The golden candlestick
The Tabernacle building consisting of the Holy place and the Holiest of all was the place of fellowship and communion with God. It was the preserve of those who were priests. Since in the NT age all believers are priests, 1 Peter 2:9, the sanctuary represents the fellowship all saints are to have with God. Each has the duty and the privilege of entering the sanctuary and enjoying communion with Him. In some sense this sanctuary represented Heaven. The golden glory, the cherubim overhead — but it was heaven upon earth. It was an experience of glory that was enjoyed while standing on the sands of the desert! This is what the place of worship is to be for the believer. Whether or not you are ready for Heaven is indicated by your experience in the place of worship here on earth.
In the holy place there were 3 items of furniture — each representing Christ in some aspect of His ministry for His people. First we will consider the golden lampstand.
I ITS CONSTRUCTION AND SIGNIFICANCE.
1. Christ’s Divine glory.
The lampstand was made entirely of gold. We have already seen that gold is a representation of Divine glory. Here is Christ glorified, manifesting the glory of the Godhead. We are not considering Him here as the God-man during His ministry on earth but rather as the glorified Saviour Who continues His work for His people from Heaven. To have a complete view of Christ we must consider Him in His humiliation and His exaltation. The work of His humiliation is complete. The work of His exalted state continues. From His place at God’s right hand the Saviour exercises His ministry among His redeemed people. See Hebrews 10:12, Romans 8:34. It is striking to see that the candlestick occupied this very location with reference to the Ark, Exodus 26:35. In Hebrew the south = on the right hand – but from the perspective of the Ark which represented the throne of God.
2. In glory Christ’s humanity is still seen.
While there is no shittim wood involved in the construction of the lampstand there is a reminder of wood in it. Its design incorporated an ornamental resemblance to an almond tree — branches ornamented with buds, flowers and almonds, Exodus 25:33. Each side branch had 3 bowls made like almonds, also knops, flowers. The central shaft had 4 sets, Exodus 25:34. The type here is not so much His sinless, incorruptible humanity but that which typifies Christ in His resurrected and glorified humanity. The almond tree is a symbol of new life, being the first to bud in Israel in Bible times. The link with the resurrection is also maintained in Num 17 where Aaron’s rod budded, bloomed and bore almonds after it was cut off and dead. Even in glory the human nature of Christ is seen. When He comes in glory it will be as the Son of man, Matthew 25:31. The fulness of His glorified life is seen here in the buds, flowers and fruit.
His work as the God-man is further represented by the beating Exodus 25:31 that produced this lampstand. His suffering is set before us. Christ still bears the wounds of the cross, John 20:20, Zechariah 12:10, 13:6. His ministry from Heaven is built upon the foundation of His suffering and resurrection.
3. Seven lamps.
There were seven oil-fed lamps (not candles) that burned at the end of the seven branches. Cp Revelation 4:5. The language here is a deliberate echo of the imagery of the Tabernacle with its lamps burning before the mercy seat/God’s throne. Christ ministers to His people through the Spirit of Christ. It is through Christ that the Spirit comes to believers and specially through the fact that He has risen and ascended to glory. Cp John 16:7, 15:26, Acts 2:31-33. Here is the source of perfect and complete light. It is the Holy Spirit who enlightens the mind of those in darkness by the light of His word to see Christ, to see His glory, to see Heaven opened and to have fellowship with God. Illumination is the work of the Spirit of Christ, John 14:26, 2 Corinthians 4:6.
II THE PURPOSE OF THE CANDLESTICK.
1. Its purpose was to give light.
(i) There was no natural light in the sanctuary. When the priest stepped into this place he stepped into an environment that was only illuminated to him by the lampstand. Without it he would have been in darkness and the glories of that place would have been hidden from him. To see Christ and His glories, to fellowship with God and have communion with Him we need light to illuminate our natural darkness. That light is only found in a Divine source. Cp Psalm 36:9, 1 John 1:7. Christ by His Spirit illuminates the hearts of men. How does He do so? Through His word, Psalm 119:105, 130, Isaiah 8:20, 2 Peter 1:19.
(ii) The one who has been justified at the altar, has been sanctified at the laver, still needs a Divinely provided light in order to know God. Our reliance must ever be entirely upon the Spirit of Christ as we come to meet God. We will see nothing without His ministry. Rather we will blunder about in darkness in a world of glory.
(iii) The activities of that place were illuminated by the lampstand. The ministry of prayer was conducted in its light; eating the divinely provided bread was by the light of this candlestick. Christ’s offices and ministry revealed in the furniture of the place were only understood in this light. How easy it is to go astray in the dark! So many err in relation to Christ and His work, and the activities of worship because they arenot walking in the light of truth.
2. The lamps burned at all times.
Cp Exodus 27:20-21. ‘Continually’, day and night this light burned in the sanctuary. It will be seen here that there was a role for the people and for the priests to play. If they desired to have the light burn in the sanctuary they must take whatever steps God commanded to make that possible. The people were to bring the oil, the priest to trim and maintain the lamps. We are to see to it that at all times the light of the Spirit of Christ burns within our souls and illuminates our paths, and especially our worship.
The coverings of the candlestick
Cp Numbers 4:9-10. When on the move the lampstand had a double covering. The first of blue is to remind us of the truth that the light it represented had a heavenly source. The second covering of badgers’ skins is another reminder that Christ though the source of Divine light is unappealing and unattractive to the natural mind.