This week we are celebrating the eight-day festival of Hanukkah. It's a special time of lighting candles, telling stories of miracles in the temple, and Jewish heroes of old. There are also chocolate coins, spinning tops, and donuts! As a child, it's unlikely Jesus had the same Hanukkah experience as Jewish children today, but we know that He did celebrate Hanukkah, also known as the Feast of Dedication.
"At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple..." (John 10:22)
Dr. Erez Soref, President
of ONE FOR ISRAEL
"A GREAT MIRACLE HAPPENED HERE!"
What was the great miracle?
The story told is that in 165 BC, the Jewish Maccabees rose up against the Greeks who had banned all Jewish practice, defiled the temple, and even put their own idols in it. When the Maccabees finally reclaimed (rededicated) the temple, there was only a day's supply of lamp oil for the temple menorah, but it supernaturally lasted for 8 days! I heard someone say it's like having your phone battery down to 10%, but it somehow keeps going for 8 days!
In Jewish communities around the world today, the oil miracle is celebrated with lots of oily food like donuts (sufganiot) and fried potato latkes, and children play games with a spinning top (called a dreidel) with the first letters of the words “A great miracle happened there” on each side: נ-ג-ה-ש (Ness Gadol Hiya Sham). In Israel, however, the dreidel’s letters spell נ-ג-ה-פ (Ness Gadol Hiya Po) “A great miracle happened HERE”. There are many great themes in the Feast of Dedication for those who love Yeshua.
Whether it was Moses with his staff or the little boy with a picnic lunch of five loaves and two fish, somehow God likes to start with the little that we’ve got in our hands; practically, materially, emotionally, and spiritually. He wants us to join in with the miracle-making, to work with him, and to contribute to the process. It would require great faith to sacrifice the only thing she had left in her house – a single jar of oil – along with some physical action (not to mention a degree of humility) to go and ask around for all those jars.
“Go borrow for yourself vessels from all your neighbors—empty jars—not just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and behind your sons, and pour into all those vessels, setting aside what is full.” Elisha’s instructions contain one sentence that seems a little strange. “Go inside and shut the door behind you and behind your sons.” Why?