A number of years ago I was asked to prepare a teaching on the Tabernacle of Moses—the Mishkan. I had read the endless narratives in the Torah many times where each part of the Tabernacle, meticulously detailed by the Lord, commanded the Israelites to only build a copy of the heavenly image. I had visited several life-size displays, one recently in Pennsylvania, but none revealed anything of particular magnificence. Even its size looked rather underwhelming—a small tent perched in the desert surrounded by miles of barren wilderness. From a near distance the structure would have been hardly noticeable.
The story of Chanukah takes place about two-hundred years before the birth of Christ during the time of the second temple in Jerusalem. A small group of Israelites led by a family of Aaronic priests, called the Maccabees (Hebrew meaning hammer), had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in what is called the Maccabean Revolt. This was not just a fight against a foreign occupying presence, but a spiritual battle against the Hellenization and assimilation of the Jewish people into Greek culture and idolatry.