Happy Hanukkah! (12/2/21)
Mark Barbee

Now why would I, a Christian, recognize a Jewish holiday? Well, for one thing, Jesus did. Let me explain.
In John 10 Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication—another term for Hanukkah. What was the significance of the feast? You won’t find it in the Old Testament because it had happened just 200 years before Jesus’ ministry
The Jews had been attacked and suppressed by the Syrians who desecrated their temple and dominated the country for 3 ½ years. However, a Jewish family, the Maccabees, rose up and started a rebellion that led to their independence. They defeated the Syrians and went to rededicate their temple.
However, they found that the sacred lampstand, which represented the light of God’s presence, only had enough consecrated oil to last a day. They lit it anyway and while they consecrated new oil that lampstand kept burning for eight days. That part of the story is tradition, but the Jews of Jesus’ day definitely celebrated God’s deliverance of them from the Syrians. It was a feast of light and Jesus definitely is the Light of the world.
Jesus is our greater deliverance from sin. He used the occasion of that celebration to announce that “I and the Father are One.” John 10:30 Because he was God in the flesh he could go on and pay the penalty for our sins. So he is the fulfillment of Hanukkah, as well as other feasts in the Jewish culture.
This year, the celebration of Hanukkah began four days ago for Jews and also Jewish believers in Jesus. And so we say Happy Hanukkah! Look to Jesus as the true light of the world. We say thank you to God, our deliverer and Jesus the Messiah his Son. He keeps the light burning in our lives.
By the way, the Hanukkah menorah reminds us of the lampstand in the temple but has nine candles. Eight to commemorate the eight days of oil: the ninth one is to light the others and is called the servant candle. The Jews this week are giving gifts and eating lots of fried potato cakes (latkes) and jelly donuts. Perhaps this event in Jewish history was meant to prepare them for the coming of the true light of world.
Lord, thank you for delivering your people, both in times of old and delivering us from sin’s domination through Jesus. Thank you that Jesus is the servant who came to deliver us from sin and light the candles of our lives. Lord, keep the flame burning in our hearts as we prepare for the season of our Lord’s advent.
Lord, we thank you that the Father and Son are One, along with your Holy Spirit, whom the Lord sent when he left this earth.
Lord, help us to worship you in this entire season, not just for a day of gift giving. We pray that the incarnate Jesus will not be lost in the shopping and buying for Christmas gifts. Keep our minds on the greatest gift of all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.