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.
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?