Hanukkah or Chanukah — the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev — celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality.
These eight devotions on the subject of light were written in 2015 in honor of the Father of Lights and to help Christians understand this festival. I’m reposting for Hanukkah 2017.
More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d.
When they sought to light the Temple’s menorah (the seven branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.
To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled. For prayers, customs and recipes go to Chanukah How-To.
Day 1 Reflection – Show Me Your Glory, God
Imagine yourself a fly, small and unseen as you listen to this exchange between Moses and God as described in Exodus 33:17-20 NIV in which the Glory of the Lord was discussed.
And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Moses bold request to see the glory of God originated from his deep, personal friendship with Yah. Moses obedience generated this favor. God knows all of us by name, nevertheless it remains our distinct honor and privilege to obey Him. Moses used his favor to boldly ask to see the glory of God, but he was really asking to see God’s face.
Late one October evening as I readied for bed, I spied what appeared to be tiny, white lights glistening on the palm fronds of my front yard as I looked though my bathroom window. These twinkling “lights” ran down the center of each swaying frond and were equally spaced. The glass block below the arched window shimmered with diamond-like sparkles. It was beautiful! Upon closer inspection, I realized these tiny white lights were actually light beams from a full moon. The sight was dazzling in its beauty, a momentary glimpse of His glory. Our Creator God was revealing more of Himself through my bathroom windows. That evening, God made His goodness pass before me as He proclaimed His name, Lord of Light before my fascinated eyes. He was being gracious to me and to all creatures across the earth who took a moment to enjoy the beauty of that particular October harvest moon.
“God is light and the father of light; in Him there is no darkness,” John Paul Jackson said. “Every light of God is based on pure white light which contains every color that exists. When Satan fell, there was darkness in him, because he left a source of his light and life.”
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The Creator God who spoke into the darkness before the worlds were formed, still speaks into darkness. He wants to speak into your dark places transforming them into glorious, light-filled reflecting pools. That’s why Jesus was born and the reason for Christmas.