Today is the fifth day of Hanukkah, an eight day holiday celebrated by Jews commemorating the military victory over the Greeks and the miracle of oil that didn’t run out. We might consider Hanukkah something just for Jews, however, Jesus kept Hanukkah, referenced in John 10:22 as the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah is the Hebrew word for dedication). Hanukkah represents both religious freedom and God’s miraculous provision.
Around 165 BC, the Greeks had oppressed the Jews, demanding they worship idols and defiling the temple. A single priest opposed the regime and when joined by a relatively small band of warriors was eventually able to push out the Greeks and began to restore worship in the temple. It was discovered that there was only enough consecrated oil for one day. Instead of just giving up, they went ahead and lit the menorah. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, in time for more oil to be consecrated.
Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days – each night another candle is lit on the special menorah with 9 branches (one candle is called the Servant candle and is used to light the others). Special blessings are recited as well. Here are some of those prayers:
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the lights of Hanukkah.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Sovereign of the universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at that time.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.
A fascinating possibility is that Jesus, the Light of the world, was conceived during Hanukkah, the festival of lights! Zacharius served in the temple at a specific time each year. Using that as a starting time, if Elizabeth conceived soon after and was six months along when Mary visited her, the times match up to Jesus’ conception at Hanukkah and His birth around the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (God with us)! This is the greatest miracle of all!
What miracles has God done for you this year? This month? This week? Today? Spend some time remembering what He has done for you, the big and the small. Light a candle. Say a prayer. Remember the blessings. And the biggest miracle of all: Jesus.