The Lampstand’s Oil

Exodus 27:20-21

We are going to encounter the Holy Spirit in our study of the Tabernacle today. So sit back—open your ears and hear what the Spirit has to say to the Church. 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.

The Israelites are commanded to bring clear olive oil for the lamps on the Lampstand of the Tabernacle. God, however, assigned the responsibility for keeping the Lampstand burning to Aaron and his descendants. The priests were the only ones allowed to serve in the sanctuary.

Not even the King of Israel was permitted to enter this scared place. In 2 Chronicles 26, we read about the terrible consequence of a proud King Uzziah, who entered the Holy Place to burn incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him in. They confronted him and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence, before the incense altar in the LORD’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. The LORD afflicted him with leprosy until the day he died.

The mention of Aaron and his sons serve as a link to the next two chapters, which set forth the directives for the priests’ service within the Tabernacle. Instead of completing instruction for the Tabernacle and its furnishings, God introduces its priests and their service. Again, these instructions appear to be out of order until we prayerfully meditate upon them. Be fully assured God is not the author of confusion!

Everything mentioned in Exodus 25:10 to 27:19 foreshadows God’s coming unto His people—each article mentioned in that section was a symbol of DISPLAY, that is, a manifestation of God in Christ.

But from 27:20 to the end of Chapter 30 the order is reversed, everything there points to the provisions of grace which enable us to go into God—that is to say, the priesthood and furnishings that have to do with APPROACH. Before the BRONZE BASIN and INCENSE ALTAR (the furnishings needed for access to God) are brought before us, we are shown the appointment and consecration of the PRIESTHOOD—the people who can approach God and enjoy fellowship with Him.

The priest was the indispensable mediator in the life of fellowship with God.

It was at the Cross that God was fully manifested as Light. 1 John 1:5-7 speaks of the Christian’s participation in the Light—

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..

Our access to God’s presence is by blood, but our communion and transformation are by the Holy Spirit.

Only as we are filled with the Spirit, do we truly walk in the light.

The believer’s transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 asserts—

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:8-11 remind us—

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

And 1 Corinthians 2:14 exposes the depth of this darkness—

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.

Keep in mind that THE LAMPSTAND portrays Christ, the Holy Spirit and God’s people. The center staff typifies Christ. The six branches typify Israel—and then the Church, following the Jews rejection of Christ. Israel has been cut off as branches until the nation is grafted back at the end of this age.

All three—Christ, Israel and the Church—are chosen by God to be THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. However, the LIGHT does not primarily refer here to the believer’s testimony to the world, but to our communion and worship as a believer-priest in God’s presence.

CLEAR OIL OF PRESSED OLIVES was extracted from unripened olives that were beaten and pounded in a mortar rather than crushed in a mill. The pulpy mass was then placed in a basket; and the oil, without any mixture of other parts of the olive, dripped through the basket, giving a clear, pure oil that burned with little or no smoke.

CLEAR OIL OF PRESSED OLIVES FOR THE LIGHT typifies the HOLY SPIRIT. The last two Sunday evenings we have entered into the Tabernacle in two visions given to Zechariah by God. These two visions follow the order of the instructions to construct the Tabernacle given to Moses by Yahweh.

In the first vision (Chapter 3 of Zechariah), Joshua the High Priest is standing before Christ in the Most Holy Place dressed in filthy clothes covered with human excrement. Satan is accusing Joshua, but the Angel of the LORD (the preincarnate Christ) intercedes on his behalf. Joshua just stands there unable to do or say anything to defend himself or improve his condition. In a sweeping movement of GRACE, Christ orders the angelic beings to put on Joshua the rich, festival garments of the High Priest. Then Zechariah 3:6-7 says—

The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: `If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.

This vision is a picture of salvation by faith, not works. Works, however, follow salvation.

