At sundown this evening, Jews around the world will light the first Hanukkah candle to begin the eight day celebration of the Feast of Dedication. The miracle that happened at the time of the Maccabbees and the prophetic implications of this festival are too often missed. Therefore it is worth interrupting for this week our study of Joshua to take a look at what Hanukkah really means.
Isaiah 46:9-10 Remember the things long past, for I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying , ‘My purpose will be established and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’
Very early in Genesis, we read of a man whose name is Enoch or in Hebrew, Chanoch. His name means ‘Dedication’ and it is this same root that gives us the word Chanukkah. Enoch, or Chanoch, lived a life of total dedication to God and at the appointed time, God ‘took him’, the Bible says.
Chanukkah is the feast of Dedication – the re-dedication of the Temple after its desecration by Antiochus, the Greek Emperor who made it his goal to bring all peoples of the ancient world into the worship of Zeus, the primary Greek god. In other words, to create a one world religion. Are you aware that there is a serious effort underway in our day to do exactly what Antiochus wanted to do? There are religious/political leaders literally working together to forge a ‘one world religion’, a sign of the end of days.
The Jews of Antiochus’ day refused and their resistance was led by a man and his sons known as the Maccabbees. Though they were small in number compared to the army of Antiochus, miraculously the Maccabbees won the battle. After the defeat of the emperor’s troops, the Maccabbees went up to the temple which had been desecrated by the Greeks for Antiochus sacrificed a pig on the altar. As they trudged through the rubble, they found one small vial of pure oil for lighting the Menorah. It was not enough to light the entire Menorah but enough for one branch. And so, at a very dark hour in Jewish history, one small vial of oil served to encourage the survivors that Antiochus had not been able to extinguish completely the light of the God of Israel. Miraculously that one vial – with oil enough for one day – continued to burn until the eighth day.
The number 8 in Scripture speaks of plentifullness, of regeneration; it is the number of new beginnings. At the time of Noah’s flood, eight people survived to replenish the earth in its ‘new beginning’. In I Samuel 8, the prophet Samuel visits the house of Jesse to anoint a new king for Israel. Jesse presents seven sons to the prophet but none of them are the anointed of the Lord. It is only when Jesse calls for his eighth son, David, that the Spirit of the Lord speaks to Samuel to ‘anoint this one’ as king.
We are all called to carry the light of God’s truth, His Word and His ways to others; to be an example of godly living to a confused and chaotic world.
This Chanukkah, may the light of the Holy One of Israel fill us anew and afresh and may we spread His light everywhere we go.
A Happy Chanukkah to all of you!