Don’t you love it when you are reading along in the Bible, and the Lord shows you something new? For me, it’s like time just slows for a second, and I get this weighty feeling that lets me know I need to focus on a phrase or passage. Last week I was in Numbers 8, and verse 4 brought that serious, slow-down feeling. It was a description of the lampstand from the tabernacle of God, but the part that made me stop was this: “According to the pattern which the Lord had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.” Now, we know that God isn’t just in the furniture design business for no reason. 1 Corinthians 15:46 says that the natural comes first and then the spiritual. We also know that everything, in both Old and New Testament, points to the Lord Jesus Christ. Well, footnote led to cross reference led to website led to video, and before you know it, my mind was totally blown. Psalm 119:105 holds the key to the symbolism of the lampstand, but it is what you and I do with it that determines how well it lights our path.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”Psalm 119:105
The Lampstand (Also “Candlestick” or “Menorah”)
Exodus 25:31-40 gives the entire description of the lampstand from the Tabernacle of God, the original portable tent that was the center of worship for the Jewish people. To say it is specific would be an understatement. God gave each and every detail to Moses on Mt. Sinai, the same place He gave Moses the Ten Commandments. I would highly encourage you to go back and read this entire passage. Here are just a few noticeable details before we get into the symbolism.
The lampstand was BIG. If you are thinking of the hand-held size that people use today to celebrate Hanukah, you’re not getting the picture. It was made of only one piece of pure gold, hammered into shape, the weight of which was one talent. In our measurement, that would be about 75 pounds. At current market value, it would be worth nearly two million dollars today. Other than the weight, no specific size was given. But, Jewish oral tradition estimates it to have been over five feet tall. The gold symbolizes God’s weightiness, perfection, and glory. When lit, it was the only source of light in the entire tabernacle tent for the priests to see to do their work. This same lampstand stood in the tabernacle in the wilderness, Solomon’s Temple, and the Temple of Herod at the time Jesus was crucified.
Unlike the nine-candled Menorah used to celebrate Hanukah today, the original lampstand given to Moses by God had seven oil lamps on it. There were three branches on one side and three on the other, with a branch in the center. Each one of those was topped with a wick surrounded by an oil well. On each of the six branches, there were 3 bowls like almond blossoms, 3 ornamental knobs, and 3 flowers. The center of the lampstand had 4 bowls like almond blossoms, 4 ornamental knobs, and 4 flowers. Now, the word “almond” is the same Hebrew word for “watchfulness” or “wakefulness.” The almond tree was always the first tree to blossom in spring. It symbolizes life, purity, and the fresh nature of God’s on-going work.
The Lampstand Is a Symbol of the Word of God
“Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a branch of an almond tree.’ Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.”Jeremiah 1:11-12
There are no coincidences with God. No matter what changes man might have thought he was making to the Bible over the years, God is and will always be in control. The Bible is a true miracle, and the lampstand is a symbol. But, just like the Bibles does no good as a coffee-table decoration, the lamp was still just one big fancy piece of gold without two more ingredients to make it able to bring light into the darkness.
The Lampstand Needed Oil
Pure olive oil was poured into the center branch of the lampstand. The oil then fed into the other bowls so the wicks could be lit. That center branch was translated from Hebrew as “the one who is sent,” and we already said it represented Jesus, the Messiah. It is only through belief in Him that we receive the Holy Spirit of God.
Olive oil represents the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, prophets would pour olive oil on the heads of those God had chosen to be a king or priest. It was a symbol of an appointment to a position and an empowerment to carry out that new office. That anointing is the same thing that happens to us today when God pours out His Spirit on us, appoints us to our position as a child of God, and empowers us to live a holy life in Him.
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”2 Corinthians 1:21-22
The Priests Had to Keep the Fire Lit
Even with a beautiful lampstand and plenty of oil, the tabernacle would still be a very dark place without fire. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” We are the priests, and our bodies are the temple of God where the Holy Spirit dwells. It is up to us to keep our lamps full of oil and the fires lit. This just means that we must be in constant connection with God. We must listen to His voice, obey His commandments, and trust Him with even the smallest details of our lives.
We do that by praying without ceasing and hiding His Word in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). That means that we can’t just HAVE a Bible or even just READ the Bible. We have to be actively living our lives to conform ourselves to the Word of God. James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
Living By The Bible is More Important Now Than Ever
“For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”Proverbs 6:23
Jesus is coming soon, and He is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle. Ephesians 5:26-27 tells us that God sanctifies us and cleanses us by the “washing of water by the word.” See, when we compare ourselves to the world, we might look pretty good and even holy. But, when we compare ourselves to what the Bible tells us we should be, that light allows us to actually see what might be otherwise hidden: our imperfections and flaws.
Hebrews 4:12 says,“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God shows us the parts of us that need to change so we can be more like Him. He also chastens those He loves. It is how we know that we are His children.
We Must Walk In The Light
“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”1 John 1:5-7
Time is short. We just can’t leave parts of us dark. We must walk in the light by reading the Bible and applying it to our lives. Psalm 119:9 says, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” We must live our lives faithfully with a biblical worldview, and the only way we will be able to do that is by regular, prayerful study of the Word of God. We must allow it to guide our path in every situation.
If you are interested in further study, here were some of the many article links I visited this week. The Word of God and the Tabernacle Menorah, The Structure of the Menorah, The Structure of the Bible, and The Order of the Books of the Bible. If you like videos, here are two that I really enjoyed. Menorah and Bible – A Miracle. Symbol and true meaning behind the Menorah and Structure/Construction of the Bible: 7 Divisions, 49 scrolls, 70 books and the Book of Life.
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