The Festival of Lights

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Everyone has a favorite holiday - one that brings smiles to his or her heart.

My favorite holiday is Hanukkah. I like everything about it -- the sparkling candles, the presents, the food, the songs, and of course, the wonderful childhood memories.

It's a joyous holiday.

The only thing I don't like is that it's over too quickly. The eight days go by too fast.

Already tonight, the 28th day of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, we'll light three candles on our Hanukkiot (plural of Hanukkiah), the eight-branched, plus one, candelabras used during the Festival of Lights.

Hanukkah is also known as the Feast of Dedication because the Second Jewish Temple was cleansed and rededicated.

History records that a small band of Israelites decided they'd had enough when the Syrian Greeks defiled the Temple, erecting a statue of their god and defiling the altar by sacrificing a pig on it.

Against tremendous odds, this small group of freedom fighters began the battle in prayer.

Trusting God to help them defeat their enemies, they chalked up victory after victory, using guerilla warfare tactics, until they recaptured the Temple and kicked the pagan imposters out.

That's enough reason for Jewish hearts to rejoice.

From the beginning of its history, Israel has been outnumbered and outflanked by our enemies -- no less so today.

The story of Judah Maccabee and his small band of fighters still inspires Israelis.

The tiny nation of Israel, which just celebrated the 60th anniversary of its rebirth is surrounded by Arab countries, many that have yet to recognize its right to exist as a Jewish state.

Recently, they offered that recognition in exchange for ceding all the territory that came under Israeli sovereignty in the Six Day War, effectively reducing Israel to indefensible borders.

And most of the rest of the world has jumped on the bandwagon.

The United Nations, of which Israel is a member in good standing, rarely produces anything that remotely favors Israel. On the contrary, the UN Security Council almost always holds Israel responsible for whatever occurs. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Meanwhile, it's Hanukkah and, as always, there's much to be thankful for and plenty of hope for the future.

The Jewish prophets -- Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, to name a few -- meticulously recorded God's promises to Israel.

And the Old Testament records the history of God's faithfulness to the people He designated as His own.

Those planning to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth are facing an awesome Opponent!

On Hanukkah, we celebrate Israel's destiny, only partially fulfilled, to be a light to the nations.

The Jewish people -- a tiny percentage of the world's population -- have blessed humanity disproportionately in medical and scientific breakthroughs, in the performing arts, high tech, agriculture …the list goes on and on.

When we light our Hanukkiot, we remember the miracle of that first Feast of Dedication when a one day's supply of oil -- needed to relight the Temple menorah -- lasted eight full days until more oil could be prepared.

Most importantly, the candles remind us that the light of the Lord dispels the growing darkness of the world around us.

Happy Hanukkah!

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Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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