When dealing with politics, there is always something to observe, always something slightly different and sometimes even something new. Occasionally, there are some surprises, but even then, some surprises are often expected. For example, most political pundits expected that the coalition government in Israel would fall after the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the unaccepted “ultimatum” of members of the Jewish Home Party to have its chairman appointed as the new Defense Minister. Surprisingly, but not unexpectedly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged victorious, pulling an invisible rabbit out of a non-existing hat, resulting in his continuing to lead a paper-thin coalition of 61 members. All this, while holding four ministerial positions (3 temporarily) and while facing ongoing criminal investigations of possible misconduct in different areas while in office. On top of this, he manages to handle international diplomacy, while keeping his hand on the pulse of enemy activity from the Gaza Strip and from our not-so-distant cousins in Lebanon.
A year ago this week, the President of the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A ray of light began to shine in the darkness and since then, there have been many efforts made by the darkness to smother that light, without success.
Seventy-seven years ago on this date, the American naval base at Pearl Harbor was bombed. The following day, then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt began his speech to the U.S. Congress with the words that December 7th, 1941, is a date that will live in infamy forever.
Earlier this week, Jews around the world began to celebrate the festival of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights (Hag Ha’Ureem, in Hebrew). It commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the successful Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. It is celebrated for eight nights and days (there was evening and there was morning, one day) and observed by the lighting of a special nine-branched menorah called a “Hanukkiah”. On the first night, one candle is lit. On the second night, two candles, on the third night, three candles and so on until all eight candles are lit. There is a ninth candle called the Shamash, which is lit first. It is then used to ignite the other candles and so serves them and imparts its light to them. There are many traditions accompanying this particular joyful festival, which falls every year on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, that could be between late November to late December according to the Gregorian calendar.
I’ve read many stories of heroism and miracles during this past week. Of the many stories that are moving and which stir the emotions, there was one which a close friend shared with me this morning, which I would like to share with you. It is a special story about Hanukkah. It touched me and I believe it will touch you as well. It contains a message relating to darkness and light, of death and life, of determination to curse and of desire to bless. I have no doubt that most of you who read this post and will see this video will relate to it in one way or another. Its message for each individual should be clear. It speaks volumes and will undoubtedly remain long in our memories, particularly when we face difficulties and spiritual forces of wickedness. It deals with the Hanukkah Menorah and the Swastika. Please take a moment to look, to listen, to ponder and reflect and to acknowledge that light will always dispel the darkness.
I could easily share a sermon about Hanukkah. I’ve actually given such sermons in the past. Older Testament and Newer Testament combine to give the message that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. He proclaims that light will shine out of darkness and that light is the light of life.
For those who celebrate this festival of lights, may you do so with good health, with joy and with abundant blessings. For those who do not celebrate it, my prayer for you is that you will also experience good health, joy and abundant blessings.
Be assured that God’s Word is eternal. It is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths. It teaches and instructs us in the way that we should go. It helps our feet not to deviate from the path of obedience that leads to life and helps to guard our lips that our mouths would not speak evil. It is a mirror that reveals to us what we are really like and what He wants us to be like. And so, I find myself beginning a sermon that was not intended. I’ll leave it at this point.
May you enjoy a peaceful Sabbath’s rest.
Remember: Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.