by Walter A. Boyd, N. Ireland
Exodus 25.31-40; 37.17-24; 39.37; 40.24; Leviticus 24.1-4
The Tabernacle of Moses, even though patterned after “things in the heavens” Heb.9.23, was an earthly structure for earthly use. It is significant, therefore, that it contained various natural elements that were enlisted to the service and worship of God. The altar of burnt offering in the court utilised the natural element of fire, the laver contained the element water, and the lampstand was used for light. Of these three elements, fire, water, and light, the one that is used to depict an essential characteristic of Deity is light. The Person of Christ, Who is pre-eminently depicted in the Tabernacle and its furniture, is seen in the altar of burnt offering, but He is not the fire. Christ is depicted in the laver, but He is not the water. However, in both the golden lampstand and the light provided by it we have a picture of the Person of Christ, Who is “the light of the world” Jn.8.12; 9.5.
The golden lampstand was one of the most ornate pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle of Israel; it shares that position of unique and striking beauty and workmanship with the mercy seat with its cherubim of beaten work. The lampstand and the cherubim had similarities in respect of their material, measurements and manufacture. Both the lampstand and the cherubim were made of pure gold; both were without measurements; both were manufactured by beaten work. Unlike most of the other parts of the Tabernacle, there are no measurements recorded in Scripture for the lampstand, but Moses saw the shape and pattern while in the mount with God and was under strict instructions to make it according to the pattern shown, Heb.8.5. So, even though Moses was not given any measurements for the lampstand, he was not left to conjecture or innovation in its manufacture. We are not left to innovation or conjecture regarding the truths of the Deity and the glory of Christ, the Antitype of the lampstand; both are expressly taught in the New Testament, Jn.1.14.
The instructions given to Moses for the lampstand reveal an item with more intricate details than any other piece of Tabernacle furniture. It had a vertical centre shaft that was decorated by four sets of three ornaments which were always grouped together in the same order: a bowl, a knop, and a flower, Ex.25.31, etc., with a lamp. There were six branches coming out of the central stem, three from each side with a lamp on the end of each branch. Each set of left and right opposing branches rested on the bowl, knop, and flower ornamentation of the central stem. The pattern of ornamentation in a bowl, a knop, and a flower was also repeated along the length of each of the six branches. There is no information in the instructions given to Moses as to whether the seven lamps were level at the top of the lampstand or rose in ascending order towards the lamp at the top of the central stem. Historical pictures of the lampstand show both configurations, and without specific information in Scripture, speculation about this aspect of its design is pointless.
We will consider this magnificent piece of furniture in the following aspects: its description, its composition, its construction, its location, its function, its additions, and its transportation.
The Authorised Version’s word “candlestick” for the Hebrew word menorah should be translated “lampstand” (see Newberry margin). The lampstand was a structure made of pure gold that had seven lamps, each fed by pure olive oil. Candles were in use in ancient Egypt, even before the time of the Tabernacle, but their use would not have depicted the spiritual truth concerning the Person of Christ that the lampstand does so beautifully. Every item in the Tabernacle’s structure and furniture was given a specific design by God so that its visual appearance conveyed truth that could be appreciated simply by looking at it. The verbal instructions and the visual impressions of each piece help us to understand various aspects of Divine truth. Yet, as for everything in the Tabernacle, we need to be careful not to press every detail into some sort of typological interpretation if we have no substantive basis in the New Testament for doing so. Moses was not permitted to use imagination in making the lampstand; nor are we permitted to use imagination in interpreting it.
Many of the compounds and liquids used in the Tabernacle are described as being pure, for example, “pure oil olive” Ex.27.20, and “pure myrrh” Ex.30.23, but only two pieces of furniture are designated “pure”: “the pure candlestick [‘lampstand’ Newberry margin]” Ex.39.37, and “the pure table” Lev.24.6. The table typifies priestly communion with God in the Person of His Son and the lampstand typifies priestly service for God in the light provided by His Son. In neither case does man’s priestly service contribute anything; the priest consumes the bread that is on the table and uses the light emitted by the lamps of the lampstand. On the seventh day the priest eats the bread that has been in the presence of God for the past week. That bread gives him pleasure and sustains him in his fellowship with and ministry for God. From the lampstand the priest receives light to illuminate his priestly service at the altar and table, whereas the high priest functioning at the altar of incense brings coals to the altar and creates a fragrant cloud with incense that envelops his service for God. The piece of furniture that is not designated “pure”, the altar of incense, is the piece in the holy place for which man contributes to its main function, and at which he makes intercession for a fallen people.
