The Feast of Hanukkah and the events around it are a wonderful picture of the coming Antichrist. Read on to learn about Hanukkah and the Great Tribulation.
Hanukkah and the Great Tribulation
This is the Third Article in our holiday series about Hanukkah. The first article (READ HERE) provides a lot of important background information and I recommend you read it first.
The Second Article (READ HERE) provides a lot of detail on how the Antichrist will likely invade Israel and set up the Abomination of Desolation
This Third Article discusses events during the Great Tribulation. By analogy it describes how the ancient Jews fought back against Antiochus who is a foreshadow of the Antichrist.
Great Tribulation against the Word
Antiochus began his assault be destroying the Word of God:
They also burned incense at the doors of houses and in the streets. Any scrolls of the law that they found they tore up and burned. Whoever was found with a scroll of the covenant, and whoever observed the law, was condemned to death by royal decree. So they used their power against Israel, against those who were caught, each month, in the cities. (1 Mac. 1:56-58)
Destruction of the Word of God is also a likely, but not certain, first step during the Great Tribulation.
Resisting the Apostasy
Famously, Mattathias and his five sons resisted the apostasy. This is how the resistance began:
The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modein to make them sacrifice. Many of Israel joined them, but Mattathias and his sons drew together. Then the officers of the king addressed Mattathias: “You are a leader, an honorable and great man in this city, supported by sons and kindred. Come now, be the first to obey the king’s command, as all the Gentiles and Judeans and those who are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the King’s Friends, and you and your sons shall be honored with silver and gold and many gifts.” (1 Mac. 2:15-18)
Notice that bribery with gold was a mode of enforcing the apostasy at first. This is similar to Dan.11:30 where the Antichrist will “show regard for those that foresake the Holy Covenant.” Mattathias, however resisted:
A certain Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein according to the king’s order. When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal; his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused; he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar. At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. . . Then Mattathias cried out in the city, “Let everyone who is zealous for the law and who stands by the covenant follow me!” Then he and his sons fled to the mountains, leaving behind in the city all their possessions. (1 Mac. 2:23-25, 27-29)
The first aspect of this part of the account is something I don’t recommend – armed resistance. Revelation is clear that he who kills with the sword will die by the sword (Rev. 13:10). However, fleeing is something some may want to consider.
Difference Between Jewish Remnant and Christians
There is an obvious difference between Christians and the unsaved Jewish remnant, and that difference is salvation! If a saved Christian is martyred, they are taken into the presence of Jesus and will be resurrected at the Resurrection of the Righteous. If an unsaved member of the Jewish remnant is martyred, they will enter hell. This is an enormous difference!
Therefore, part of God’s plan is to keep the Jewish remnant alive throughout the entire 70th Week of Daniel. However this is not necessarily his strategy for Christians. God’s plan for believers is for them to testify so as to save as many of the unsaved as possible. These two different strategies are outlined in Rev. 12. The strategy for the Jewish remnant is one of protection:
But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. (Rev. 12:14)
The strategy for Christians is one of testimony and potentially martyrdom:
And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. (Rev. 12:11)
So Christians should not necessarily focus on survival during the 70th Week, but testimony under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Some may be asked to physically escape to testify another day, but some will be asked to face down the Antichrist forces. Listening for the voice of the Spirit at that time will be key.
So Christian “warfare” against the Antichrist is spiritual: prayer and testimony. Jesus himself will fight the physical war and overcome the enemy for us.
Rededication of the Temple
“Hanukkah” means dedication. And after overcoming the forces of Antiochus, the Jews purified and rededicated the Temple.
He chose blameless priests, devoted to the law; these purified the sanctuary and carried away the stones of the defilement to an unclean place. They deliberated what ought to be done with the altar for burnt offerings that had been desecrated. They decided it best to tear it down, lest it be a lasting shame to them that the Gentiles had defiled it; so they tore down the altar. They stored the stones in a suitable place on the temple mount, until the coming of a prophet who could determine what to do with them. (1 Mac. 4:42-46)
The first step the Jews took was to tear down the altar. And they then built another and dedicated it on the day we now begin Hanukkah celebrations.
They rose early on the morning of the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, that is, the month of Kislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight, and offered sacrifice according to the law on the new altar for burnt offerings that they had made. On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had desecrated it, on that very day it was rededicated with songs, harps, lyres, and cymbals. (1 Mac. 4:52-54)
Notice that Hanukkah begins on the anniversary of the original defilement. Will the defilement by the Antichrist take place on Hanukkah in the future? It doesn’t seem likely, but it is possible.
Later on in 1 Maccabees records the timing of a specific timing of a Shmitah year. I found this very interesting.
He made peace with the people of Beth-zur, and they evacuated the city, because they had no food there to enable them to withstand a siege, for that was a sabbath year in the land. (1 Mac. 6:49)
Since this year was Oct. 163 BC to 162 BC (seen earlier in chapter 6), we can date the sabbatical cycles of Israel. In Rapture: Case Closed? we surmised that AD 27 was the first year of Jesus’s ministry and the year that he announced the “Favorable Year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19). According to this timing, AD 27 was a year of the lord or sabbatical or Shmitah year.
According to this timing 2015 was a Sabbatical year and 2022 and 2029 and 2036 will be as well. Since in Rapture: Case Closed? we theorize that the Rapture will occur on a Sabbatical year, these are “potential” years to keep in mind. Obviously we are basing this on the historic record in Maccabees and it could be inaccurate. However, the fact that it is consistent with our understanding of Luke 4 gives me some faith that it could be correct.
Hanukkah and the 1335th Day
Hanukkah may play a role in events after the 70th Week as well. The Book of Daniel records several mysterious numbers of days:
From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the [m]abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days! (Dan. 12:11-12)
Now if Yom Kippur is the 1260th day, Hanukkah is the 1335th day (there are 75 days between them.) This perfect association could mean the physical return of Jesus to the earth on Yom Kippur and a future rededication of the Temple on Hanukkah. This would be an amazing final fulfillment of the feast.
In this scenario, the 1290th day would be Chesvan 10 (the day Noah entered the Ark), a possible date for the Sheep and Goat judgment.
Maccabees (a non-canonical book) records Hanukkah , so I suggest all readers consider any future fulfillment with that in mind.
The Gospel of John records Jesus’s celebration of Hanukkah, however, which is a canonical book. And we will examine that in the next installment.