Today we will look at the Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony.
Eight lights are lit in the Menorah, one for each night of Hanukkah. Most Menorahs burn candles, but some have wicks to burn oil, as did the Temple Menorah long ago.
A special candle, the shammas, is used to light the menorah candles. New candles are lit each night. A new shammas is lit each night, too. The shammas is lit first, and the Hanukkah candles are lit from it.
On the first night of Hanukkah, put the first candle at the right end of the Menorah, as you face it. On the second night two candles, three on the third night, and so on. Always light the newest candle first, then light the others, from left to right. Place the lighted Menorah in a window, so all may see and share the celebration.
Messianic Hanukkah Candle Lighting
Each night we recite three blessings, acknowledging God’s Lordship, power in working miracles, and sustaining us another year.
Then we acknowledge the Scriptural significance of each candle lit.
Shammash (Servant) Candle
Messiah Yeshua stated in Mark 10:44-45:
Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the servant of all. For
even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to
give His life a ransom for many.
Genesis 1:3-4 describes the creation of the first light:
God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that
the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
Exodus 13:21-22 reveals that God is the source of Israel’s light:
And the Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to
lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them
light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take
away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from
before the people.
What did we learn today?
First, God is Lord and in control of all things.
Second, we need to be servants, not demanding to be served. (Shammash candle)
Third, light was spoken into existence by God. Light is good. God separated the light from the darkness. (The first candle)
Fourth, God led the nation of Israel. He gave them literal light to lead them through the wilderness and spiritual light to lead them to Him. (The second candle)
Now we will look at the Dreidle and the Third candle.
One of the games played at Hanukkah is the Dreidle. It played a significant role during the persecution of the Jews.
“It is said that when King Antiochus would not let the Jews worship God, they prayed and studied secretly. Little wooden tops were kept on the tables with the Holy Books. When soldiers came into the houses to make sure the King’s orders were being followed, everyone pretended to be playing a game with spinning tops.
During the celebration of Hanukkah, children play with the four-sided top called a dreidle. There is a different Hebrew letter on each side. The letters stand for the words: “A great miracle happened there.” This refers to the victory of the Maccabees over the King’s army.” (Festival of Lights, The Story of Hanukkah)
King David reminds us that God Himself is the source of our own
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is
the defense of my life; whom shall I dread (Psalm 27:1)? For You light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness (Psalm 18:28).
In life, we may be told we cannot witness, read our Bibles, or speak about what we believe. It is then, we must learn to be creative. The Jews used a top. What can you use? The Scripture for today goes right along with this. I should have no fear because God is my defense. He will give us light in the midst of darkness. He will also give us creative ideas to communicate Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.
Interesting how a Jewish holiday, that a couple of days ago you knew nothing about, can be so helpful to our walk in Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow we will look at candles 4-6.