“And may your hearts be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.” — 1 Kings 8:61
Jews around the world just completed the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights. We complete this series of devotional teachings on this festival that Jesus celebrated (John 10:22) with a final lesson to take with us into the New Year.
Hanukkah is a time of rededication. In fact, that’s what the word Hanukkah means — rededication. After the military victory of the Maccabees over their oppressors, the people immediately began the process of cleaning out the Temple of idols and paganism and rededicating it to God. And whenever a ceremony for rededication was conducted in biblical times, it always lasted eight days — another reason why we Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days.
Hanukkah is also an opportunity for us to rededicate and purify ourselves before God. We see this modeled during the dedication service and prayers offered by King Solomon when the very first Temple was completed 480 years after the Israelites had escaped from Egypt.
After seven years, the building of God’s Holy Temple of Jerusalem was completed, and King Solomon summoned everyone to assemble in Jerusalem for the dedication of this place where God’s presence would dwell on earth. But it was more than just a dedication of a building. It was also an opportunity for the people to rededicate themselves to God’s service.
Following his prayer of dedication for the Temple (1 Kings 8:23-61), King Solomon offered a blessing for the people of Israel in which he had five basic requests: 1) for God’s presence with His people (8:57); 2) for the desire to do God’s will in everything (8:58); 3) for the desire and ability to obey all of God’s commands (8:58); 4) for help with daily needs (8:59); and 5) for people everywhere to know the one true God of Israel (8:60). And as he concluded his blessing, Solomon encouraged the people that their hearts would be fully committed to God and living for Him.
What a wonderful prayer for us as well! Solomon’s requests are as appropriate today as they were in586 B.C.E. when the Temple was completed. What wonderful verses to read and use in rededicating ourselves to God during this season.
I challenge you to read Solomon’s blessing in 1 Kings 8:56–61 and to reflect on each of these requests. Make Solomon’s petitions your own as you rededicate yourself to obeying God and doing His will. Ask for God’s presence in your own life and for His help in meeting your daily needs. And pray with all God’s people that His name and His kingdom will be known throughout the world.
Finally, let us ask God to help us commit our hearts fully to Him during this celebration of rededication.