Today’s Eye of Prophecy article is the second one published on New Year’s Eve since this website began in July 2013 (all articles are posted on Saturdays).
The first New Year’s Eve article (2016): Hanukkah … The Festival Born of a Prophecy!
Here is an excerpt from that article (in italics):
Last week’s Eye of Prophecy article (The Virgin Birth … How and Why?) was posted on Christmas Eve, which “just happened” this year to occur on the first day (eve) of Hanukkah. This week’s article falls on the final (eighth) day of what some say is the most widely celebrated festival of the Jews, religious and secular alike.
Note: Those dates in 2016 were quite close to this year’s celebration of Hanukkah and Christmas. On the Jewish calendar, the eight-day festivity of Hannukah always begins on the 25th day of Kislev, a month which overlaps the Gregorian calendar months of November and December. Interestingly, Christmas also falls on the 25th day (December). This year (2022) the 25th of Kislev matched December 19th (the first full day of Hannukah) with the holiday ending this past Monday (12-26-2022).
Returning to the excerpt from Hanukkah … The Festival Born of a Prophecy:
Based on the title of today’s article, you might get the impression that Hanukkah was predicted in Scripture by one or more of the Old Testament prophets. It was not, at least not the results of the Maccabean Jewish victory over an evil Syrian ruler. Those results were twofold, constituting the essence of this remarkable Jewish holiday. (A) Restoration and rededication of the Jewish Temple after the Jews defeated the Syrian/Greeks against all odds; (B) One day’s supply of the sacred oil used to light the Menorah, lasting for eight days until more purified olive oil could be produced.
Thus, respectively, in direct connection to A and B in the preceding paragraph, Hanukkah is referred to as the: Festival of Dedication or Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is the Hebrew word meaning “dedication.” Although the 2nd Temple was later destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, observant Jews still emphasize dedication (loyal observance) of their lives to the principles of holiness (consecrated separation) found in the civil, ceremonial, and moral features of the Law of Moses. Hanukkah serves as a serious but also festive reminder of this dedication.
Yet, when it comes to the equally vital component part of the Mosaic Law (Levitical Sacrificial System), the Jews are unfortunately in denial that there is no atonement for sin without the sacrificial shedding of innocent (animal) blood. Instead of recognizing and accepting the New Covenant established through the once for all substitutionary sacrifice of their very Messiah (Yeshua), they hope that mitzvot (good deeds … acts of love and giving) will merit salvation.
(I would encourage you to read the trilogy of Eye of Prophecy articles entitled: Where is the Temple? I, II, III. Posted in November and December 2014).
HOWEVER, the sequence of events that produced the marvel of Hanukkah were, in fact, predicted by the prophet Daniel some 370 years before they took place, including dramatic details about the malicious Syrian ruler who would devastate Israel and profane the Temple.
That Syrian ruler was Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a prototype of the Antichrist to come during the beginning of the seven—year Great Tribulation soon after the Rapture takes place. Then later in that article we examined the true Christ.
(Depiction of Judah Maccabee, the Menorah, and a Priest Holding Torah Scrolls … After the Amazing Victory over Antiochus IV and Recapture / Restoration of the 2nd Temple)
The Messianic Menorah Light of the World
Except for the Ark of the Covenant in Solomon’s Temple, the Menorah was considered the most (at least one of the most) prominent parts of Jewish worship. Because the Ark of the Covenant had vanished during Babylon’s conquest of the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the early 6th century B.C., the Menorah became the centerpiece of the Second Temple rebuilt in the latter part of that century.
Essentially, the Menorah represented the light of God’s Word and God’s presence with life-giving instructions to and interaction with his people—under the Old Covenant of Law (Torah).
Subsequently, as prophesied by Jeremiah (31:33-34), there would be a New Covenant. About 500 years later the Living Word of God, Jesus of Nazareth, started and finished this glorious New Covenant of Grace (Hebrews 12:2).
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full and grace and truth” (John 1:1-2 & 14, NASB).
Listen to these poignant yet powerful words of Jesus just hours before he would be crucified as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world: “He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it into pieces and gave it to the disciples saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ After supper he took another cup of wine and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you’” (Luke 22:19-20).
Three days later, Messiah Jesus convincingly confirmed (sealed) the New Covenant when he arose from the dead!
Said God the Father about (to) the coming Messiah: “…and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons” (Isaiah 42:6-7).