Interpreting angel comes to the prophet in the next vision in Zechariah 4:2-3—

He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”

Zechariah sees the golden Lampstand of the Tabernacle being automatically being supplied with golden fresh oil from Two Olive Trees. There are no oil cans, no ministering hands, no clumsy machinery of human attendants but two olive trees pouring the oil of their fruit continually through two olive branches into each of the seven lamps on the Lampstand.

The prophet is confused about what he is seeing and keeps asking the interpreting angel for an explanation.

The interpreting angels explains the meaning of the GOLDEN FRESH OIL with one of the most insightful statements of the way God operates God in Zechariah 4:6—

This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: `Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

The words MIGHT and POWER are quite interesting. MIGHT is the general word for human resources such as physical strength, human ability, efficiency or wealth. POWER also denotes mere human strength—physical, material, and mental strength. We might paraphrase the LORD’s answer—

It is not by brawn nor by brain, but by may Spirit, says the LORD ALMIGHTY.

God works in the world not by our cleverness, our ability, or our physical strength. Folks, if the Spirit of God is not in our enterprises today, they will come to naught, because God is not carrying on His work by our brain or brawn.

It is not by those with great charisma and appeal that the LORD accomplishes His goals and objectives. Remember Isaiah 53:2 description of Jesus—

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

Christ chose fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, to be His disciples. Not powerful and mighty men of wealth, position, and education. The Gospel and the Church advanced and grew not by might nor by power, but by God’s Spirit. That’s the bottom line of the Book of Acts.

That’s not to say that God does not use people of intellect and wealth. Certainly, the apostle Paul was one of the most brilliant people that has walked the face of the earth. Paul expounded in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29—

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

Anything that I do in the flesh that is by my own effort and God hates it. He cannot use it. It will come to nothing because it is nothing in the world but my building a haystack, which ultimately is going to be consumed by fire. God wants to do His work THROUGH us, by the power of His Holy Spirit. Jesus promised His disciples in Luke 24:49—

I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.

Zechariah also asks the interpreting angel to explain the TWO OLIVE TREES and TWO OLIVE BRANCHES which supply the Golden Fresh Oil to the Lampstand. The angel’s explanation is that “the two are the anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.” In other words, the two olive branches represent Joshua the High Priest, who was over the religious affairs of the nation Israel, and Zerubbabel, who was over the civil government in the days of the prophet Zechariah.

Therefore, the Golden Fresh Oil being automatically supplied to the Lampstand is a picture of Christ, Israel and the Church empowered by the Spirit of God.

Hence, the TWO OLIVE TREES symbolize the Priestly and Kingly offices, which both began with an anointing by oil. MESSIAH in Hebrew and CHRIST in Greek mean ANOINTED ONE. Isaiah 61:1 says of Him—

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

Hebrews 1:9 teaches of Jesus—

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.

Peter tells us that—

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him (Acts 10:38).

When Jesus began His ministry, the Holy Spirit came upon Him, and He went forth to defeat the Devil in the wilderness, filled with the Holy Spirit.

When King Uzziah attempted to burn incense in the Holy Place, he almost ruined the prophetic picture of Jesus the Anointed Priest-King.

Both Zechariah’s vision of the Lampstand and Two Olive Trees along with the Lampstand of the Tabernacle being supplied with oil is a picture of Jesus’ promise to His disciples in John 15:26-27—

When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

The only spiritual light that people have today must come from being joined and untied as branches to the true Lampstand—Jesus Christ and His Church.

As we think of the Lampstand and Oil representing Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the believer, we must remember that it is impossible to separate all three. For instance, Romans 8:9 speaks of the unique interrelationship of all three —

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.

If we are going to approach God through Christ, we can only do so by the Spirit of God. Significantly, the people were to provide oil continuously for the Lampstand—otherwise there would be darkness in the dwelling place of God. Israel as God’s testimony to the world would burn out! And of course, that’s what happened!

If the priests did not supply oil to the Lampstand, they would find themselves in utter darkness! Therefore, we should not be surprised to hear Paul warn Christians in 1 Thessalonians 5:19—

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.

