Tuesday, December 8, 2015
What Is The Meaning of Hanukkah For Christians?
Most Christians think of Hanukkah as "that nice little Jewish holiday," but they miss the deeper meaning, says Messianic Jewish Rabbi Jonathan Cahn.
They picture Jewish families spinning dreidels, lighting menorahs and eating fried potato pancakes. But there's more to this eight-day holiday, which began at sundown Sunday 6 December.
"It actually holds a big, prophetic end-time revelation," Cahn said. "It's a heavy holiday."
And it keeps getting heavier as time progressives and biblical prophecies about the end times inch closer to being fulfilled.
"If anything, over the course of the last year, America and much of the West has moved closer to the scenario foreshadowed in the days of the Maccabees" and the Hanukkah end-time events, said Cahn.
He believes Hanukkah presents a preview of the end times events, the spirit that will envelop the world, and the strategies for Christian endurance more than any other biblical holiday.
"It foreshadows the Antichrist, the abomination that causes desolation, the calling of evil good and good evil, the removing of God from the public square, the banning of God's Word, sexual immorality, and the persecution of God's people." "It also reveals the strategy that end-time believers need to know that might overcome all these things.
"We are fast approaching a day when believers can be thrown in jail and the majority of Americans applaud it," he continued. "It is all the more crucial that we be prepared, vigilant, wise, and prepared that we might live victoriously for such a time as this."
Jesus celebrated Hanukkah as described in John 10:22-23, when He "walked in the temple in Solomon's porch" during the "Feast of Dedication."
The word Hanukkah means "dedication" and revolves around a historic and improbable revolution, Cahn explains in his documentary film, "The Hanukkah End-Time Mystery."
The holiday celebrates the story of the Maccabean revolt against Greek oppression in the period between the Old and New Testaments.
This revolt was predicted by Daniel more than 300 years before it occurred, and the miraculous success of that revolution was still being celebrated during the time of Jesus' earthly ministry. If it had not been successful, the Jewish religion and culture would have been wiped out, and the Messiah could not have been born into a devout Jewish family as predicted by the Old Testament prophets.
Daniel 12 speaks of a period when "there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, and at that time your people shall be delivered. ... But you Daniel close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end."
"How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?" Daniel asks.
The angel answers saying his prophecies would be sealed until the end of the age, but when the time comes, "the wise will understand."
Cahn believes Hanukkah and the Maccabees are best understood in light of prophecies by Daniel and the apostle John in Revelation.
"You could not know salvation. You could not have Christmas (the birth of Christ). You would not have the New Testament, without Hanukkah," he said.
The Syrian Greek dictator, Antiochus Epiphanes, was hell bent on destroying Jewish culture and faith. Without the revolt, without Hanukkah, there would have been no Virgin Mary, no Joseph, to hear and humbly obey the voice of God.
Daniel prophesied about Antiochus Epiphanes or "God manifest" arising from the north and invading the Holy Land.
Much like the Islamic State has declared war on Jews and Christians today, Antiochus set out to erase every trace, every memory that could lead anyone to the one true God or the history of his people.
Families circumcised their sons secretly. They observed Sabbath secretly. To be caught meant certain death.
"And he comes into the temple with a mission to defile it, slaughters a pig, sets up an idol in the temple, and launches an all-out war on the Bible," Cahn said.
The Jews had a choice. Offer sacrifices to the idols or die.
In today's Western culture, the preferred god is no longer Zeus. It's secularism. Every teaching is tolerated, even blessed by the state, except one. The world's major religions are taught to children in public schools as being equal.
Cahn sees the seeds of Christian persecution already planted in America, and likely to grow in the coming years. Christians, he said, will find answers on how to deal with persecution in the Hanukkah story.
Cahn believes Daniel's prophecies carry a dual meaning for the period of Antiochus in 167 B.C. and the period when the antichrist will arise in the end times.
"It looks like Antiochus is going to wipe out the faith of (the one true) God in the world and it looked like it would be the end of this biblical faith," Cahn said. "If he had succeeded, you would not have the New Testament. God had other plans, though."
Christians in the last days will be overcomers, like the Maccabees, Cahn believes.
In fact, the Hanukkah story contains a blueprint for how to prevail against the overwhelming odds of the world and its anti-Christ system.
