Hanukkah is almost here! Each of the eight nights will begin with the lighting of the Hanukkiah, and here are a couple of devotional guides for Messianic believers as we celebrate Yeshua, the Light of the World, during this Festival of Lights.
Chanukah Devotional Guide for Messianic Believers
By Tenya Sharp Ingalls
Independently Published (2020)
A Hanukkah Devotional for Followers of Yeshua
By Darren N Huckey
Emet HaTorah (2017)
Light of Yeshua
A Chanukah Devotional Guide for Messianic Believers
by Tenya Sharp Ingalls
The author begins with a brief introduction looking at reasons why those who acknowledge Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah would want to celebrate Chanukah (Hanukkah) and at how the split from the Jewish roots of our faith came about. “When one begins to look at the symbolism and celebration of the feasts we think of as “Jewish,” one sees signs of the Messiah everywhere.” She believes the Chanukah tradition, inaugurated less than 200 years before the arrival of Yeshua, also points straight to Messiah. Chanukah “is to remind us through tradition and symbolism of God’s great plan for the redemption of mankind through Yeshua the Messiah.” Ingalls recounts the story of the Maccabees, the lighting of the Menorah with the miracle of the oil, and the relationship to a belated Sukkot.
This guide includes complete instructions for celebrating Chanukah according to rabbinic laws and traditions, revealing their purpose while recognizing that strict adherence is certainly not mandated. She describes several styles for a Chanukiah and even suggests a way to make one yourself. She points out traditions on where it should be placed and how it should be lit each night, complete with diagrams. Other traditions are also discussed.
But the real value in this book is the Chanukah Devotional section.
Ingalls offers a theme for each night including Scripture and a discussion. The focus is, as the title suggests, the Light of Yeshua as we are lighting each of the candles. Each day’s devotional concludes with lighting the Shamash (servant candle), reciting traditional blessings re-written to recognize Yeshua the Messiah, and then lighting the appropriate number of candles.
I was particularly encouraged by the author’s theme and devotional for the fifth night, which takes a close look at the Shamash or servant candle used to light the others. She first relates the Shamash to Yeshua who “came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 NLT). She continues, “Yeshua came to serve and showed us how to serve one another. The Shamash is for the work of lighting the other flames. It is from the servant candle that the others receive their light.”
Overall this is a very good, simple and well organized devotional for a Messiah-centered Hanukkah. It will appeal to Christians who may be new to this as well as Messianic believers (Ingalls points out that the terms Christian and Messianic have the same meaning coming from two different languages – Greek and Hebrew). Although I wasn’t thrilled that some of the Scriptures quoted from the NLT seem to express an antinomian bias, I still give this a good recommendation. It is my preferred choice for a Hanukkah devotional this year.
UPDATE: Light of Yeshua has been updated for 2020, with all Scripture passages now from the Tree of Life Version. This new edition is now available in paperback as well as a Kindle eBook. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle Reader app for your smartphone. Or, buy a Kindle or Fire tablet while they are on sale.
A Hanukkah Devotional for Followers of Yeshua
by Darren N. Huckey
This devotional also begins with an introduction to Hanukkah and is just a little more detailed than the previous book, Light of Yeshua. The author makes more of a distinction between the historical account in Maccabees and the legend of the oil found in the Talmud. He quotes from a number of rabbinic sources in addition to both Old Testament and New Testament scripture passages.
Huckey offers an overview of Hanukkah traditions including instructions for lighting the Hanukkiah. The blessings are printed in both transliterated Hebrew and in English. These are traditional blessings and do not contain any Messianic language or references to Yeshua. They are printed once in the overview/instructional section and not in the individual daily devotionals.
Each of the eight daily devotionals begins with a passage from the book of 1 Maccabees. The application of the passage is then taken from Bible passages from both the New and Old Testaments. Each day is centered around a single Hebrew word – ahavah, emunah, teshuvah, tzedekah, etc. The author offers a few discussion questions at the end of each daily devotional, making this an excellent guide for a family or small group gathering.
The last day is actually two Hebrew words – tikkun olam meaning “repair of the world.” The author states “Just as our Master repaired the damage in this world caused by sin, our job is to partner with him to continue this mission until his return. In fact, he taught us to pray, ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’ (Matthew 6:10).” He then draws on all of the words from the previous nights and brings them together as a foundation for tikkun olam.
This is again a well organized devotional for a Messianic observance of Hanukkah. It leans more toward traditional Jewish thought, but there is no question that Messiah Yeshua is the center and focus of the celebration. It doesn’t take long to read each daily devotional, and conversation around the discussion questions could be as simple or as complex as is appropriate for the setting. Besides the devotional material, this book contains the complete book of 1 Maccabees “modified from the Duoay-Rheims 1899 American Edition.”
Eight Lights is available in paperback (Prime shipping is offered) or as a Kindle eBook. Huckey is also the author of 5-Minute Torah and 5-Minute Torah Volume 2, popular devotionals on the weekly Torah Portions from a Messianic perspective. If you own a Kindle and use the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library or subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can borrow Eight Lights or 5-Minute Torah for free.