How does one put out the Spirit’s fire? By shutting off the supply of oil as it were by indifference to God and the things of God—SIN! How indifferent are you? Two elementary tests for INDIFFERENCE are COMMUNION and TITHES!

How long has it been since you have taken COMMUNION or given a TITHE to the LORD?

This morning’s Sunday School lesson was from Chapter 3 of Malachi. Israel had grown indifferent towards God and didn’t realize it. The LORD said to them—

Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you ask, `How are we to return?’ “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, `How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.”

The person who is filled with the Spirit will desire to these two things—not because of obligation, but out of joy!

It is tragic—of eternal consequences—not to have oil for the Lamp! Beloved, this is the test ultimate crisis of life. Turn to Matthew 25:1-10, where Jesus teaches this parable—

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.

The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: `Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “`No,’ they replied, `there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

On the surface, the foolish were pure—they were virgins and they had lamps—a testimony—but no oil and fire! However, they did not have the oil in their Jars—the Spirit of God was not in the five foolish virgins. Likewise, Romans 8:9 asserts—

And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

The five wise virgins had the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. They had the source of grace within their hearts. They did not need to go and replenish. They were always ready! Beloved, let a word be sufficient for the wise—let us be filled with the Spirit, so that we shall be found of Him in peace.

The seriousness of this can be seen in Paul words to his young friend in 2 Timothy 1:6—

I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.

The Holy Spirit is the gift of God. He is a living flame kindled in our hearts, which the flesh and the devil go about to put out—and therefore, we as their opponents must labor as much as we can to nourish and keep the Spirit burning.

How does one fan into flame the gift of God? The Spirit in our life may be reinflamed or increased, when we seem on the spiritual decline, by reading of God’s Word, meditation, prayer, and the frequent exercise of them. I suggest a good place to start is with Sunday Evening Worship and Wednesday Bible Study and Prayer.

Ask yourself, “Am I indifferent to these two primary meetings of the Church?” “How much brighter would the Spirit’s fire burn in my life if I supply the Spirit’s words as oil for my lamp?”

Notice that the Lamps are to be kept burning in front of THE TESTIMONY. What is the TESTIMONY? It’s inside the ARK in the Most Holy Place—it’s the THE TEN COMMANDMENTS written on TWO TABLETS OF STONE.

THE TESTIMONY is symbolic of God’s Word—the BIBLE—which at that time had not been written. The oil fed lights typify the revelation and illumination of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible contains all that we know of God, redemption, and the future life. One is foolish who deceives himself and others by the light of his own eloquence, philosophy and sensationalism.

1 Corinthians 2:14 says—

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.

It is the light of the Spirit that truly makes one wise! King Nebuchadnezzar said to Daniel—

I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom (Daniel 5:14).

Nebuchadnezzar almost got it right—The Spirit of God was in Daniel and He was the source his insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. Without the illuminating of the Spirit of God, the smartest person in the world is unable to comprehending the Bible.

The Lampstand was not luminous. It was simply a light-bearer. It could make no light apart from oil and fire—two of the biblical symbols for the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Jesus taught—

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).

As the branches of the Lampstand, we have no light in ourselves—we simply receive the light and hold it. We are to reveal not our goodness and our grace, but Christ in us! Let all people see how helpless and insufficient we are in ourselves, but what an all-sufficient and mighty Savior we have—and One available for them as well as for us. Nebuchadnezzar saw the light that shined from Daniel and realized it was from another source! Eventually, the king would come to personally know and experience that source for himself.

The Lampstand supplied with oil before the Testimony also pictures John 3:34—

For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.

Are you experiencing the Spirit without limit? Zechariah’s vision of the lamps on the Lampstand of the Tabernacle being continuously supplied oil from the two olive trees—Jesus Christ our Priest and King— is what every Christian has available to them. If you clog up the channel to your lamp with the cares of this world, your light will grow dim and eventually burn out!

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