This is a very special season for Christians and Jews alike. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, Yeshua, the Light of the World and Jews celebrate Hanukkah the Festival of Lights. And I want to celebrate YOU and declare over you that the glory of the Lord is rising upon you to light up your world! (Isaiah 60)
So, what is Hanukkah? The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication”. It is an eight-day Jewish celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. As a bit of background, around 200 B.C., Judea-also known as Israel- came under the control of Antiochus III. When his son Antiocus IV reigned, he outlawed the Jewish religion and forced the Jews to worship Greek gods. In 168 B.C., his soldiers massacred thousands of Jews and desecrated the Second Temple by erecting a statue of the Greek god Zeus and sacrificing pigs on the altar of the temple. Outraged he Jewish priest Matthathias and his five sons started a rebellion against Antiocus and the Seleucid monarchy. When Matthathias died in 166 B.C., his son Judah Maccabee (“the Hammer”) took over; after two years this little, rowdy bunch of rebels successfully drove the mighty Syrian army out of Jerusalem!
As soon as the Jews reclaimed their temple after their successful revolt, Judah called on his followers to cleanse the Second Temple, rebuild its altar and light its menorah. They found only a one-day supply of oil to light its menorah but in a “miracle of the lights” that meager supply lasted for eight nights. The lamp that held this miracle oil and burned for the entire feast is called the “Hanukkiyah”- a special menorah of nine candles: one for each night of Hanukkah plus a “Shamash”, or “helper” candle used to light all the rest.
That Shamash light is set apart from the rest of the candles, typically above the rest. It is hard not to see that this central light, lifted above the others, represents Yeshua, our Messiah and Savior. He was then, and forever is, the LIGHT of the world, the servant light that gives light to every man (John 1:9). In this beautiful season we celebrate our Servant Lord “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many”. Mark 10:45
And now for the exciting part- Jesus not only lights the world but gives US, you and me, the ability to be a light to the world as well. The shamash reminds us that we are the hands of Christ called to serve one another and, by our love, to lead others to the revelation of Jesus. It is up to us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, who was born into the earth to lead us out of our darkness and into His marvelous Kingdom of eternal Light! His light offers us a confident hope and strengthening joy. We are no longer separated from the love of the Father but forever grafted into His family of God— not as servants but as joint heirs with Christ!
When we live a life separated to Christ, pointing others to the glory of God, we become the light of love that offers joy, peace and hope.
In celebrating the re-dedication of the temple and the birth of Jesus, we are reminded that as the temple of the Holy Spirit and carriers of His anointing we are never too ruined or broken that we cannot return to the One who rebuilds, restores and multiplies our life, love and anointing. He takes the little we have, like one days’ worth of oil and turns it into a sustaining source of light. During this season of celebrations, don’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of performance and production and lose sight of the true reason to celebrate. Yeshua, the Light of the World, has come to set us free and “light us up” so we can illuminate the darkness and share the hope of glory with everyone we encounter.
I challenge you today to rise up, like one of those radical Maccabees, and overthrow the darkness that has tried to take root in your life and keep you from worshiping our Lord. Rededicate yourself as a living temple of the Eternal and Most High God and allow the light of Christ to shine through you to a lost and broken world. Take your candle and GO LIGHT YOUR WORLD!