This year at sundown on December 1, the eight-day observance of Hanukkah begins. The spirit of Hanukkah is the remembrance of a great miracle.
Nearly 200 years before the birth of Christ, a Hebrew tribe known as the Maccabees wanted to re-dedicate the temple after driving out the Greeks in a three-year struggle.
It was the 7-branch menorah (not the 9-branch menorah) that was lit after the Maccabees had their victory and re-dedicated the Temple. And the oil they found (that they thought was only enough to burn for one day) actually lasted for eight additional days, while more oil was being made and consecrated.
Of course there was no 9-branch menorah at that time. The Maccabees were actually in the Presences of witnessing the power of Yahweh.
The 7-branch menorah is made according to the commandment in Exodus 25:31-40. Priests would light it every evening and clean it every morning. Jewish sages teach that this menorah was the vessel that God used to blend the spiritual life (Light) that is to come with the physical life (Shadow) of this world.
Ultimately, the purpose of this menorah is not to illuminate the temple, but to spread its light throughout the world. It is a symbol of the nation of Israel and it is a physical reminder of the commandment in Isaiah 42:6 to be a light to the nations. This commandment, given originally to the people of Israel, is often used by Christians to justify the requirement upon them to spread their faith and the gospel, hence, again, the significance of the menorah for them. This 7-branch menorah can be seen in churches and in the homes of Christians.
The 7-branch menorah can be any size. For example, one of the largest menorahs stands in front of the gates to the Knesset building in Jerusalem. It was erected as a reminder of the indestructibility of the Jewish people; a truth that has been borne out time and time again despite persecution, wars and even assimilation.
Because of the Maccabees’ great faith through their three-year struggle with the Greeks, the Lord rewarded them with the miracle of extending the length of the one-day supply of oil, so that they could offer their rededication of the temple that had been desecrated. During those three years, many lives were lost, and one might say “Why?” I am sure those days were dark ones. But because the Maccabees tribe fought for what they believed to be right and dedicated themselves to it and to God, “Light” was given to those who believed.
I’m sure there are some of us who do not believe in war. Warring upon nations for greed is neither right nor justifiable. But protecting ourselves, that which we believe in and what is ours, is justified. We are not to be doormats for bullies. Gandhi is one of my biggest heroes, but he did not make England surrender by himself. Most people do not know it, nor does history want to overshadow Gandhi’s influence in India’s independence, but during World War II, the INA (Indian National Army) lead by Subhas Chandra Bose made a very big impact on England’s decision to give India her independence.
The balance of right and wrong, light and darkness would be an easier place to navigate if one is not being overshadowed by ego (Easing God Out), or undermined by pride and greed.
I wish all of my Jewish brothers and sisters around the world a very Happy Hanukkah. And I join them in marveling at the many blessings and miracles that God has bestowed…and continues to bestow upon on us all.