The people walking in darkness have seen a great light

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. Each night we light a candle to remember the rededication of the Temple after its desecration by Antiochus IV King of Syria in 167 BC. Hanukkah reminds us that light overcomes the darkness.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:2

About 600 years earlier, Isaiah had prophesied that a great light would shine during a time of darkness. In English, Isaiah 9 starts with the promise that God will honour Galilee of the Gentiles (in Hebrew this promise ends the previous chapter). During the time of Jesus, many different people groups lived in the Galilee region including the Roman occupiers, Syrians, Greeks and Jews.

Isaiah’s prophecy moves on to the mystery that God Himself would choose to intervene in human history and come to us as a child.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:6-7

So, as we light the candles for Hanukkah, we remember the light of the world whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.

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