Beloved, I want to share with you an amazing prophetic picture encapsulated in the feast of Hanukkah, which is celebrated by the Jewish people from the 25th Kislev to 2nd Tevet, which in 2017 begins on the evening of the 12th December. Although this feast is not numbered amongst the feasts mentioned in the Old Testament, it celebrates an event which took place in the silent years between the Book of Malachi and the Book of Matthew. Jesus Himself entered the temple at Hanukkah, which was also called the Feast of Dedication or the festival of Light (John 10:22) and as we shall see, significant things took place during His attendance at this festival.
Firstly, let me give you a brief overview of the events which led up to the instigation of this festival. It celebrates Jewish religious freedom and commemorates the revolt by the Maccabbees against the Syrian Greeks in 167-164 BC. The Jews liberated the Temple and rededicated it to the service of God.
The events preceding this rededication were as follows: In 171 BC, a ruler ascended named Antiochus 4th, called Epiphanes, which means ‘the manifest God’. Antiochus Epiphanes’ passionate goal was to unify his kingdom, including Judea, into one monolithic Hellenistic (Greek) culture. And so began a massive struggle between cultures: Judaism vs. Hellenism.
This monstrous leader made the practice of Judaism a capital offence. Ritual prostitution was established in the Temple. Possession of the Hebrew Scriptures was outlawed. Many thousands of people were killed for practicing Judaism. In 167 BC Antiochus Epiphanes marched to Jerusalem, entered the Temple and ransacked it. Antiochus set up an image of his god, Zeus. On the sacred Temple altar, he sacrificed a pig.
Remember that we are looking at this scenario as a prophetic picture of what has occurred in the present-day Church. We know only too well that the purity of the practice of Christianity has been severely tampered with over the years. There has been a massive struggle in the Church between two cultures – the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven and the culture of this world. Humanistic thinking has pervaded much of the teaching which comes from our pulpits and using techniques borrowed from the world of big business to artificially grow the size of the Church is commonplace. There is a spirit operating in the Church which declares it is ‘Epiphanes’, the manifestation of God, but it is a miserable counterfeit. It has ransacked the temple of the Living God and caused the people to prostitute themselves for the gods of this world, setting up an image of Zeus, called the king of the gods (one who releases lightening bolts), in the midst of the temple and sacrificing that which is unclean in the eyes of Almighty God. Many of those who served God have died spiritually as a result of this infiltration and desecration of what God intended His temple to be.
Sadly, during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, there were some Jews who defected and underwent painful operations in order to try and hide the fact that they had been circumcised. They did this because they wanted to take part in the Greek Games of the time. These were competitive sports, much like our present-day Olympics, which were conducted naked. Tragically in today’s Church, there are some who, for the sake of being a part of the competitive games played in today’s Christian culture, have forsaken their first Love and allowed themselves to be mutilated spiritually for the sake of being part of the ‘In-Crowd’.
Finally, an old priest Mattathias was ordered to sacrifice a pig for the townspeople to eat. Mattathias refused to defile himself or his people. When another man from the village volunteered to collaborate with the Syrian Greeks because of the financial reward offered, Mattathias suddenly ran forward and assassinated the collaborator. The five sons of Mattathias drew their weapons, struck down the soldiers, and headed for the hills. They were joined by many fellow revolutionaries, and so began a lopsided revolt against the mighty Syrian Greek Empire.
Soon after, the leadership of the ragtag Jewish army passed to Mattathias’ son, Judah, nicknamed the Hammer, or in Hebrew, Maccabbee. Thereafter, the revolutionaries were known as The Maccabbees.
Beloved, there are a group of revolutionaries who have decided to stand up against the Babylonian spirit’s takeover of the Church of Jesus Christ. They have headed for the hills, either literally or in the sense that they have withdrawn from involvement with the present unclean system of worship instituted in the temple, sometimes attending services in body but not being a part of what they see happening before them. They are very concerned about this vandalism of the temple and the true pure worship of God. They are those of Judah, the ones who will put their hands on the necks of their enemies. (Gen 49:8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee). They are known as the hammer Company, for the Living Word has been made flesh in them and the Word is a hammer that breaks the most resistant rock in pieces!
Let us see what their ancient counterparts accomplished – After three years of Jewish guerilla warfare, the rebels achieved victory. On the 25 of Kislev, 164 BC, exactly three years from Antiochus’ abomination of desolation, the Maccabbees triumphantly entered the defiled and half-demolished Temple. They then began the process of rededication.
The undying, eternal flame of the Temple Menorah, the great seven-branched candlestick, had been extinguished. The Greeks had desecrated nearly all of the sacred oil used for the Temple Menorah. Only a small container remained, containing a portion sufficient for one day’s light. It would take eight days for the priests to consecrate more oil. Nevertheless, although all they had was enough oil for just one day, the Maccabbees lit the Menorah.
In the same way, it is time for those who have been prepared in secret to re-enter the defiled and half-demolished temple of the Body of Christ. It is also time for those who have stood silent and disapproving of the worldly goings-on in the temple to stand up and begin to speak out, using the hammer of the Word. It is time to begin the process of cleansing and rededication back to the true purposes of God. His Church must become once again a city set upon a hill that all men may come to. Every corner of the temple of His Body that has been defiled needs to be washed with the water of the Word and every idol set up in the midst of God’s people needs to be shattered by the Hammer Company. It is time for courage and ruthlessness in eradicating every vestige of Greek thinking from the mindset of the Body that we may once again truly possess the mind of Christ. Let us openly and in humility, display the circumcision of our hearts and our allegiance to the Cross of Christ. Let every fashionable worldly way of conducting our meetings and our worship be cast aside as filthy blood-stained cloths and let us return to Heaven’s blueprint for the way things are conducted in the Body of Christ, God’s living temple.
