Last night marked the first of the eight-day Festival of Lights.
If you go back to second century B.C.E., you find Israel in a state of cultural conflict — Jews vs. Greeks. The King of Syria, who happened to be in charge at the time, ordered everyone to become Greek in religion and culture.
“He outlawed the observance of the Sabbath, of Kosher laws, and of circumcision, subjecting violators to death. He desecrated the Temple by sacrificing pigs on the altar and putting up a statue of Zeus.” (Blech, Understanding Judaism)
For the Jews who put great value on being set apart from their Greek neighbors, this was cause for revolt. A Jewish priest and his five sons, the Maccabee family, led a rebellion to retake the Temple, but not without a miracle from God.
“In the Temple was a menorah, a lamp whose light was a symbol of God’s presence and of the holiness of His house…Unfortunately, as the Maccabees rededicated the Temple, they realized they had enough oil for only one day’s supply, and it would take them eight days to get a fresh, usable batch. They lit what they had and to their amazement, found that the little cruse of oil that should have been enough only for one day lasted for eight.” (Blech, Understanding Judaism)
Each night, Jewish families, will gather to light a candle on their menorah, until all are aglow on the eighth night. Each night, they will remember God’s provision.
Remembering how God works restores my soul. Just as He worked a miracle with the oil, He works miracles of provision in my life. Some are big. Some are small. Some I don’t even notice.
As we celebrate this Christmas season, how has God provided for you?
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1