Jesus of Nazareth, “…fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: ‘In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined’” (Matthew 4:14-16).
(*Note: Zebulun and Naphtali are two of Jacob’s twelve sons. God, himself, assigned a portion of the Promised Land to each of the twelve sons (tribes). Jesus grew up in Nazareth, which is located within the territory allocated to Zebulun, very close to where it borders the tribal land of Naphtali.)
The light of the Menorah represented Israel’s coming Messiah, who would bring the life-giving light of God’s salvation to the Jew first, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).
Whereas the original expression (meaning) of Hanukkah was the Festival of Dedication, the more common and contemporary designation is Festival of Lights. Lighting the Menorah candles and giving of presents are the two most significant highlights of this joyous Jewish Holiday.
(Traditional lighting of the Menorah during Hanukkah or Chanukah–another spelling)
However, the main miracle of Hanukkah was God’s dramatic deliverance of his people (led by the Maccabees) against overwhelming military odds. With God’s sovereign intervention supernaturally repeated during and after Israel’s rebirth as a nation through victories in four wars (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973).
And what would Christmas be without the two most significant features: Christmas lights and Christmas gifts (presents). With both activities in remembrance of and reverence for God’s Son, (Christ) Jesus, coming to earth to deliver us from the penalty of our sins (hell and eternal separation from God) and to give us (light the way to) eternal life in heaven by simply believing and receiving him as Savior and Lord.
As with Hannukah, Christmas consists of two main miracles: (1) The Virgin birth of Jesus … Son of God and Son of Man. (2) Resurrection from the grave following his sacrificial death on the cross. Which is why he was born in the first place.
Yeshua, himself, celebrated Hanukkah.
“It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. The people surrounded him and asked, ‘How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’
“Jesus replied, ‘I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. But you don’t believe me 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 will never perish … for my Father has given them to me … No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one’” (John 10:22-30).
At that point the people picked up stones to kill Jesus; because he, in no uncertain terms, claimed to be God (equal to God as His Son). Previously, Jesus had made the same claim to another crowd who also wanted to stone him to death when he said: “…I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (John 8:58).
There was no misunderstanding of Jesus’s words. When he said, “I AM,” he voiced the sacred name of God, YHWH (Yahweh).
In the scene of John Chapter 10, Jesus went on to affirm and defend the truth of who he was. Listen to his words: “But if I do his (Father-God) work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father” (John 10:38, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).
Before the Hanukkah scene, Jesus declared, “…I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12).
And again, in John’s Gospel:
The Menorah that was to be continually burning (lit) has long been gone since the 2nd Temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. Yet the Light of the World is alive and well and will never be extinguished. Now it is the Kingdom of Heaven in hearts of believers the world over, both Jew and Gentile. Soon it will be the Kingdom of God physically on earth headquartered in Jerusalem. With Messiah Jesus, the King of all kings, ruling and reigning—His light shining radiantly to drive out the darkness of wickedness and corruption that constantly covers this planet.
The Incomparable Power and Authority of Jesus Christ
The original Eye of Prophecy article with that title was posted on 5-28-2016. It began with:
Power: “Possession of control, authority, or influence over others…” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).
Authority: “Power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior; freedom granted by one in authority; convincing force” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).
Right or wrong, positive or negative … we’ve all been influenced, to some degree or another, by the authority of our mothers, fathers, teachers, clergy, coaches, and government officials.
Unfortunately, national and international leaders through the centuries have been mostly power-hungry tyrants, who often lead their people to a precarious pinnacle of peace and prosperity, only to plunge them to the depths of despair and destruction. Even the few benevolent rulers still had their limitations and human weaknesses. And no matter how much morality, integrity, and capability that caring leaders possess, their good intentions are all too often compromised (if not ignored) by the people under their authority. There is, after all, an abundance of greed, envy, selfishness, and indiscriminate pursuit of pleasure and popularity within the best of societies.
Incomparable: “Eminent beyond comparison; matchless; not suitable for comparison” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). Matchless: “Having no equal; peerless.”
When incomparable (utmost positive connotation of the word) is combined with power and authority, we get the best form of influence and inspiration imaginable, that one person can have on another.
The following paragraph is a quote from the Eye of Prophecy article, Kingdom of God, posted 1-17-2015.