There is a remnant of true consecrated oil, hidden and kept for this day. All other oil has been desecrated by Greek thinking and what appears to be the anointing exercised within the Body, is all too often counterfeit and soulish power. Only the hand of God could have kept a remnant, that one portion of oil, from being seen and destroyed by Antiochus Epiphanes and in this day, there are also those who have been hidden in the shadow of His hand – the sons of oil carrying the authentic anointing and revelation to set the candlestick of the Church of Jesus Christ on fire again.
When Jesus appeared in the temple at the Feast of Dedication, he was questioned as to whether He was really the Christ.
Joh 10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. Joh 10:26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. Joh 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: Joh 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Joh 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. Joh 10:30 I and my Father are one.
He addressed two issues in answer to their query – the works He did bore witness to His origin and secondly, He was one with the Father. This Hammer Company which gets to work in the temple, cleansing and rededicating it back to its Owner, God, will work the works which Jesus did and these works will testify of the secret place from which they have emerged. It is from the place of intimacy that true fruitfulness comes forth. They will also operate from a place of oneness with the Spirit. Jesus prayed for this in John 17:
Joh 17:22 And I have given them the glory which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one, Joh 17:23 I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.
The unity Jesus was praying for was not an earthly soulish unity but a unity in the Spirit. This is only achievable when we become one with the Spirit of God. Then we discover that we are also one with each other. Soulish attempts to produce unity amongst churches fall by the wayside because the only place this prayer of Jesus is answered in when we worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. These sons of oil will display oneness with the Spirit for they operate in the Spirit without measure, being continuously connected to the Source of the anointing.
Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s Porch when this conversation took place. This is the place of wisdom. The single portion of oil found in the temple represents a storehouse of wisdom and revelation obtained from being in oneness with the Spirit. This portion of oil was used to light the candlestick, which had seven lamps. We know from Revelations 1 that Jesus was found in the midst of the candlesticks:
Rev 1:13 And having turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks I saw One like the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and tied around the breast with a golden band.
The central stick is known as the Shamash or ‘servant’ by the Jews. Each candle is specially lit by the Shamash, the servant candle. Scripture teaches us that Jesus is God’s Shamash – the servant of the Lord. And this Shamash is the Light of that World. The true light which came into the world and illuminates us all. In the prophetic picture we are looking at, the Shamash also represents a Body of servant messengers, the sons of oil, who serve the Body by lighting each lamp of the other six candlesticks. They bring the fire of God to set the Church aflame once again. Where darkness and devastation has previously existed, they are the instruments God uses to bring light to the Church once again. Light speaks of revelation and spiritual vision and clarity. The lighter it is, the more we can see where we are supposed to be going and the more the world can see what the true Church of Jesus Christ really is. The world is waiting for the true Epiphanes (manifest God) to be seen through His true Church. Christ must walk the earth again, manifested in a People called the Body of Christ, receiving their instruction from the Head, Who is Jesus Himself.
When the cleansing of the ruined temple began and the menorah was lit, that one day’s supply of oil miraculously lasted for eight days (the length of time needed to consecrate new oil). What was a day’s supply in the natural, had hidden within it seven more days worth of oil, actually eight days supply. In other words, the oil which had survived the desecration of the temple was exactly was needed to provide all the light necessary to bring the Church to a new day. Eight is the number of new beginnings, the first day of a new week. The revelation released by this single unit of oil (this Hammer Company) will be all that is needed to carry the Church into a new day, a day when there is a plentiful supply of pure dedicated oil once again within the temple. Until the Body is cleansed and fully rededicated back to God’s original purpose, this supply of oil will provide all the light and revelation necessary. When viewing its quantity and proportions in the natural, it will seem absurd that this is the only revelation needed; it is so simple, no programmes, no courses, no conferences planned for the year ahead. Yet, what seems like five loaves and two fishes in the face of a hungry multitude, turns out to be more than adequate and the holy place is full of light for the length of time needed to prepare and consecrate fresh sons of oil. In fact, what is left from the feast is actually twelve baskets full, speaking of an apostolic company, ready to be sent to feed the hungry waiting world.
As the holiday became popular, a tradition of lighting miniature menorahs began within Jewish homes during the eight-day celebration. These special menorahs had eight branches, one candle for each evening of the holiday, with an additional ninth branch elevated in the center. This ninth branch was the one used to light the other eight branches. Nine is the number of fruitfulness, both the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit. So once again we see the Church really becoming what God intended, the light of the World. The Jews sometimes call Hanukkah, ‘the second Tabernacles’ because of the theme of light. When the Servant, the Holy Spirit, is truly allowed to take His place in the midst of God’s people once again, outpourings of fruitfulness will naturally result. When He is elevated once more in our midst and we allow Him to truly have His way without endeavoring to control the direction of His flow, we will see the fullness of the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:
Joh 17:24 Father, I desire that those whom You have given Me, that they may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me, for You have loved Me before the foundation of the world.
We will behold the glory of God displayed amongst His people as never before as the separation between the clean and the unclean takes place and the oil of revelation received at the right hand of the Father is released to restore light to the Church. So as this year’s Hanukkah begins, let those who have grieved over the abominations occurring in God’s temple, come out of hiding and supply the oil needed to bring the Church into a new day! Remember, however, that after Jesus declared that He and the Father were one, the Jews wanted to stone Him. There will opposition from religious spirits as the hammer of the Word is spoken by these servants of God. However, just as in John 10, they will be delivered and go forth from the hand of their attackers. It is time to release the light and fire of God to work in His Church.