May This Festival of Lights Bring Blessings Upon You and Your Loved Ones
After the defilement of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, Judah Maccabee led his people against their enemy. Triumphantly entering Jerusalem, he reclaimed the Temple; then purified it from the abomination and defilement of the Greek army.
Originally, the menorah stood in the Temple. It was a 7 branched candelabrum that was lighted every evening. After the Temple was purified, there was only enough oil to last one day. As the people prayed, the Lord blessed them and caused the oil to last for 8 days.
Judah Maccabee “instituted a festival of eight days on the 25th of Kislev of the year 148 of the Seleucid era”.
Today, the menorah has 9 candles on it to commemorate God’s miraculous provision of oil.
Light in the Darkness
A few years ago, we purchased a menorah to celebrate Hanukkah also known as the Festival of Lights. It has become a precious part of celebrating the holy days – leading up to or even coinciding with Christmas.
In the center of our menorah is a branch, that holds the candle known as the shamash. In Aramaic it means the servant. On many menorahs, the shamash is raised, sitting higher than the other candles.
To the right and to the left are four branches. On the first day, the shamash is lit, then is used to light the first candle on the right. On each successive day, another candle is lit until on the 8th day, all are lit. Again, the shamash is used as the light that brings light into the darkness.
My Heart Was Touched With Gratitude
Two years ago, I was deeply touched as I realized the center candle is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus. As that candle is used to light a lower candle – it made me think of His personal touch on each person. As an individual accepts Him as Saviour and Lord, their life is lit with His beautiful light.
Our room was only lit by candles, the gentle light pushing back the darkness. As I gazed at the lit menorah, the candles seemed to be looking upwards, worshiping the center candle.
I was reminded of Matthew’s words, “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, Light has dawned.” (Matt 4:16). My heart overflowing with gratitude, lifted in adoration for my Beloved Saviour.
The Festival of Lights
At the time, I didn’t realize many believe the Festival of Lights is about light entering the darkness. It is based on the verse in Isaiah:
“I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.
I will take you by the hand and guard you,
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” (Isaiah 42:6 NLT)
In context, this verse speaks of the Messiah, who would come as a Servant to His people. On Him, the Holy Spirit would rest. The center candle is symbolic of the Messiah. He is the Dayspring from on high, visiting us with light as we sat in darkness and the shadow of death. He is the One who will guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:79).
Don’t you think this is exciting?! This light is Jesus the Christ. He took upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men. As a man, He humbled Himself and died on Calvary. (Phil 2:7-8).
Praise Jesus! He arose again the third day, ascended to the Father, and one day will return in victory to rule this earth. Jesus, the Servant, is the Light of the world.
Let Us Celebrate
Have you ever thought about the menorah? It is possible to learn many lessons from the menorah. Some believe eight is symbolic of the resurrection and of regeneration.
Seven is the number of completion or perfection. Some associate the adding of one to the seven with new beginnings; that would resonate with the resurrection of Christ and of those who trust in Him.
For the Hebrews, eight signifies something supernatural. Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit – truly a supernatural work of transformational power.
If you decide to obtain a menorah, as you light the candle that sits higher than the others, celebrate the wonder of Jesus, the Son of God. He is the Light who came into the world to open your eyes. He was lifted up and died to free you from captivity. His resurrection power releases you from any dark dungeon where your mind is imprisoned by the past. Jesus, who is Life, fills you with His resurrection life.
Jesus is the Light of the world! Let us celebrate His arrival by welcoming Him to be LORD of our body, soul, and spirit. May Jesus Christ be glorified in your heart and your home during this holy season of the year.