Happy Chanukah, urrybody! I wanted to tell you about this beautiful time of celebration. In 1 Maccabees, we have a story about a Priest named Mattathias who had five sons. One of his sons, Judah Maccabee, led a revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Judah Macabee gathered 3,000 men to overthrow this Empire. The Greeks overtook the Temple in Jerusalem and made a law that the Hebrews could no longer practice their faith. You could not circumcise your children, abstain from eating certain foods, or even worship God in the Temple because Antiochus defiled the altar by sacrificing a pig and placed images of Greek gods and goddesses in the sacred space. Since the Temple is where the Presence of God dwelt and was the center of the covenantal relationship between the Hebrews and God, this is the most devastating thing that could have happened.
The odds were against them, but they had a zeal for God and His Temple that fueled them. The first miracle of Hanukkah is that they won the war. They took back the Temple and rededicated it to God. Dedication is the meaning of the word Hanukkah. The Feast of Dedication came to be known as the Festival of Lights due to the next part of the story. Tradition has it that when placing the consecrated elements back into the Temple, there was only enough olive oil in the menorah for one day. A great miracle happened here when the one day of oil lasted eight days, giving the Hebrews enough time to make more oil. This miracle enabled the Hebrews to keep the lamp lit according to the commandment that the light never goes out (Lv 24.3).
Suppose we use a pattern established by one of my favorite teachers, Hollisa Alewine, founder of The Creation Gospel. In that case, we can see that the menorah’s seven branches could symbolize seven types of light found in the Scriptures. In the Temple, the menorah always had seven branches. In contrast, a Chanukiah has nine branches to commemorate the eight nights of Hanukkah with a shamash, the helper candle. Remember, every menorah branch is hewn from the center lump of gold. Let’s find those seven branches of Light.
*So the first branch of the menorah is God.
1 John 1:5: This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you that God is light, and in Him, there is no darkness at all.
James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
Psalm 18:28: “For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.”
*The second branch is wisdom. Wisdom is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit that God uses to build a house, a kingdom, or a tabernacle. These are all types of dwelling places. We can connect wisdom to the beginning light found in Genesis.
Proverbs 24:3: Through wisdom, a house is built, And by understanding, it is established.
Ecclesiastes 2:13: “I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.”
*The third branch is God’s word.
Psalm 119:130: “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.”
Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”
*Yeshua is our fourth branch. All six branches stem from this center lump, vine, or stump. The fourth branch is Yeshua, which is the menorah’s center. The center of the menorah stands taller than the other branches and is called the shamash candle, the Helper candle that gives light to the other candles. He would emit all types of light to the fullest.
Genesis 1:3: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”
*The fifth branch is love, love a dove. Wisdom and love are both lights. We just saw that wisdom is a type of light that builds a dwelling place. Love also builds a house.
1 Corinthians 8:1: Now concerning idol sacrifices, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies (edify can be defined as building a house).
1 John 2:9-10: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister (fellow human) is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.”
*The sixth branch is righteousness. Right choices can be defined in the commandments, generally known as good works. When we walk in right choices, we shine a light.
Proverbs 6:23: For the commandment is a lamp, And the law (Torah) a light.
Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Daniel 12:3: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”
*The seventh branch is life. Yeshua is the light of life for anyone who clings to Him. Yeshua was a perfect human filled to the brim with light. So much so that He overcame death and darkness. He told us that we could overcome death and darkness with His light.
John 8:12: Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me will no longer walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
John 1:5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Yeshua, as the central branch, is the origin of all light. He is the helper candle that gives light to the whole world. Imagine a human full of wisdom, love, good works, the Word of God, and life. Yeshua is LIGHT. If we want to shine, we start by loving God and people. Fill your heart with God’s word so you can make righteous choices. Notice how the branches of the menorah are connected at the bottom. If you want to shine the light of life, you have to love God, the giver of life. If you want to shine the light of love, you must shine the light of wisdom. If you want your good works to shine, they must stem from the light of God’s word.
May the light engulf you and warm you up. May you be wrapped up in God’s perfect love that casts out all fear. May you be filled with wisdom to walk in paths of right choices. Time to get lit! Happy Chanukah.