The lampstand was made from one talent of pure gold, Ex.25.39, which speaks of Divine glory, the glory of Deity. The lampstand portrays the Person of Christ, Who is gloriously rich and gloriously full. John saw the glory of the Word Who “tabernacled among us” Jn.1.14, Newberry margin, as “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” and He was also “full of grace and truth”. The One Who “tabernacled among us” was “the true Light” Jn.1.9, that is, He was the perfect and complete fulfilment of the previous light that God had given. John’s Gospel shows Christ to be the Antitype of the type in the Old Testament Tabernacle. The only source of Divine illumination in the holy place of the Old Testament Tabernacle was the lampstand for the people of God, whereas in the new dispensation the “true Light” is the Christ of the New Testament for the whole world, Jn.9.5.
A talent weighed 60 kilograms (132 pounds), and at today’s gold price would cost approximately 2.8 million British Pounds. While we cannot make a direct comparison between the value of gold today and in 1500 B.C., it is still worth noting that the lampstand was a very valuable piece of the Tabernacle’s furniture. The lampstand that spoke of Christ was precious, and so is He: “Unto you therefore which believe He is precious” 1Pet.2.7.
We are not given any linear measurements for the lampstand but it is the only piece of furniture that was made from one talent of gold. Two of the three dimensions of the mercy seat, which was also made from pure gold, are given: its length and breadth, but no depth is given. No linear measurements or weight of pure gold are given for the cherubim on the mercy seat. Did God forget to tell Moses? Not at all; but specific details of size or weight are omitted in the Scriptural record of many parts of the Tabernacle, the result being that it would be impossible to build an exact replica of God’s Tabernacle. God did not facilitate men to make a reproduction of that which spoke eloquently of His Son from heaven. However, the lampstand without measurements speaks to us of Christ Who cannot be measured. Whether the lampstand is viewed as typical of Christ “the light of the world”, that is, for the whole world, Jn.8.12;
9.5, or the Lamb to illuminate the eternal city of Rev.21.23, His light is sufficient for the whole world and the whole city. He alone is the light.
Gold not only speaks of Deity and glory, but also of durability. While gold may tarnish and become dull, it does not corrode and waste away like other metals. The glorious Person of Whom the lampstand speaks is “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” Heb.13.8. Nothing about Him will ever corrode or weaken; His love will never lessen, His glory will never darken, His power will never weaken. Even when the heavens and earth have passed away, and time has given way to eternity, His light will be undimmed and His gold untarnished.
Deity, glory, and durability are all His, and with them the gold also gives a picture of His beauty. There is a natural beauty to gold, even just to look at. But added to the beauty of the metal in the lampstand is the beauty of its shapes. On the central shaft were four groupings of three representations of the seasonal features of an almond tree. The bowl, knop, and flower represent the flower, bud, and fruit of the almond tree. The almond tree with its buds, flowers, and fruit represents new life, resurrection. You will recall the incident in Numbers chapter 17 where God authenticated Aaron’s ministry as high priest of Israel. God indicated heaven’s choice of the high priest by selecting Aaron’s rod which “brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds” v.8. So, too, heaven has identified our great High Priest by raising Christ from the dead and seating Him at God’s right hand. He, and He alone, is the incomparable great High Priest of His people.
Some writers draw a distinction between “gold” and “pure gold” which is difficult to sustain in typical interpretation of the Tabernacle. They say that gold speaks of Divinity as an attribute of God, and pure gold speaks of Deity, the essential nature of God. This presents a number of difficulties if we are to be consistent in our interpretation: firstly, the gold used in the Tabernacle was “gold” taken from the Egyptians, Ex.12.35, and the offering taken from the people by Moses for building the Tabernacle was “gold” Ex.25.3. In neither case did God specify a distinction between “gold” and “pure gold”. Secondly, there are items closely linked together in the Tabernacle that both speak typically of the Deity of Christ and are separately called “gold” and “pure gold”. For example, the chains on the breastplate of the high priest are made from “pure gold” Ex.28.14, and the threads of “gold” are woven throughout the blue, purple, and scarlet threads to make the breastplate, Ex.28.15. The woven breastplate speaks of the essential Deity of our heavenly great High Priest and cannot be relegated to speak of Divinity because they are not specified as “pure gold”. These difficulties highlight the need for caution in our interpretation of every detail of typical items; there must be consistency and Biblical support for making a typological interpretation.
