Pass the jelly donuts and potato pancakes (fried latke recipe) … Hanukkah is a celebration I can support. Eating foods cooked in oil is a symbolic way to remember the oil that burned for eight nights.
To review, the Maccabees found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks when they sought to light the Temple’s menorah. Miraculously, the one-day supply burned the entire eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity. It would take seven days to purify more oil.
My understanding is that the Jewish tenacity in adhering to their rigorous rules of purity and impurity enraged the rationalistic Greeks. This was why, when plundering the Holy Temple, they defiled every jar of oil that they could get their hands on. For eight days, the glow of the Temple’s menorah illuminated a reality that the Greeks had attempted to obscure: there is a hand that controls every event and occurrence.
Following this tradition, Jewish law stipulates lighting of the menorah by either a window or door, at a time of night when passersby are likely to see it. The reason is that it’s not enough to hold their faith hidden deep within like a treasure. And it cannot just remain “up there,” in the spiritual realm. It needs to be expressed and articulated; it must find a home within the physical, commonplace world.
According to Chaya Shuchat, “We kindle the Hanukkah/Chanukah lights in public to make a proud statement to everyone that we are the Jewish nation, and are here to stay. These lights will pierce through all worldly darkness, and will never be extinguished.”
Hanukkah reflection for day 3:
As we light our candles during the Festival of Light, we celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, and spirituality over materiality.
The oil of the Hanukkah celebration reminds Christians to yearly rededicate ourselves as vessels for the oil of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are now God’s temple, our eyes the lamp of that body. “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22, Luke 11:34). We are Yeshua’s light in this dark world. It is the Lord who keep us burning (Psalm 18:28).
John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16).
Have you been baptized with the fire of the Holy Spirit? My walk with Christ was radically altered in 1978 when I received this baptism at the tail end of the Jesus Movement. The Spirit empowered me to resist repeated sinfulness, helped me pray when I couldn’t find the words (Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12), and enrolled me in a lifelong tutoring program (John 14:26). It is by the emboldening of the Spirit I write, speak and teach about my Lord (Acts 4:31). Like in Acts 10:38 and 45, it is by the Spirit that I lay hands on people in ministry to pray for their healing or freedom from oppression.
Friends, if you have not received the baptism of the Spirit, I urge you to give yourself permission to begin the new year empowered. See Acts 19:2 – “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
Today you have heard the good news! The Holy Spirit is alive, well and hovering over the earth ready to help you (see Luke 11:13).
Prayer: Father God, I ask to be baptized with the gift of the Holy Spirit. I ask You to breathe on me as in John 20:22 … and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” I ask You to highlight scriptures to my understanding. Please bring people across my path to educate me in practical application of these concepts. I love you, Jesus and I believe I receive this holy gift of Your Spirit.” Amen
… Be aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope … (Romans 12 AMP).