Light Up Your World
Light Up Your World
In a few days, we will celebrate the beautiful holiday of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. This eight-day celebration is a remembrance of God’s supernatural provision even as the people of Jerusalem were surrounded by enemies set upon their destruction.
In the second century BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture and beliefs. The Greek king Antiochus violated the temple, brought pigs in and slaughtered them in Temple, took Torah scrolls away, Jews were forbidden from keeping the Sabbath, and boys were not allowed to be circumcised. The Jewish people were facing cultural annihilation.
Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, and reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Hebrew word Hanukah means “dedication,” and this festival celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple after it was reclaimed by the Maccabees.
But there was a problem.
When they entered the Temple there was only a single cruse of olive oil left to light the Temple’s Menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum). Miraculously, they lit the menorah and the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days until new oil could be prepared. To commemorate this miracle of the oil, a candle is lit every night in the menorah until all eight candles are kindled.
Miraculously, they lit the menorah and the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days until new oil could be prepared.
We live in a world that can be very dark. There is a constant assault on the people of God. Just this week a Jewish professor at Columbia University walked into their office to find it spray painted with swastikas. Sadly the same evil that the Maccabees battled is the still in our world, but so is the God of miracles. The oil of hope, joy, and peace is available to fill our lives and let our light, God’s light, burn brightly.
The good news is the light is shining in many places. With our recent Celebrates Israel event in Buffalo, the historic meeting with Brazilian-American leaders in Boston to a strategic gathering of leaders in New York City, we see many people choosing to shine brightly and stand with God’s people. Hanukkah is not only a Jewish message but a universal message of the power of God’s light in the face of tyranny and darkness. Together let’s be those who illuminate the world we live in.