It’s all about Yeshua: Multilayered message of God’s Living Temple of hope for humanity

JeffIt used to be common to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Well, why did Yeshua visit God’s House on an extrabiblical Jewish festival — Chanukah — to make one of the most startling statements about God’s love for humanity? Why did the “disciple whom Iesous loved” record it?

Rather than focus on layers upon layers of manmade tradition about a winter celebration of the birth of Yeshua, let’s dig through a number of layered messages that actually are in the Bible about God’s dedicating of a Living Temple — the Messiah — among humanity that could never again by left desolate or destroyed.

This year is a very special Chanukah because it coincides with the American celebration of Thanksgiving. In the days of the Pilgrims, they were very much in tune with God’s holy days and they celebrated Thanksgiving around the time of Sukkot. Over the years it got codified and moved from a October festival to a late November festival. 

There are layers that stack on top of each other and layers of meaning of Chanukah, which add more meaning to the festival, non of these layers cancel out or negate the other. 

Chanukah is mentioned in the Bible, right in the New Testament in John 10 but we will start our review of the layers of Chanukah much earlier. 

Layer 1: History of Chanukah is God-given victory over syncretism, assimilation, persecution

Chanukah is called the Feast or Festival of Dedication. We will start at 167–165 B.C. and the times of the Seleucids, one of the heirs of Alexander the Great. The other heir we will look at are the Ptolomies. Israel was in the middle of the battles between these two empires. At this time, the Seleucids had control over the Promised Land. 

The Seleucids were not well liked but Antiochus IV was particularly mocked and reviled. His arrogance knew no bounds as he deified himself. 

He tried to start another war with the Ptolomies but the Romans intervened on the side of the Ptolomies. Rather than fight two empires and lose, he turned his tail and retreated. However, rumors came to Jerusalem that Antiochus IV was routed and even killed, so the people of Israel rejoiced at his humiliation. When word reached Antiochus IV of these celebrations, he was provoked to severely persecute the Jews. 

He forbid the study of Torah, circumcision, eating kashrut and keeping the feasts. The Greeks even defiled God’s temple. 

The Maccabean movement rose up to counter this persecution and they overcame a far larger, better train and equipped army and were able to rededicate the Temple and they celebrated for 8 days, mirroring the biblical festival of Sukkot which they had not been able to celebrate a couple of months before.

Layer 2: 2,300 ‘evening morning’ until the rededication of a defiled Temple

The flying goat with the big horn is Greece. The great horn is Alexander the Great, which broke up the Media-Persian empire. It is in this context that we find the prophesy of the abomination of desolation. 

Chanukah seems to commemorate the fulfillment of the 2300 evening-morning prophesies of the “abomination of desolation.” 

Various people have taken a stab at that this 2300 evening-mornings meant. William Miller in the early 19th century promoted the interpretation that the evening-morning was a euphemism for day, based on “evening and morning” in Genesis 1. So, that would mean 2,300 days. Using a day-for-a-year metric from certain prophecies (40 years in Num. 14:34, 390 + 40 days in Ezek. 4:4–8, one day = thousand years = one day in 2nd Pet. 3:8 cf. Psa. 90:4),

Miller determined that the 2,300 days meant 2,300 years and was related to the 69-plus-one shavuim (sevens) of years (i.e., 483 + seven years) in Daniel 9. Figuring from one of the proclamations from Persia to rebuild the Temple in 600–400 B.C., he eventually figured the 2,300-year prophecy would end on what he figured to be Oct. 22, 1844. Miller figured the “holy [place]” in the prophecy was the Earth and the “cleansing” would be the return of Messiah Yeshua.

After that “Great Disappointment,” the ancient Jewish understanding that the 2,300-evening-morning prophecy points to the defilement of the Temple and violent suppression of Torah observance by Antiochus IV has re-emerged in Christian circles as an accepted interpretation. Interpreters went back and saw the similarities between the events of Daniel 8 and the times of Antiochus IV and took a look at the Hebrew word ha-tamim, which is the continual or regular sacrifice.

The images in the vision in Daniel 8 of the “flying goat” with a conspicuous horn between its eyes and of the ram with a bigger and a smaller horn are of Greece under its “first” or “leading” king overtaking Medo-Persia, respectively. The great king of Greece would be “broken” and substituted with four kingdoms. In the waning days of the four kingdoms, one of their kings will be a great oppressor of “the holy people,” i.e., the people faithful to the Creator. (Dan. 8:18–24)

Dan. 8:11–12 says this “little horn” will fight הַתָּמִיד ha-tamim (“the continual,” “regular sacrifice,” “daily sacrifice” or “regular burnt offering”). There were evening and morning presentations of ha-tamim (Ex. 29:38-42; Num 28:3, 4; offered “morning and evening” in 1st Chron. 16:40 in 2nd Chron. 2:4).

This understanding is supported by the Hebrew words for evening and morning in Dan. 8:14 being singular, not plural. So it’s not 2,300 evenings and mornings but 2,300 of evening and morning.

