The Tradition of the Eight Days and God’s Faithfulness
by Neal H. Surasky
One of the sweetest experiences of Hanukkah is lighting the menorah. We light one candle the first night, and add another candle every night until the menorah is filled with nine lit candles. If you were to ask, “Why eight days?” you would likely get some variation of a story about oil that lasted longer than it should. You might hear the story of King Solomon and the Temple that he built for God. However, no matter whom you ask or which story you are told, it would always tell of the faithfulness of God.
According to the legend, the Jewish people took back the Temple after a three-year battle. The Temple was in complete disarray. The small group of Levitical priests, who reclaimed the most important building in Jewish culture, were only able to find enough oil to last one day. It would take eight days to make a new batch of oil, so they had to decide what to do. They were faithful to their responsibility as priests, and lit the menorah. God was faithful to keep that lamp burning until the new batch of oil was finished.
According to the Bible, King David had a desire to build a Temple for God. However, God promised David that his son would build it. “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:13). When that time came, and God’s house was completed, they dedicated it for eight days (1 Kings 8). Solomon’s prayer of dedication begins, “O Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart” (1 Kings 8:23).
Whether we celebrate the eight days that the oil lasted, or the eight days of the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, we celebrate God’s faithfulness. But the greatest showing of God’s faithfulness is not in the oil, nor in the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. The greatest showing of God’s faithfulness is in Yeshua, the Messiah. Through His act of faithfulness, Yeshua has built in us a house for God’s name. This same act of faithfulness has kindled a light in us that will not burn for eight days, but will last for all eternity!
Please pray with me.
Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness to us. Even when we turn away, You are faithful. And because of Your faithfulness, we have been reclaimed, cleansed, and dedicated to You. We are grateful that Your light never goes out, nor grows dim. Help us to shine that light in this world as a sign of Your faithfulness to us, and to all of Israel. In the name of Yeshua, amen.