Friday, December 15, 2017

A surprising truth found in the only Biblical reference to Hannuka.

Let me be clear. I am not a Jew religiously or culturally (perhaps my ancestry is Jewish as many of the Levantine Christians are). So I don’t celebrate Hannuka (or Khannukah). Yet this year I happened to get my hands on what’s called a khannukiah – a little candle stand that Jews around the world use to celebrate Hannuka in their homes. And I had the delight of lighting the candles with my children.


What exactly was I celebrating? Hannuka is not one of the feasts of the Law. But surpsingly, Hannuka and Jesus did intersect. In John 10 we see Jesus being in the Temple during this holiday called in the New Testament, the Feast of Dedication. Was He celebrating it? Probably. But its what Jesus said on this Jewish occasion and the fact that He chose to say such things on that occasion in particular that brings out a great testimony of God’s love for all the tribes and nations of mankind.

You see, what Jesus revealed to the Jews celebrating Hannuka was very powerful.

But before we go into that, let me very briefly tell you the story of Hannuka. After the Greek empire dissolved into four smaller entities, these Hellenic empires often fought in the land of Israel; the particular remnant of the Greek empire in Hannuka was the Selucid Empire. In fact, the events here are prophesied by Daniel (and allude very strongly to the anti-Christ that is to come – sort of a like a double prophecy in one). During this time, a Selucid King (Antiochus IV) desecrated the Temple, slaughtered a pig on the altar and declared himself to be God (much like another king, Herod, would do in the days of the early church, Acts 12:21-23). This triggered the Maccabean revolt. The Maccabeans were a very effective guerrilla army that sought to free the Jewish people from the Selucids, both militarily and culturally since the Selucids were very aggressive in promoting the Greek culture in Israel. Interstingly, when you see people referred to as “Jews and Greeks” in the New Testament, the “Greeks” are these Hellenized Jews, Jews who adopted the customs of the Greeks. So here comes the Maccabeans, they defeat the Selucid army and hastily rededicated the desecrated Temple (the Second Temple) and this holiday was known as the Feast of Dedication in the days of Jesus. The Hannuka legends recalls this re-dedication of the Temple; the candles represent how there was only consecrated oil for one day’s worth of Mennorah but the candles miraculously remained lit for 8 days.

So in the context of this holiday – which had happened less than 200 years before Jesus was there in the Temple – here comes this Yeshua of Nazareth, who had already declared that “Something greater than the Temple is here” in reference to Himself, says something even more ground-breaking – “I and the Father are One.” 

They were about to stone Him and I tell you, Jesus could have obliterated them with the but a single breath or even whisper but He didn’t. He patiently tried to woo this aggressive and hostile band of religious extremists. And though they are in this state, He actually pleads with them to believe Him not on account of His words  but rather the amazing miracles that He done right before their eyes (that they never denied, by the way). I believe that the naturally supernatural outworking of the Spirit are crucial in our witness of Jesus (see Mark 16:17-20), but sadly many remain ignorant or even hostile of this amazing blessing that God left us with. 

And He addresses their spiritual stupor and stupidity:
"If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him." John 10:37,38
Look how patient He is. Look how He loves these brutes! Isn’t that amazing? Here stands the Son of God in front of a rowdy, bearded, primitive mob who insults Him, and tries to kill Him and He is there, composed, Kingly, unafraid still reaching out that they may come to Know the Life?

This is our Beautiful Jesus!

And you know what the Scriptures say happened right after this “…many believed in Him there”.

So what is Hannuka really about? 

It is about the Revelation to the World that Something Greater than the Temple is Here. Its about the Eternal Light, the Life of Man coming down to Enlighten us and Save us from every evil, named and unamed. His Name is Immanu-El, the Name revealed centuries before His coming in Isaiah, He is the God with us, He is God Himself coming, pleading, wooing the entire Race of Adam – “Come to Me and Have Life. I love you. I give My Life for you, willingly and with you on My mind and in My eye. I left Heaven’s Glory to be born a Son of Man in a lowly barn in a forgotten town of Judea, to lay My neck to the knife at the hands of evil men, but it was I who laid down My life for you and took it up again that all Who Believe in Me would have this Life and have it More Abundantly.”


Let him who has ears to hear, hear. Amen.

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