This post is another in the “Tabernacle” series. Select “Tabernacle” under Categories to view the other posts in this series.
THE GOLDEN LAMP-STAND
Read Exodus 25:31-40; 27:20, 21; 37:17-24; 40:24, 25
In the Holy Place there was no window or place to let in the light. It was lit from a glorious golden lamp-stand, which stood directly opposite the table on the south side in the Holy Place. Made from one piece of solid beaten gold it weighed about 43 kg. (over 100 lbs.). In Hebrew it is known as the ‘menorah’ and has developed into one of the most commonly used symbols of Judaism. That 100 pounds of gold, in today’s money would be valued at approximately $125,773.00 American dollars.
In the tabernacle, when the priests entered into the Holy Place, an outer certain separates us from the outside world. The light of this world can add nothing, and is not needed in the Holy Place, where the glory of CHRIST abides. As the outer curtain symbolized the complete character and ministry of CHRIST, so it is through CHRIST, alone, that we separate ourselves from all that is valued in this world, to enter into fellowship with HIM in the Holy Place.
There CHRIST, the true light from Heaven, transcends any illumination found in this world. This was wonderfully symbolized in the Tabernacle by the exquisitely beautiful, seven-branched lamp-stand. This was not a candle-stick, but a seven-branched support of lamps filled with beaten olive-oil.
Though this manner of lighting may seem quite crude in our day, no modern system possibly could afford the wonderful symbolism presented by this lamp-stand, and by the ministries of the priests who tended it. Furthermore the light it gave forth was perfectly adequate for the illumination of the Holy Place and to show the way into the Holy of Holies. There, once entered, the Glory of GOD was found to fill the place with the Divine effulgence.
THE GOLDEN LAMP-STAND
The golden lamp-stand rested upon the floor of the Holy Place to the left of the priests as they entered the door of the Tabernacle. As already indicated, we are given no description of the form and size of the lamp-stand. However, there is good reason to believe that the lamps on their stems came up opposite the shoulders of the priests, and just a little lower than the level of their eyes, to make careful supervision of the lights easily possible.
While we are given no dimensions, we do find directions as to their construction of the lamp-stand. The workers were told to beat the central stem and three pairs of branches, opposite each other, all out of one piece, or sheet, of gold. Each branch was beaten into shape. Speaking of the heavy beating which our Lord received, as through many sufferings, the man, CHRIST JESUS was brought unto perfection:
“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted . . . Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 2:10-18; 5:8, 9).
The symbolism of the stem and its branches is very beautiful and significant. Each branch was to have a curving stem, broken or interrupted at three points, with each set evidently on a level with those of its kind. These triplets on each branch consisted of a cup, knop and a flower: “And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers” (Exodus 25:34).
The main stem also was thus divided into three parts, with cup, knop, and flower; with the three pairs of branches leaving the central stem, just above each break caused by these three ornaments. There were 7 triplets in all. The seven lamps, holding the olive-oil, and each with its burning wick, were placed on the top of the stem and on the tops of the six separate branches, making seven lamps in all.
When the lamp-stand was finished, and before it was placed in use, it was anointed with beaten oil, and thus sanctified, or wholly set apart for the service of GOD, just as was our Lord when GOD the Father anointed Him at the Jordan, following His baptism with water, symbolizing His enduement with the full glory and power of the Godhead, as He began His ministry.
LIGHT AND FRUIT-BEARING
Just as the cup, knop, and flower, so beautifully symbolized FRUIT-BEARING in a very real sense, it also symbolized the wonderful truth presented by the vine and the branches of John 15:1-9.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love” (John 15:1-9).
All that is said there about fruit bearing, is just as true here about light-bearing. In the one JESUS said, “I am the VINE.” Here, in the lamp-stand, we may readily hear Him saying: “I am the light of the world.” As the vine is to the branches; so the central stem is to the triple sets of branches of the lampstand. While we are as these branches abiding IN HIM, He may also say, “Ye are the light of the world.”
Just as no light could be found in the Holy Place without the lamp-stand so no Eternal Light is found in this sinful world, except CHRIST, the Light of the world, is manifested through those in whom and through whom the Light of His Divine Life shines forth in the midst of this world’s darkness and evil. How beautifully were the bearing of fruit and the giving forth of light, symbolized here in the Holy Place hundreds of years before CHRIST came to give them such wonderful meaning.
The ministry of the priests, related to the lamp-stand, is forcefully placed before us by the two utensils, required for servicing the lamp-stand. They were the tongs and the snuffers. How important they were considered, may be grasped when we are told that they were fashioned out of a talent of pure gold weighing nearly 132 pounds, and would be valued today, at about $166,020.00.
FILL YOUR LAMP DAILY
The first thing each morning the priest, on duty for the day, took the snuffers and the bowl and went to the lamp-stand and removed every bit of the wick that had become charred, so that the wick would not smoke and shine with a dimmed or flickering light. Then the priest took the cruse of oil and refilled each lamp to the brim. When Heaven’s light, as here represented, burned clearly, then GOD’s servant went about his further duties. Is it necessary to further point out or apply these so plainly indicated essentials in one’s devotional and prayer life? Every morning, early in the morning, LOOK TO THE LIGHT FROM HEAVEN, BEFORE COMMENCING THE DAY’S LIFE AND DUTIES.
The ability to shine was found in the oil, which was the symbol of the indwelling HOLY SPIRIT. Even the wick could not shine, unless saturated with oil and constantly being renewed with oil. No believer can shine for his Lord, except he is “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Wicks without oil flicker, flutter, smoke, and sometimes smell bad, and soon burn out, and produce no light.
How much depended upon the fidelity and faithfulness of the priest, who was charged to make sure that there was a supply of olive-oil ever present, and that it was put in the lamps, and the lamps were trimmed and burning with a clean and clear and steady light?
Has our dereliction, or carelessness, at this point in time, caused fog and dimness, and a degree of darkness and groping, or missing the way to GOD and Heaven, on the part of many, in the Christian Church today?
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!