This is the first of eight blogs celebrating the 8 days of Hanukkah! After praying through my usual “writer’s block” that I experience when I first sit down to write a blog, I just “coincidentally” happened to receive an email, out of the blue, from my mother-in-law in NY which said, “I know Hanukkah starts tomorrow and that’s when you light the menorah, but I really don’t know why. If you get time please enlighten me.” Well, that was the unexpected answer to my prayer as I now had my first of eight themes: Why DO we celebrate Hanukkah anyway? Is it really just the “Jewish Christmas” or does it have a much deeper meaning? Actually, there is such deep significance and so many meaningful and relevant themes to Hanukkah that it will be a real challenge for me to cover them all in eight blogs! Well, here goes! Eight answers to the question of “Why do we celebrate Hanukkah?”
1. It reminds us that we can have confident HOPE in God’s plans, purposes, and promises. They will not be thwarted, no matter what scheme the enemy uses or how out of control our lives, country, or world may seem to be. We don’t need to live in fear. Fear is NOT from God. He is still on the throne. He never changes. “Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses” (1 Kings 8:56), and not one word will fail in the future. That’s reason to celebrate!
2. It reminds us that the Jewish people will NEVER cease to exist. Ever since the time when Adam and Eve lived in the garden, Satan has been trying to extinguish the Jewish people. He knew that it would be through their line that the Messiah, the light of the world, would come. Today, many countries are turning against the Jewish people and against Israel, but God will never allow their existence to cease. That’s reason to celebrate!
3. The miracle of the one day supply of oil lasting 8 days, keeping the lights of the menorah lit until more oil could be made, reminds us that nothing is impossible with God, and that miracles still happen today. Every day as we open our eyes to see, we find God always working for good, always desiring to heal, to reconcile, to renew, to restore, to rebuild, to take us “back to the garden.” That’s reason to celebrate!
4. The piercing lights of the Menorah remind us that light overcomes the darkness! God is calling us to be lights in this dark world. We are not to curse the darkness with bitterness, resentment and accusations, but be lights in this darkness, light that will draw others to Him. Satan uses our strongholds to block God’s light from shining forth, but God has given us weapons of warfare to be victorious in this battle! Messiah Yeshua has freed us to be lights in the darkness. That’s reason to celebrate!
5. It reminds us to not compromise with the ever increasing ungodly culture and values of this world. Although it is much easier to assimilate into the culture around us, God will provide for us and bless us as we trust in Him and do the right thing, no matter what! That’s reason to celebrate!
6. The seemingly impossible victory of the small band of Maccabees over the powerful Syrian army reminds us that as we obey God and place our faith and trust in Him, HE will fight our battles for us. Just as there was a battle over the physical Temple, and there is now a battle over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, there is a spiritual battle being waged over OUR temples, in our hearts. When we recognize that our battles are not against flesh and blood, but are spiritual in nature, then we can choose the right tools – our spiritual weapons of warfare – make OUR part right, and we will see the victory. “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Ex. 14:13-14) That’s reason to celebrate!
7. The Feast of Dedication (that Yeshua himself celebrated in John 10:22) reminds us that we need to continually, moment by moment, rededicate ourselves to the Lord through a fervent commitment to deal with anything that blocks His light within us. We need to stop giving satan a handle in our lives through fears, hurts, unforgiveness, bitterness, blame, self-condemnation, etc., justified or not, and we need to be proactive in keeping our spiritual airspace clear! Then we will experience deep joy and intimacy with God that can never be taken away, and we will be able to stand firm in the midst of this ever changing world. That’s reason to celebrate!
8. It reminds us of who God is as HE revealed Himself in all of His glory and holiness through the Temple. The menorah itself is a reflection of the heavenly menorah and reveals to us the nature of God’s presence. The Temple also reminds us that as believers, amazingly we can enter into the Holy of Holies, revealing who we are in Him and how He sees us – as holy, blameless, cleansed, pure, having Yeshua’s righteousness, worthy to be in His awesome, glorious presence! That’s reason to celebrate!
So there you have it! Eight reasons to celebrate Hanukkah! Well I’d better close now. My family’s waiting for me to light the first candle! Check back each night of Hanukkah as I explore each of the eight themes in more detail!