"You have God's people but then you have apostasy breaking out all around them. You see evil overtaking the land, you see a new morality that seeks to eradicate faith in God," Cahn said. "It's imposed but also many are going along with it freely. Antiochus makes this law that everyone is to abandon their faith. He proclaims himself god. Man proclaiming himself God; He is a foreshadow of the Antichrist."
Just as Revelation speaks of a temple in Jerusalem being defiled, so there is an idol set up in the temple in the Hanukkah story. In each story, a man proclaims himself as god, sitting in the holy place.
All the people of Antiochus' empire were to become one people culturally, mixed into one multicultural cesspool of paganism.
This can be seen today with the migration of peoples from one region of the world to another, with Muslims flooding into once-Christian Europe and America. Politicians like Obama and Merkel invite them and preach that everyone should be "welcoming" of an antagonistic culture. The policies of Obama and Merkel are encouraged by the United Nations and financed by atheist billionaires like George Soros.
The God of the Bible in the Maccabees' time would be replaced with Zeus. Today, he is replaced with Allah or the god of the secular state and humanism.
"The gentiles immediately said OK and even some in Israel said ‘yes we must go along with this.' Not the Maccabees," Cahn said.
Likewise, in Revelation, the Antichrist begins to oppress the saints of God and tries to change the set times and laws.
"We are living in such times," Cahn said. "Believers, if you are a true believer, you're going to be a thorn in the side of the world. We are already witnessing it. There is a spirit of Antichrist in the world."
It starts with little things. Christmas gets changed to a winter recess. Manger scenes spark lawsuits by the ACLU, as do prayers by high-school football coaches. Meanwhile, Muslim students get coddled by the state, which sets up foot baths in public high schools to accommodate their prayer times. Army officers get banned from praying in "Jesus" name while Muslims are encouraged to pray five times a day to Allah. School children are taught to memorize the shahada, the Muslim prayer of conversion. The ACLU is silent.
"Did anyone think years ago a manger scene would be controversial?" Cahn asks. "And things that were considered abominations are no longer controversial."
The birth of the Messiah becomes "just a celebration of happy holidays," Cahn says. "Who celebrates winter? It's all a lie."
There has also been a global effort to change the tracking of "time," from B.C., or "Before Christ," to B.C.E., or ‘Before Common Era," a designation that Cahn and other religious teachers see as meaningless.
"So there's a war going on against anything that's linked to God, particularly Messiah. There's a spirit of Antichrist that wars against anything, any tradition of the natural order," Cahn said.
"What has been recognized for thousands of years, as long as man's recorded history, all of a sudden in the last few years man is changing it," he continued. "Like marriage, like male and female, of course. This is the spirit of Antichrist."
He sees America as trying to replicate the path of Europe, which is now a post-Christian society that seems to be on a course toward cultural suicide.
"What happened in Europe is happening here, that a nation that existed only because of God is now changing and trying to eradicate God," Cahn said.
The New York Times used to post the summation of all the major Sunday sermons in the city, said Cahn, who leads a Messianic Jewish congregation in New Jersey and grew up reading the Times.
"Now, when it speaks of Christianity, it's almost as if it's a foreign thing. Because it's a pagan culture now," he said. "Hanukkah occurred during pre-Christian times. Now we're dealing with post-Christian. Of the two, post-Christian culture is far worse. It's the difference between someone who has never heard the gospel and someone who has turned against the gospel.
"A pre-Christian society will produce someone like an Alexander the Great or a Caesar," Cahn said. "A post-Christian society will produce a Hitler or a Stalin, and the Antichrist."
The spirit of antichrist seeks to remove God from every corner of the culture. The Bible and prayer were removed from schools in 1960s. The Ten Commandments were later removed from courthouses, a process that continues. "Hate laws" have been passed in many cities making it a crime to say anything that paints homosexuality in a negative light.
"What that means is that the Bible then becomes a criminal offense," Cahn said. "They're not daring to enforce the implications of these laws, but it's there; it's just the beginning, but they will."
To demonstrate how far popular culture has deviated from biblical values, Cahn gives as an example "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which first aired on network television in 1965. The show featured Linus, one of the main characters, walking on stage in a Christmas play and giving a dramatic retelling of the Christmas story straight from the pages of Luke's gospel.
Fifty years later, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" remains so popular among American TV viewers that the networks keep showing it.
