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Hello, friends! Did everyone have a good Christmas? I'm hanging out up in northern Minnesota with my family. Everyone around here is very whiny because it's been 40 degrees, and there have been no snow storms. For normal people, this is good news. For Minnesotans, this is tragic because you can't snowmobile or cross country ski or ice fish or secretly be proud of how tough you are for living on the frozen tundra.
So Christmas is over, but there's one night left of Hanukkah! I've been celebrating the holiday this year — mainly by lighting the menorah and saying the Hebrew blessing each night. Hanukkah was not a holiday commanded by God because it did not originate until well after the Law. During the intertestamental period (the time in between the Old and New Testaments), the land of Israel was taken over by the Seleucids. Antiochus Epiphanes, the Greek ruler during that time, eventually decided that he wanted the Jews to become more Hellenized and less Jewish. So he outlawed Sabbath observance and started worshipping false gods in the temple in Jerusalem. One day the Greeks were about to make a Jewish man sacrifice a pig when an old priest named Mattathias had enough. He and his sons — the Maccabees — started a revolution through guerrilla warfare. They were successful and drove the Seleucids out of Israel. Once they reclaimed the temple, they found only enough oil to light the temple menorah for one day. However, it miraculously burned for eight. Thus, Hanukkah!
This is one of the more well-known Jewish holidays, mainly because it always falls right around Christmas. It is not necessarily the most meaningful of the holidays, but we do see Jesus celebrating it in the New Testament — the Light of the World celebrating the Festival of Lights.
I've been celebrating all of the biblical holidays this year, and they have been so meaningful to me. I love knowing what holidays Jesus experienced; I love knowing what God wanted His people to spend time remembering and commemorating, and it's fascinating to see how these holidays have their own deep meanings in the Old Testament and the way Jesus brings new fulfillment to them through the new covenant.
So last night we lit the Hanukkah candles, and I read the collection of verses from my Jewish holiday book (yes, I am weird).
"For the path of the righteous is as the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until full day. Light is sown for the righteous, radiance for the upright. O you righteous, rejoice in the Lord and acclaim His holy name. The people that walked in darkness have seen a brilliant light; on those who dwelt in a land of gloom light has dawned. For all the Israelites enjoyed light in their dwellings. Arise, shine, for your light has dawned; the Presence of the Lord has shone upon you! O House of Jacob! Come, let us walk by the light of the Lord" (Prov. 4:18; Ps. 97:11-12; Isa. 9:1; Exod. 10:23; Isa. 60:1; 2:5).
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Comment by rachael:
Um... Not supposed to light all the candles until tonight... Oh. I just checked your blog. You´re doing it right. Yay! And you spelled Hanukkah the way I like best. Happy Hanukkah!
Comment by Elisha:
Happy Hannukkah, Rachael!
Happy Hannukkah, Denise!
Comment by Sunny:
Thank you, Denise, for sharing your Hanukkah experience with us. Your celebration of the Jewish holidays inspires me to do the same in the coming year.
I like the picture, by the way. The Scripture readings brought me to tears. What a beautiful thing it is to read,
"Arise, shine, for your light has dawned; the Presence of the Lord has shone upon you!"
And it is wonderful to remember that Jesus celebrated all of those holidays. Enjoy your snow-less time in Minnesota! ;)
Comment by DG:
Happy Hanukkah to you too Denise! :-)
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