The Lampstand

Exodus 25:31-40

Following Yahweh’s instructions for the construction of the Ark of the Testimony and the Table of the Bread of the Presence, come His instructions for THE LAMPSTAND in Exodus 25:31-40—

Make a lampstand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.

Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

The Hebrew word for LAMPSTAND is hrwnm (MENORAH), which means LIGHT-BEARER or LAMPSTAND. Since candles were not invented until Roman times, the KJV translation of CANDLESTICK is obviously incorrect. The ancient lamp was somewhat small, round saucer with the rim pinched together to form a spout from which protruded the top of the wick dipped in the oil of the saucer. Examples of seven-pinched-rim lamps from the age of Moses have been unearthed at Beth Shan and Megiddo.

The Lampstand’s of pure gold was to be fashioned in one piece. It was placed on the south or left side of the Holy Place. The flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms were patterned after an almond tree, the first tree of spring in the Near East. The almond tree awakens as early as mid-December, decking itself in radiant white blossoms before leafing.

The triad of parts cannot be identified with final certainty. The CUPS were either the calyx (outer covering of the flower) or the almond nut whose medical and cosmetic properties are described as perfect. THE BUDS is also rendered as the knop or bulb, the round object on the branch in Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings 7:18. The BLOSSOMS of the almond tree render the same word used (in Numbers 17:8) to identify Aaron’s almond staff, which had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. The ALMONDS typify RESURRECTION.

And we know that Aaron’s staff foreshadowed Jesus Christ, who testifies in Revelation 1:18—

I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!

The shape of the MENORAH, plus the almonds, each with cup and flower, suggest that the lampstand TYPIFIED a tree. If so, this may reflect the reverence for sacred trees, although the religious conception attached to the Lampstand in Israel was vastly different from general reverence of the scared tree.

The Lampstand combines the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from the Garden of Eden. LIGHT is associated with both LIFE and KNOWLEDGE.

The Lampstand served three purposes: first, FUNCTIONAL, for it gave light to an otherwise dark place; second, AESTHETIC, lending “glory and beauty” to the holy place, for which there is a proper and continuing need; and third, SYMBOLIC, conveying the concept of life and knowledge through light.

Central to the teaching of the Tabernacle is the One who is the Light of the world. The Tabernacle is the dwelling place of God and where God dwells, there is life and knowledge.

The Lampstand gave the only light in the Holy Place. The Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies was lit by Yahweh’s glory!

Ultimately the MENORAH (lampstand) became a unique Judaistic symbol for both the home and the worship center. By the time of the NT Judaism, extinguishing the MENORAH was a symbol of disaster. Although the Lampstand of the Tabernacle may not have been precisely like that of Herod’s Temple, it may well have resembled the excellent portrayal of the seven branched Lampstand of Herod’s Temple which appears on the Arch of Titus in Rome.

Verse 36-37 says—

The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.

The expression HAMMERED OUT is difficult. The Jewish historian, Josephus, claims it was “cast gold and hollow, made in a mold. On the other hand, Moses uses the word for cast as well as mold when Aaron fashions the golden calf in Exodus 32:4.

This verb also is used of fashioning the cherubim and two silver trumpets. It may have been gold hammered into a sheet first. The Hebrew root word means “to be hard.” The Greek OT merely renders it “golden-turned work.” However, the pure gold was fashioned into the Lampstand, it was made to be one. Everything about it symbolizes the One to come.

In detail the Lampstand consisted of three parts, a straight central shaft, three pairs of semicircular branches on either side, and seven burners. Seven signifies completeness or perfection in the Scriptures.

Other than the weight and the general appearance, we know nothing of the dimensional characteristics of the Lampstand. Why? Because you can’t put a yardstick down on Deity. You cannot measure Him as the Son of God. You can’t understand Him. He is beyond the comprehension of man. Along with the fact that Jesus wept was the fact that He commanded Lazarus to come forth from the dead.

Like the other furnishing of the Tabernacle, the Lampstand was costly. The weight of the pure gold was one talent about seventy-five to one-hundred pounds. Here again, we have the gold representing the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. We do not have mere gold, but a pure, beaten gold that had endured punishment, pointing to the prophet’s description of Christ in Isaiah 53—

It was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (53:10, 5).

