Prophetic insights from Hanukkah. Or a Hebraic view of Matthew 24.

In the Hebrew understanding of prophecy, events repeat in prophetic patterns. Most Christians understand how the stories of Joseph and Moses foretell the life of the Messiah. This understanding of scriptures helps us understand prophetic events as they unfold in scripture. 

“What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 1:9

With this in mind, Yeshua celebrated the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. During his visit to the temple, Jesus demonstrates his understanding of this Jewish feast. Consider the question of the Pharisees. 

“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.” Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 
John 10:23-24

Why did they ask this question? The feast of Dedication marked the holiday of Hanukkah. The festival marked the liberation and rededication of the temple under the Greek rule of Antiochus Epiphanes. His name ironically means, “God manifest.” This man proclaimed himself a god in the temple, and the feast marked this event where the temple was liberated, and the Torah restored. Yeshua is claiming to be God, in the very temple where a madman, tried the same thing. It's easy to see why they might have been suspicious about messianic claims. Remember their reaction to his statement of being one with the father?

“The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
John 10:33

Yeshua is claiming to be deity on a holiday that reminded the jews of a self-appointed god. To understand the impact, let's take a look at the story of the tyrant of Hanukkah.

We find the story of Antiochus in the first book of Maccabees. As it is, this book is not considered canonical; however, the pattern of the story might be familiar to students of Bible prophecy.  Many scholars believe this story an essential foreshadowing of the coming antichrist. 

Maccabees introduces the reader to Antiochus, the current ruler of the  Seleucid empire. The Jews living in Israel see an opportunity to make "nice" with the new ruler of the territory. Instead of turning to YHWH, the leadership of Israel turns to the  Greek rulers and culturally enmeshes the Hebrew and Hellenistic cultures, to keep the peace. However, this called for compromises on the word of God. 

1Ma 1:10  And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus, the king, who had been a hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks. 
1Ma 1:11  In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow.

One of the first things the Jews did was introduce the pagan practices to their own. They installed Olympics, which were much nuder and focused on the glory of the pagan gods, which the Jews would have abhorred due to idolatry and modestly laws. Secondly, they began to compromise the covenant in favor of inclusivity and political correctness. 

Ma 1:13  Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them licence to do after the ordinances of the heathen: 
1Ma 1:14  Whereupon they built a place of exercise at Jerusalem according to the customs of the heathen: 
1Ma 1:15  And made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathen, and were sold to do mischief.

And nothing goes to the head of a Seleucid tyrant like captured people capitulating in fear. So Antiochus goes to war with Egypt, crushing them and returning to Jerusalem in victory. Moreover, the silly Jews, thinking making peace with the pagan would save them, are horrified to see Antiochus, returning from war, all pumped up on pride, invade the Holy Land and ransack the Temple. 

1Ma 1:18  And made war against Ptolemee, king of Egypt: but Ptolemee was afraid of him, and fled; many were wounded to death. 
1Ma 1:19  Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt, and he took the spoils thereof. 
1Ma 1:20  And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, 
1Ma 1:21  And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof, 
1Ma 1:22  And the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials. and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off. 
1Ma 1:23  He took also the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels: also he took the hidden treasures which he found. 
1Ma 1:24  And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken very proudly. 
1Ma 1:25  Therefore there was a great mourning in Israel.

The deal with the pagan king was for naught. Accepting cultural norms did not protect the Jews from persecution. It only delayed the inevitable. 

Then your covenant with death will be annulled,
and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through,
you will be beaten down by it.
Isaiah 28:18

After a period of lamenting the mourning for the desecration of the temple, Antiochus returned to the holy land, this time to a demoralized people. He sent one of his servants to collect tribute from the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Notice the language of the story and compare this to the book of Daniels account. Remember that prophecy repeats patterns.

Ma 1:29  And after two years fully expired the king sent his chief collector of tribute unto the cities of Judea, who came unto Jerusalem with a great multitude, 
1Ma 1:30  And spake peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit: for when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel. 

