(Click to play Marty Goetz Hanukkah song)
Eight Days of Light
December 1 - December 8, 2010


I f there is one people group in the whole world who know how to celebrate, it is the Jewish people. In the book of Leviticus, chapter 23, God Himself instructs the descendants of Ya'acov (Jacob) to observe eight special time periods each year in honor of something He has done for them. As one Jewish writer put it, these are "seasons of our joy." In addition, outside the Torah, the biblical book of Esther instructs the Jewish people to observe still another happy occasion commemorating God's deliverance of the Jews from pagan oppression and persecution, the holiday known as Purim. Then, there is Hanukkah. This celebration is not commanded in the Bible, yet it is certainly one of the most well-known of all the Jewish holidays.

The story of Hanukkah teaches us about a group of men who were dedicated to God, intent on observing His commandments, living His Word, and serving Him in His holy Temple. Today we can learn much from this ancient family who resisted the ways of the Greek influence on their society.

December 1, 2010

"This Time and This Season"

The story of Hanukkah is found in I Maccabees, especially Chapter 4. This could also be done from one of many children's books about Hanukkah.

Ask Questions:
Q:Have all understood the story?

Q: What problems did the Jewish people face? From whom?

Q: Who were some of the Jewish heroes?

Q:Why were they heroes?

Q: Why do we light lights on Hanukkah?

It is important that we remember what God has done for us in the past because, in doing so, we remember God!

Psalm 145:1-7

Thank God for bringing us safely to this time and this season and for blessing us along the way.

"Melech Ozer" and/or "Maoz Tsur"

December 2, 2010

"He That Keeps Israel" Briefly recount the historical events leading up to the first Hanukkah.

I Maccabees 4: 30-59.

The difference between the biblical, God-given holidays and other celebrations such as Hanukkah. For example: 'As Messianic believers, we want to be faithful to celebrate the festivals and to observe the special days God gave us in the Scriptures. But there are other good festivals, too. One such festival is Hanukkah, as it has to do with the history of the people of Israel and God's relationship with us."

Ask Questions:
Q: Why do you think it is good, especially for Messianic believers, to celebrate Hanukkah?

Q: What can Hanukkah teach us about God? About His grace?

Thank God for His grace and for keeping us eternally with Him.

"He That Keepeth Israel"

Day Three
December 3, 2010

"Israel That Keeps Him"

What does it mean to be dedicated? This would be a good place to make practical applications for your children. Talk about dedication and its importance in all areas of their lives.

The title for this holiday is derived from Numbers 7:4 which recounts the. dedication of the tabernacle in the time of Moses.

Ask Questions:
Q: What does it mean to be dedicated to God? (Emphasize the concept of God being the most important priority and first in every area of our lives.)

Q: Can things, as well as people, be dedicated to God? Explain.

Q: Go over Psalm 95:7 and Romans 12:1-2.

Talk to God about your desire to be dedicated. Ask Him for help in specific areas.

Ask Him for hearts and minds like the Maccabees. Pray that you can be dedicated to preserving and living the ways and Word of God in today's ungodly society.

"Come into the Holy of Holies"

December 4, 2010

"He Has Done Great Things"

What was the real miracle at Hanukkah? To understand what we mean by this question requires a more of a lengthy explanation. We will do our best to be as concise as possible.

There is good historical evidence that the Hanukkah legend concerning the miracle of the burning oil never happened! The story says that when the Jewish people wanted to light the great menorah in the newly dedicated Temple during the Maccabean revolt, there was only enough oil to last one day. But God did a miracle! He caused the oil to last eight days, long enough to purify more oil.

The problem with the above story is that none of the most ancient sources for the history of Hanukkah (I, II Maccabees and Josephus) mention the above miracle. That does not mean that it never happened. It just means that the earliest and best sources for the history of Hanukkah never mentition it. The miracle is first mentioned in the Talmud, compiled about five or six hundred years after the first Hanukkah.

Having said that this miracle of the light probably never happened, does not mean that there was no miracle at Hanukkah. Indeed, there was a great miracle! It was both a spiritual and a military miracle. First, the greatest miracle was that in that increasingly assimilating and hellenistic Jewish society, there rose up a family of faithful Torah-observant, God-fearing Jews who made a courageous stand against those who were ignoring the Covenant of God. But not only did Mattathias encouraged his own family to live for the Lord, they also, in turn, were able to inspire others in their nation to do so. In the end, God honored that courage and that dedication to Him.

The second miracle came on the battlefield. The Maccabees and their followers were vastly outnumbered, out-equipped, and out-trained by their Antiochian enemies. Yet, through courage, smart tactics and faith in their God, the Lord granted them the miraculous military victory they needed.

What about the eight days? Hanukkah was celebrated for eight days, not necessarily because of a supposed miracle of oil, but because as the Maccabees hid in the hills and bravely fought the enemies through their guerrilla warfare, they were not able to celebrate Sukkot. Therefore, when they celebrated their victory in Jerusalem, they included in their celebrations the eight-day celebration of Sukkot.