The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, third to first centuries B.C.) of Dan. 8:14 clarifies that the 2,300 refers to “ἑσπέρας καὶ πρωὶ ἡμέραι” (Dan. 8:14), literally “evening and morning times.” The Septuagint also translates נִצְדַּק nitsdaq (H6663, straighten, i.e., justify or make righteous) as καθαρισθήσεται katharisthesetai (καθαρίζω katharizō, G2511, to cleanse), meaning to be cleansed.

But we have to look at the context in Dan. 8:13, which references the ha-tamim, the abomination of desolation and the trampling of the people. Since there were two sacrifices per day, this means that it is not 2300 days but 1150 days. Since there are roughly 360 days in a lunar year (12 months of 29–30 days), this would roughly be three years, two months and 10 days.

We see in 1st Maccabees 1:54-64 that the Seleucids set up a temple to Zeus and made sacrifices of pigs on the altar and burned incense to him right in the holy temple. Those who observed the New Moon, circumcision and kashrut (kosher) were killed. This didn’t just drop out of the sky, this trend had been building up for some time. Antiochus even installed his own high priest in the Temple who rubber stamped his disgusting statue to Zeus in the Temple. 

Layer 3: Prophesies of Haggai foretell of a ‘greater glory’ and the timing of Sukkot, Chanukah

The prophet Haggai was a prophet during the Persian empire. He received a prophesy on the 21st day of the seventh month of God’s calendar. That is the seventh day of Sukkot, or the “great day of Sukkot.” [copy over notes re: Haggai and Zerubbabel, the 24th day of the 9th month]

In Haggai 2, the message is that unrighteousness can spread like a virus to infect what is righteous, but what is not righteous can’t catch the righteousness virus. Just because a priest is in a building dedicated to God doesn’t mean righteousness rubs off on the priests by proximity. Righteousness has to come from the inside and come out.

Haggai warned the priests about unrighteousness but also about a future “greater glory” that would come to Zerubbabel’s Temple. The “greater glory” never came to the rededicated second temple until the Word of the LORD visited it on one Chanukah, as recorded by the apostle Yokhanan. 

Layer 4: Messiah Yeshua makes a bold statement in the Temple at Chanukah

What was so special about Yeshua visiting the Temple at Chanukah, in the winter (John 10:22-39)? He went there all the time. Yet in John 7-10, the themes start at Sukkot and culminate at Chanukah. Yeshua makes a startling revelation, saying He and the Father are “one” and that the Father is in Him and He is in the Father. They are inseparable.

John 7: Yeshua goes to the Temple during Sukkot. Yeshua’s time in John 7:6, 9 refers to a set time for Him to have gone, translated from καιρός kairos (G2540), the same Greek word used to describe other appointed times, such as Yeshua’s death at the time of the Passover sacrifice and his rising on the third day, which was Firstfruits.

In John 7:36–37, Yeshua’s talk of coming to Him for living water, as in the water-pouring ceremony of the seventh day of Sukkot, draws from Isaiah 44 and 55. 

“Who is like Me?” (Isa. 44:7) should point us back to at least seven times the phrase “Who is like You?” refers to God in Scripture. The first use is in the first Song of Moshe. “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord?” (Ex. 15:11) in Hebrew is:

מִי־כָמֹכָה בָּאֵלִם יְהוָה
Mi-khamokha ba-elohim, YHWH

Maccabee  מכבי, along with meaning hammer in Hebrew, is thought to be a Hebrew initialism for the words of Ex. 15:11. That was the key question that the Maccabee movement answered in fighting back against Antiochus IV and rededicating the Temple. 

Yeshua was emphasizing that the water pouring symbolized by the ceremony during Sukkot was God’s pouring out His words (Isa. 54:17–55:9). God’s people should be “thirsty” for His words and “listen carefully.” The leaders of Israel in Yeshua’s day were afraid that Yeshua would go off to teach “the Greeks” of the Diaspora, but that was what God foretold through Isaiah would happen.

John 8: Yeshua pardons a woman caught in adultery and teaches about true light in the world. Pouring of water was a second-temple ceremony. The timing of chapter 8 seems to be after Sukkot and the Eighth Day. This passage continues the lesson of chapter 7: listen carefully to God’s words. In this passage, Yeshua tells the leaders that His Father is the Lord, and Yeshua’s words come from the Lord (8:12ff). Yeshua taught that truly being descendants of Abraham involved having as much trust in God’s words as Abraham did, that God would provide a son and vast progeny from a barren woman. Yeshua went further in the cutting lesson from Abraham: the Seed of Khawah/Khavah (Eve) and of Abraham through his miraculously provided son, Yitzkhak, was the Messiah, named Yeshua.

John 9: Yeshua, ‘light of the world,’ brings ‘light’ to a man born blind.

John 10:1–6 continues the discussion of chapter 9: the blindness of key leaders that Yeshua was the Messiah by way of His teachings and use of God’s power. They kept asking Him, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:25). Yeshua emphasized that the power of God that Yeshua demonstrated testified to that identity.

They wanted to stone him then (John 8:58–59). 

