Chanukkah–Feast of Dedication

Consecration of Aaron and his sonIllustration:  “Consecration of Aaron and his son,” by Marc Chagall, crayon, gouache, and pastel on paper, 1965.

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

Chanukkah teaches us something about service. Tradition says that when the temple was rededicated, the lampstand was filled with oil and lit. But following the war, there was only enough oil to last one day, and it would take seven more days to press enough olives for oil to keep the lamp stand burning. Miraculously, the flame lasted for eight days, and so the festival lasts eight days to commemorate this miracle.

Each day of the festival a new light is added to the Chanukkah menorah until the eighth day, when the entire lamp stand is lit and the room is bright with light. Usually, beeswax candles are used today, and they are not extinguished, but are allowed to burn as long as they will. Although the festival lasts only eight days, the menorah has nine branches.  What is this ninth candle? Called the shammes, meaning “servant,” this candle lights the rest of the candles. Day after day, the shammes lights one more flame, until the entire room is lit.

There is no record or understanding of how this tradition was begun.  The miracle of the oil is not in the historical accounts of the war, and there is no record of it until around the 4th century.  But I believe it is God’s truth being deposited in the traditions of men. We have a servant King who brings us eternal life. Just as the shammes lights the candles of the menorah, our Shammes, Jesus, ignites the light of life in us. But unlike the candles at Chanukkah, which will eventually burn out, our lights will never perish.

Prayer:  Lord God, Heavenly Father, thank You for the light you have shined into my heart. Thank You for Your Son, who died so that I might live. Help me to understand how You desire to use me to serve You. In Y’shua’s name, Amen.

Ponder the path:  To walk in darkness is never a pleasant experience. Even if the path is well worn and easy to follow, without light, you will inevitably  trip and fall. The Holy Spirit is the flame that lights your way and leads you to serve. Which gift of the Spirit have you received to use in service to the Body of Christ? (Read 1 Corinthians 12).

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