Tonight … ‘we’ light the eighth candle completing this important vigil of thanksgiving for the protective faithfulness of God’s grace and love. Eight (8) is symbolic of that which is above the natural order and the limitations imposed by it. Hanukkah commemorates the struggle of the Maccabean revolt against the Syrian/Greeks. Some commentators claim it was a fight for the survival of Judaism. 'All' agree that it was an objective that was outside the boundaries of human faith and courage. Victory required a miracle.
The Maccabees mounted an assault on Jerusalem to liberate it from the Greeks. They cleared the Temple of the idols brought in by the occupiers, rebuilt the altar and relit a makeshift Menorah to replace the gold one confiscated by their oppressors. With only one day’s pure oil left, they relit the Temple Menorah. It miraculously burned for eight (8) days. Those eight (8) days inspire strength and confidence in God's faithfulness. I often think about what the Jewish people have had to and continue to endure as a people group. I light the eight (8) candles tonight reflecting on the faith and endurance of the Jewish people, confident they will endure … because God has promised it. As Christians, we believe that we are “branches from a wild olive tree” but that through our common faith in the Living God that we “have been grafted in” and that we “receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God's special olive tree.” (Romans 11:17).
It is my faith in this presumption that has led me to celebrate with you. Know that I am grateful for the kindness shown the license taken by me with ‘our’ holiday and that I join you in thanking God for his faithfulness and for the protection of His people.
Happy Hanukkah. Praise be to God.