Called to Be Light

Yael Eckstein  |  December 13, 2022

Grandparents and grandson light the menorah at Hanukkah.

I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
    and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
    to free captives from prison
    and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. —
Isaiah 42:6-7

This month, Jews around the world celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Enjoy this collection of my devotional teachings on this festival that Jesus celebrated (John 10:22) and explore the many lessons of faith that this observance has for Christians and Jews alike.

Of all the Jewish festivals, perhaps the best known is Hanukkah, mostly due to its proximity to Christmas. In fact, many Christians simply think of Hanukkah as a kind of Jewish version of Christmas. But Hannukah is a Jewish festival that commemorates events that took place before the dawn of Christianity, while still holding great relevance for Christians to this very day.

Hanukkah is a story of the Jewish people resisting an oppressive pagan regime that sought to destroy Judaism. It is a story of self-sacrifice, courage, and most of all, faith. The oppressive Assyrian-Greek regime did not seek to destroy the Jewish people in body; they were not trying to kill the Jews or wipe them out. Rather, the goal was to destroy the Jewish soul — their practices of faith and worship of the God of Israel.

The Jews were greatly outnumbered and overmatched militarily and culturally. The pagan Hellenistic Greek culture was sweeping the earth at that time. This godless worldview was seen as the progressive modern way of thinking. Judaism, with its biblical faith and practice, was seen as backward and irrelevant to the modern world.

Called to Be Light

What began as a culture war developed into a full-fledged military conflict. The small and overmatched Jewish fighters, the Maccabees, led a rebellion against the Hellenistic regime. And against all the natural odds, they prevailed. 

People of faith frequently feel as though we are outnumbered and overmatched. We are told that our beliefs and values are primitive and outdated. With the natural odds against us, we can feel like there is no way that the light of faith in God can defeat the darkness. Many feel that it would be easier to hide their faith and keep it a private matter.

But as Isaiah told the children of Israel, “I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”

Did you get that? We are called to be a light, to open the eyes of the spiritually blind. Our relationship to God is not meant to be a private matter. Like the Maccabees, we are called on to ignore the numbers, to ignore the fact that we appear to be overmatched, and to bring the light to the dark places of the world.

Your Turn:

Don’t let the darkness get you down. God has called us to bring light to the world. What can you do in your community to spread faith in Him to others?

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