“Isn’t that what most people want? They want law, order, equality, safety, peace. And they want someone who has the kind of authority to realize those dreams, but also someone who is kind and considerate with that authority. One who truly cares about people and what’s best for them, who can rule and judge with impartiality and kindness. A truly wise and benevolent King whose attributes perfectly reflect who and what he is: Love, Truth, Justice, Mercy.”
Concerning judgement or forgiveness, light or darkness, life or death, Jesus declared passionately and with authority to Nicodemus, but also the whole world:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe had been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:16-20, NASB).
Listed to this powerful but also poignant prophecy of the last days from Isaiah:
“Arise Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you. Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance” (Isaiah 60:1-3, emphasis added … in other O.T. passages we find that the attraction of Jerusalem’s light is none other than the Messiah).
I believe it’s safe to say that there is as much darkness in this (soon-to-be) 23rd year of the 21st century as there ever has been, even to include two world wars of the 20th century. The kind of moral and mystical darkness that would be prevalent during the last days of the end times. It will get exponentially worse during the Great Tribulation.
Said the Apostle Paul to Timothy:
Once again, quoting Jesus: But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me.
Jesus’s many miracles were proof positive that he was/is the Son of God, the Messiah/Savior of Jew and Gentile alike. Yet so many in this secular world of ours (including those who “act religious”) diminish or dismiss out of hand the unsurpassed power and authority of Jesus Christ. Thereby, spurning God’s love for them and His desire that they look and listen to His Son Jesus—the Light of the World and the Voice of Truth.
The remainder of this article will be a modified revisit of and sequel to the original article posted in 2016 (The Incomparable Power and Authority of Jesus Christ) including the following:
Let’s take an up-close and personal look at some amazing things that only one man in history has done or can do. If you answer no or even maybe to each of the questions alongside the matchless achievements, I respectfully challenge you to ask yourself the question, “Why not?” First, because you honestly owe it to yourself. Second, because it is literally a matter of eternal life or death. It’s that serious.
(*Note: “I don’t know,” is the same as, “No”)
If one man had the incomparable power and authority to:
Control and Command the Laws of Nature and Physics—Would You Listen to Him?
Five Thousand Hungry Men … So Little Food:
“For there were about 5,000 men there. Jesus replied, ‘Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ So the people all sat down. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!” (Luke 9:14-17).
Five thousand men plus thousands more women and children, all who had listened intently to Jesus were getting very hungry. Only five loaves and two fish were available. But the disciples listened to Jesus and the crowd listened to the disciples, and the rest is history. This is one of my all-time favorite miracles of Jesus that stretches my imagination to the breaking point. Not my belief, only my imagination!
Around 3:00 the following morning we find Jesus walking on the tempestuous sea of Galilee, telling his panic-stricken disciples in a storm-tossed boat, thinking that they were about to drown and that Jesus must be “a ghost:”
“Don’t be afraid… Take courage, I am here!”
Peter mustered enough courage to step out of the boat and took a few steps on the water toward Jesus. “But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.
“Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. ‘You have so little faith,’ Jesus said. ‘Why did you doubt me?’ When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshipped him. ‘You really are the Son of God!’ they exclaimed” (Matthew 14:27-33).
Would you lend and bend your ear to Jesus when he says, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life” (John 5:24).
When Jesus was miraculously transfigured on the mountain revealing his divine glorified essence, not long before he gave his body and blood as a redemptive sacrifice on the cross, God, the Father declared: “…This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him” (Matthew 17:5, emphasis added).
There were other spectacular events in which Jesus supernaturally altered the course of nature to demonstrate his power and authority over physical laws of our universe and earth, such as turning water into wine and commanding another vicious storm on the Sea of Galilee to, “Silence, be still!”
Immediately the winds and the waves ceased. Said the disciples in utter astonishment: “Who is this man? … Even the wind and waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41, for the entire episode).
He can do that because:
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see…. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together… For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ” (Colossians 1:15-17 & 19).
If one man had the incomparable power and authority to:
Cure Incurable Diseases, Heal Untreatable Deformities & Forgive Sins—Would You Believe and Receive Him as Lord & Savior?
A Paralyzed Man Lowered through the Roof of a House:
“When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’
“But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, ‘What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!’
“Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, ‘Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, Your sins are forgiven, or Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.’ Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!’
“And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this before!’” (Mark 2:1-12).