It cost God infinite suffering to bring about the birth of the Bride of Christ—the Church. He was hammered out for us! It is not surprising, therefore, to find in the Book of Revelation the Lampstand representing the Church—since we are the body of Christ. The apostle John says in Revelation 1:12-13—

I turned round to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man”, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash round his chest.

Not only does the Lampstand typify Christ, but in a beautiful way the shaft specifically gives to us a picture of His relationship to His bride—the Church. In the Lampstand, we have one shaft from which six branches protrude. It reminds me of Jesus’ allegory in John 15, where He said—

I am the vine; you are the branches.

Deuteronomy 6:4 declares—

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

The one shaft stands for one LORD—One God. Six is the number of man, who was created on the sixth day. It is one short of the perfect number seven. The six branches are the men and women, the boys and girls, untied to Christ by faith, and made one in Him. In Christ, we are made perfect.

With our spiritual lenses on, we see how the Lampstand gives to us a portrait of Jesus. As we focus our spiritual lens, more clearly, we again see a picture of the believer—the Bride of Christ. When a marriage takes place, God makes two one flesh. Spiritually, Christ and His bride become one when we become married to our beloved Savior.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said—

“You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven .

The only spiritual light that people have today must come, therefore, form those who are joined and united to Christ. When Jesus was on earth, He said in John 9:5—

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

But Jesus is no longer here in the world in His visible human body. Born again believers are now the light of the world. The only way unbelievers can see Chris is IN US and THROUGH US. We are the light of the world today. How bright does it shine?

Remember the seven golden lampstands of Revelation are the seven churches, which represent the Gospel light shining down through the Church Age. Listen to the words of warning Jesus wrote to the first church in Revelation 2:1-5—

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

To forsake your first love is to forsake Christ and let your light go out! This can happen to any individual or local church. The removal of the lampstand denotes the removal of grace and knowledge in Christ as well as life. The LORD instructed Moses in Exodus 27:20-21—

Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.

Both the Israel and the Church have been warned to keep their light burning! Because of neglect and unbelief, Israel left the LORD and their light burned out. So God literally removed the Lampstand from the nation.

In Solomon’s temple there were ten separate Lampstands of pure gold, five on the right and five on the left of the Holy Place. They were carried away to Babylon in 586 B.C. In the temple erected after the Exile there was again but one Lampstand, and like the first, with seven branches. It was carried away by Titus to Rome in A.D. 70, where it was deposited in the Temple of Peace. When Genseric plundered Rome, he is said to have carried it to Carthage in A.D. 455. It was recaptured by Belisarius in A.D. 533 and carried to Constantinople and thence to Jerusalem, where it finally disappeared.

Paul warns the Church not to stumble like Israel in Romans 11:19-21—

You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

There are two scenes of particular interest in which the Lampstand is involved outside the Pentateuch. First, when Yahweh reveals Himself to young Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:3-4—

The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.”

The second scene is Daniel 5:5-6, when King Belshazzar of Babylon mocks God by drinking from the golden vessels brought from the Temple at Jerusalem—

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way..

The first scene is a picture of being at perfect rest with the LORD. The second scene is of sheer terror! Folks, at the final judgment every human will stand before Christ in perfect rest or sheer terror!

Not only is the Lampstand typify Christ, it also symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Certainly, there is no spiritual life or light in the world apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Revelation 4:5 says —

Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.

The Holy Spirit sets on fire, as it were, the children of God. Our efforts to be a witness for Christ are useless except as the Holy Spirit motivates and directs our very being.

God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:5).

The Lampstand would have been useless without the oil for its seven lamps. The FIRE as well as the OIL speaks of the Holy Spirit. Oil, in the Scriptures, is a type of the Holy Spirit. Certainly, the light of the world today, and the proclamation of the Gospel, would be non-effective except for the work of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 asserts—

As it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

The Lampstand blends Christ and the Spirit as Paul does in Romans 8:9—

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

The Spirit is the Chief Administrator of Christ, working in perfect cooperation with Him to bring light to those in darkness. In Luke 4:18, Jesus quoted and applied Isaiah 61 to Himself—

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.

Isaiah 11:2 reveals the sevenfold Spirit of Christ—

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

As we think of the Lampstand representing both Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we must remember the work of the Holy Spirit can never be separated from the work of Christ. And that it is impossible to entirely separate the two—since the LORD God is One!

