The eight days of Chanukah have just concluded, but it’s not too late to reflect on the events around this holiday. You may not be familiar with this ‘Jewish Holiday’ and the events surrounding its inception or how it is connected with Jesus and His followers. It is not one of the seven commanded feasts outlined in the Torah, so how is it that Jews are celebrating it for eight days?
We find mention in John 10:22-23 that Jesus was walking in the temple, in winter, and celebrating the Feast of Dedication, as Chanukah is known. It is also known as the feast of lights. The events occurred in 166 BCE in Jerusalem. The Seleucid (Greek) ruler Antiochus Epiphanes forced many changes in Torah observance among the Jews. He suppressed the worship of YHWH and did away with temple worship and sacrifices to YHWH in exchange for sacrifice and worship of Zeus or other Greek divinity.
During this time of tyranny, many Jews had sought reform while many remained faithful to the Word of God. Of those who obeyed the Teachings of Moses were a family called the Maccabees. They sought to worship YHWH as was prescribed, and since that was hindered by an oppressive government, they rose up and rebelled against this oppressive regime.
The temple is lit by a seven-branched menorah fueled with olive oil. The story tells that there was only enough oil for one day, and yet the menorah remained lit for eight days until fresh oil could be procured. The message is Jesus is the light, and as His disciples, we are carriers of that light wherever we go. We are to bring it into the darkness all around us. Eight means new beginnings, and it indeed was a new beginning.
The Maccabean revolt lasted a couple of years, and in it, Judas Maccabees and his followers were able to take back Judea and tear down the altar of Zeus. Previously Antiochus is supposed to have sacrificed a pig in the temple, which would fly in the face of any Jew and YHWH. That would be almost the ultimate desecration of the temple and altar. I say almost because it is only a prelude to the coming Antichrist and his plans.
In Matthew 24:15, Jesus refers to Daniel 11:31 when He mentions the abomination of desolation and the abolishing of the daily sacrifice. This occurred under Antiochus IV but is only a prelude to things to come. If it was fully fulfilled before Jesus, then why is He speaking of it as an end of the age event?
Are All Governments Instituted By God?
In Romans 13, Paul writes to the church in Rome that was being persecuted by the likes of Nero. He explains that governments are servants and ministers for God for good. Therefore, we are not to fear the government and its leaders. They are supposed to be for us and not against us. These people were facing severe persecution.
Paul is not condoning the evils that kingdoms and governments carry out. God established government for our protection and welfare, but wicked people have perverted that and brought oppression, tyranny, and injustice. In some nations, governments change almost daily. Nevertheless, there are legitimate governments and leaders God places over a people.
Proverbs 21:1 tells us that the heart of the king is in God’s hands. We pray for God to bring about change in a situation, especially where it is counter to His Word and the values of the kingdom. We need governments to pass laws that help people and not hinder them. Paul tells us to obey the government, but there is an exception.
Freedom From Tyranny
In the USA, we have seen many good things do for the people, as well as some that shifted the oppression from one group to another. Since the beginning of human history, there has always been an individual or a group seeking to control those placed under their leadership. Likewise, there have always been those who sought to serve and help the people.
The history of the United States has been a checkered one, to say the least. Slavery, intolerance and oppression of Native Americans, and extended poverty among immigrants. Some of the worst living conditions occurred among immigrants working in big cities in poor working conditions and little pay. African Americans continued to struggle long after freedom from slavery, and the struggle for them and other international groups continues.
Many argue that governments don’t exist to feed the poor, provide housing and other basic life necessities. The Church has long failed to minister to the poor, needy and down and out resulting in many moving for political means to fix the problems that have been around for thousands of years. Oppression and Tyrannical forms of government will continue and worsen as we anticipate the coming of the Lord Jesus.
Moving Toward The Man Of Lawlessness
There is a point where one must ‘disobey’ government rules and regulations. That comes when those laws run counter to the Word of God and His commands. Telling people they can’t gather for worship, even in homes is the primary example. We hear about this in China and similar areas but we don’t think of it as a Western thing.
Yet, in Canada, UK, and other Western nations people are being arrested for gathering to worship, preaching in the streets and similar freedom of religion expressions. But non-Christians do not suffer the same fate in these areas. More and more in the US we are seeing persecution of Christianity take place. We can’t be passive any longer.
While we don’t take up arms as believers like the Maccabees we must let our voice be heard and likewise take a stand and say thus far and no more. The persecution has extended to Social Media, and we often find Christians pitted against one another.
All of this is preparing the way for the Man of Lawlessness of AntiChrist. We see cities being destroyed and burned without anyone taking a stand to stop it in those cities and if someone does they are considered a traitor. Burning everything down is not the answer. Yet, eventually the Man of lawlessness will step up and tell us that he has all the answers. In other words he will let lwalessness abound so he can provide the solution.
Preparing The KIngdoms For The King
While many disciples are preparing for the return of Jesus to rule and reign on the earth, many leaders, government, religious, and others are preparing for the AntiChrist. There have been many tyrants throughout the ages who tried to rule through oppression. Names like Nimrod, Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Caligula, Nebuchadnezzar, and Nero remind us of how one man can be used to control and oppress, murder, and control so many people.
The final attempt will be much like what many have done in the past but on a global scale. What Antiochus did in the temple will be minuscule compared to the Man of lawlessness requiring worship of him from a central place like Jerusalem.
After all, Jerusalem is God’s eternal capital, so why wouldn’t he rule from there if he claims to be God or the Messiah? But, it will be short-lived just like all of his predecessors. Jesus will return and set up His capital in Jerusalem and the nations will come and worship Him there.
The Kingdoms of this world will be His. So this holiday season remember that we have victory over the Anti Christ and that spirit through Christ. We do not accomplish it with swords like the Maccabees did but rather knowing that Christ will win in the end and we will rule and reign with Him.
Enjoy Life In The Kingdom