Behold the most brilliant, promising, elemental Words spoken over the earth, as effective and powerful as they ever were: And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:3 NIV). It was God’s intention to invade the darkness with light in the beginning, a desire never abandoned, a point of poetic return throughout God’s Word. Today, as our Jewish friends celebrate Chanukah, this hope and possibility is upheld for all to see: God shines light miraculously!!
Trusting that the darkness will not overcome it brings hope, optimism, and creativity, especially in the most desperate situations. The promise of light is fuel, then, energizing our minds to watch for the way up, the way out, the work around, and the possible paths that He makes through the madness.
In particular, Chanukah reminds us to connect to the light of God’s Word, the Torah, and the illumination that comes through worshipping God, as the infamous one-day supply of lamp oil which lasted eight days was for the Temple lampstand.
“Now, order the Israelites to bring you pure, clear olive oil for light so that the lamps can be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, the area outside the curtain that veils The Testimony, Aaron and his sons will keep this light burning from evening until morning before God. This is to be a permanent practice down through the generations for Israelites.”
Exodus 27:21 The Message
While the original lampstand or menorah for the Tabernacle was decorated with almond blossoms, its structure resembles the branching of many types of salvia native to Israel. Salvia Judaica, S. palaestina, S. fruticosa, S. dominica are all species noted by Jo Ann Gardner, author of Seeds of Transcendence, growing in the Holy Land.* I was filled with joy this fall as my S. leucantha, Mexican bush sage, seemed to beckon me in its bursting bloom with this symbolism, miles and millennia away from the Chanukah miracle, yet teasing me with testimony. Our gardens offer perpetual reminders of our God in the most delightful ways!
You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.
2 Samuel 22:29 NIV
The Lord is our God, and he has given us light! Start the celebration! March with palm branches all the way to the altar.
Psalm 118:27 CEB
Light shining in the darkness moves much of our Christmas decorating, too, I believe. Who isn’t dazzled and uplifted by the little lights in the trees: Christmas trees, trees in the landscape; and lately all of those twinkly lights have come to adorn patios, outdoor dining areas, and cozy commercial streets all year long. Surely it is our soul’s cry for God’s prevailing light, deeply seated in our yearning for His mercy, justice, and glory, that sends us stringing little points of light everywhere!
Do you have a situation where darkness encroaches? Who doesn’t after a year like this?!? For the places in our lives and hearts that need to be infused and overcome with God’s warming light, let us wrap-up in His Words on the matter. O Lord, open and delight our eyes!
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
Isaiah 42:16 NIV
…open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in [Jesus].’
Acts 26:18 NIV
the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Matthew 4:16, quoting Isaiah 9:1-2 NIV
Then Jesus said, “I am light to the world and those who embrace me will experience life-giving light, and they will never walk in darkness.”
John 8:12 TPT
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
Psalm 27:1 KJV
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV
Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.
Micah 7:8 NIV
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
Psalm 119:105,130 NIV
Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
Isaiah 2:5 NIV
…giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
Colossians 1:12 NIV
For you are all children of light. You are sons and daughters of the day. We are not created of night, nor are we owned by darkness.
1 Thessalonians 5:5 VOICE
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9 NIV
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:7 NIV
Prayer: O Jesus, let us be happy in the gracious favor you give this day, with so many hearts seeking Yours. Your Word upheld in the Torah and Temple worship streams warming light to all, infusing us with the hope of your goodness—your mercy, justice, and glory. Let us watch for you, and wait patiently as you overcome darkness with your light. One day we will live in your light fully and completely, a forever day! Until then, O Lord, thank you for the fellowship we have with each other as we walk in your light.
Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.
Isaiah 60:20 NIV
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Revelation 22:5 NIV
*The cover of JoAnn Gardner’s book helped me to see the menorah structure in my Mexican bush sage this fall! Thank you, Lord, for her wonderful insight and dear fellowship! Read “The Blooming Menorah” chapter and more in Seeds of Transcendence: Understanding the Hebrew Bible Through Plants, by Jo Ann Gardner (Mount Vernon, New York, Decalogue Books, 2014) available at her website www.joanngardnerbooks.com and Amazon.com
Find a little background story on JoAnn’s book in the Book Review at More Bible Plant Books
Read more about our light-filled garden destiny in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible series of devotions on Revelation’s Urban Garden in the Garden Tour section, beginning on page a-20
©2013 Flickr Creative Commons by Counse Atlanta Botanical Gardens Christmas Lights (last image)
all others – ©2020 Shelley S. Cramm
CEB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Common English Bible © 2011 Common English Bible, Nashville, Tennessee. All Rights Reserved. The CEB translation was funded by the Church Resources Development Corp, which allows for cooperation among denominational publishers in the development and distribution of Bibles, curriculum, and worship materials.
KJV denotes Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, King James Version published in 1611, authorized by King James I of England, which is public domain in the United States.
The Message denotes Scripture quotations taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.
NIV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
TPT denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com
VOICE denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Voice™. Copyright © 2012 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.