At sundown tonight, Jews around the world will light the first chanukkah candle to begin the eight day celebration of Chanukkah, the Feast of Dedication. What very few Christians realize is that Chanukkah is all about our Messiah and has a profound message about the end of days. Chanukkah is prophetic as well as historical.
In the early pages of Genesis we read of a man named Enoch who walked with God and 'was no more for God took him.' The name Enoch means 'dedication' and in Hebrew it is spelled Chanoch. The same root gives us the word Chanukkah.
Interestingly enough, though the Jews celebrate Chanukkah, the only place in the Bible that it's mentioned is in the New Testament! Jesus celebrated Chanukkah.
At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the Temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews gathered around Him and were saying to Him, 'How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.' Jesus answered, 'I have told you but you do not believe; the words that I do in My Father's Name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me. and I give them eternal life and they will never perish; and no one will snatch then out of My Hand.' John 10:22-28
This is an amazing passage in John. Let's take a closer look. The Feast of Dedication is Chanukkah. Jesus goes to Jerusalem to celebrate it. John notes that 'it is winter' and goes on to say that Jesus was walking in the portico of Solomon. That portico - or porch - faced eastward. Looking eastward from Solomon's portico one had a direct view of the Mount of Olives.
Notice when and where these Pharisees choose to confront Jesus with a very direct question: 'Tell us plainly if you are the Messiah.' Keep in mind that these Pharisees knew their scriptures very well. They were well aware of the prophet Zechariah's declaration that 'his feet [the Messiah's] will stand on the Mount of Olives.' They also knew Ezekiel 10:18-19 'the glory of the Lord departed eastward.' Later in his prophecy, Ezekiel proclaims that the 'glory of the Lord comes from the east.' Ezekiel 43:2 The three verses were connected in their understanding. When the Messiah would appear, then the glory of the LORD would return, coming from the east.
So during Chanukkah as they are facing the Mount of Olives, they issue their ultimatum. Get that - during the festival of DEDICATION, they confront the LIGHT OF THE WORLD and demand to know if He is the Messiah.
The Lord Jesus takes this opportunity to declare that though they refuse Him, His sheep - His disciples, those who follow Him - hear His voice and furthermore, nothing and no one can take them from Him.
He IS the esence of Chanukkah; He IS the Menorah, the Lampstand in the Temple. He IS the Light of the World. Israel was called to be a light unto the nations, but their light has gone dark. Israel has dimmed the light and so He comes, the Light of the World, to dispel the darkness and shine out the Light of Life.
Jesus celebrated Chanukkah. John 10:22 And He made His greatest declaration of Himself during Chanukkah. John 10:30
Chanukkah is the eighth feast of the year - after Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Tabernacles.
In Matthew 24:20, in speaking about the signs of the end, Jesus says, 'pray that your flight not be in winter.'
Mark 13:18 'But pray that it may not happen in winter.'
And as we already saw, Jesus was in Jerusalem for Chanukkah and it was 'winter'. Why this emphasis on 'winter'?
Winter is one of the prophetic allusions in scripture to tribulation. Quite interestingly, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn pointed out recently that this particular year, 2017, the last day of Chanukkah is the 24th day of the 9th month on the biblical calendar (December 21 on our western calendar).
The prophet Haggai prophesied to Zerubbabel on the 24th day of the 9th month: 'I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, everyone by the sword of another. On that day, declares the LORD of Hosts, I will make take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant, declares the LORD, and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,' declares the LORD of hosts.
All around the world, nations are preparing for war, talking about war. As of last week, all the nations listed as participating in the Ezekiel 38 war are aligned with each other in an amazing unfolding of events.
Zechariah 12:1-3 is at the forefront of the nations. 'I will make Jerusalem a cup of reeling for all the nations.' Have you noticed the worldwide outcry against President Trump's declaration that Jerusalem is Israel's capital and the American Embassy will be moved there.'?
These are so many other signs pointing to the end of the age and the soon return of our glorious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
SO what does Chanukkah say to the Christian?
As He is the light of the world, so are we called to be light to the world. How brightly are you shining with the love and the grace of God? Does your presence emanate the light of the Lord wherever you go?
Are you walking with God as Enoch did? Faithful and dedicated?
Are you a living Chanukkah Menorah? Jesus was - He was the true Menorah and that is how John sees Him in the book of Revelation. And that same John wrote in his epistle: 'As he is, so also are we in this world.' I Jn. 4:17
May this eight day period which begins this evening be for each of us a time of renewing and refreshing in the presence of the Lord that will cause our light to shine brighter than ever before - for in reality, the light that shines through us is HIM. The closer we draw to Him, the brighter the light.
A blessed Chanukkah to you all!