Hanukkah celebrates the dedication of the Temple immediately following the victory of Israel over the Greek armies of the second century BC occupying forces. Hanukkah means Dedication, naming it the Feast of Dedication in Hebrew. It is referred to one time in Scripture. At that time it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, it was winter, and Y’shua was walking in the Temple, on Solomon’s Porch. (John 10:22,23)
Around 170 BC the Greeks under Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the Temple by sacrificing a pig at the altar. Antiochus tried to eliminate Judaism, not so much by killing the Jews as by forbidding the practice of Judaism. Reading Torah was forbidden, along with circumcision, honoring the Sabbath, and celebrating the Seasons of the Lord. In 167 BC a priest by the name of Mattityahu Hasmonea started guerrilla warfare along with his sons and a few followers. What they did in the hill country of Judea and Samaria was so amazing that books on their exploits are still studied by modern guerrilla fighters. Early in the war Judas Hasmonea took over after his father’s death and he is the one who came up with the legendary tactics. His motto was Mi Camokha BaElim Adona’y, from Exodus 15:11. The translation is: Who is like You, LORD*, among the gods? The initials of those words spell Maccabee, which is the name that was later applied to Judas and his followers. Although spelled differently in Hebrew, the Hebrew word for hammer sounds like maccabee. Therefore he was called “The Hammer,” so the books of Maccabees in the Apocrypha were written about their successful wars. In 164 BC they took over the Temple. This was the first war fought over a principle, religious freedom, and was the first successful guerrilla war, paralleling our American Revolution, also fought over principle using guerrilla tactics.
They needed to repair and dedicate the Temple right away. Dedication is an eight-day process that requires the use of sanctified oil for the menorah in the Holy Place, the first room of the Sanctuary. Tradition says they could only find a one-day supply of oil, but rather than wait eight days to sanctify more, they began the Temple sanctification process with the one-day supply. The LORD* through a creative miracle made that one day’s supply last the full eight days. For this reason Hanukkah is also called the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah is important to the 21st century church first of all because Y’shua honored Hanukkah, and still does because He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Another reason is that the spirits we are fighting today are the very same ones that were fought in the second century BC and in the first century AD. These are the spirits of compromise with the world system, turning a blind eye to homosexuality, abortion, the placing of biblical symbols on public property or the Ten Commandments in schools or court rooms, even punishing military chaplains for preaching the Gospel. Now atheists are going to court trying to remove religious symbols from private property. This attack parallels those of the Hellenists in ancient Israel. Pray that war will not be necessary in this century, but that revival will rise dramatically in the churches of this country returning us to the Judeo-Christian roots of the founding fathers.