In this second addition of Hanukkah I want to look at the prophetic significance of this feast. First, let’s recall a little history covered in the first addition of The Revelation of Hanukkah.
Around 200 B.C., Judea—also known as the Land of Israel—came under the control of Antiochus III, the Seleucid king of Syria, who allowed the Jews who lived there to continue practicing their religion. However, his son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, proved less benevolent: Ancient sources recount that he outlawed the Jewish religion and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. In 168 B.C., his soldiers descended upon Jerusalem, massacring thousands of people and desecrating the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls. (This act is referred to by Daniel and Jesus as the Abomination of desolation). The acts done by Antiochus are a partial fulfillment of Daniel’s prophesies.
Daniel spoke of the breakup of Alexander the Great’s kingdom and its division between Alexander’s four generals but, most of Daniel’s prophesies concentrate on just two of them – the Egyptian kingdom under Ptolemy, known as ‘the king of the South‘ and the Syrian kingdom under Antiochus, known as the king of the North. Historically, the king of the North and the king of the South fought many battles over a period of time and while Daniel refers to this struggle, he focuses on the Northern kingdom of Syria and specifically on one of its rulers known as Antiochus IV Epiphanes. We will begin Daniel’s prophesy at this point –
“And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. “Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time. – (This indicates a pause in the prophesy until the time of the end when another king appears who some Bibles label “the willful king”). – Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all.” – Daniel 11:31-37
As with many prophesies there are primary and secondary fulfillments. This word began to be fulfilled by Antiochus IV as he placed an statue of Zeus in the Holy Place and defiled the Altar by sacrificing a pig on it and filled the temple with immoral sex acts. Antiochus’ actions give us a clear picture of the Antichrist who is yet to come. How do we know that Antiochus IV is not the final fulfillment of this prophesy? As Daniel’s revelation continued into Chapter 12 an angel revealed the Antichrist’s work would continue for a time, times, and half a time (3 1/2 years) and Daniel asked “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” The angel answered –
And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. “Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.” (3 1/2 years) – Daniel 12:9-11
A second reason we know that Antiochus was not the final fulfillment of this prophesy is because of the teachings of Jesus –
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand)” – Matthew 24:15
If Antiochus was the final fulfillment, Jesus would not have spoken of a future fulfillment. The Apostle Paul also speaks of his future coming –
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4
We see clearly that a future Antichrist figure is still coming but, as Paul reveals he will not come until a “falling away”, or apostasy, comes first. This brings us back to the story of Hanukkah where many in Israel forsook their godly heritage following Greek culture, which was a pagan culture.
The first point to be made is that of apostasy. Daniel prophesied “Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery” and that is what happened first. The Greeks enticed Jews by flattery and bribes to forsake Jewish culture and accept the Greek culture. They tried to corrupt the Jewish educational system. Even the religious system was affected. In fact it was the High Priest of Israel that led Antiochus into the Temple to set up the image of Zeus! Many Jews forsook their heritage and embraced the Greek culture and in this we see here a clear warning for the future. As we look to the future we see a disturbing pattern happening in the United States. Under the influence of the spirit of Antichrist we are leaving our Christian culture, which is our founding culture, for a pagan influence. Blasphemies against God that would never had been uttered 50 years ago are now boldly proclaimed on TV and in Hollywood films. Sexual behavior that is forbidden in Scripture is now celebrated and proclaimed as the new norm. Those who try to stand for righteousness are now laughed at and sued as discriminating bigots. The Word of God and prayer to God are being eliminated in our schools and in public. The Revelation of Hanukkah is that persecution of the righteous soon follows this “falling away”. You may call yourself Christian but if you go along with the corruption being put forth, you are part of it. If you pay to see films or watch TV that promotes this moral blasphemy, you are part of it as well. Many Jews in Antiochus’ time just tried to get along with it and not “make waves”, as we say today, and they were overcome by it. The clear lesson for all time is – ‘if the light doesn’t shine, darkness will come in!’
The first lesson of Hanukkah to be learned is – falling away from the truth of the Word of God is an invitation to Antichrist. Not being light allows the darkness of the Antichrist spirit to take over. Since the Church is the light in this world, it bears a heavy responsibility. If it chooses to honor just the parts of the Word of God it agrees with, it cannot be a light bearer for God and is in agreement with the spirit of Antichrist. I know these are harsh words but, the hour is late and bold steps like those of the Maccabees are needed.
My next article will cover the timing associated with the Antichrist and what our preparation needs to be.