Happy Hanukkah and Christmas

editor - 6 December 2018

A new Europe is on the rise. A new Babylon. A new Empire in the name of Man. Like a new phoenix, a shining firebird, a breath-taking ‘Brave New World’ is arising from the ashes of the unimaginable world conflagrations of the past century with two World Wars. With a new spirit. A new kind of humanism is on the rise. It is new enterprise in the name of Man. We have had the benefits and blessings of the Judeo-Christian way of thinking, but we don’t want it anymore, people in Europe are thinking. So secularisation, materialism and a decline of churches and Christian faith and ethics are in progress.

This new spirit of humanism looks suspiciously like that of ancient Hellenism, which had spread throughout the world by the Greeks, and especially by Alexander the Great and his descendants. And although Rome finally conquered the Greeks militarily and politically, Greek philosophy, culture and civilisation conquered Rome.

That spirit of Hellenism once clashed powerfully with the God of Israel. Seleucus was one of the generals who were allocated parts of the Greek Empire after Alexander’s death. In the years to follow wars raged between the vast areas that these successors to Alexander the Great fought with one-another.

When Antiochus Epiphanes (one of the ‘Seleucids’) finally had to withdraw from Egypt with a bloody nose, he cooled his rage on Israel, which he hated. The full heat of his wrath and frustration was vented on the Jewish people. And so, suddenly, without warning, Antiochus ordered his generals to destroy Jerusalem. Houses were burned, the walls of the city were breached, and tens of thousands were killed or sold into slavery.

But his destruction did not stop there. Antiochus turned his attention to the Temple on Mount Zion. Syrian soldiers hacked and smashed the porches and gates. Then they stripped the Temple of its golden vessels and treasures. On Kislev 15th168 BC Antiochus erected an idol of Zeus, the supreme deity of the Greek pantheon, on the Holy Altar in the courtyard. Not surprisingly, it bore the face of Antiochus. On the birthday of Zeus (Kislev/December 25th), Antiochus offered a pig on the Altar, the ultimate abomination to the Jewish mind, strictly forbidden by the Law of God. Antiochus sprinkled its blood in the Holy of Holies and poured its broth over the Holy Scrolls before he cut them to pieces and burned them. The Sanctuary of the Most High had been polluted and profaned, desecrated and defiled. Horror and shock. The nation reeled with severe trauma. The Temple was converted to a shrine to Zeus, and only swine were permitted for sacrifice. A fortress, the Accra, was erected adjacent to the Temple so that a Syrian garrison could control the shrine.

Furthermore, Antiochus issued an edict forbidding the practise of Judaism on pain of death and enforced it by house searches. If Sabbath was observed or dietary laws kept or circumcision performed or scrolls of the Law found, the whole family was put to death. Babies were hung around their mother’s necks and women were thrown from the walls of the cities. He forbade the Jews to circumcise their male baby-boys. Because the Greeks considered circumcision to be a barbaric practise. Greek humanism (‘Hellenism’) admired the beauty of the male body. The Greeks celebrated the beauty of the male body in fine Olympic Games, performed in the nude. Admiring the beauty of the splendid muscular male bodies, and considered circumcision as a mutilation unheard of. The Greeks considered the love between two men to be of a higher order that the love between a man and a woman.

The line had been drawn – either assimilate or be annihilated.Those who did not comply were sentenced to death. This led to the rebellion under the Maccabees and Hellenism and Antiochus was driven out, following a bloody struggle. The Temple was cleansed and re-consecrated, and the Jews still celebrate this memorable occasion during the Hanukkah festival in our month of December. The clash between natural man and man who wishes to live by divine revelation was decided in the latter’s favour.

The great struggle between Greek humanism and Jewish obedience to God had begun. A spiritual struggle that would last for centuries and still continues in all kind of new forms till this very day.

Celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah. Christians and Jews celebrating their unique Feast of Light. Why not celebrate Hanukkah together? We are facing a common enemy. The Kingdom of Man over and against the Kingdom of God. Babylon versus Jerusalem. Christians and Jews should stand together, side by side against a wave of spiritual darkness setting upon planet earth and mankind. Together we should be a new spiritual resistance movement against new occupying forces. Maybe eventually forced underground. But victorious in the end! Babylon will fall and Jerusalem will come down from heaven to earth. Israel is the greatest sign of hope.

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