Get acquainted with Hanukkah!
Have you ever celebrated Hanukkah?
Yes, it’s a Jewish holiday. And, you’re right. Hanukah is considered an extra-biblical celebration because it’s not included in the Feasts of the Lord listed in Leviticus 23.
The event celebrated during the eight days of Hanukkah while not specifically recorded in Scripture, however, was prophesied some three centuries earlier. Around 534 B.C., Daniel declared:
“And forces shall be mustered by him (Antiochus IV), and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. 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.
Each year, the Jewish community rehearses the historical account of a maniacal Seleucid tyrant named Antiochus Epiphanes who tried to destroy the Jewish people in the second century BCE. His was not the first, nor sadly the last attempt; the Hanukkah celebration continues as the annual reminder that Antiochus failed.
A priest named Mattathias and his five sons took a stand against the Syrian oppressor who was bent on destroying the worship of YHWH, the One-true God. Antiochus IV had desecrated the altar with a sow, erected an image of Zeus in the temple courtyard and ordered the Jewish population to denounce Judaism by eating the meat of a sacrificed unclean animal. Mattathias filled with righteous indignation, struck and killed the agent enforcing Antiochus’ edict.
When Mattathias died a year into the resulting conflict, his son Judah emerged as the leader. Nicknamed “Maccabee” (literally, The Hammer), “Judas Maccabeus” and his followers are known as the Maccabees.
The Hellenization aggressively imposed on the Jewish people and the sacrilege committed against the One-true God via Antiochus came to a grinding halt. In an intense struggle, the small band of men reclaimed Jerusalem three years later.
Just as the prophet Daniel had predicted, God empowered the Maccabees to “carry out great exploits” (Dan. 11:32). With Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in their possession, work immediately began to purify the desecrated temple. Almost to the day three years after the resistance began, the newly purified temple was rededicated.
Tradition states that only one day’s supply of oil could be found for the menorah that lighted the temple. The menorah was lighted using the oil on hand. To everyone’s amazement, the menorah continued to burn for a full eight days until more oil could be sanctified.
The celebration of Hanukkah highlights not just the miracle of the oil for the temple menorah, but the ability of the few to restore the light of truth when darkness threatened to overwhelm. The light of truth, freedom and righteousness illuminates the darkness of deception, oppression and evil.
That fact should encourage people of faith all over the globe.
Hanukkah demonstrates that the actions of a small group of devout individuals who are empowered by God can have lasting influence. God demonstrated His power in similar ways before. Remember the exploits of Gideon, David, Nehemiah and Esther? Each stood against formidable enemies, but prevailed with God’s help.
Does that message inspire you? It does me! This is a good year to become better acquainted with the celebration and enduring significance of Hanukkah. (1)
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2017, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Unless otherwise noted, Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)