December 25: Christmas and the First Day of Hanukkah

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Christmas is celebrated December 25 on the Gregorian calendar.  The first day of Hanukkah is celebrated Kislev 25 on the Hebrew calendar.  This year December 25 and Kislev 25 coincide, which is unusual.  Hanukkah, an eight-day celebration, will end January 1, 2017.

HANUKKAH IS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

You won’t find the celebration of Hanukkah or the term Feast of Dedication (the other name for Hanukkah) in the Old Testament.  It’s in the New Testament.  It’s prophesied in the Book of Daniel but occurred between the writing of the Old and New Testaments.

Did Jesus celebrate Hanukkah?  Yes.  John 10: 22-24 gives an account of Jesus celebrating Hanukkah, a.k.a. the Feast of Dedication.

And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter, and Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch (King James Version).

Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem.  Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade (TLV–Tree of Life Version).

WHAT IS HANUKKAH OR THE FEAST OF DEDICATION?

The events that led to the Feast of Dedication are found in the Books of Maccabees and prophesied in the Book of Daniel.  “The king of the north” in Daniel 11: 9, is not named.   However, “the king of the north” appears to be Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215-164 B.C.), Seleucid ruler of the Syrian Kingdom, who persecuted the Jews and turned the temple of God into a pagan temple.

Antiochus tried to stamp out the Jewish religion and culture by forbidding circumcision, worshipping on the Sabbath, reading the Torah, etc.  He desecrated the temple by erecting a statue of Zeus and sacrificing a pig on the altar.  The Maccabees, a Jewish family, led the military revolt that defeated Antiochus.

With Antiochus out of way, the temple had to be cleansed and rededicated to God, hence the Feast of Dedication.  The priests had enough oil to keep the mennorrah burning for one day only, but the oil lasted for eight according to legend.

ANTIOCHUS IV FORESHADOWS THE ANTI-CHRIST

Antiochus IV is a prototype of the anti-christ.  Below is a description of “the king of the north.”

“His forces will rise up and profane the fortified Temple; they will stop the daily offering and set up the abomination of desolation  With smooth words he will seduce those who act wickedly against the covenant, but the people who know their God will stand strong and prevail” (Daniel 11: 31-32, TIV).

“So the king will do as he pleases, exalting and magnifying himself above every god.  He will even speak outrageous things against the God of gods.  He will prosper until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been decided will be done” (Daniel 11: 36, TIV).

When speaking of the anti-christ, Jesus referred to the Book of Daniel.  “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak” (Matthew 24: 15-18, NASB).

HANUKKAH AND THE BIRTH OF CHRIST

Although Jesus was not born on *December 25 but probably in the spring, his birth is linked to Feast of Dedication.  The cleansing of the temple set the stage for the coming of the Messiah.  Both are linked to eschatology.  The Messiah will return as King of Kings to defeat the anti-christ and rule the earth (Daniel 7: 1-14; Revelation 19: 11-16).

 

*Suggested reading:

STORIES BEHIND THE GREAT TRADITIONS OF CHRISTMAS by Ace Collins (Zondervan, 2003).

ALL ABOUT CHRISTMAS by Maymie R. Krythe (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1954).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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