They also wanted to stone him for what He said in John 10. How would they have gotten the idea that He was out to claim Godhood for Himself? Indeed, what Yeshua said in v. 30 did intimate that God was visiting the Temple that Chanukah. The Greek word for one in that verse, εἷς heis (G1520), is the same word used in the Septuagint to translate אֶחָד ekhad (H259) in the Shema (Deut. 6:4; aka “the Greatest Commandment”):

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד
Sh’ma, Yisra’el, YHWH ’Eloheynu; YHWH ekhad
Ἄκουε, Ισραηλ· Kύριος ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν Kύριος εἷς ἐστιν
Akoue, Israēl, Kyrios ho Theos hēmōn; Kyrios heis estin

That was a very bold statement on Yeshua’s part to say that He and the Father are ekhad, or one. 

Layer 5: Dedication of the first and second Temples, rededication of the second Temple twice

The first two temples were dedicated during Sukkot and the second temple was re-dedicated at Chanukah, or the second Sukkot. They couldn’t celebrate the first Sukkot so this was a “make up” Sukkot. This is akin to the second passover for those who could not celebrate the first Passover. 

We look at the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel appears to Miriam. In Luke 2, it records Miriam’s psalm or song. She dedicates her body to this great thing that God is doing. Temples with God are not just buildings, they are built with people. Miriam brought forth the great cornerstone from her dedicated body. 

The Bible records eight great women who were given miraculous births. Seven of those women who were not able to have children. The eighth one — Miriam of Netseret, mother of Yeshua’s flesh — was not barren but pregnant though a virgin. This is another example of the seven-plus-one pattern, seen in Passover plus the seven days of Unleavened Bread and the seven days of Sukkot plus Shemini Atzeret (Convocation of the Eighth Day). 

Layer 6: ‘Abomination of desolation’ of the Temple would come at least twice

The first “abomination of desolation” came through Antiochus IV, but Yeshua said there would be another one (Matt 24:15–28; cf. Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). The greater glory came to the Temple and He left the Temple, and said He would leave it desolate (Matt. 23:37–24:2; Luke 13:32–35). 

Layer 7: Significance of the numbers 8 and 25

There are also the layers of biblical meaning in the numbers 8 and 25. The Hebrew word for eight is שמנה shemoneh (H8083), thought to come from the verb שמן shaman (H8080), which means to shine, as if to be made waxy or oily. A related word is שֶׁמֶן shemen (H8081), or oil.

The Messiah is closely connected with oil, because the Hebrew of the title מָשִׁיחַ Mashiakh (H4899) means anointed one. Mashiakh comes from the verb מָשַׁח mashakh (H4886), to smear or anoint. Priests, prophets and kings were mashakh-ed with consecrated oil.

“And they wandered about from nation to nation, From one kingdom to another people. 14 He permitted no man to oppress them, And He reproved kings for their sakes: 15 ‘Do not touch My anointed ones [mashiakh], And do My prophets no harm.’ ” (Psa. 105:13–15)

Some people shy away from the Greek word Christ because it was used in Greek literature to refer to anointings tied to pagan deities. Yet, the Septuagint uses χριστός christos to translate mashiakh:

“Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed [מָשִׁיחַ/χριστός], saying, 3 ‘Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!’ ” (Psa. 2:1–3)

Because pagan cultures circumcise or anoint with oil, doesn’t mean the words for those actions in those languages are automatically off-limits as paeans to paganism.

It’s a little more difficult to find a meaning for the number 25. Where does it show up? The rabbis have a very interesting fact.

Rabbis looking for precedent of Chanukah in the Torah noted that אור ’or (light) is the 25th Hebrew word in the Bible. They long compared the oppression of the Greeks on the Land of Israel to darkness falling on the Earth:

“The Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 2:4) says that the phrase ‘And darkness [on the face of the abyss (Gen. 1:2)]’ symbolizes Greece, which darkened the eyes of the Jewish people with its decrees, ordering Israel ‘write on the horn of an ox that you have no portion in the G-d of Israel,’ i.e. Antiochus requested from the Jews a public disclaimer of Hashem and Torah.”

Rabbis noted that the 25th encampment of Yisra’el coming out of Mitsraim was at חַשְׁמֹנָה Khashmonah (Num. 33:29–30, H2832). The leaders of the Maccabean revolt were called Khashmonim.

Khashmonah is thought to derive from חַשְׁמַן khashman (H2831), which based on its Ugartic corollary is thought to mean bronze- or red-colored cloth. The only use of khashman is in Psa. 68:31[32] and is translated as “envoy” or “ambassador” because that could have been what was brought from Mitsraim in the prophecy in the psalm.

This holiday is not just about spinning drediels and latkes. It’s heavily rooted in prophesy about the Messiah and history. And it’s all about Yeshua.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.

Note: Another layered lesson, mentioned briefly at the end of this study is that the time references in Luke 1–2 point toward Miriam conceiving Yeshua at Chanukah time and giving birth at Sukkot time. See the study “The Timing of the Birth of Messiah.”

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