The SHAFT represents Christ, the SEVEN LAMPS OF FIRE BURNING speak of the sevenfold Spirit of God, and the SIX BRANCHES picture believers who possess the Holy Spirit and are united to Christ.

Imagine the Shaft, Seven Fires and Six Branches of the Lampstand as I read Jesus words to His disciples in John 16:13-15—

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

According to God’s plan, on Pentecost A.D. 33, there came tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each believer. The tongues of fire showed that these believers had received the Holy Spirit. Oil was in their lamps and fire burned brightly. According to Jesus parable, it is the foolish who do not have oil for their lamps when the Bridegroom comes!

The only light in the Tabernacle was that radiating from the Lampstand—no windows in the walls, no light carried by the priest while he performed his sacred duties in this holy place of worship. When we petition God in prayer it is to the Father through the Son and by Holy Spirit, who takes our utterances before the Throne; otherwise our prayers are worthless and our worship is sheer mockery.

Also the Lampstand teaches us that is necessary for the Light of the Spirit to illuminate the Word of God. Only by the ministry of the Holy Spirit can a person perceive Christ as the Bread of Life to sustain him.

We find the total absence of natural light in the Tabernacle. Only the supernatural light of the glorious Gospel of Christ can illuminate our hearts and minds and prepare us for eternity. Education, culture, or wealth found in this natural world will never suffice. The true Church preaches REGENERATION, not reformation, not education, not legislation, but regeneration!

The light of nature on the outside is the light of human reason, philosophy and speculation. It is a light that shuts out God in the Tabernacle, and blinds the worshiper to the things which are spiritual.

Man following reason instead of faith rejects the Word of God entirely, and invents all sorts of human philosophies and theories of man’s natural wisdom. He invents the theory of evolution, the innate goodness of man, the universal fatherhood of God, and the universal brotherhood of man.

The light of human reason blinds the man on the outside to the vision of the altar, and the need of the precious blood of Christ. Instead of faith, he substitutes reason and philosophy. Instead of the bood as the remedy for sin, he substitutes religion, morality, ethics, ordinances, education, psychology, and psychiatry. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:14—

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

But the believer inside the Tabernacle, which is Christ, is to walk in the light, even as He is in the light. The light of the Word of God is the only true light, the only infallible light, the only safe guide and rule of life and conduct and practice for the believer. Psalm 119:105 proclaims—

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

The Lampstand and light points to Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. The moment the priests wished to walk by the light of nature, they must get outside of the Tabernacle. But on the outside, they were unable to see the glories of the inside. All the light of the sun and moon revealed was a howling wilderness, and a drab gray, unattractive structure in which there was not hint of the glories that radiated within.

Yahweh reminds Moses in verse 40—

See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

Moses is warned again and all subsequent readers that what he was really building was only a model, not the real, or the original, which lay behind the model. It was “only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves.”

Hence, there was a build-in obsolescence in this revelation and the models exhibited in the whole Tabernacle and its service as contained in Exodus 25 through Leviticus 9. The original remained with God while these earthly models merely pictured what was yet to come.

Each furnishing inside the Tabernacle symbolizes our fellowship with God. The ATONEMENT COVER of the ARK speaks of Christ as the BASIS of our fellowship with God, while the TABLE OF THE BREAD OF THE PRESENCE points to Christ the SUBSTANCE of our fellowship. The LAMPSTAND pictures the UNITY of the believer’s fellowship in Christ. 1 John 1:5-7 states—

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by 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, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Those who refuse to trust Christ as Lord and Savior are in spiritual darkness, but those who believe in Him, walk in spiritual light with Him.

Numbers 4:9-10 is the instructions for priests to move the Lampstand—

They are to take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand that is for light, together with its lamps, its wick trimmers and trays, and all its jars for the oil used to supply it. Then they are to wrap it and all its accessories in a covering of hides of sea cows and put it on a carrying frame.

First, it was wrapped in the blue cloth, signifying Christ’s deity, and then in hides of sea cows, signifying His humanity. God with us—Immanuel—the Light of the World. Yet, these covers predict that Israel would not see Him as the Light of the World. Therefore, John 1:9-14 announces—

The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

That’s the primary teaching of the LAMPSTAND. When you imagine the Lampstand, do you see Christ, the Holy Spirit and yourself?

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