Yeshua of Nazareth taught his disciples that the story of Hanukkah was destined to repeat itself in the future.
He warned them that a new tyrant would arise and place a new abomination of desolation in the holy place, just as Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes had done in the past. He warned them that, when they saw these things take place, they should flee for the hills and know that the final redemption was at hand:
So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15-16)
These predictions were fulfilled in the first century around the time of the fall of Jerusalem, but as Paul makes clear in 2 Thessalonians 2, the ultimate fulfillment of these prophecies remains to be fulfilled by antichrist, ”the man of lawlessness,” at the time of the second coming of our Master Yeshua. The events that took place in the first century were “just the beginning of the birth pains” (Matthew 24:8).
Today, the birth pains are reaching their conclusion as the day of the final redemption draws ever closer. The daily news seems to confirm our suspicions that we have entered, yet again, into the travails that signal the end of days. Consider the string of events, just since the fall holidays this year.
Middle East Sandstorm
During the last days leading up to Rosh HaShanah, the largest sandstorm on record swept across the Middle East, darkening the sun, moon, and stars for several days in Israel, Syria, and across the whole eastern Mediterranean seaboard. The storm was so massive it could be clearly seen from space.
Lightning Strikes Mecca
On September 11, the fourteenth anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and just two days before Rosh HaShanah, world media took note of another sign from heaven. An enormous lightning storm in Mecca struck a crane owned by the “Bin Laden Company” outside the Grand Mosque. Tragically, the crane tumbled into the mosque, killing more than one hundred worshipers and injuring more than two hundred more.
Stampede at the Hajj
On September 24, the day after Yom Kippur, more 1,000 people died in a human stampede at the annual Hajj near Mecca. The tragedy took place on the day when Muslims celebrate Abraham’s defeat of the Satan in Islam’s revised, Ishmael-centric telling of Abraham’s test. Thousands gathered to throw stones at a rock representing the devil, but something went terribly wrong and the crowd panicked. It was not the first time such a disaster occurred during the Hajj, but the media took special note of the disaster, the worst in a quarter century, because of the crane incident less than two weeks earlier.
The Last Blood Moon
On the first night of the Festival of Sukkot, we saw the fourth and last of four lunar eclipses that coincided with major Jewish holy days. The astronomical event was widely regarded among Christians and some Messianic prophecy teachers as a definitive sign. Blood moon author and Messianic Rabbi Michael Brown predicted that the blood moon portended a “great shaking.” Even the international media picked up the story and reported the eclipse with reference to messianic expectations and biblical prophecy about the moon turning red.
The Third Intifada
The Sukkot blood moon did not trigger a financial shaking like the one envisioned by Michael Brown, but it might have portended a different kind of “shaking.” Before the Festival of Sukkot had even concluded, the third intifada broke loose in Jerusalem as Palestinians commenced attacks on Israeli citizens with cars and knives. The word intifada is Arabic for “uprising,” but it literally means “shaking.”
The Paris Attacks
A few weeks ago, with the downing of a Russian passenger jet followed by the horrific, ISIS-sponsored Paris attacks, we saw more nations and world powers drawn in to this seemingly endless war, which Pope Francis described as “piecemeal World War III.” Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet only intensifies the already tense brinkmanship revolving around the Syrian war and threatens to drag in NATO countries.
The San Bernardino Attack
On December 2, less than a week before Hanukkah began, the largest terrorist incident on US soil since the 9/11/2001 attacks took place. A husband-and-wife terrorist team deliberately targeted an office party at a government building in San Bernadino, California, killing fourteen and wounding twenty-one. Among the dead was Nicholos Thalasinos, a Messianic Gentile and adherent of Messianic Judaism. The media speculates that the shooters may have deliberately been targeting Thalasinos in the attack because, in office conversations, he had stood up against the anti-Semitic rhetoric of one of the shooters in defense of the State of Israel and his own religious convictions: Messianic Judaism. Once again, world media took note and the words “Messianic Judaism” and “Messianic Jew” entered the mainstream.
The above events are only the highlights that have caught worldwide attention, but they should be enough to make every disciple of Yeshua take note. The Festival of Hanukkah reminds us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual powers of darkness, which continually manifest themselves according to the same patterns in their ongoing war against the light. If history is going to repeat itself, let’s be ready for it. Our Master often warned us not to be caught sleeping but rather to pay attention:
Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28)
This Hanukkah, keep the light of faith, hope, and love burning in the darkness, and pay attention to the signs of the times.