Hanukkah - The Feast of Dedication
Hanukkah - a wonderful time of celebration in the Jewish calendar, commemorating the rededication of the Temple after it had been wrested from the hands of the Greco/Syrian army who had desecrated it (in the times in between the Old and New Testament). At this time of year, the hanukiah (think oversized menorah!) is filled with light, reminding us that even when the situation around us is dire and desperate, hope can always be found when God's purposes prevail!
For the Jewish people today, it is a reminder of a time when people tried to take away their identity and faith in Elohim, the God who created the universe and called them to be a nation. They had to fight for their freedom, to practice their faith, to thrive as a people, and 2000 years later they still tell the stories today, inspiring hope once again in the next generation.
Hanukkah takes place in December, and in Israel where the original events took place, December heralds the winter solstice, the shortest daylight day of the year, when the sky is darkest for the longest and the kindling of lights shines the brightest, defying the cold grip of a new winter with the warmth of candles in the home.
As each day of Hanukkah progresses, an extra candle is lit each night - one candle on the first night, two candles on the second and so on until by the eighth night, the whole hanukiah is ablaze with flickering candles or oil-soaked wicks. It's a beautiful picture of our journey out of darkness into light and a special opportunity to pray that this same journey becomes the pathway for Israelis and Jewish people around the world, the journey of finding Yeshua, the Messiah, the Light of the World.
As we use this opportunity to pray that the veil is lifted from the eyes of this ancient Chosen people, let's also remind ourselves that in this year especially, we too have the story of hope, of finding light in the darkness, that our communities will build and recover, that as God's chosen, I too have the potential to overcome the direst of circumstances and look forward to the joy and celebration beyond!
You will need nine candle holders (or a 9 branched Hanukkiah) plus lots of candles. Select one candle as the ‘servant’ candle that you will use every evening to light the other candles. In Hebrew tradition, the day begins the evening before. On the first evening of Hanukkah set up one candle, light it with the servant candle and leave them both to shine their light over your evening*. On the second evening, set up two candles - light both candles with the servant candle and leave all three candles burning. Each evening, add one more candle until the last evening when you light eight candles with the servant candle.
As you watch the candles shining each evening, it is a great opportunity to stop and pray. Thank God for your journey from darkness into light. For the light he shines in your life. Think about your true identity as a son or daughter of the King, of freedom from sin and the Kingdom of darkness, for faith in God’s word, for hope in times of trouble. Thank God that we overcome in Him!
Pray also for the people of Israel. As the prophet Isaiah said ‘The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.’ (Isaiah 9:2) Pray that their eyes will be opened to see their Messiah during this season.
* Never leave lit candles unattended
HANUKKAH 2020 DATES
DAY ONE | DECEMBER 10TH | ONE CANDLE
DAY TWO | DECEMBER 11TH | TWO CANDLES
DAY THREE | DECEMBER 12TH | THREE CANDLES
DAY FOUR | DECEMBER 13TH | FOUR CANDLES
DAY FIVE | DECEMBER 14TH | FIVE CANDLES
DAY SIX | DECEMBER 15TH | SIX CANDLES
DAY SEVEN | DECEMBER 16TH | SEVEN CANDLES
DAY EIGHT | DECEMBER 17TH | EIGHT CANDLES