Messiah Yeshua was crucified on the altar of Israel’s oppression for the sake of Israel’s freedom.
Many of us are familiar with the legend of the oil, the retelling of which ignites a passionate belief in the reality of miracles. We tell of the great Maccabees who, in Israel’s time of oppression, took courage and fought against the pagan overlords of their time. We should never forget the sacrifice of so many who refused to denounce HaShem, choosing instead to face vile torcher and cruel deaths for the sake of the Name--Kiddush Hashem. However, it is often forgotten that this inspiring remembrance was originally celebrated for eight days as an emulation of the feast of Sukkot—which in that year and for the years prior, had been banned by their oppressors. This was a feast of re-dedication, a time when Israel returned to G-d, having been refined in fire.
It is important to remember that while the Maccabees cleansed—purified—the Temple, they were unable to purify—cleanse—the defiled stones of the altar—Antiochus had sacrificed a pig to Zeus on the Temple altar. After the retaking of the Temple the Maccabees realized that the altar stones, being porous, could not be purged and purified, so, the stones were to be placed “in a convenient place on the Temple mount until there should come a prophet to explain what should be done with them.” 1 Maccabees 4:44-47
The stones of the altar numbered twelve, representing the entire nation of Israel both individually—tribes—and as a whole—the complete altar—having been made echad--complex unity--through the sacrificial system instructed by AdoShem--G-d. The efforts of the Maccabees could only cleanse—purify—the Temple superficially, their actions were a sign of Him who was to come, The Mashiyach. The Maccabees inability to cleanse the altar illustrates the fact that our—humanities—works/actions cannot bring us into right relationship with G-d. Messiah would not simply cleanse physical things—the altar stones, He would also provide, through the sacrifice of His own soul—body, mind and spirit—the means by which we could all be purified—cleansed—and made holy before G-d. Messiah Yeshua was crucified on the altar of Israel’s oppression for the sake of Israel’s freedom.
The wise rabbi Shaul of Benjamin teaches that we—who have accepted Messiah Yeshua as King--are a Temple of G-d, both individually--1 Corinthians 3:16—and corporately--1 Corinthians 3:16. We are a type of altar, joined together into one--echad. Though previously defiled, now, through Messiah Yeshua we are purified, cleansed, swept clean, made whole: reconciled to G-d through the sacrificial death of His Son.
Chanukah is not about the physical Temple that our forebears attempted to purify. It is about the stones of the altar that they could not cleanse and the promise of the one who was to come, the one who would purify all things.
© 2013 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.