Dear Friends,

To my Jewish friends, Hanukkah Sameach!  Happy Hanukkah!

Next Sunday night (December 2nd) is the first night of Hanukkah.  Hanukkah is the 8-night celebration that dates back to the 25th of Kislev 165 BC when Judas Maccabees (Judas the Hammer) led the Jewish people to revolt against the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes IV who had desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem.  The legend is told that when they cleansed the Temple there was found only enough purified oil to light the Menorah for one night, but this oil lasted for eight nights.  This is the origin of the 8 nights of Hanukkah.

Closeup of Hanukkah Menorah

 

The nine-branch menorah that is used to celebrate Hanukkah is actually called a Hanukkiah.  The middle candle is higher than the others and is called the “Servant.”  Since Hebrew is read from right to left, the candles in the Hanukkiah are lit from right to left.  The first night the Servant candle is lit, and then the flame is taken from this to light the candle on the right. The candles burn until they are gone.  The next evening the Servant candle is lit, then the candle on the right and the one next to it is lit. This continues for the 8 nights.

Today many Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah by giving gifts. It is teased that at Christmas children receive 8 gifts on one night while at Hanukkah children receive one gift a night for eight nights.  The children play a traditional game called Dreidel (which my grandkids love to play), and eating special foods like latkes (potato pancakes).

HERE’S WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM HANUKKAH…

  1. Jesus Celebrated Hanukkah (which was called the Festival of Dedication since Hanukkah means “dedication”)Jesus Invites You to Be One of His Sheep:

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. No one can snatch them away from me,  for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.  The Father and I are one.” (John 10:22–30).

  1. Hanukkah Is Also Called The Festival Of Lights—Jesus Is The Light Of The World:

 

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “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).

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).

  1. Take The Light From Jesus And Spread It To Others:

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” (Ephesians 5:8).

  1. The Middle Candle Is Called The Servant—Jesus Is The Suffering Servant:

 

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

  1. Like Judas Maccabees Don’t Be Afraid To Take A Stand For What Is Right—Use Your Life To Serve Others:

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

“But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy” (Philippians 2:17).

For me, acknowledging Hanukkah makes this season even more rich and full.  Our Lord came for His Jewish people and to be a light to the Gentiles as well.

“He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” (Luke 2:32)

I’m praying for you as you enjoy this season as we celebrate our Messiah!

Onward in the light,

Pastor Gary