The lampstand’s central shaft and six branches were intricately designed with “bowls … knops and … flowers” Ex.25.34, and were to be beaten out of a single piece of gold. It was not assembled from various components; it had, therefore, a structural unity and cohesion that speak clearly of the uniqueness of the Son of God. In essence He is in every way the same and without variation throughout. The truths of unity and cohesion are important when we view the lampstand as typical of Christ in three aspects. Firstly, it speaks of Christ in humanity Who said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” Jn.9.5, and secondly, it speaks of Him in exalted glory as the glory and light of the heavenly city: “for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” Rev.21.23. Whether temporarily on earth among men or eternally in heaven among the redeemed throng, He is essentially the same: “pure gold”, absolute Deity. Thirdly, the lampstand speaks of Christ mystically, that is Christ and His members as the Church, His body. The lampstand displayed the glory and illumination of Deity, and so the Church displays the glory of God, Eph.1.14; 3.21, and provides illumination from God as the custodian of “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” 2Cor.4.4.
Tragically for Aaron and others, before the instructions for the Tabernacle could be followed and the lampstand made, some of the gold that should have been used in its construction was melted and made into a golden calf for Israel to worship. Men acting in the flesh made a molten product of human imagination, but Aholiab and Bezaleel were responsible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to make the lampstand by beating it out of one piece of gold. Surely the beating of the gold reminds us of the One Who is the Son of God being bruised and beaten at Calvary. Carnal men with their molten image did not have the skill imparted by the Holy Spirit to produce an item that would speak of Christ. The craftsmen who made the lampstand needed ability that was imparted by the Holy Spirit so that it would be made “according to the pattern” and the lampstand itself later needed oil that speaks of the Holy Spirit before it could function in providing light. The lampstand required a supernatural ability that only God could give. So, too, the provision of Christ as the Light of the world required Divine power and ability that man could not contribute. Luke’s Gospel records the message of Gabriel to Mary: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” 1.35.
It is most instructive to observe that the order in which the items of the Tabernacle are listed in four places in the Old Testament varies. For example, the order in which the items appear in the instructions given to Moses by God and the order in which they were later constructed differ. A complete comparison of these four lists with the reasons for their variations is beyond the scope of this chapter. However, it is significant that the items for the holy place are given in the same order in each list, whether for the instructions on making them (Exodus chapters 25 and 30); their construction (Exodus chapter 37); their assembly in the completed Tabernacle (Exodus chapter 40); or their transportation (Numbers chapters 3 and 4). In all four listings they follow the order of the table of shewbread, the lampstand, and the altar of incense. It is not surprising that the table of shewbread is the item first mentioned in the holy place, since the primary purpose of the Tabernacle is that God might dwell among His people, Ex.25.8. His dwelling among His people is that they might have communion together, which is the function of the table. It is also important to notice that the table of shewbread and the lampstand are mentioned together. In addition to their mention in the four lists above, when the Tabernacle was assembled by Moses, the lampstand was positioned in relation to the table of shewbread: “he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward” Ex.40.24. We should also note that the altar of incense is last in the list of the three items. Communion with God (table) and illumination from God (lampstand) are pre-requisites to intercession to God (altar). In the exercises of spiritual life, both personally and collectively, we must be in the enjoyment of communion with God and experience illumination from God before we offer intercession to God. The link of communion needs to be preserved and the light from Christ in His Word needs to be known as we intercede at the throne of grace.
The lampstand was located in the Tabernacle’s holy place and positioned in relation to two other pieces of furniture. Access to the holy place was restricted to the priests who entered for particular tasks; it was not an area for casual use. Each piece of furniture in the holy place was used by the priests to exercise specific privileges that only they enjoyed. As the priest entered the holy place, on his right was the table of shewbread, straight ahead before the vail was the altar of incense, and to his left was the lampstand. At the table he enjoyed the privilege of communion with God as he ate the shewbread once each week. At the altar he enjoyed the privilege of intercession to God as he offered incense upon its burning coals. From the lampstand he enjoyed the privilege of illumination from God that enabled him to serve at the altar and table. The lampstand was essential to his ministry of intercession at the altar and communion at the table.
