12-13-17 #3: JESUS’ VISIT TO THE TEMPLE
DURING THE FEAST OF DEDICATION
Hanukkah began yesterday at sundown. This Jewish feast is mentioned in the book of John.
In the winter of A.D. 29, Jesus was only about four months away from the time when he would die on the cross to pay for our sins and after three days be raised from the dead. In the month of Kislev, Jesus went to the festival of Dedication, which we call “Hanukkah”.
This eight-day festival commemorates the victory God gave His people over Antiochus IV Epiphanes. In 164 B. C., Antiochus and his army invaded the Jewish nation, defiled their temple and imposed his idolatry upon them (1 Maccabees 1:10-14, 21-25, 30-31, 41-62). He called himself “Antiochus”, meaning, “God made manifest” and he began a reign of terror as he demanded all adhere to his State religion. He decreed that all Jews cease practicing their religion and to sacrifice to his pagan gods. Those who refused were tortured and killed. He commanded all copies of the Scriptures to be burned. Then he instructed his soldiers to defile the temple with pagan sacrifices. He was truly filled with what we would call an “anti-Christ” spirit (an anti-true anointing spirit.)
After Antiochus IV committed these atrocities, a Jewish priest named Mattathias and his sons rose up and led a revolt against him. In 167 B. C., through the small army they assembled, God gave His people a supernatural victory over the mighty pagan forces (1 Maccabees 1:41-64, 2:23-31, 42-48, 65-69, 3:1, 8, 10-27, 32-59, 4:1-35). Then the Jewish people were able to cleanse the temple and rededicate it to true worship. They celebrated their victory for eight days. They offered sacrifices on the sacrificial altar and burned incense on the golden altar and lit the lamps of the golden candlestick and placed bread on the table of showbread (1 Maccabees 4:36-60, 2 Maccabees 10:5-8).
It was during the festival that commemorates that victory that Jesus walked through the section of the temple called “Solomon's Porch”. Suddenly he senses opposition. A group of men come from around the corner and surround him, demanding,
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you really are the Messiah, tell us out-right!”
“I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's Name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:25-28, NIV).
In this chapter Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd. As our Shepherd, Jesus came to give us more abundant life, as he described,
“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have and enjoy life,
and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”
(John 10:10, AMP).
Those who listen to and follow Jesus’ voice receive abundant and eternal life, but those who follow the voices of false prophets or evil spirits will suffer loss and destruction. Jesus adds, “I am the door” (John 10:9a). Jesus is the door to the kingdom of heaven. He is the door to abundant life and the door to salvation and eternal life, as he described,
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.
He will come in and go out and find pasture . . .”
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full . . .
My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.
No one will snatch them away from me, . . .”
(John 10:9, 10b, NIV, 27-28, NLT)
What a tremendous Savior we serve! He laid down His life so that we could be forgiven of all sin. He was raised from the dead so that we can have His life now and throughout eternity. It will take all eternity to thank and praise Him for all He has done for us!
Note: much of this devotional is from The Life of Jesus Foretold, pages 193-194, 196-197.