Bible Studies - Sanctuary

14. Candlestick or Lamp Stand

The candlestick was placed on the south side of the first apartment of the sanctuary, opposite the table of shewbread (Ex. 26:35). This was the only source of light for the first and second apartments of the sanctuary building which had not windows. The light from the candlestick reflected off the golden walls giving a golden glow to both apartments making enough light for the priests to perform their duties. The lamps were never all extinguished at one time, but shed their light by day and by night (Lev. 24:2).

Although Scripture calls it a candlestick it is not a candlestick on which candles were burnt like one would see in most churches today, but rather a lamp stand that burnt oil. It had a main stem up the middle with three branches coming out each side. Its branches were ornamented with exquisitely wrought flowers, resembling lilies. The six branches had three sets of three ornaments each – an almond like bowl, a knop, and a flower; the main stem had four sets of three ornaments, under each of the three sets of branches was three ornaments, and there was an ornamental base (Ex. 25:32-36). Adding these all up we have seventy ornaments in all. In the Bible seven represents completeness and is considered the prefect number (e.g. 7 days of the week, 7 plagues, 7 churches, etc.), while ten represents fullness, entirety, the sum of all that exists of something (e.g. 10 virgins, 10 commandments, etc.). As there are seven times ten ornaments it could represent the complete fullness with which the lamps lighted the sanctuary, that Jesus is the light of the world, and His church is to spread His light to all the world.

The lamp stand as a whole represents Jesus Christ, "the Light of the world." (John 8:12.) He is "that true Light" who John the Baptist came to bear witness of (John 1:7-9). When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we start to reflect His character and become "... the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid." Matt. 5:14.

The lamp stand was one of only two pieces of furniture in the whole of the Sanctuary that was made of solid gold. The other was the Mercy Seat. Skilful craftsmen using hammers beat one talent or 34.19 kg of solid gold into a beautiful lamp stand along with all the utensils to be used with it (Ex. 25:31, 39). These craftsmen beat and beat the gold making the stem, branches, the flowers, the knops, and the bowls of a most beautiful design for it was to be a copy of the heavenly model to teach mankind heavenly lessons (Ex. 25:40).

The beating of the gold represents how Christ as to be treated while living on this earth. Isaiah tells us :-

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth." Isaiah 53:3-9.

If the people of Christ's time treated our Lord and Saviour so shamefully, can we expect to be treated any better? Let us read a few Scriptures :-

"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2 Timothy 3:12.

"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." 1 Peter 5:10.

"And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another:..." Matt. 10:21-23.

"Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also." John 15:20.

It is clear from these Scriptures that if we live Godly lives like Jesus did we can expect suffering, betrayal, and persecution. Note this is not talking of people being punished for doing something wrong. It is talking of innocent people like Jesus being punished like criminals.

"Through trial and persecution the glory--the character-- of God is revealed in His chosen ones. The believers in Christ, hated and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. On earth they walk in narrow paths; they are purified in the furnace of affliction. They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self- denial and experience bitter disappointments; but thus they learn the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence." The Acts of the Apostles by E. G. White, page 576 par. 4.

The beloved disciple John was given a vision of the heavenly holy place. Let us read what he saw :-

"John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; . . . And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, … And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. … The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." Rev. 1:4, 12, 13, 16, 20.

Seven churches, seven Spirits, seven candlesticks, seven stars? What do they all mean?

According to Uriah Smith in his book entitled Daniel and The Revelation pages 328 – 330, he tells us that the seven churches are the seven periods of the Christian church, from the days of the apostles to the close of probation. Both he and Scripture tell us that the seven candlesticks are or represent the seven churches. Smith also says that "the seven stars which the Son of man held in his right hand [verse 20], are declared to be the angels of the seven churches. The angels of the churches, doubtless all will agree are the ministers of the churches." On the seven Spirits he has this to say, "On the interesting subject of the seven spirits, Thompson remarks: 'That is, from the Holy Spirit, denominated 'the seven spirits,' because seven is a sacred and perfect number; not thus named as denoting interior plurality, but the fulness and perfection of his gifts and operations.'"

The lamp stand was to burn pure beaten olive oil (Ex. 27:20). "This was prepared from unripe fruit 'beaten,' or pounded in a mortar rather than crushed in a mill. As a result, it was clear and colorless and burned brightly, with little smoke. … The seven lamps were never all extinguished at one time, but burned continuously day and night (PP 348) except when the tabernacle was in transit from one campsite to another." The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol 1 on Ex. 27:20.

"Read and study the fourth chapter of Zechariah. The two olive trees empty the golden oil out of themselves through the golden pipes into the golden bowl from which the lamps of the sanctuary are fed. The golden oil represents the Holy Spirit." Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers by E. G. White, page 188 par. 2.

There are several warnings in Scripture relating to the Holy Spirit. We are not to grieve "the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:30.) Neither are we to blaspheme or speak against the Holy Spirit for this is an unpardonable sin (Matt. 12:31, 21; Mark 3:28, 29).

The oil was clear and colourless so that you could not see it, only what it produced which was the flame. This is true of the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. You cannot see the Holy Spirit in someone's life, only the effect that the Holy Spirit has on the person's character (John 3:5-8).

The High Priest was the only one who was allowed to perform the sacred duty of trimming and lighting the lamps in the earthly sanctuary (Ex. 30:7, 8). Every evening he was to snuff out the flame, replenish the oil, and relight the flame one lamp at a time. Every morning he was to trim the lamp so that it shone more brightly. The lighting and trimming of the lamps was a beautiful type with a daily lesson for us. In the morning we need the Holy Spirit to direct us during the day; and at evening we need it to enlighten our minds as we review the work of the day, that we may detect the flaws in our lives.

The care of the lamps and the burning of the incense were performed as one duty. So the way in which we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives is by prayer. Morning and evening at the altar of pray we should ask for a fresh supply of the Holy Spirit. Especially should we ask for the Holy Spirit to help us understand the Word of God. We cannot comprehend the word of the Lord without the Spirit to enlighten our minds for spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).

The purpose of the lamp stand was to give light, so it should be our purpose to our "... light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matt. 5:16.

"No other light ever has shone or ever will shine upon fallen man save that which emanates from Christ. Jesus, the Saviour, is the only light that can illuminate the darkness of a world lying in sin. Of Christ it is written, 'In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.' John 1:4. It was by receiving of His life that His disciples could become light bearers. The life of Christ in the soul, His love revealed in the character, would make them the light of the world.

"Humanity has in itself no light. Apart from Christ we are like an unkindled taper, like the moon when her face is turned away from the sun; we have not a single ray of brightness to shed into the darkness of the world. But when we turn toward the Sun of Righteousness, when we come in touch with Christ, the whole soul is aglow with the brightness of the divine presence." Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing by E. G. White, page 39 par. 2, and page 40 par. 1.

© S. D. Goeldner

© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2011. Last updated August, 2020.

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