As Christians the traditions associated with Hanukkah are unfamiliar. However, this annual celebration of the rededication of the Temple is filled with Messianic hope. What many Jews celebrate with hope yet to come, we can commemorate as a memorial to the LORD’S Messiah, Jesus Christ.
As we begin to understand some of the Jewish traditions passed down through the generations we can see clearly see Jesus. So many are blinded to the truth. As Paul wrote, “if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. . . their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away” (2 Cor. 4:3-4, 14).
One tradition that clearly points to Jesus is the nightly lighting of the hanukkiah, a special nine branch menorah. Each night of Hanukkah, from right to left, another candle is lit. Often the hanukkiah is placed within a window to be seen from the road. The purpose lighting the candles was therefore not to provide light within the house, but rather to illuminate the darkness outside so passersby might see the light and have hope.
The hope for a Messiah is found within the shamash, the servant or helper candle. Often the at the center (although some hanukkiah elevate the servant candle on the right end) is in many traditions the first candle lit. It is then from the servant candle that all the others receive their light.
Jesus is the LORD’S helper who is the light of the world. Jesus said, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” and “I am the light of theworld. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness” (Mk. 10:45; Jn. 8:12).
In the same way the servant candle provides light to all the other candles on the hanukkiah, Jesus, the LORD’S servant not only give us light to see and have hope, but He also makes a light light to shine in a dark world. He said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house” (Mt. 5:14-15).
Paul said that Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Php. 2:7-8). And so in this our season of dedication let us light candles not only to remember Jesus who came as the light of the world leading us out of the darkness of sin, but let us also dedicate ourselves to shine brightly so our watching world might see and find hope in Christ Jesus our Messiah who is Savior and LORD.
Join me here at LivingItNow.org beginning December 24th through the 31st for a nightly reminder of Jesus the LORD’s Servant and a prayer of dedication to faithfully follow in His footsteps.