“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Light of the World

Exodus 25:31-40 -- "You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand shall be made of hammered work: its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. And there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch--so for the six branches going out of the lampstand. And on the lampstand itself there shall be four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers, and a calyx of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out from the lampstand. Their calyxes and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it a single piece of hammered work of pure gold. You shall make seven lamps for it. And the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it. Its tongs and their trays shall be of pure gold. It shall be made, with all these utensils, out of a talent of pure gold. And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.

Again, we find ourselves in the Holy Place, and again, I want to set the stage; we would have just walked in from the wind and dust and dirt of the outside court, with its smell of burning flesh and smoke. It was have been a place of frenetic activity and noise, and we would have had our eyes focused on getting into the Tabernacle proper. So, we pull back the curtain and enter in… And what do our senses tell us? Well, first they tell us that we have entered into a place totally different than the outside world from which we had just come. Second, the heavy outside curtain would block the wind and noise out, so we would notice a stillness, a peace. John 14:27 - "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid…”

What is the next thing we notice? There is a smell that is vastly different than the outside world, the wonderful aroma of the incense burning inside the Holy Place. We will talk more about that in a later post, but needless to say, the incense creates a very special part of the environment, and we will look at how the incense of our prayers also creates this environment. But then as our eyes adjust, you notice that there is but ONE light source in an otherwise sealed tent. It would have been pitch-black in the Tabernacle without the light of the Menorah. There were several coverings that kept out all outside light, and required that the light of the Menorah be used. This light was burning continually.

As we draw closer to the Messiah, the light of this world dims, and He becomes our sole source of light. Many Christians try to balance the light of this world and the light of Messiah. They are constantly holding the Bible up to scrutiny using methods and tools of men. We see this in groups, such as the Jesus Seminar, who ‘judged’ the LIGHT of the Messiah by the light of man’s wisdom! This is like checking the light of the sun by using a 60-watt bulb.

We stand before the lamp stand, not only admiring its beauty, but also recognizing it as the light that God has provided for His priests. This light, which we will explore in greater detail, shines from one source, and that is the Messiah Himself!

As we examine the lampstand, we find that it is made entirely out of gold. This shows the divinity of the Messiah, the inestimable worth of His Person. In Paul’s introduction of himself in Ephesians 3:8 we find this -- To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ... And again in Philippians 4:19 -- And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

THE LIGHT

The Menorah was THE light in the Tabernacle. John 1:1–13 -- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

During the Messiah’s discussion with Nicodemus in John 3, we hear Him speak some well-known words, but let us put them in context today; John 3:16–21 -- "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God."

We see this very clearly in today’s world; the world opts for the darkness then is confused as to why it struggles. Even some in the church choose darkness, allowing for the ‘natural light’ of this world to illuminate their view. When walking into many churches today, one notices a lack of true light, and instead an overabundance of 'artifical'light. If you removed the light in the tabernacle you were in complete darkness, and we find those today who claim to want to be in the Tabernacle, but insist that they be able to bring in their own light!

Ephesians 5:1–13 -- Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.

I must admit that I am guilty of bringing in my own light at times, and I am often convicted of things in my own life that need the light of Messiah to shine on them. Just as you rid a home of mold and musty smells, in the same way our lives should be exposed to combination of light (Messiah) and fresh air (Holy Spirit) to draw the musty smell out of our lives. Do you have musty closets in your heart that could use some light and a good airing out!

THE CHURCH

The lampstand is also indicative of the church. We find the Messiah in the midst of seven churches in Revelation 1:12, 13. We observed the great worth of Messiah, but what of the bride? Ephesians 5:25–27 -- Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

If you read how the Menorah, or lampstand was constructed, this is what you find; the word translated ‘stem’ in Exodus 25:31 is yarek. This word means loins, and is used elsewhere in the Scriptures to describe descendents, i.e. Genesis 46:26 -- All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt, who came from his body [yarek], besides Jacob's sons' wives, were sixty-six persons in all.

So there is a central yarek, and off of that six other branches shoot. Interestingly, six is the number of man, and seven the number of God. Here we see that with Messiah we number seven, and without Him as the central part of our life, we number six. So, not only is the lampstand symbolic of the Messiah, but also of those who live IN the Messiah as well.

1st John 1:5–7 -- This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice 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 cleanses us from all sin.

Again in 1st John 2:8–11 -- At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

We are not only to be in His light, but be reflectors of it as well. The lost and dying world is so desperate for a glimpse of the light of God, and yet sometimes we are guilty of hiding the light [Matthew 5:14–16]. Let us not only bask in the light of our Messiah, but also reflect it through our lives and actions!

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