an unnatural union.
He came to serve and give his life a ransom for many. In 2 Cor.8:9 about him” being rich , yet for your sakes he became poor, so that through his poverty you might become rich”.
Heb.10:5: “ Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. Then he said Lo, I come to do thy will O God.”
Phil.2:5 explains the mystery of the incarnation “Who being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. 7: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: notice that the one he is describing first existed in the nature of God and then discarded his reputation taking on another form (nature ) , a form of a servant, being made a man. The same one who was in the form of God made himself of no reputation. The phrase “the form of a servant” is identical in its content of “the form of God”. The former “form” asserting all that makes God who he is, he existed in. The later “form” being, all that makes one a servant, he was. In like manner we as disciples are to walk in humility denying ourselves. This is what is contained in the Christmas message to lower ourselves so he can increase just as he did in his incarnation.
Jesus did not exchange his deity for humanity but he took on an additional form of nature, one of humanity. So it wasn't as much a subtraction as it was an addition. He came as a servant submitting himself to the Fathers will which he fulfilled perfectly. Not acting independently with the use of his intrinsic power, but relinquished his control, taking on a subservient role as both a man and as God. So he had a change of state from the position of God ruling to a position of servant. He took on the very existence in which what was exclusive to human beings, this now became his own experience.
Whatever he laid down in the emptying was not permanent, because he took up again at the resurrection. His whole life he served others, even after his resurrection he served by starting a fire for the disciples and cooking the fish for them. Proving he actually was raised in a physical body. Vs.8 “Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
This is the reason he became a human to give his body as a sacrifice to God, since God is Spirit he cannot die. He became human to save sinful humanity. Since the Old Testament sacrifices of animal’s was only temporary it only covered sin. It is not a human atoning for all the sins of mankind past, present and future. If he was only a man it could only have finite value. He would not be able to save today. His death would only be applied to those living at his time. The Bible states He died for all our sins past, present and future this can only be possible unless he is eternal. So unlike the Old Testament sacrifices it which could never take away sins, it only had to be done once. As God the Son's death had infinite value and His priesthood is an eternal one because the one who died was an eternal being.
We are purchased by one that is sinless, this is reason for the virgin birth, that God would bypass the normal means to create a man without the nature of sin. This is not fallen mans blood but pure, undefiled, sinless.
While the virgin conception was a sign to Israel in Lk.2 we find another sign to the shepherds vs.12 and this will be a sign to you. They will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger. This birth event took place where animals were corralled. In those days they did not have stables that were separate buildings as we use today. They used the natural surroundings which were the nearby caves. How ironic that from his birth he came as a lamb among the animals in the cave.
He was wrapped in swaddling clothes, these could not be baby cloths because that would not be a sign. These were burial clothes that were in the mangers. Along the hillsides of Judah caves were not just used to house animal but as tombs and often they would be intermixed. So Mary and Joseph made the most of what was available. On the first day he was born he was wrapped in the same cloth he would be buried in born in a cave, a tomb, the same way he would be buried. The sign proclaimed is he would die, born to die for everyone else but himself.... at what lengths does the love of God reach down from heaven to earth. How can anyone not be in awe of this event.
Almost 2,000 years have passed and God has unwrapped his gift to you. He’s given it for free but you need to open the package. One must open their heart to ask for the forgiveness freely given. Christmas is not about our giving gifts as much as the first Christmas was about God giving the gift, His only Son. Christianity is not just about love, although that is the motivation behind God sending His Son. It is also about truth, for He is truth incarnate. The truth is we are all sinful in need of a savior and without the light of the world in our hearts we are in darkness, Jesus is our only hope.