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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A LIVING MENORAH

This post is part of the Christian Writers blog chain. Our theme for this month is "Gifts from the Heart." Please see the list to the right and visit my friends’ blogs to see what they have to say about this topic.

This post is a recognition of the importance of Jewish history to me—a gentile, adopted into God’s family through my Jewish savior. The Jewish celebrations are mine, because they were first His. Thank you, Jesus.

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Tonight begins the celebration of Hanukkah, also known as the Jewish "Festival of Lights."

I grew up wishing "Happy Hanukkah" to my Jewish friends, but not understanding the reason behind the celebration, thinking it had little relevance to my own faith. Why should I—a Christian—care about a Jewish holy day?

Because I’m that dog eating scraps under the table that the gentile woman spoke to Jesus about. I wasn’t born as part of God’s chosen people (the Jews) but by His grace I was adopted in to His family.

When I was adopted in, I adopted God’s plan, including the story of how He led His people. That made their history important to my future because my faith through my Jewish savior’s life was part of His earthly life, too.

It was my sweet mother-in-law who first introduced me to understanding Hanukkah as a Christian. One day I asked her, "What’s your favorite book of the Bible?"

Without missing a beat, she responded, "The Macabees."

Wait a minute, I thought, that’s not in my Bible.

But it is in the Bible of many versions of Christian faiths--sometimes in the Apocrapha; sometimes as part of the Old Testament. The Maccabee are a historical account of the time less than 200 years before Jesus’ birth when the Syrian army had taken over Jerusalem. Once the army was ousted, the Jews found that everything inside the Temple of Jerusalem had been desecrated—including the sacred, refined and holy oil that kept the lamps in the Temple lit.

A single sealed container of lamp oil was found—enough to keep the lamp lit for one day and night. Yet it would take eight days for new oil to be refined, purified and made holy. By God’s miraculous power, that single container of oil kept the lamp lit in the Temple for the entire eight days until the new oil was ready.

Thus, Jews celebrate the Festival of Lights as a way to remember God’s miracle of provision and sacred power.

The story of Hanukkah reminds me of Jesus and the many times he miraculously fed the hungry crowd with a few fish and a loaf of bread.

And it reminds me that Jesus is the true light of the world and we are meant to be lamp stands to light the way for others to find Him.

Can God do a miracle in our lives and make our very small amount of spiritual oil last? He can because of Jesus.

In fact, as Christians, we can look to the celebration of Hanukkah for the truth: not only did God stretch that holy oil for eight days; He made it last all the way until Jesus’ birth—nearly 200 years later—when the eternal light of life came to earth and lit the way for all of us.

I’ll be celebrating Hanukkah tonight and praising God for His power and for the gift of His heart of lighting this world with His love through Jesus.

In fact, consider me a lamp stand for Jesus—a living menorah, all lit up and praising His name!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for your miraculous provision; not only throughout history but in our lives today. Thank you for keeping the light of your love lit until you sent us Jesus. Please help us shine our lights for you for the world to see and understand what you have planned. Amen.

 WHAT ABOUT YOU? What does Hanukkah mean to you?

20 comments:

Tracy Krauss said...

How beautiful! I did not know this story nor have I ever read from the books of the apocrypha. I may have to look this up.

chris said...

I'm glad I'm an adopted mutt!

Your post was very inspiring and will help me keep putting oil into the lamp, thanks Carol !!

From Carols Quill said...

@ Tracy - Thank you, Tracy. Look up the story by all means! Enjoy.

From Carols Quill said...

@ Chris - Keep the oil burning. Happy Hannukah.

Suzette said...

Aw, Happy Hanukkah! Lovely post.

Traci B said...

Beautiful post, Carol. Not long after I committed my life to Christ, I had an opportunity to interview a Jewish man and his daughter for an article about Hanukkah for the paper that employed me at the time. He told the story you summarized, and it made me more aware of how our faith has its foundations in Judaism.

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!

From Carols Quill said...

@ Suzette - Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Happy Hannukah to you, too!

From Carols Quill said...

@ Traci - what a wonderful experience you had. Judaism is rich and we're enriched the more we know about Jesus' cultural heritage.

E. G. Lewis said...

Great post. I've spent the last 4-5years studying the Jewish roots of Christianity because of my Seeds of Christianity Series. Although I've had Jewish friends most of my life, this research has left me with a deeper appreciation for the spirituality of Judaism. All My life I heard that the New Testament completes the old, etc. but it is only recently that it really makes sense. Peace,Blessings, and Happy Chanukah!

From Carols Quill said...

@ E.G. - I agree. And the prophesies in the Old Testament give added meaning and evidence to the truth of the New. Happy Holy Days to you, too.

Debra Ann Elliott said...

A wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.

Deborah K. Anderson said...

Great article, Carol. Very informative. I'm glad to be a part of this blog chain. :-)

Terrie said...

Blessings Carol- beautiful post! May we always burn bright for Jesus.

From Carols Quill said...

@ Debra, Deborah and Terrie - thanks so much ladies. Your comments are encouraging. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Scott Fields said...

So many Christians see Judaism as a separate and completely alien religion. While it's true there are some distinctions to be made, Paul reminds us that we're the branch that's been "grafted" onto that tree (Rom. 11:24). Theirs is the trunk, the roots, the larger branches; we're the ones out on the fringes. We produce fruit, to be sure, but we wouldn't be able to do even that much if it weren't for the rest of the tree holding us up.

We need to do more to recognize, accept, and celebrate our Jewish roots. I think that goes part and parcel with being a devout Christian. Thanks for the reminder, Carol, and a great post to go with it!

From Carols Quill said...

@ Scott - you're so right. I continually remind myself that I'm the dog under the table waiting for scraps and being grateful for my place down here.

Cindee Snider Re said...

Oh, Carol, thank you! It's a story, a piece of our shared history, I didn't know, and it's so beautiful. Thank you for blessing me with a greater understanding, for being "a living menorah," and lighting the way for me today. A most blessed New Year to you and your family!

From Carols Quill said...

@ Cindee - thank you. So glad you felt blessed by the story. Your gorgeous poetry is a lampstand all by itself!

Keri Mae said...

To me it highlights God's faithfulness in all things, especially when those *things* seem at their darkest. I love how all of the festivals pointed to JESUS. So thankful.

From Carols Quill said...

@ Keri Mae - what a wonderful image of God's faithfulness. Thank you, Keri Mae.