Living Worship in a Living Temple
The Fifth Night of Chanukah:
A New Way to Kindle the Chanukah Lights
What is the Festival of Chanukah? It is the Feast of Dedicating the Holy Temple of Israel back to a holy God.
Many have told the story that the great miracle which happened there that the one day’s oil kept the light of the Menorah glowing for eight days. Many say that this is the reason that the Feast of Dedication is celebrated for eight nights.
Others say that the reason the Feast of Dedication was eight days long is that the people had not had a chance to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles while Antiochus was in the land. The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated for eight days. When the little armies of the Maccabee (the Hasmonean) brothers took back the Temple, it is possible that the priests decided to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles when the Temple was cleansed and ready–on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev.
Because the Lampstand is an important part of the Temple, it is an important part of Chanukah. Whatever happened that year, it was a miracle done by the God of Israel. He is the true hero of Chanukah. We remember His great love and miracles for His people, and for us, at the season of Chanukah; we celebrate by lighting a special Chanukah menorah each night for eight nights. Unlike the Menorah which stood in the Holy Place of the Temple, this Chanukah menorah has nine lamps on it: one is a “Servant” candle with which to light the other eight.
Before You Begin…
There are three principal symbols of Chanukah, the Feast of Dedication:
- The people of Israel—a people dedicated to the God of the Bible…
- The Holy Temple of the Bible…
- The Lampstand in the Holy Temple…
What Torah Says – The People of Israel
The historical account of the Hebrew Scriptures shows that one true and living God took one family among all men on earth to become an entire nation dedicated and set apart to know Him and to bless all other nations on the earth with the knowledge of Him. Biblical history also shows that God took one tribe from among all the tribes of Israel to serve as His priestly ministers among them. This was the tribe of Levi, the third son of Jacob’s 12 sons. Of the two surviving sons of the tribe of Levi who came out of Egyptian bondage, God made two orders of priestly ministers: Aaron’s sons were made the ministers of the Holy Place. They and their descendancy would stand as mediators and intercessors between the people and a holy God through the atoning sacrifices on the altar. Moses’ sons and their descendancy were given as a gift to Aaron and his sons. Their duties were to be the carrying of the Tabernacle and care of the furnishings and garments for the sons of Aaron. The entire priestly tribe was to be dedicated as shepherds or teachers for His people—Jewish people and non-Jewish people who wanted to learn of Him and belong to Him. The priests were given the job of reading the Word of God and showing it and speaking it to God’s people. Like good shepherds, they were to be “dedicated” to their sheep. They were to keep the people of Israel close to hearing the voice of the Lord who is their Great Shepherd. They were to keep the people of Israel dedicated to God, their Great Shepherd. As sheep learn to be dedicated to their shepherd, the people of Israel were to listen and obey the voice of their Great Shepherd. If the priests ever made the foolish choice of turning their hearts away from hearing the voice of their Great Shepherd, God’s sheep would soon turn away, too.
Reader, do you understand the weight of privilege and responsibility to a people who had encountered the power and majesty and glory of the living God before their eyes and heard with their ears? Whatever your spiritual persuasion, the record of Biblical history records that this people were a dedicated people. Their lives and heritage were much more than bagels and potato latkes and little spinning dreydels. Many traditions have risen in the celebration of this season, and most of them overshadow the clear historical fact that what the armies of Israel fought and bled and died to regain was the way of life which the true and living God had given them centuries before. Chanukah is about dedication of one’s life to the only true and living God.
1 Corinthians 6.19-20 reminds all who believe in Messiah Yeshua that a great miracle has happened in them. Faith in the Lord Jesus has made them living temples—temples alive with the Holy Spirit: “…Do you not know that your body is the temple of Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s!”
Dedicate Your Ears: A native American Indian once astonished a New Yorker with his practiced ability to hear a cricket chirping in mid-town Manhattan during the normal din of the business day. The noise and clamor of this world can easily drown out the sounds we were created to hear and enjoy—especially the still, small voice of your Great Shepherd. How are you training the ears God has sanctified for His glory?
The Shepherd’s Voice:
- Deuteronomy 6.5
- Proverbs 19.27
- Isaiah 55.3
- John 10.27
Kindle the Fifth Light:
Say a New Blessing: “Blessed are You, O LORD, our God, King of the universe! Whose ears always hear the cry of your children. Who gave me ears to hear the wonderful sounds of your creation and the voices of those who love me. I dedicate my ears to You, O Lord. Protect them from the unholy noises of this world that exalt sin, teach lies mingled with truth, and do not glorify You. Make my ears eager to hear the teaching and correction of my elders, according to Your Word. In the Name of Yeshua the Messiah, my Lord and my Light. Amen.”
As oil was the precious fuel that kept the Light of Israel burning in the darkness, may the time you spend in the Word of God this season fill you to overflowing with His Oil of Joy to keep your lamp burning brightly in the darkness. And as you give your mind and heart to the Voice of Your Great Shepherd in His Word, may this precious celebration of Yeshua, the Light of the world kindle in your life a new found fire of dedication to your Great Shepherd.
[Excerpts from: A Celebration of Chanukah – The Feast of Dedication: Living Worship in a Living Temple, by Patricia Stachew, copyright 1994; and Chanukah and the Feast of Messiah, by Patricia Stachew, copyright 2003: Stillwaters Publications, Reston, VA. All rights reserved]