Back to our initial question, therefore. What was the real miracle at Hanukkah? The answer is that God granted both a spiritual and a military victory to those who were dedicated to Him. As we celebrate Hanukkah, what other miracles can we remember? What other great works has the Lord do for which we can sing praises to His Name?

The great things God did for the Maccabees.

Ask Questions:
Q: Can we expect God to do whatever is necessary to help us when we choose to serve Him, even in the face of great danger? Explain.

Q: Relate the times in your life when this has happened for you.

Q: What purposes was God accomplishing when He did those things for the Maccabees? For you?

Praise God and thank Him, for He has done great and mighty things throughout all of history!

"Great and Wonderful"

December 5, 2010

"Bondservants of Yeshua"

Single out the Shamash, the servant candle, you use to light the rest of the candles. Use it as an object lesson...

Point out that the Shamash pictures the Messiah. This special candle is used to give the other candles their light. In the end, it is given a separate place, a place of honor. So it is with us who are servants of Messiah: we are to give ourselves to Him for His use, and when He returns He will give us honor!

Romans 6:11-23 and discuss:

  • We were slaves/servants to sin.
  • Now in Yeshua we are servants to the Lord.

Ask Questions:
Q:What does this candle do?

Q:What is it called?

Q:Why do you think it is placed apart from all the rest of the candles?

The Shamash is a great illustration for what the servant of the Lord is.

Q:What do servants do?

Q:Why are servants separate from others?

Ask God to help you to yield yourselves to righteousness and to continue to serve the Lord.

"Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord" and/or "Let Us Exalt His Name Together"

December 6, 2010

"So Others Can See and Know"

It is traditional for Jews to place the menorah in a window so that others may see and know that their home is a Jewish home.

As Messianic believers who understand the importance of commemorating the fact that God is a God who goes before His people in battle, we too can put our menorahs in the windows of our homes. We are His "called-out ones," called to stand out as lights in a dark world, the living stones of His Temple dedicated to His service. We can stand courageous and strong against the ever-present powers of assimilation that endlessly seek to make us put a "bushel over our light."

We are to stand up to these "armies" and say, "We are the people of the living God!" We are to know as Yehoshna knew, "no one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life" (Joshua 1:5). No matter what the army facing us looks like, we will not back down from who we are called to be-the "called-out ones" of the living God, to Him be the glory and power for ever and ever. Amen!

Ask Questions:
Q:Why is it important for people to know we are dedicated to being a light in a dark and evil world?

Q:How can we let people know what He has done for us?

Q:Discuss this whole theme in light of Matthew 5:14-16 and Acts 1:8.

For at least one person you know who doesn't yet know Yeshua.
Pray for those in the land of Israel.
Pray that we all as Messianic believers will embrace the Torah to live it.And we will again "see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." (Malachi 3:18)

"I Will Talk To My Brothers"

The word Maccabee is an acrostic created by joining the first letters of the words in their battle cry, which they displayed on their banner Mi Camocha Ba'elim, Adonail "Who is like Thee, among the gods,oh Lord?"
December 7, 2010

"With Gladness and Joy"

Review the story again. Emphasize the gladness and joy the people had when God granted them victory over their enemies and permitted them to rededicate the Temple. Re-read I Maccabees 4:59 where it says "all the congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the rededication of the altar should be observed this season.. .with gladness and joy."

Romans 12:1-2

Ask Questions:
Q: What does it mean for our lives to be "a living sacrifice"?

Q:What does our spiritual service of dedication/worship to God consist of?

Q:What is the real source of our joy? John 17:13 (Read the whole of John 17.)

Pray using expressions of joy, praise, adoration and thanksgiving to the Lord for the joy of knowing Messiah Yeshua.

Sing:"Then Shall the Virgin Rejoice" and "The Trees of the Field." Try some fun family dancing

Dreidel: Is a game played by Jewish people all over the world which dates back to the time of the Maccabees. Traditionally the four-sided dreidel has the Hebrew letters: Nun, Gimel, Heh, and Shin. The game serves as a reminder of the Hanukkah miracle, and the letters represent the phrase Nes Gadol Haya Sham or "A great miracle happened there. In Israel, on all the dreidels the Shin is replaced with a Pey, which changes the phrase to Nes Gadol Haya Po or "A great miracle happened here."
December 8, 2010

"The Light of the World"

What have you learned these past eight days? Talk about applying the things we have learned to our lives.

John 1:1-14. What does this passage call Yeshua? What does verse 9 mean when it says Yeshua gives light to everyone?

Ask Questions:
"With all the candles lit, what thing we have plenty of?" (Light!!)

Q:What are some things light does for us?

Q:What happens to darkness in the presence of light?

Turn out all household lights,have everyone look at the menorah lights and pray to know yourself as shining lights for Yeshua.

You might want to conclude by singing "Hatikva," the Israeli national anthem.

This in another Devotional by First Fruits of Zion: Light in the Darkness

From First Fruits of Zion Magazine
Reprinted with permission.
Copyright © 1999
First Fruits of Zion Ministries