“There shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom; 
Daniel 11:20

And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. 
Daniel 11:23

Antiochus makes a bargain with the people, and then suddenly turns on them in the middle of the deal. This guy turns the temple into a fortress and begins to kill the Jewish people outside of the temple grounds. The Jews flee Jerusalem for the hills of Judea.

At this time, Antiochus begins his reign of terror. He issues a decree that all people should be one, not unlike at Babel, he enforces a world religion, and he begins to change times and laws. He forbids Torah reading and Sabbath keeping. He forces Jews to eat and sacrifice pig flesh on the altar to foreign gods. He bans circumcision. Moreover, on pain of death, he enforced his will. 

Ma 1:41  Moreover king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people, 
1Ma 1:42  And every one should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king. 
1Ma 1:43  Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the Sabbath. 
Ma 1:45  And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days: 
1Ma 1:46  And pollute the sanctuary and holy people: 
1Ma 1:47  Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine's flesh, and unclean beasts: 
1Ma 1:48  That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation: 
1Ma 1:49  To the end they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances. 
1Ma 1:50  And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die. 

It got so bad in Israel that the people loyal to YHWH were forced to flee into the wilderness of Judea to survive or even to worship. Families began to turn on each other to save their skin. There were random home invasions to search for Sabbath keepers or children that were circumcised. They were forced to offer abominations to idols. They killed them if they got caught with a Torah scroll. Compare the story of Maccabees now to the prophecies of Daniel. (keep in mind Daniel was written before the events mentioned) Antiochus certainly put his stamp into the mind of the Jewish people. 

He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time.
Daniel 7:25

However, the story of Hanukkah climaxes when Antiochus Ephinanes goes too far. This final act compels the Jews to rebel and flee to the mountains of Judea and even raise their swords in defense on the sacred Sabbath. Antiochus goes into the Most Holy place of the temple and erects an altar of Jupiter. According to some, this Greek megalomaniac so obsessed with his self-deification, he put his face on the idol of Jupiter. So pay close attention to what the Maccabees called this act.

1Ma 1:54  Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar and built idol altars throughout the cities of Judea on every side; 
1Ma 1:55  And burnt incense at the doors of their houses, and in the streets. 
1Ma 1:56  And when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, they burnt them with fire. 
1Ma 1:57  And whosoever was found with any the book of the testament, or if any committed to the law, the king's commandment was, that they should put him to death. 
1Ma 1:58  Thus did they by their authority unto the Israelites every month, to as many as were found in the cities.

1Ma 1:59  Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God. 
1Ma 1:60  At which time according to the commandment they put to death certain women, that had caused their children to be circumcised. 
1Ma 1:61  And they hanged the infants about their necks, and rifled their houses, and slew them that had circumcised them. 
1Ma 1:62  Howbeit, many in Israel, were fully resolved and confirmed in themselves not to eat any unclean thing. 
1Ma 1:63  Wherefore the rather to die, that they might not be defiled with meats, and that they might not profane the holy covenant: so then they died. 

Remember the beginning of the book of Daniel, here in the Maccabees story, even eating according to the Bible became a death sentence. I find it strange that this maniac went after the woman and children at the end. However, looking at the words of Jesus in Matthew 24, this begins to make sense.

I hope you begin to see a pattern emerging. Prophecy in the Bible is repeated patterns. And for those history nerds out there, the Roman emperor Titus did something very similar. He desecrated the temple and outlawed the religion of the people, making emperor worship mandatory on pain of death. This repeated event brings us back to Yeshua in Matthew 24.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.  And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.  Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.  And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),  “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.  And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
Matthew 24:9-22

If you were paying attention, this entire little passage draws on Historical events in the Jewish mind. Yeshua is retelling the story of Hanukkah. 

“What has been is what will be,
and what has  been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 1:9


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