There’s a bit of history in this post, but if you can make it through to the end you should be able to join the dots.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (God Manifest) was a Greek king of the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. His original name was Mithradates (gift of Mithra – the Persian sun god) and he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne. In 167 BC he invaded Jerusalem where he profaned the temple and dedicated it to Olympian Zeus.
To consolidate his empire and strengthen his hold over the region, Antiochus decided to side with the Hellenized Jews by outlawing Jewish religious rites and traditions kept by observant Jews and ordering the worship of Zeus as the supreme god (2 Maccabees 6:1–12). He brought an image of Jupiter into the temple and on 25th December sacrificed a pig on the altar to celebrate Jupiter’s birthday (Xmas ham anyone?). Jupiter is the Roman version of the Greek god Zeus who is also the Persian sun god Mithra – note the link to Antiochus birth name Mithradates.
A Jewish family called the Maccabees led a revolt against the Seleucid Empire and liberated Jerusalem for the Jews.
The Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple following Judah Maccabees' victory over the Seleucids. According to Rabbinic tradition, the victorious Maccabees could only find a small jug of oil that had remained uncontaminated by virtue of a seal, and although it only contained enough oil to sustain the Menorah for one day, it miraculously lasted for eight days, by which time further oil could be procured hence Hanukkah is sometimes called the festival of lights.
The Jews had to dedicate a new altar because the old one had been profaned by swine. It takes eight days to dedicate a new altar (2 Chron 7:9) so the celebration is also known as the Festival of Dedication (John 10:22).
When Constantine took over Christianity in the early 300’s AD he decided to remodel it and introduced many of the pagan customs of his god – Mithra. One of the customs he introduced was “Christmas” which was held on December 25th at the winter solstice to celebrate the (re-)birth of the sun (god Mithra) each year.
So just as the Jerusalem temple and worship of the one true God was profaned by Mithra in the time between the Old and New Testaments, worship of the one true God was again profaned by Mithra within 300 years of the writing of the New Testament. And not just in the Roman church. This sun worship behaviour (halos, round communion wafers, gold or silver disks etc) is embedded in pretty much every stream of “Christianity” - don’t we all celebrate Christmas and meet on SUNday morning (when the sun rises – Ezk 8:15-17)?
As followers of Messiah, we need to repent from our pagan ways and rededicate ourselves in purity to Him. We need to cleanse off the profanity of Mithra worship and all the other pagan festivals and customs we adhere to supposedly in the name of Christ. Just as the Jews took eight days to rededicate their altar that had been profaned so we too need to celebrate the eight day Festival of Hanukkah as an annual reminder for us to forsake our pagan customs and become rededicated followers of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
If you are interested in finding out more about this please read some of my articles on my website www.richardbp.com under the heading “Spirituality”. They give a brief history of where paganism came from, how it infiltrated Christianity, how Christianity was before paganism took over and also offer some pointers as to the way forward for us as we spiritually head back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.
1 Peter 2:5: ...you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house (temple), a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.