Jesus performed countless miracles that had never been seen before. Incurable diseases, inoperable disabilities, irreversible blindness and deafness, and irrevocable death itself were no match for the matchless Son of David, Son of Man, and Son of God. Have you ever considered that Israel must have had the healthiest population of any nation on earth during Jesus’s time of preaching, teaching, transforming (the laws of nature) and healing?!
When Jesus asked them whether it was more difficult for him to tell the paralytic that his sins were forgiven or to instantly heal the man’s untreatable condition, he knew how they would react. They would conclude that it’s easy for anyone to say someone’s sins can be forgiven. Those are just words, and in this case words of blasphemy, for only God can forgive sins.
Which was exactly the point! By merely speaking the words, Jesus right in front of them told the crippled man to stand up and go home. Only God has that kind of power! And only God has the authority to forgive sins.
So, then, just who might Jesus be?
The paralyzed man and his four companions knew and believed Jesus was the Messiah. As did many in the crowd before and after what Jesus said and did.
And so do all we who have been saved by Jesus, the light of the world. Through what is truly Amazing Grace: Once we were blind, but now we can see (See the exclusive way, the universal truth, and the eternal life that is found only in Messiah Jesus).
What more or better proof did the religious leaders need? Sadly, they, like so many religious or irreligious leaders and their followers today, deny the authority and power Jesus has to forgive their sins—if they would only believe in him and his atoning sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty of our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…” (Romans 3:23-25).
Often, the Bible compares human beings to sheep. If we’re totally honest with ourselves, there’s nothing wrong or even baaaad … about that analogy! We act like sheep when we do things without thinking them through or even when we know what to do or which way to go, and we do and go the opposite. How many times have you thought or said, “I can’t believe I did (said) that!” Or “that wasn’t me.” And “what was I thinking?” Or speaking of someone else, “He was out of his head.” And “she was beside herself.”
In the phenomenal passages of Isaiah Chapters 52 and 53 which details the coming of the suffering Messiah to this world—fulfilled in every detail by Jesus of Nazareth—we read:
“The Lord is my Shepherd…” (Psalm 23).
If one man had the incomparable power and authority to:
Raise the Dead—Would You Trust Him for Eternal Life?
Two Sisters Mourning over the Heartbreaking Death of Their Brother:
“When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days … many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss … Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died…’” (John 11:17-21).
“Jesus told her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ ‘Yes,’ Martha said, ‘he will rise when everyone else rises at the last day’” (Verses 23-24).
Martha knew something about the final resurrection, but she didn’t fully comprehend that bodily resurrection was possible only by and through Jesus the Messiah.
“Jesus told her, ‘I AM the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?’” (Verses 25-26, italics and capitalized for emphasis).
When Jesus put it that way, Martha understood what we all must grasp if we are going to be among those resurrected by the permanent power and awesome authority of Jesus Christ at the rapture. Whether dead or alive, all believers will be transformed with brand new (resurrected) bodies.
Martha accepted Jesus’s authority and she replied with these remarkable words of trust:
“Yes, Lord … I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God” (Verse 27).
Jesus then went to the tomb where Lazarus had been buried four days earlier and proceeded to do exactly what he said he would do and could do. With power and authority, “Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, ‘Unwrap him and let him go!’” (Verses 43-44).
Jesus was involved in another resurrection from the dead … his own!
“But very early on Sunday morning, the women went to the tomb … They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.
“The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, ‘Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!’” (Luke 24:1-6a).
Things to Ponder
Would you listen to some of Jesus’s final words before he ascended back to heaven following his resurrection:
“And he said, ‘Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem. There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent’” (Luke 24:46-48, repentance means changing your mind, especially about Jesus as Savior and Lord—the Messiah).
Do you believe in and trust Christ Jesus—his incomparable power and authority to forgive your sins (past, present, and future), heal your heart, and change your eternal address (destiny) from hell to heaven?
I certainly do. Because all the Lord’s promises are precious and true. They are totally trustworthy. Many powerful prophecies have come to pass precisely as God said they would. Why shouldn’t this one, the glorious Rapture:
“We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:15-18).
And yet another magnificent promise, replete with power and authority:
“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It (the transformation, not the whole event of the Rapture) will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed …
“Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (I Corinthians 15:51-55, parenthesis mine).
Jesus holds those keys because he has the incomparable power and authority to do just that!
If you haven’t, reach out to Jesus. He’ll turn the key that will close the gate of hell and open the gate of heaven for you.
Jesus loves you and wants to personally light up your world!
Listen to him!