Interestingly, my study today 'happened' to coincide with the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, which is also called the Festival of Lights. This story is from the extra-Biblical Book of Maccabees in the Apocrypha. Though an entirely Jewish holiday, we see some wonderful symbolism in it that speaks of Jesus, our Light.
In the years before 165 B.C., the Jewish nation had been under the rule of the Greeks. A pagan king named Antiochus Ephiphanes had defiled the Temple and forced the Jews to abandon their faith. But a brave group of young men under the leadership of Judah Maccabee revolted and successfully overthrew the pagan rule. Judah headed up the work of cleansing the Temple and rededicating it in 165 B.C.
But when they restored the temple service, they found they only had enough holy oil to burn for one day, the rest of it having been defiled by the Greek invaders. This oil was a symbol of the eternal Presence of God, the Light of the World, and had been commanded by Him to never go out (Exodus 27:20-21). It would take a week to prepare and consecrate more oil. By faith they went ahead and lit the flame, and God miraculously kept it burning for eight days until more oil was prepared. Thus, the miracle of Hanukkah, which the Jews have celebrated ever since. It's interesting to note that Jesus Himself was present in the Temple on this day; the account is in John 10:22-23.
The beautiful picture above is the menorah, the lampstand in the Tabernacle where the holy oil was burned. It was made of pure gold and was the only light in the holy place. What a picture of the promised Messiah! Matthew speaks of Jesus as that fulfillment, referring to the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14:
"'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son,
and they shall call His name Immanuel', which is translated,
'God with us'."
Hear Jesus' words again about Himself:
"Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you;
he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.
While you have the light, believe in the light,
that you may become sons of light...
I have come as a light into the world,
that whoever believes in Me
should not abide in darkness."
(John 12:35-36, 46)
Jesus is the Light of the World!