Light of the World

A Hanukkah Message

 

Today I will try to keep my message on the light side, pun intended.

 

The story of Hanukkah. This year Hanukkah is celebrated from the 21st of December at evening (The 25th of Kislev) through the 29th of December at evening. It celebrates the rededication of the temple. Sometimes called the Festival of Lights and sometimes called the Feast of Dedication. Hanukkah actually means “Dedication.”

2 Maccabees 10 (The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible with Apocrypha)

*   1) Now Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the
temple
and the city; 2) they tore down the altars that had been built in the public
square by the foreigners
, and also destroyed the sacred precincts. 3) They purified
the sanctuary
, and made another altar of sacrifice; then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices, after a lapse of two years, and they offered incense and lighted lamps and set out the bread of the Presence. 4) When they had done this, they fell prostrate and implored the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes, but that, if they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations. 5) It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Chislev. 6) They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the festival of booths, remembering how not long before, during the festival of booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals. 7)Therefore, carrying ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place. 8) They decreed by public edict, ratified by vote, that the whole nation of the Jews should observe these days every year. 9) Such then was the end of Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes.

Read from Wikipedia Article on Hanukkah

*   The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a special candelabrum, the Menorah or Hanukiah, one light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. An extra light called a shamash, (Hebrew: "guard" or "servant") is also lit each night, and is given a distinct location, usually higher or lower than the others. The purpose of the extra light is to adhere to the prohibition, specified in the Talmud (Tracate Shabbat 21b-23a), against using the Hanukkah lights for anything other than publicizing and meditating on the Hanukkah story. (The shamash is used to light the other lights.)

*   The miracle of Hanukkah is described in the Talmud. The Gemara, in tractate Shabbat 2 focuses on Shabbat candles and moves to Hanukkah candles and says that after the forces of Antiochus IV had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still sealed by the High Priest, with enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, and miraculously, that oil burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready). [6]

*   Hanukkah is celebrated by a series of rituals that are performed every day throughout the 8-day holiday. Some are family-based and others are communal. There are special additions to the daily prayer service, and a section is added to the blessing after meals. Hanukkah is not a "Sabbath-like" holiday, and there is no obligation to refrain from activities that are forbidden on the Sabbath, as specified in the Shulkhan Arukh[15] People go to work as usual, but may leave early in order to be home to kindle the lights at nightfall. There is no religious reason for schools to be closed, although, in Israel, schools close for the whole week of Hanukkah. Many families exchange gifts each night, and fried foods are eaten.

The authority to celebrate Hanukkah

*   (John 10:22-23 NIV)  Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, {23} and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade.

What does Hanukkah say about Christ

*   (John 1:1-10 NIV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. {2} He was with God in the beginning. {3} Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. {4} In him was life, and that life was the light of men. {5} The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. {6} There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. {7} He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. {8} He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. {9} The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. {10} He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

*   (John 8:12 NIV)  When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Rich Pearson’s Lighthouse gift.

*   (John 12:35-36 NIV)  Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. {36} Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light." When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

*   (Mat 5:14-16 NIV)  "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. {15} Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. {16} In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Recall that in the menorah one candle was the servant candle. This candle gave light to the other candles. This candle was Christ and now is you. One candle represents God, a servant king. One is the number of unity and reminds us there is only one God. Eight candles represent those that receive light. Eight is the number for new beginnings. What we received freely we must give freely.

 

The blind are in darkness whether they are physically blind or spiritually blind. The biggest difference being that spiritual blindness is the worse of the two. We may be able to help, if, we are not reluctant to share the knowledge we have. Here’s a story that illustrates the point.

*   A woman named Rose Crawford had been blind for 50 years.  "I just can't believe it!"  she gasped as the doctor lifted the bandages from her eyes after her recovery from delicate surgery in an Ontario hospital.  She wept for joy when for the first time in her life a dazzling and beautiful world of form and color greeted eyes that now were able to see.  The amazing thing about the story, however, is that 20 years of her blindness had been unnecessary.  She didn't know that surgical techniques had been developed, and that an operation could have restored her vision at the age of 30.  The doctor said, "She just figured there was nothing that could be done about her condition. Much of her life could have been different."

