Because Hanukkah and Christmas are so closely situated on the calendar some might dare to call this the season of Chrismukkah. However, is there a positive and productive correlation between these two events?  We can surely say that without Hanukkah there would have been no Christmas, because Hanukkah brings us to the time when the remnant of about 50,000 Jews were called from the Diaspora (out of from Babylon)  to come back to the land and prepare the Temple for the first coming of the Messiah. This calling began with Ezra and Nehemiah and with the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. They did a great job. They rebuilt the Second Temple in preparation for the Messiah to come and for the nativity to be realized and celebrated.

More precisely, the events of Hanukkah bring us back 165 years before Yeshua, a time between the last prophet Malachi and Messiah’s advent. It was a very critical phase in the history of Israel, a time we commonly call the 400 silent years. While there wasn’t a writing prophet per se  during this time, still with Hanukkah we realize that these times were anything but silent. In fact, a better title for this season of Israel’s history would be “the time of great persecution and turmoil” because the forces of evil were doing everything they could to stop His advent.

It was during this time when a general from the Greek Empire named Antiochus Epiphanes invaded Jerusalem and desecrated the temple for a period of 3 years. His goal was to put a complete stop to the practice of Judaism along with forbidding the reading of the Holy Scriptures.  Being a pawn in the enemy’s hand, Antiochus would be used to thwart the Jewish people from acquiring the scriptural knowledge in preparation for the Messiah’s soon coming.

But God raised up a small group of priests, called the Maccabees who courageously freed the Temple. Unknowingly to most of them, they were actually preparing the Temple and the land of Israel for Yeshua and they succeeded, despite times of great opposition. And of the many prophecies given at the time which must have encouraged many of the people, we see a powerful one from Malachi, where in chapter 3:1 God promised the Jews that He would enter this very temple.

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.”

The first part of this prophecy speaks of the coming of John the Baptist.  He is the messenger who will prepare the way for the Lord. But notice what it actually says that the Lord will suddenly come to His temple. Malachi was speaking about Yeshua. But how was His entry to the Temple sudden?

The Hebrew word pitom means just that, unexpectedly, suddenly and by surprise for by then a new religion of Judaism had developed and they did not recognize the Messiah according to His biblical credentials, despite the over 100 prophecies available to them.  We can see spiritual warfare looming. Another prophet, Haggai, who encouraged those believers who were building the Temple, gave them yet another piece of information about the Messiah’s Temple. Haggai 2:9a says, The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,says the LORD of hosts.

Some had complained about the conditions and difficulties they endured during the building of the Second Temple. They had also belittled the structure itself, comparing it to how magnificent Solomon’s temple was.  So, the LORD spoke and said that the Second Temple’s glory would be so much greater. Why? Because Yeshua would walk in this one, and He did.

Now, getting back to our story of Hanukkah. At this time, Antiochus did something that was not seen before in history. As mentioned, he tried to eradicate the belief in the God of the Bible with the threat of death to whoever was found reading or studying the Scriptures. He ordered all of the scrolls of the Law to be confiscated and burned. Furthermore, he forbade the practice of the dietary laws – Jews were not allowed to keep kosher. He forced them to eat meat forbidden in the Mosaic law.

He also forbade circumcision, the sign of the covenant that God gave the Jews. Before him, the Babylonians, the Persians and even his own people, the Greeks accepted religious diversity. They were polytheists, but he, Antiochus, suddenly, undertook to radically annihilate the religion of God. That was a first in history, but it was also prophetic because Antiochus shared many prophecies with the Antichrist. What happened with Antiochus would be far less than what will happen with the man of lawlessness.

Let me tell you how history records what this Greek general did. We find this in the book of 1Maccabees, chapter 1.  It says that at one point, Antiochus sent letters all over Israel saying, 49 To the end they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances.50 And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die.” All this was done so that they might forget the Law. Let me ask you a question. What would be an effective way to separate Israel from her God or separate a believer from Jesus? Deprive him or her of the Word of God.  Without the Scriptures, we will lose track of our Creator and begin to model a god after our own image and likings.

Didn’t Yeshua say that man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God? It is this very Word, that this man Antiochus tried to eradicate. This is why commemorating the Feast of Dedication is getting even more relevant year after year as we make our way to the endtimes, evidenced by a fight against the fundamental principles of the Bible. We know how the Antichrist will have an even greater scope of control and power.

And who did Antiochus really think he was? His full name is Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

The word Epiphanes means God manifest. He thought he was God in the flesh, just like the Antichrist will proclaim himself to be. And how appropriate to give himself such a title just before the Messiah was to be born in Israel. By calling himself God he diminished the importance of the title of the genuine and unique incarnate Son of God. He was so crazy at times that the Jews changed the name of Epiphanes to Epimanes, which means mad. They called him Antiochus the mad man.

And it seems that Antiochus set a new trend for it was about this same time when the title son of God was given to the roman emperors. Emperor Augustus, at the time of the Yeshua, also included in his title, son of God. In the gate of the city of Ephesus were written these words, “The Emperor Caesar Augustus, son of god and high priest”.

This was the same title given to Yeshua. We can see how history was manipulated to diminish the importance of the person of Yeshua. Again, Antiochus provides a foreshadowing of what the Antichrist will do but the latter will do so much worse. For instance, we read in 2Thessalonians 2:4 that when the Antichrist will desecrate the Third Temple, he will oppose and exalt 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. We can see the level of rebellion and demonic activity that will be present three and half years into the signing of the false peace covenant.