The Golden Lamp-stand
Have you ever been in the dark? – We all have, but I mean really dark. I remember going to the caves in Cheddar gorge. It was off season and we were the only ones – so they showed us a lighting display in the last cavern that they don’t normally show because of it takes too much time and they want to get as many groups through as possible. I think they called it the cathedral – they turned all the lights off in the cave and gradually brought the light up over this vast wall of stalagmites and stalactites. But when they turned the lights off …. Man, it was dark! I mean you literally couldn’t see a thing! Not your hand in front of your face. We need light! We can’t see a thing without it. Everything we need might be right in front of us but unless there is light we cannot see to avail ourselves of it. We need light! We have been looking at the tabernacle – when we outside in the court we could see easily – there was the natural light of the bright Sinai sun [P]. But inside there are gold boards, four layers of coverings, thick curtains [P]. How do you see? You need a source of light – revelation! Last time I spoke about the table of shew-bread – does anyone remember what the table signified? – Fellowship [P]. There is a well known verse about fellowship in [1 John 1:7 if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.] There are light and fellowship together. We need light in order to see the table. The table is fellowship; the “bread of the face” is Jesus made flesh, the Bread of Life. Right there where we have fellowship with Jesus, there is the light shining on the table – the light of the golden lamp-stand! We need light, revelation in order to see Jesus. Jesus is in the light and we are in the light with Him. Hallelujah! So today let us look at the golden lamp-stand [P].
The Golden Lamp-stand
[Exodus 25:31-40 “Then you shall make a lamp-stand of pure gold. The lamp-stand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. “Six branches shall go out from its sides; three branches of the lamp-stand from its one side and three branches of the lamp-stand from its other side. “Three cups shall be shaped like almonds in the one branch, a bulb and a flower, and three cups shaped like almonds in the other branch, a bulb and a flower—so for six branches going out from the lamp-stand; and in the lamp-stand four cups shaped like almonds, its bulbs and its flowers. “A bulb shall be under the first pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the second pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the third pair of branches coming out of it, for the six branches coming out of the lamp-stand. “Their bulbs and their branches shall be of one piece with it; all of it shall be one piece of hammered work of pure gold. “Then you shall make its lamps seven in number; and they shall mount its lamps so as to shed light on the space in front of it. “Its snuffers and their trays shall be of pure gold. “It shall be made from a talent of pure gold (about 30kg), with all these utensils. “See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.] [Numbers 8:2 “Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you mount the lamps, the seven lamps will give light in the front of the lamp-stand.’ ”] This is the “menorah” (show it). The passage describes seven branched candlestick – right? No. What did I just read? Did it mention a candlestick? No; a lamp-stand. Look at the picture – see the lamps at the top? Did it say seven branches? No, six branches. The picture is not quite right – we read that the branches had 3 of these flower/bud thingies (count them) but central stem had four (count them) – so this central branch should have an extra bud, making it higher than the other branches. As we will see, detail is important.
Lamp-stand is the Church: So, what is the lamp-stand? One of the good things about the Bible is that its use of symbolism is consistent throughout – so, we can use Scripture to interpret Scripture: [P] [Revelation 1:12-20 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lamp-stands; and in the middle of the lamp-stands I saw one like a son of man,(that’s Jesus) clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades (it cannot be anyone other than Jesus!). “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things. “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lamp-stands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lamp-stands are the seven churches.] Here there are not seven lamps but seven lamp-stands. What is the purpose of a lamp-stand? – lamps were put on a stand so that their light would shine out [Matthew 5:15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.] And the lamp-stands are what? Churches [P] – the Church is meant to give light. Seven is the number of perfection/completion – it is the Church – perfect spotless, complete. A perfect, Divine creation. The lamp-stand was made of Pure gold [P] – utterly Divine [P] – no wood, nothing of man – it is the perfect Church, where יְהוָה dwells by His Spirit – this is vital for us to see (so I will come back to this point) because we tend to regard the Church as what we see, and that has plenty of wood, it’s man’s creation (purpose driven church) – wood, hay and stubble that will be consumed because it isn’t of God. The light is our witness/testimony before the world [Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world ...... “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.]
