What is Hanukkah?
I believe there is great significance for the Christian found in the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, or the Feast of Dedication. It is also known as the Festival of Lights. The history of Hanukkah goes back to the Greek empire when Antiochus Epiphanes, the Seleucid (Syrian) king, fought against the Jews and Jerusalem, killing tens of thousands of God’s people. Antiochus also desecrated the rebuilt Jewish temple by slaughtering a pig, an unholy animal, on the altar and sprinkling its blood in the Holies of Holies. He then took the broth from the swine and poured it on the scrolls before cutting the animal into pieces. The temple was turned into a shrine to the idol Baal Shamen, Zeus, and only swine were permitted for sacrifice. Antiochus took the title Epihanes, meaning “God Manifest” and considered himself to be Zeus. Many Jews were martyred for their faith when they refused to eat the pork offered to the false god. Jews fled to the mountains to hide in caves to escape the tyranny of Antiochus that lasted for three years. A group of Jews, known as the Maccabeus, led by Judas Maccabeus, assembled and defeated the armies of Antiochus IV, or Antiochus Epiphanes, in 165 BC.
This story has some prophetic meaning behind it as well. In Daniel 8, we read about Antiochus Epiphanies as a type of the Antichrist, Antiochus being a shadow of what will come. The Antichrist will turn on the Jews, desecrate the temple, and cause the Jews to flee from Jerusalem for three and a half years, very similar to the life of Antiochus. When I am reminded of today's Hanukkah celebrations, I also think of the coming Great Tribulation for the Jews and Jerusalem that begins with the Antichrist and the Abomination of Desolation. This annual festival is very prophetic for prophecy yet to be fulfilled.
History tells us that when the Jews went to dedicate the cleansed temple after defeating Antiochus, there was only enough consecrated oil to light the lampstand for one day. It was a miracle that the lamp burned for seven more days, the amount of time needed to prepare new holy oil. The temple was rededicated on the 25th day in the Jewish month of Kislev (December), three years from the day it had been desecrated. The Jews celebrate Hanukkah, the Hebrew word for dedication, for eight days in the month of December, celebrating their deliverance and the promise of a coming Messiah. Jesus Himself when to Jerusalem to celebrate Hanukkah (John 10:22-23).
God miraculously provided the oil needed for the consecration of the Jewish temple. The temple is symbolic of you and I. Because of the recreation of the human spirit through the new life supplied by Christ Jesus, our bodies have become a dwelling place for God’s Spirit. For the times in my life that I desecrated my own heart, I celebrate the cleansing power of the sacrificial blood of Christ Jesus. It is also a celebration of the anointing of the Holy Spirit that God has miraculously and graciously provided for me. It is an anointing that is more than enough to empower me for what God has called me to do - an anointing that never, never runs dry!