Chanukah: Dare to be a Daniel, Joseph, Judas Maccabeus

Yosef (Joseph) a betrayed brother turned slave turned prime minister in Mitzraim (Egypt). Daniel a war captive turned wise man turned second to an emperor in Babylon. יהודה המכבי Yehudah ha-Makabi (Judas Maccabeus) a priest of Yisrael turned leader of a successful insurrection against the Seleucid empire’s campaign of forced conversion. Yeshua ha-Mashiakh (Jesus the Christ) in the Temple during the Festival of Dedication. These four accounts may seem to quite disjointed, but the conjunction of the Torah reading מקצ Miketz/Miqetz (Genesis 41:1-44:14, “from the end”) and the celebration of Chanukah/Hannukah helps underscore that ongoing lessons from both help us understand what Yeshua meant by “the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13 NASB).

Here are two major themes of Miketz:

  1. Rise of Yosef: Key to this is the God-given insight into pharaoh’s dreams, which positions Yosef as the savior of Mitzraim and Yisrael.
  2. Yisrael’s descent: Famine drives Yisrael and his family into Mitzraim for food. This is the LORD’s doing.

Each step of the journey of the descendants of Abraham were great steps of faith from Abraham’s pilgrimage to his home in the land God promised him to Isaac, who was the example of the future “only Son” of the Father who would give up His life. The one who you don’t think is powerful, the one who appears to be easily crushed becomes a cornerstone of history.

God lifted Yosef up at the time that he He was preparing to bring the people Mitzraim (and Canaan) to their knees.

The descendants of Israel are being plucked out of Canaan as the sins of the Canaanite are multiplying.

Parallel prophets

Yosef was not the only notable in scripture who could interpret dreams and ended up in a place of great influence over a powerful king. Let’s look at some obvious parallels between Yosef and the prophet Daniel.

 Parallel Yosef Daniel
Captive Sold from homeland by brothers Apostate “brothers” of Yehudah “sold” the nation
Visionary Dreams related to (at least) 14 years of the future Dreams related to thousands of years ahead
Nightmare Pharaoh’s: 7 fat cows and plump ears of corn; 7 emaciated cows and ears Nebuchadnezzar’s: Multimetal image (Daniel 2); tree (Daniel 3)
Recalling the dreams Pharaoh could remember, asking intelligentsia to interpret. Nebuchadnezzar couldn’t remember the dream.
Stumping the worldly wise Pharaoh’s wise men didn’t give acceptable answers. Nebuchadnezzar’s magi couldn’t deliver dream or interpretation.
Heaven to the rescue Yosef had previously interpreted dreams. Daniel hadn’t previously interpreted but was shown to serve a faithful God Who would provide the dream and its interpretation.
Prime minister Foreign slave becomes second to pharaoh. Foreign captive becomes second in power under two empires.

I’m sure it was not easy for Pharaoh to have to face up to the fact that very hard times were coming, but he took God’s warning seriously and was willing to put someone in charge who was wise enough to guide the nation through that time.

Assimilation vs. standing out

When Yosef was confronted with Potiphar’s wife attempted seduction and the fall out she inflicted on his after his rejection, he was able to stand firm because not sinning against God was more important than his own comfort. He refused to “go with the flow” as a way to make his life more comfortable.

Daniel and his friends were able to stand up to the temptation to avail themselves of the King’s finest food but they refused to assimilate to Babylonian lifestyle and insisted on eating vegetables.

When Nebuchadnezzar was preparing to throw Daniel’s three friends into the fiery furnace, they replied that even if God allows them to die at his hand, they will only serve and obey God. When they entered the furnace, they were not alone. They had a fourth companion — “one like a son of God” — with them, sharing the experience with them.

God showed His power so completely in Nebuchadnezzar’s face that when Daniel’s three friends left the furnace, not only were they completely unharmed, they didn’t even smell like smoke.

This fortitude would be sorely tested when the Maccabees had to face a similar threat of idolatry and assimilation.

When there are violent people who don’t want to stop being violent, we have to stop their violence with proportional violence of our own, whether we have to do it ourselves or we have to appoint law enforcement officers to do it for us.

God’s kingdom moves in our world with “soft power.” He moves His people into place deliberately and with precision to move the timeline as He wills.

Pharaoh’s dream only covered a span of 14 years or so but Daniel’s prophesies in Daniel 2, 7 and 8  reveal what will happen over the course of millennia. Daniel’s prophesy included the time period in which the Maccabee’s lived.

God gives us prophesy to His people to let us know what pertains to the Land of Israel, not to what is going on in China, Mexico or Zimbabwe.

History of Chanukah

The events of Chanukkah are recorded in the Apocrypha books 1–4 Maccabees. The Maccabean movement overcame a far larger, better-trained and -equipped army under Greek Seleucid king Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), who profaned the Temple.

The priests then rededicated the Temple on the 25th day of the ninth month (Kislev) in 165 B.C. They celebrated for eight days to mirror the eight-day festival of Sukkot they weren’t able to celebrate two months before.

Here are highlights from 1Maccabees:

  • 1Macc. 1:11: “In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, ‘Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us.’”
  • 1Macc. 1:30: “Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed him; but he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Israel.”
  • 1Macc. 1:41–43: “Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that each should give up his customs. All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.”
  • 1Macc. 1:54–56: “Now on the 15th day of Chislev, in the 145th year, they erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding cities of Judah, and burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. The books of the law which they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire.”
  • 1Macc. 1:62–63: “But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die.”

God does not promise to put a force field or a bubble of protection around us. Often it’s the opposite. We have to walk through trials so we learn forbearance, overcoming and endurance.

What are we doing with our “separateness” from the world? Do we treat our separation from the world as our salvation or a lifestyle to which Heaven has called us and, through us, everyone else?

Why was Yeshua in the Temple on Chanukah?

I encourage you to read through John 7-10 (more at “Why was Yeshua in the Temple on Chanukah?”), where you can learn about what led up to Yeshua’s celebrating the Festival of Dedication (John 10:22–39) and how He connected that festival to Himself:

  • John 7: Yeshua goes to the Temple during Sukkot.
  • John 8: Yeshua pardons a woman caught in adultery and teaches about true light in the world.
  • John 9: Yeshua, “light of the world,” brings “light” to a man born blind.
  • John 10 continues the discussion of John 9: The blindness of key leaders that Yeshua was the Messiah by way of His teachings and use of God’s power. That leads up to Yeshua’s saying something startling in John 10:30: “I and the Father are one.”

Just as Yosef and prophet Daniel did, we have to ask ourselves where is our dedication to the place God has placed us. He may want to do something amazing where He has placed us? Do we “go along to get along,” or do we have to respectfully push back?

Banner Photo: Lighting the Chanukkah lights at Chabad Hanukkah lighting in Montgomery Village, Santa Rosa, Calif., on December 26, 2016. Photo by Tammy Quackenbush

Summary: Tammy.

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