As I read the news account of her case, some questions came to mind.  Why did she continue to assume that her situation was hopeless? Had no one told her about the wonderful advances in eye surgery?  Then I thought of the plight of those unreached by the Gospel.  How many will go on living in moral blindness unless we bring them to the Savior?  Millions will never know anything but spiritual darkness because no one has shared with them the Light that has come into the world.

*   (Rom 10:14 NIV)  How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Why are we reluctant to share the GOOD NEWS? Perhaps it’s because we don’t prepare the way in our daily lives. That is, people are not eager to be near us or here what we have to say. Here’s a really neat and really effective way to solve that situation. Listen.

*   It costs nothing, but creates much.

*   It enriches those who receive without impoverishing those who give.

*   It happens in a flash, and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.

*   None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.

*   It creates happiness in the home, fosters goodwill in a business, and is the countersign of friends.

*   It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and nature's best antidote for trouble.

*   Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anyone until it is given away.

*   And if in the course of the day some of your friends should be too tired to give you a smile, why don't you give them one of yours?

*   For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!

Consider this

*   If I was guilty of a heinous crime.

*   And if I was caught.

*   And if I learned the righteous penalty for my crime was death.

*   And if I realized there was nothing to do to help myself.

*   And if as a result I was truly sorry for what I had done.

*   And if I determined in my heart of hearts that if just given the opportunity I would do my best to always do right in the future.

*   And if then my wish came true, but even beyond what I had wished for.

*   So that not only was my life spared but was prolonged such that I would never die.

*   And not only that but my life would become perfectly happy forevermore once I finished a probationary period.

*   And then I discover that what happened to me can happen to anyone that responds as I had responded.

*   Then, then…. Do you think I would have good reason to smile? To be happy? To share this good news with my family, my friends, even casual acquaintances?

*   Perhaps it could be said I even have an obligation to share this GOOD NEWS!

A man was driving through a mining region one Sunday when he noticed a large number of mules in an open field.  When he inquired about this unusual sight, he was told that the work animals had been brought up from the dark passages below to preserve their eyesight. Unless they were regularly exposed to the sunlight, they would eventually go blind.  The Christian needs similar experiences to keep him from losing his spiritual vision.

 

Brothers and Sisters, we are like those mules. We need to let our light shine or we will become blind. We need to let our light shine to help those around us from becoming blind.

 

A few words about light and the rainbow:

*   God instituted the rainbow, as a sign of a covenant that never again will God flood the earth. The rainbow reminds us of God and His promises.

*   The rainbow is used symbolize God Himself.

*   (Rev 4:3 NIV)  And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.

*   (Rev 10:1 NIV)  Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.

*   When pure white light is broken into its components we have the colors of the rainbow. God is that pure white light.

*   Therefore a rainbow is a fitting symbol of God’s presence! It can remind us that all though God is one He is beautiful in all His infinite expressions.

*   In other words white is not a color it is a summation of all colors.

*   Similarly black is not a color. It is the absence of color, which is the absence of light.

*   Imagine closing your eyes and then being taken to a very dark place where there is absolutely no light. Now open your eyes and tell me what you see. Answer: Nothing! No light and no color.

Is it any wonder then that light and especially white light is a universal symbol of righteousness and purity.

*   The bride dressed in white

*   The cowboy with the white hat on the white horse.

And black being the opposite of light and especially white light is a universal symbol of evil and corruptness.

*   The villain with his black cape and his black heart

*   The burden of being behind the eight ball

 

Let’s revisit (Mat 5:14-16 NIV)  "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. {15} Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. {16} In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Now here is a black and white question for each and everyone of us… Does Matthew 5:14 through 16 describe me?

*   How can I more fully cause Matthew 5:14 through 16 to apply to me?

*   How will I know if my light is increasing or extinguishing?

*   When will I become a blazing fire, a bright light that is the reflection of God in me?

*   And finally, what am I waiting for?

 

In our home Sherry lights the Hanukkah candles.  But they remind us not only of the miracle of the lights during the time of the Maccabees, but more importantly of the miracle of Christ, the light of the world that will never be extinguished.