As has often been noted by those who make a study of Tabernacle teaching, there are three interesting forms of light in relation to the Tabernacle. Outside in the court there is natural light that was provided by the creatorial act of the triune God. Inside the holy place there is light from the lampstand which speaks of Christ, and that light was produced by oil which speaks of the Holy Spirit. In the Holiest the only light was the ‘Shekinah’ glory, speaking of God in all His eternal fulness, Jehovah. Neither the natural light nor darkness outside had any effect upon the illumination of the holy place. The lampstand alone provided light for the place of priestly service. Natural illumination, as in the world’s education or learning, does not assist us in our prayers to God or fellowship with God in the holy place; these are spiritual activities that require Divine help. And, thankfully, because of the illumination from Christ by the Spirit that enables and empowers prayer and fellowship with God in the holy place, the deepest darkness of the world outside cannot deter or hinder those spiritual activities. As we become increasingly aware of the spiritual and moral darkness of our age, we should be encouraged to maintain our prayer life and continue feeding upon Christ in meditation before God. The greater darkness creates a greater need to maintain these holy exercises in both collective and individual life.
The priests and high priest served God in the holy place while illuminated by the light from the lampstand; were it not for the light they could not see to perform their duties. Their service included intercession before God at the altar of incense and fellowship with God at the table of shewbread. Both these activities needed the light. Typically speaking, our priestly service in the holy place requires the light of Christ through the Holy Spirit. The holy place speaks of collective and individual intercession to God and fellowship with God. Individually and personally, these functions are found in the daily devotions of a believer’s life as they engage in meditation upon the Scriptures and in prayer to God. These everyday activities of reading the Bible and praying are done in fellowship with Christ and the Holy Spirit. Both collective and individual prayer is through the name of the Lord Jesus, as He instructed His disciples: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you” Jn.16.23. It is through Christ that we “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” Heb.13.15. Our supplications and praise are offered in the power of the Holy Spirit, as exhorted by the apostle Paul: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” Eph.6.18.
The lampstand was not only located in the holy place, but within the holy place it was to be placed “over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south” Ex.26.35. The lampstand’s position within the holy place was not in relation to the altar of incense, but directly related to the table of shewbread. The table and its shewbread spoke of Christ, and the priest eating of the shewbread prefigured our appreciation of Christ as we meditate upon Him. The practical import of its location within the holy place is that our appreciation and assimilation of Christ require the illumination that Christ gives by the Holy Spirit. It was not natural light that helped the priest to feed upon the bread, but the light cast by the seven lamps empowered by the oil. Natural ability and human intelligence do not provide spiritual help to appreciate and assimilate Christ as we meditate upon Him; we need the illumination of the Holy Spirit for spiritual exercises.
While the light from the lamps on the top of the lampstand gave general illumination to the holy place, Ex.25.37 says that the lamps on the top of the lampstand had a particular function to “give light over against it”, referring to the central shaft of the lampstand. The oil that produced the light is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, of Whom the Saviour said, “He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you” Jn.16.14. Time and mental energy spent in meditation upon the Word of God and aided by the Spirit of God will always result in a greater appreciation of the Person of Christ. That increasing understanding and appreciation of Christ will become apparent in a man’s worship, which will not be cold and academic but vibrant and warm with devotion for the Saviour.
The lampstand also had a continual function, as explained by Moses when he said, “And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always. In the tabernacle of the congregation without the vail, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the Lord: it shall be a statute for ever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel” Ex.27.20,21. The lamps on the lampstand were to burn “continually” v.20, R.V., that is, every day, and “from evening to morning” v.21. This requirement was one of those that had the added instruction that it was “a statute for ever” v.21. That solemnised the requirement, so that under no circumstances should the lamps be allowed to go out. Generations may come and go, the priests who functioned in the holy place would die and be replaced, but time did not change the requirement that the lamps should always burn. We will never reach a stage in our spiritual journey where we can neglect the lampstand or allow its light to go out. Every generation needs the ministry of Christ and the Holy Spirit to enable and empower its worship. Technological advancements over the years will never reduce or replace the need for Christ and the Holy Spirit. There were other requirements in relation to the Tabernacle that were to be a statute for ever throughout the generations of Israel; these make a profitable study but are outside the remit of this chapter.
