“…I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” [Isa 49:6]
In this special celebration of Hanukkah, Christians and citizens of the earth do well to consider the tremendously significant events that contributed to a great miracle of God over 2,200 years ago in Jerusalem.
At that time, Jerusalem had been under siege. Though the Temple was still standing, it had been utterly defiled by the occupying forces. A fervor arose within Jews zealous for the commands of God. Many gave their lives in defending the honour of God and to purify the Temple from a despicable desecration. God blessed them as they fought valiantly and liberated both the Temple and the City.
It was this incredible victory and the ensuing fulfillment of God’s specific instructions that contributed to the amazing miracle of His approval. Foremost in these Jews minds, was the fact that the light of the Temple, the Menorah candelabra, had gone out. The Menorah was a central component of this unique building, the special place in which God decreed He would meet with man. He decreed that from this very place the light of His presence would shine forth into the world. It was nothing less than a divine decree that the priests must “keep a flame burning perpetually” with pure, kosher olive oil.
After the Maccabean victory, the Temple Priests merely set about to fulfill their divine duties and relight the Menorah. Unfortunately, there was only sufficient kosher oil for one day. Therein lies the spiritual significance of Hanukkah that Christians too can thank God for. This is far more than just the burning of candles. This was God ensuring that the light of His command would endure as it was fulfilled by His chosen people.
In this season of Hanukkah, God’s honour and His Word are as much under attack today as it was back then. Refusing to recognize Israel and Jerusalem as its capital – and worse – continuing to deny the rebuilding of His chosen place of worship, is an affront not only to God’s purpose in Israel but to His Word. Let’s be clear, this is another diabolical form of anti-Semitism which is an attack against the very Word of God.
We must all remember that though the Temple was destroyed and His people scattered around the world for nearly 2,000 years – God’s Word and His decrees were never voided or changed. Though many Jews have returned to Israel in the past 70 years and Hanukkah candles are still being lit around the world, the light of the Temple in Jerusalem is still dark.
Then as now, the darkness cannot prevail. God has confirmed this through the miracle of the restoration of the Jewish people. His Word still stands and His light cannot be extinguished! Though modern-day “Antiochus’” of various descriptions are intent on preventing the promised restoration of Israel and especially the centerpiece of their existence – the Temple – the miracle of His endurance will triumph!
In that, the miracle of Hanukkah can shine through us as Christians – as we demonstrate our undying faith and confidence in the promises of God. Our support for Israel can help to fuel the continuance of His enduring light. When Israel and the Temple are fully restored, then will God truly be the Light of the Temple; the Light of a Nation – and the Light of the World!