Central shaft: Jesus Himself said that the lamp-stands were the churches [P]. So what is the Church? It is the body of Christ. The redeemed, who are joined to Him, those who have died and now Christ lives in them – Christ is their life! Jesus lives through His body, the Church. What makes up the Church? There is a central stem or shaft – what is that? You may have noticed that I have a very simple method of interpretation – what does “so and so” symbolize? Answer: “Jesus”! [P] Jesus is the Stem [Isaiah 11:1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,(Jesus, the Son of David) and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.] Verse 10 speaks of [Isaiah 11:10 Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious.] [Isaiah 4:2 In that day the Branch of יְהוָה will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel.] [Jeremiah 23:5 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares יְהוָה, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.] Jesus is the Branch, a branch that bears fruit – you will find Him referred to as such several times in Messianic prophecy. [Zechariah 6:12 ‘Thus says יְהוָה of armies, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of יְהוָה.] Remember I said that this central shaft, having four almonds and flowers, stood taller than the six branches. Jesus is above all and is central. There is no Church without Him. Jesus is the light of the world [John 8:12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”]
Six branches: We too are the light of the world [Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world….]. This is confusing – is it Jesus or man? They are one! This is the great mystery of the Church! One central shaft, attached to it were six branches. [P] Six is the number of man, short of perfection, created on the sixth day. Only when joined to the central stem are there seven, there is perfection. He is the Vine we are the branches – we have no life or existence apart from Him. We are branches joined to the stem, supported and drawing life from Him. [John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.] We shine forth light into the world [Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.]. There is the gold, the glory of God – glory goes to God, not to us [John 3:21 “He who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”].
Pure gold: Outside, in the court, there is bronze – in the tabernacle – it is gold [P], around 30kg (25-35 kg) of it – that’s about 1,000 troy ounces, or close to US$1,000,000 worth. But density of gold is 19.3 – what does that mean? 10x10x10cm cube holds a litre – if it is full of water it weighs 1kg, if it is gold it weighs 19 kg! So the amount of gold in the menorah is perhaps half as much again as this cube. It is not the huge structure shown in my picture; it would be either a lot smaller or a lot finer in structure. The Church is Divine! Forget about what you see here of politics and man and power-play, of people and their petty selfishness – that is not the Church, that is man’s organisation. That is not God’s Church! Tedder ave is not God’s Church. The Church of God is pure gold. [Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory (gold), having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.] Perfect! [Colossians 1:22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—] [Revelation 19:7-8 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.] [Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;] – A perfect, spotless Divine creation – that is the Church, not the ecclesiastical squabbling, ineptitude and impurity we see. We see the tares amongst the wheat, but God only sees the good seed that He has sown, growing to maturity.
Hammered from one piece: It was hammered out of one piece of gold [P] – that speaks of unity. The branches weren’t glued on! [Ephesians 5:31-32 A man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.] – unity born out of suffering. Glory is always born out of suffering [Romans 8:17-18 If indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.]. Beaten – hammered out in the adversities of its life here on earth. Jesus was bruised and we have the privilege of sharing His sufferings – that is how the Church is forged. Like Jesus, made perfect through suffering. It is adversity that drives us together and reveals the unity (Steve Leppard’s kids). Tribulation reveals whose we really are.
Almond, bulb, flowers: Then there is this strange description of three cups, bulbs and flowers on each branch – the cup was shaped like an almond. The bulb was a calyx – so we have something budding flowering and forming fruit. The rabbis say that the cup was a pomegranate – symbol of fruitfulness [P]. There is the bud and the flower and the fruit – the picture is of growth and development to the ultimate goal of bearing fruit. [Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.] This is what is produced when we are joined to the central stem: [John 15:2 Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples]. The light is the church’s witness – a witness that bears fruit, reproduces, brings life to birth.
The seven lamps: I said that we need light! We have talked about the lamp-stand, but the lamp-stand doesn’t give light, it is the lamps that give the light. We hold up the light so that it can be seen, but the light is not the church. What is it that gives the light? What are the seven lamps? [Revelation 4:5 Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;] The seven lamps – the Holy Spirit – the seven spirits of God or the seven-fold Spirit of God [P] – (you can see the lamps, and snuffers etc.) It shines in front – on Jesus. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus, the Bread of Life, reveals Him in God’s Word. Like in the Cheddar caves you cannot see without the light of the Holy Spirit – Jesus may be there but you cannot see Him – we all need a revelation of Jesus! [testimony – good Christian heritage, doctrinally sound, but then Jesus spoke to me by name! Revelation of the Holy Spirit! I saw Him for real, and the consequence was love for Him who had deigned to notice me!] Notice that the seven-fold Spirit prophesied in [Isaiah 11:1-5 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, (that is Jesus the Branch) and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of יְהוָה will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of יְהוָה. And He will delight in the fear of יְהוָה, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist.] That is a picture of Jesus – the Messiah, the One anointed with the Holy Spirit – that is what “Messiah” means. This branch bears fruit; the spirit comes in three pairs: 1/ spirit of wisdom and understanding; 2/ spirit of counsel and strength; 3/ spirit of knowledge and fear of יְהוָה; plus the central and foremost Spirit of יְהוָה – just like the three pairs of branches on the lamp-stand with its central branch which is Jesus. But the whole thing is Jesus – and the true Church is the body of Jesus – it is Jesus! It is Divine, not this imperfect thing that we so often focus upon. That is the lamp-stand’s purpose to hold up the light. Jesus was filled with the Spirit, the Messiah, anointed with the Spirit of God. The Spirit was poured out upon the church (how often we seek it to be poured out on us individually). We too have an anointing [1 John 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.] The Holy Spirit teaches us all things, and teaches us to abide as branches in the Vine. The Church holds up the light of the Spirit that brings illumination, revelation. The whole purpose was the lamps – without the lamp, the whole thing is useless. Without the Holy Spirit there is no light. The purpose of the church is to radiate light. The light is the result of the pure oil, the Holy Spirit. Remember the disciples closed up in an upper room in Jerusalem after Jesus returned to heaven. What witness were they giving? What light was being radiated? But the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost and what a difference! [Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance, Acts 2:11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”] They were testifying to God – and what was the result? Fruitfulness! [Acts 2:41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.] The lamps were trimmed [Exodus 30:7 “Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it; he shall burn it every morning when he trims the lamps.] There were implements for tending the lamps – making sure the wick was clear of the oil; that the light was shining brightly that a continual unimpeded flow of the Holy Spirit was there. They were made of pure gold – and God works in our lives to ensure that the light is bright, that His church shines forth with the light of the oil of the Holy Spirit, getting rid of impurity and keeping the light from being extinguished. The first message I ever gave in this fellowship was on the lamp. In Hezekiah’s day the lamp had been put out [2 Chronicles 29:1-8 Hezekiah became king. He did right in the sight of יְהוָה, according to all that his father David had done. In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of יְהוָהand repaired them. He brought in the priests and the Levites and gathered them into the square on the east. Then he said to them, “Listen to me, O Levites. Consecrate yourselves now, and consecrate the house of יְהוָה, the God of your fathers, and carry the uncleanness out from the holy place. “For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done evil in the sight יְהוָה our God, and have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of יְהוָה, and have turned their backs. “They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps. “Therefore the wrath of יְהוָה was against Judah and Jerusalem.] It is a tragic thing when church’s lamp goes out, is removed, when there is no light being shone around, when the Holy Spirit is grieved and departed, there is no revelation, when our love for Jesus has grown cold. We carry on faithfully doing what we do, holding to the truth, but it is just form and religion – where is the Holy Spirit? Where is the enthusiasm of our first love? The remedy is to repent! [Revelation 2:1-5 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lamp-stands, says this: ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lamp-stand out of its place—unless you repent.] We need to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. What keeps our love to the end? – the expectant hope of the return of the One we love. Remember the virgins waiting to welcome the returning Bridegroom? [Matthew 25:1-13 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. “Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. “For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. “Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and were sleeping. “But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ “Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. “The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ “But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ “And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. “Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ “But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.] They held lamps – our witness – the foolish had no oil, they were left on the outside, they missed out. They were asleep at the end [Ephesians 5:13-18 All things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.] Some say they were filled with the Spirit when they believed – but here is Paul writing to a church of believers, the very church that in Revelation was in danger of having its lamp-stand removed; and would he tell them to be filled with the Spirit unless there was the possibility they weren’t filled and needed to be? We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, shining forth brightly, ready, awake, eagerly awaiting our returning Lord. The witness of those anointed with the Holy Spirit is vital as we approach the time of our LORD’s return. This is spoken about in [P] [Zechariah 4:2-14 He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see, and behold, a lamp-stand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it; also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side.”(there was a continual supply of the Spirit/oil to the lamps – to ensure an eternal witness) Then I said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, “What are these, my lord?” So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” Then he said to me, “This is the word of יְהוָה to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says יְהוָהof armies. ‘What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” ’ ” Also the word of יְהוָה came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. (It is speaking of the building of the temple, the dwelling place of יְהוָה; we, the Church, are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God is building His Church – but it is not by human power or effort but by His Spirit – it is a Divine Creation) Then you will know that יְהוָה of armies has sent me to you. “For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—these are the eyes of יְהוָה which range to and fro throughout the earth.” Then I said to him, “What are these two olive trees on the right of the lamp-stand and on its left?” And I answered the second time and said to him, “What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?” So he answered me, saying, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.”] This prophecy is clarified in: [Revelation 11:3-4 “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lamp-stands that stand before the Lord of the earth.] See, the light is witness to the world – that is the task of the Church, though this prophecy is referring to two actual men, prophets – Elijah and Moses – who appear in the end times. It is so easy to slip into the routine of doing what we do. It started out as something we did out of our exuberant love for the LORD, but it can end up being just habit. Where has the fire and the light gone? [P] How do we keep it bright and fervent bringing light to a dark world right to the end? It is essential that we are continually filled with the Holy Spirit, that we are seeing Jesus afresh as His light shines upon Him. Only when He is fresh and vital to us does enthusiastic witness pour forth – we can’t help speaking of the One we love. “Lord fill us afresh with your Spirit, that continual flow of oil from the olive tree, that He may reveal Jesus afresh to us so that our love for You will be ever stronger and our delight in your spill over so that others see and are drawn to Your light. Amen!”