The lampstand provided light particularly, continually, and also perfectly. That there were seven lamps, Ex.25.37, is not without significance, seven being the number associated with Divine completeness. Christ, Who is the Light of the world, provides perfect illumination; He Himself said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” Jn.8.12. The one who follows Him does not walk in spiritual shadows or obscurity: “we walk in the light, as He is in the light” 1Jn.1.7. In Him is the perfection of light; nothing less than He is sufficient and nothing more than He is required. The perfect light that Christ provides for both collective and personal worship and service is what He expects us to use to guide us. The Psalmist said that “in Thy light shall we see light” Ps.36.9. Darkness is error and light is truth; the light of Christ is perfect light that cannot be supplemented by any other light. Spiritual truths can only be seen in spiritual light. John says of Christ that “in Him was life; and the life was the light of men” Jn.1.4. Spiritual life from Christ provides spiritual light. With that spiritual life and in that spiritual light we are enabled to behold the beauties of Christ. What a dark and foreboding place the Tabernacle would have been without the lampstand; the service and worship of God would have been impossible without its light! So, too, what a dark experience were we to try to worship God without Christ, Who is “the light of life”! Well might the apostle say that “ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord” Eph.5.8. The exquisite beauties and glories of the internal structure of the Tabernacle’s holy place and its vessels could not have been appreciated without the light from the lampstand. The illumination provided by the Holy Spirit (of Whom the oil in the lamps speaks) as we meditate upon the Person of Christ (of Whom the lampstand speaks) is essential to an understanding of Christ in the other aspects of the Tabernacle, such as the door, the vail, the linen covering overhead, the table, and the altar of incense. The knowledge and appreciation of Christ are essential to grasping every other Divine truth.
John the Baptist was sent to bear witness of “the true Light, which lighteth every man, that cometh into the world” Jn.1.9. By referring to Christ as “the true Light”, John is not contrasting Him to false lights, but is pointing Him out as the complete and perfect fulfilment of an Old Testament type. Since John’s Gospel is replete with references to the Old Testament, it is reasonable to take “the true Light”, Who is Christ, to be the Antitype of the lampstand in the Tabernacle. As we read through John’s Gospel with the typical teaching of the Tabernacle in mind, we will find that the chronological presentation of Christ by John fits perfectly into the floor plan of the Tabernacle. We can trace the high priest’s pathway from the gate of the court right into the Holiest, behind the vail. In chapter 1 we stand outside the gate of the court where the animals were handed over to the priest for sacrifice and read about “the Lamb of God” v.29. In chapter 3 we move forward inside the gate and the first item to meet our gaze in the court is the altar of burnt offering. The Hebrew word for “altar” signifies that which is lifted up, and we hear the Saviour tell Nicodemus that “the Son of man” must “be lifted up” v.14. In chapter 4 we move forward in the court to the next item, the laver full of water which was used for the removal of defilement, and we listen to the Saviour converse with a Samaritan woman about the water that He could give, v.14, and which, when she received it, cleansed her sinful life. In chapter 5, we see the Saviour remove the defilement of sin and its crippling effects from a paralysed man at the pool of Bethesda, v.9. In chapter 6 we continue to move forward and enter the holy place to see the table of shewbread and hear the Saviour say, “I am that bread of life” v.48. We remain within the holy place in chapters 8 and 9, where the Saviour declares that He is “the light of the world” 8.12; 9.5. In chapter 17 we are still in the holy place, this time at the altar (which means ‘lifted up’), where we see the Saviour with His eyes “lifted up … to heaven” v.1, and notice the incense arising to the Father as we hear Him say, “I pray for them” v.9.
There were two additional items associated with the lampstand, called “tongs” and “snuffdishes” Ex.25.38. They were made out of the same talent of pure gold as the lampstand. They were for the care of the lamps, which was the daily and continual responsibility of Aaron and his sons, Ex.30.7,8. Each morning the priests would trim the wicks and refill the lamps with pure olive oil, and burn incense upon the altar of incense while tending to the lamps. They would check them again in the evening. The lamps were tended morning and evening to ensure they burned brightly. To burn the incense and trim the wicks of the lamps they used the snuffers and snuff dishes. As the oil supply was used, they would replenish it, and as the wick burned they would trim it to keep it burning brightly. “The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, ‘Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the Lord continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations. He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the Lord continually’” Lev.24.1-4.
