1. Lighting your Menorah. Tonight we continue our celebration of Hanukkah. Let’s begin by lighting the middle candle in your Menorah, the shamash, and three candle on the far side.
2. The Call of Abram. Read Genesis 12 – 14. Here we have the account of one of the greatest patriarchs in all of the Bible, Abram. The account begins with G_d calling Abram from his homeland in modern day Iraq, and travel to a new country which is modern day Israel. This account starts off with one of the great blessings in all the bible. As you read these chapters, what impresses you most about Abram? In what ways might Abram be an encouragement to you?
3. The Abrahamic Covenant with the Blazing Torch and Smoking Firepot. Read Genesis 9:1 – 9:17. Here we read about the third covenant that G_d made with all mankind for all time. Theologians refer to this third covenant as the Abrahamic Covenant. G_d covenants with Abram that he will have a son in his old age. When Abram asks for a sign, G_d tells Abram to choose animals, cut them in half and allow their blood to run down a trench between them. In Abram’s time this was a well known type of covenant referred to as a Blood Covenant.
The Blood Covenant was made between two parties to a contract. Once a contract was made, the two parties would exchange copies of their contract. They would then cut up animals and allow their blood to run down into a trench between them. Then each party to the contract would walk through the trench of blood to signify that “if I break my promise, you can do this to me. Cut me in half and walk through my blood.”
Abram cuts up the animals but does not want to walk the blood trench. He knows he cannot uphold his end of the deal with G_d. So in Genesis 15:17, G_d walks through the blood trench once as a blazing torch and once again as a smoking firepot. In other words, G_d walks through twice, once for Himself and once for Abram.
The Blood Covenant here in Genesis becomes a picture of the type of death Jesus would undergo some two thousand years later. Jesus could not die for our sins by a simple and quick execution. Instead, his death would have to involve the shedding of much blood.
Complete your third night of Hanukkah by singing one or two of your favorite carols. If you have time, light some additional candles and read some of your favorite stories by candlelight. Let the fire and smoke they create, remind you of G_d’s promise and covenant with Abram. Remember to not blow out the Hanukkah candles on your menorah. Let them burn themselves out as you read stories as a family by additional candlelight.
From our family to yours, Happy Hanukkah and shalom.
photo by D. Mike Collins