"You have Linus at the end reading about the true meaning of Christmas. It's so popular, they can't take it off the air, but what are the chances that something like this would be allowed today? It wouldn't happen," Cahn said. "If they didn't have to show it, they wouldn't. In fact, it's embarrassing for them."
More recent Hollywood productions targeting young people are likely to feature blatantly unbiblical themes.
"What is the biggest thing in youth movies? It's ‘Harry Potter.' There are many youth who have gone into the occult because of ‘Harry Potter,'" Cahn said. "But the other thing about it, there is no God there. It's a godless universe filled with witchcraft and man nullifying God."
This is the kind of cultural rot that the Maccabees resisted.
"You cannot uphold the Word of God if you are not in the Word of God. You have to realize there is a force to take you away," Cahn says. "Get your life solid into the word and the word solid into your life. The enemy is threatened by it."
In Greek mythology, the goddess Europa was seduced by Zeus. And the continent of Europe took its name from Europa.
Just as European Christianity was seduced and fell away from God after World War II, America is following that same path, Cahn says.
"Europe is the same civilization from which much of Christianity went to America. But now it is turned away from that," Cahn said. "More and more, it's turning away from that. So what happens? Another spirit comes. It's the same seduction."
So Hanukkah unlocks a mystery here because it gives the end-time picture of a spirit behind the age, which is the same god or spirit behind the origin of Europe, the same god that was behind the war against Israel in Hanukkah, the war against the saints in Revelation, the same god that desecrated the temple.
"Of course it's not Zeus; he doesn't exist," Cahn said. "It's a deeper spirit of another god the bible says the god of this world, who appears in many forms, whose name is Satan."
It's this same satanic spirit that will war against the saints in the end times.
The culture of the Greeks at the time of the Maccabees was a culture filled with sexual perversity, Cahn said.
This crept into Israel. The culture of the end times will be no different, with the same sins creeping into the church.
He said studies of men and the Internet show that pornography has never been more popular in America, even among Christian men.
"They say something like 60 percent of men are watching pornography at least once a month," Cahn said. "They say 40 percent of pastors do. The saints of God, they were called to keep themselves pure. Keep their eyes pure, their minds pure, and their habits pure. That is your call as well. You have the power of God to live pure. You have the power to live as a pure believer in God by the Holy Spirit of God. Choose it. He'll bless you."
But don't expect to be loved for your efforts.
Matthew 24:9 says you'll be "hated by all nations on account of me," and Revelation 7:13 describes a host of believers martyred for their faith, "who loved their life not unto death and so overcame the world."
The Maccabees fought with that same tenacity.
"They said, ‘You know what, we don't care about protecting ourselves anymore. We care about God's way, and we're going to live or die nobly. We're going to go for it no matter what happens. We're not going to compromise,'" Cahn said. "If it costs us our life, fine. We're going to be free now. No fear! That's the way you have to live.
"As Esther said, ‘If I perish, I perish.' Then she was free, and the whole thing turned around. Only then can you fulfill your calling and overcome the world. We're going to do what's right. If you get to that point, if you live with that spirit of God, the enemy can't really do much with you. You can't be intimidated anymore. You can't bribe me, you can't threaten me, you can't buy me out. I'm already sold out. If I perish, I perish, so I can live. They overcame him by the word of their testimony and by not loving their lives unto death."
This is how the Maccabees fought. They were fearless, knowing they were the winners no matter how the battles turned out.
"What if they kill us? OK, so you're in heaven. Not bad. That's the worst. What happened with the Maccabees? They were the underdogs who looked like they were going to be crushed. The Maccabees reigned with God over God's people in Jerusalem. So remember that. If you're in God's will and you keep going. Remember, you're on the winning side. Don't ever give in to the enemy's lies that you're on the losing side because that's what he wants. If you think you're on the losing side, you're going to act like it. You're going to mess up."
And what happens at the very end?
"Revelation speaks of the saints, those who separated themselves for God. Those are the saints," Cahn said.
There will be a war against them, some will be killed, but that's not how it ends.
"Saint means holy. Choose the way of righteousness, and you'll have the power and the victory of God. The way of the righteous is the way of prevailing and victory, always.
"Keep your torch burning, fight the fight. If you fall down, get up, because you've come too far to turn back now and because it's all, all worth it," Cahn says. "At the end of your good course is blessing; at the end of our race is a prize. And when the saints come marching in, you will be there in that number."