As noted earlier, the lamps were to burn continually as a solemn statute for ever throughout the generations of Israel. There could be no exceptions, except when being transported from one camping place to the next. The illumination from the lampstand must always be provided and nothing should be permitted to cause it to dim or weaken, and certainly there must be an adequate supply of oil. In our spiritual exercises and worship, nothing should be permitted to dim the truth concerning the Person of Christ; His essential Deity and eternal glory must always be visible. Nothing should be allowed to detract from these essential truths concerning Him. Aaron’s responsibility in dressing the lamps was not corrective action to reignite the flame when it had died out; dressing the lamps was a preventative action to ensure they did not grow dim. In the same way, we should be diligent in our daily attention to the doctrines of Christ, so that our appreciation of His glorious Person throws its illuminating rays upon our communion with God at the table and our intercession with God at the altar of incense. Our enjoyment of communion with God (seen in the table) and our intercession with God (seen in the altar of incense) will be affected if we permit the light from the lamp to grow dim.
The lampstand is one of the pieces of Tabernacle furniture that did not have rings or staves made to facilitate its transportation by the Levites. The lampstand, as with the other vessels of the holy place, was to be carried by the Kohathites when the camp of Israel moved from one location to the next, Num.10.21. The tribe of Levi was divided into its three families: Merarites, Gershonites and Kohathites. The Merarites and Gershonites were provided with ox-drawn wagons to carry the pieces of the Tabernacle assigned to them, but the Kohathites had personally to carry those pieces assigned to them. The table and the altar of incense were carried by staves on the shoulders of the Kohathites, while the lampstand was carried on a bar. The lampstand was covered by a cloth of blue and placed inside badgers’ skins. Each vessel weighed heavily upon those who carried it and with the covering of badgers’ skins it appeared an unremarkable service. Yet, as they traversed the wilderness the Kohathites were reminded that beneath the ordinary looking badgers’ skins covering was a unique vessel wrapped in a cloth of blue. Badger’s skin speaks typically of the humble walk of Christ upon earth, while the cloth of blue reminds us that He was the Man from heaven. These two truths combine with the typical teaching of the lampstand to present the truth that Divine illumination is carried throughout our wilderness journey and is in the Man, Christ Jesus from heaven, Who walked humbly upon earth. Men engaged in priestly service must feel the weight of their responsibility to carry that truth in their wilderness sojourn.
As we come to the end of our brief survey of the lampstand we will summarise it by seeing that it consisted of two main components: the lampstand of pure gold and its oil. Neither component could have functioned as a lamp without the other: the golden lampstand needed the oil, and the oil needed the golden lampstand. For there to be Divine illumination for service and worship, we need both the Person of Christ (the lampstand) and the Holy Spirit (the oil). The oil was burned in seven lamps, one at the top of the main central stem and one on the end of each of the six branches. The purpose of the six lamps on the branches was to light up the main central stem, the lampstand proper. When we turn to Isa.11.2,3 we get a sixfold picture of the Holy Spirit illuminating the Person of Christ. The Holy Spirit is described by Isaiah as the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. As we study Christ in the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will reveal Him to us as the personification of each of these characteristics. Christ is wisdom: the apostle states in Col.2.3 that in Him “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”. Christ is understanding, as recorded by Luke in Lk.2.47: “And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” Christ is the One “in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” Eph.1.11. Christ is might: it is He Who strengthens believers “with all might, according to His glorious power” Col.1.11. Christ is knowledge; how often in John’s Gospel do we read of His knowledge, for example, 2.25? Christ is the fear of the Lord, in the sense of reverence and respect, as stated by Isaiah: “Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear” 8.13.
The Tabernacle, its structure, furniture, and various parts are but a faint shadow of Christ. Let us meditate upon Him daily and glean what illumination we can from His light until the day breaks and we are ushered into the sunlight of His eternal glory where, in the words of Anne Ross Cousin, “the Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land”.
- Wait the morning, it is coming!
- And with Christ in glad array,
- Truly thou shalt see the shadows
- Have forever passed away!
- (Author unknown)