Last year my family did something a bit different over Advent. We wanted to study a bit about some of the Jewish traditions that Jesus observed. While researching some history, I came across a time that Jesus was speaking to some unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem. This was in the winter at the time of the Festival of Dedication, another name for Hanukkah.
Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, or at least observed it.
John 10:22-30 NIV
Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
There are many posts out there about why Christians can or even should celebrate this festival, but more importantly we need to recognize that the time of the Maccabees, although silent in Scripture, provided a great opportunity for believers to demonstrate their faith in God. We can recognize this faithfulness and miracle as a testament of humility and faith that we can observe each year as well.
There are several verses in Scripture that can be used to reflect upon the Lord’s faithfulness to us. Here are eight inspiring verses to be read during the holiday and a short devotion.
Night One: The Lord is Our Light
A light to His people, Jesus shows us the way when we’re in doubt, when in need of comfort, in times of joy, and in times of sorrow. Jesus’ light shines on our path and we can walk in that hope forever.
Isaiah 60:19 NIV The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
Night Two: The Word is Our Light
Jesus is the Word that was made flesh, and dwelt among us in His humanity. His words are a lamp that provides the way in the light.
Proverbs 6:23 NIV For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life
Night Three: We Should Be a Light to Others
Let our lives and faith shine so brightly and point to the source of our light, Christ Jesus. Let us be set high on a hill so that we may not be hidden. Let us illuminate the truth and give light to others.
Matthew 5:16 NIV In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Night Four: The Light of the Body is the Eye
No longer walk in darkness, but walk with your eyes wide open to the truth found in the light of The Lord.
Acts 26:18 NIV to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Night Five: The Messiah is the Light of the World
Jesus is the light of the world. God is light and Jesus is God’s humanity.
John 1:4-5 NIV In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Night Six: Paul Saw the Light
God has produced a mighty change in your soul and you have come into the light, Jesus Christ.
Acts 26:16-18 NIV ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Night Seven: If Christ is Your Light, You are No Longer in the Darkness of This World
As we walked in the darkness, we lived in destitution. When we came to faith, we became illuminated by the word and the Spirit of God came upon us. Walk as children of the light, as the chosen people. Walk in the marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9 NIV But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Night Eight: We Need to Shine
Let your light shine before men. Glorify Him in all that you do.
Philippians 2:14-16 NIV Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
Here is a great resource for your family if you are interested in learning about the Jewish holidays and how to incorporate Scripture reading into these days.
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