As Hanukkah’s Candles, You are the Light of the World
In my last post about Hanukkah, I explored how the Hanukkah candles symbolize our light in the world and how we partner with God to bring light to the darkness. Our focus was on Isaiah 60:1-3. As I continued my research into the Hebrew words used in Isaiah 60:1, it gave me a deeper understanding into my true power as a light in the world.
Isaiah 60:1 reads, “Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.” In a literal Hebrew translation, this would read: “Arise-you! light-up-you! That he-came light-of you and glory-of Yahweh on you he-is-radiant.”
The Hebrew seemed to be a much stronger statement, especially the idea that Yahweh is radiant upon us. The original Hebrew word used here for “radiant” is “zarach” (Strong’s Hebrew word #2224.) It consists of three Hebrew letters — Resh, Zayin, Chet. In the Ancient Hebrew, in which the characters each have their own meaning, the meaning of these three characters together would bring to mind a picture of destroying the main enclosure.
I wondered what destroying an enclosure would have to do with radiant. As I thought about it more, I realized it was about breaking away the obstacle that is hiding the light, getting rid of the container around the light, so that it can shine. It seemed the perfect picture of what happened in the story of Gideon.
Defeating the Enemy with Light
You may remember the story from Judges 7 – The Midianites had been oppressing the Israelites for seven years. So much so that the Israelites hid in caves and hid their crops underground, so that they could have enough leftover after the Midianite raids of their homes and fields.
Gideon was the smallest man of the smallest clan of the smallest tribe of Israelites (the tribe of Menassah). God chose him to lead an Israelite army of 300 men to victory against the Midianites and the Amalekites – an absolutely supernatural victory!
You really have to read the whole story to appreciate God’s faithfulness and character. But for our context of God’s radiance shining upon us, I’ll highlight just a few verses.
Judges 7: 12, 16, 19, 21:
(12) “The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore….(16)Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, [Gideon] placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside…(19)Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands…(21)While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.”
This is a picture of “zarach,” God’s light radiating from his warriors. God instructed Gideon to arm his troops with trumpets and pitchers with torches inside. The light of the torches were enclosed by the pitchers, concealing the men in darkness. When they destroyed the pitchers enclosing the torches, that’s when the battle was won.
These Israelites had no physical weapons, the trumpets, torches and pitchers are spiritual weapons only. Furthermore, both hands were occupied with the implements – this band was not preparing to defend themselves. They blew the trumpets, broke the pitchers and stood there. This is God’s kind of battle – one that could never be won in physical terms, but demonstrates his glory and faithfulness to Israel beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Radiating God’s Glory
Since when can 300 torches defeat countless warriors? When God’s radiance is shining upon them. And that’s the kind of light radiating from us! Radiating God’s glory means destroying anything around our light that hinders it from shining. When we get rid of whatever obstacles are stopping us from fully shining God’s light, His radiance through us can light up the darkness and send the enemy fleeing. That’s what our Hanukkah candles represent.
Each night as you light your candles, let them be a reminder to keep your own spiritual fire lit on a daily basis through seeking God, obeying and following Him. Let them remind you to shine God’s light by breaking the pitchers – destroying anything that hinders His light. You are the light of the world!
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”