This article looks at the golden lampstand in the tabernacle as it is explained in Exodus 25:31-39 and Leviticus 24:1-4. It explains that the lampstand pointed to God as the Lightgiver and Lifegiver.

Source: The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, 2008. 3 pages.

The Golden Lamp Read Exodus 25:31-39, 27:20, and Leviticus 24:1-4

And 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 forever in your generations. He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually.

Leviticus 24:1-4

“Darkness, darkness, darkness. Death, death, death.” Reuben didn’t know what to say or do. For six months, his beloved priest and mentor, Elnathan, had been sinking deeper and deeper into depression. He had tried praying for him and with him. He had tried encouraging him with Messianic prophecies. He had even risked mild rebuke. He had tried to relieve him of stressful duties. He had tried everything, and still Elnathan moped around, muttering over and over, “Darkness, darkness, darkness. Death, death, death.”

Reuben was doubly worried today because it was Elnathan’s turn on the Golden Lamp rota. The Golden Lamp was the second of three pieces of furniture behind the curtain in the Tabernacle’s Holy Place — the other items being the Table of Shewbread and the Golden Altar of Incense. The Golden Lamp had to be kept burning before the Lord continually, and this was what was stressing Reuben. It was Elnathan’s turn to refill the oil to keep the lamp burning, and yet Elnathan could hardly look at the Holy Place, never mind enter it and perform his duties. And if Elnathan didn’t replenish the oil, and the Golden Lamp went out, what would happen? Would God’s judgment fall? Would God’s presence withdraw from the Tabernacle? Would Elnathan be punished?

Deep Darkness🔗

Reuben approached Elnathan’s study-tent, hoping he might find his old friend in a better frame of mind today. Surely God would give enabling grace today. But, as he opened the tent door, the sobbing sound sank his heart. Then the familiar lament: “When, oh when will the light shine again? When, oh when will life return? As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panted my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.”

Reuben fell to the floor and lay beside his broken-souled mentor. “Elnathan, sir, please come to the Tabernacle. It’s your turn to re-fill the oil of the Golden Lamp.”

“No. I can’t do that,” answered Elnathan. “I’m not fit to do that. I am so dark inside. It’s I that needs to be re-filled and re-lit.”

“But, sir,” pled Reuben, “perhaps God will shine into your heart through the Golden Lamp. Is it not worth a try?”

“Oh Reuben, you are a godly young man. Why do you bother with such an old, unworthy sinner like me? I should be teaching and encouraging you in the faith, and instead you are teaching and encouraging me in the faith. What a state I’m in! But, you’re right. I’m not going to get light and life lying here, am I? I should do my duty. Help me up, and bring me the horn of oil.”

Two Hours Later...🔗

At last, Reuben sensed some movement. It had been ages since he had pushed Elnathan beyond the curtain and into the Holy Place to refill the Golden Lamp with oil. As the curtain was swept aside, out bounded Elnathan — a changed man! “Light, light, light! Life, life, life!” he exclaimed. “Reuben, Reuben. Wait until I tell you what I’ve just experienced. You were right. The Lord shone into my dark heart through the Golden Lamp. Oh, but of course, you’ve never seen the Lamp. Let me describe it and then I’ll tell you what happened.

The Lightgiver🔗

“The Golden Lamp is about the size of a small child and is made of fine gold — about seventy-five pounds in weight. The golden base has one main stem. Halfway up this main stem, six other stems branch out, making seven stems in all. On the end of each stem are small oil bowls each filled with high-quality oil and a burning wick. Our fathers taught us that the use of fine gold in the Tabernacle usually symbolizes deity. The fact that there are seven stems and seven lights supports this, as God often uses the number ‘seven’ to depict perfection and completeness. This perfection and wholeness is underlined by the gold being of one piece. So, we’ve always believed that the Golden Lamp was a picture sermon about God, the divine Lightgiver.

“However, our gracious God revealed something more to me today. As I re-filled the oil in each cup, the Holy Place began filling with light. So I prayed, ‘Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon me. Shine Thy light into my dark soul. Show me Thy salvation.’ Then, while gazing at the Lamp, God revealed the Messiah to my soul. He showed me that one day the Golden Lamp will come alive. The divine Lightgiver will come to this earth. And He will not only enlighten the Holy Place; He will be the inextinguishable light of the whole world! Those who follow Him will not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life. He will dispel the darkness of ignorance, error, and impurity, and replace it with the light of knowledge, truth, and purity. Oh, Reuben, light, light, light!

The Lifegiver🔗

“But that’s not all. As the Holy Place and my own soul bright­ened, I examined the Lamp more closely than ever before. And I saw that the seven branches of the Golden Lamp were deco­rated with intricate patterns and shapes resembling the three stages of tree-life — bud, blossom, and fruit. The main trunk (three to four feet high), the six branches, and the ornamenta­tion all together gave the impression of a beautiful, fruit-bear­ing tree. Of course, my memory went back to the Tree of Life, sadly forfeited by our first parents’ sin. But before I plunged into despair again, the Lord showed me that this Golden Tree also looked forward and depicted the Messiah. Reuben, the Golden Tree will come alive when the Messiah comes. He will be heavy with the bud, blossom, and fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, and more. He will be a Tree of Life whose leaves will be for the healing of the nations. Reuben, He is life, life, life!”

A New Song🔗

Reuben could hardly believe the transformation in his dear friend. God had graciously blessed him with two marvelous insights into the person and work of the Messiah, revealing Him as the Lightgiver and the Lifegiver. In doing so, He had replaced Elnathan’s darkness and death with light and life. The two friends embraced and walked home praising God with a new song in their mouths: “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

Study Questions:🔗

  1. Study Zechariah 4 and identify parallels with this passage; then consider how those parallels point to Jesus Christ.
  2. What causes “darkness and death” in the life of a believer?
  3. What should you do when your own soul feels dark and dead?
  4. In what practical ways can Christians be lights in the world (Matt. 5:14; Eph. 4:8)?
  5. How do we increase the brightness of our light (John 8:12)?
  6. What does the Golden Lamp teach us about heaven (Rev. 21:23)?
  7. What does oil symbolize in the Bible?
  8. Jesus was filled with the Spirit without measure, and anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows (John 3:34; Heb. 1:9). What did that mean for Him in everyday life?
  9. What fruits of the Spirit are still in the bud or blossom stage in your life? How can you grow them beyond that to the fruitful and useful stage?
  10. Read what happened to Belshazzar in Daniel 5:5 when he mishandled the Golden Lamp (KJV: candlestick”). What does that teach us?

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