Hanukkah begins tomorrow evening, December 10 and ends the evening of December 18. Why is the real story behind Hanukkah unknown to most Christians and even most Jews, who are limited in their understanding to superficial tropes of the 8-day festival. The authentic message of Hanukkah has an “Independence Day” theme because it recounts a moment in history when the people of the Lord God in ancient Judea and Galilee were able to throw off the tyranny of the elite of the Seleucid Empire. This political elite was composed not only of Greeks but also of apostate Jewish high priests and their supporters (collaborators who betrayed for their own people and their theocratic constitution, i.e. the Law of God). The faithful leaders, the Jewish patriots of the day, were from a family of lower level priests who had to finally make a stand and refuse to compromise with God’s teachings. They were known as the Maccabees. It was only after waging a hard fought guerrilla war against the Seleucid Empire, one of the major states of the ancient, that the Maccabees were able to cleanse the Jerusalem Temple of the Lord God of Creation of Greek idols and other various defilements in order to restore a biblically approved worship service. The Maccabees also deposed and replaced the corrupt apostate Jewish leadership that had betrayed the nation and their biblical constitution.
Hanukkah acknowledges the commitment of those Jewish patriots who gave their lives to restore their people’s religious liberties. It is also about the mysterious power of the Bible’s God and how He works through imperfect human instruments to deliver Hs people when the opposing forces were vastly superior in numbers and armaments. The real Hanukkah story did not end when the Jerusalem Temple was cleansed and biblical worship restored in 165 B.C. The struggle by the people of God for their religious freedom would be ongoing. In fact you could say that while the nature of the warfare has changed, the battle is still being fought with those who are hostile to the Bible’s God and His values.
This year the message of Hanukkah seems especially fitting in the USA where there are those who would use cunning, deceit, and a ‘mirage of superior numbers and overwhelming forces’ to—at the very least give the strong impression of—if not the act of stealing an election. Election fraud is an old tradition in the USA going back to the 1800s.
The Maccabees were eventually successful in their costly fight for biblical truth and religious freedom because they looked to the Lord God to deliver them in spite of difficult odds. And they fought valiantly knowing that their way of life and that of their children were at stake.
Psalm 82 bears some interesting relevance to the Hanukkah story for Christians especially. While teaching in the Jerusalem Temple during Hanukkah, Jesus of Nazareth would quote Psalm 82 to a group of antagonistic “religious leaders” of His nation who were in fact collaborators with the then Roman overlords. Psalm 82 was a prophecy that future leaders of the nation would all become corrupt and compromised. When those “religious leaders” attacked Jesus for saying he was the son of God, He merely quoted this Psalm as proof that all men are “gods”—i.e. children of God created in His image. And no this Psalm is definitely not talking about “gods” in a heavenly realm, but people on earth that will die like men for their sins.
God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods (judges). 2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah (Think about that). 3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. 5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. 6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations. Psalm 82