By J. Vernon McGee
The floor lamp is not a modern invention, but it is as old as the Tabernacle at least. The Tabernacle contained a floor lamp, and that is what the golden candlestick was in the Holy Place. We are substituting the more descriptive title, "lampstand," for the King James rendering of "candlestick." It was more than a candlestick, as we designate such. The blueprint for it is given in Exodus 25:
And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold. Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount. (Exodus 25:31-40)
The substance of the material for the furniture of the Tabernacle was different in the Holy Place. In the outer court, brass was the prevailing material since it had to do with the judgment of sin. In the Holy Place, gold was the material that predominated. This was no accident or chance occurrence. Gold was the only object that set forth in such a visible way the deity of Christ. Two objects of furniture, the lampstand and the mercy seat, were made entirely of gold.
The lampstand was the perfect symbol of Christ as the Son of God:
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:9)
He was a "light of the Gentiles" (Isaiah 42:6). Had He been philanthropic and had not come out of God, He would have been merely another teacher "that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge" (Job 38:2). He would have only added another ethical system to the already multitudinous and multifarious systems, and He would have been but the harbinger of darkness "through philosophy and vain deceit" (Colossians 2:8). But as the Son of God, He "is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5).
The lampstand was handmade of beaten work and was highly ornamented. There was a central shaft with three branches on a side, making seven branches in all. Each branch contained three sections, each section being beaten into the shape of an almond blossom and a knop. On top of each shaft was an open almond blossom. On each of these were placed the olive oil lamps.
The almond blossoms looked like wood but they were gold, reminding us of Aaron's rod that budded. When Aaron's priestly prerogative was in question, the budding of his almond rod established it. The almond rod, a dead branch, was made to live and to bear fruit. Christ was established as the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. It did not make Him Son of God, for He was that from the eternal counsels of God. Resurrection only confirmed it. Aaron was the God-appointed high priest, and it was confirmed by resurrection in the dead almond rod. The resurrection of Christ, likewise, established His priesthood. Christ is our great High Priest because He became a man, partook of our nature, and "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). But the primary basis of His priesthood is His deity. The priest represented men before God. Christ is God who became a man, and it is now the God-man who represents man. The resurrection which declared Him to be the Son of God likewise declared His priesthood.
There were no measurements given for the lampstand of pure gold. That which speaks of His deity alone cannot be measured, for deity is beyond the computation of man. Neither can a tape measure be placed along that which speaks of God. Again, the priesthood of Christ, which is conditioned on the fact that He became a man, is made to rest on His deity. There is not recorded any incident in the life of Christ in the Gospels which does not instantly record His deity with every mention of His humanity, yet never confusing or fusing the two. In the shortest verse of the Bible, "Jesus wept" (John 11:35), there is recorded a perfectly human incident in His life. It is a characteristic of humanity to weep; it is perfectly natural. But the tears were not dry upon His cheeks before He commanded, "Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43). And Lazarus came forth. That was perfectly divine -- only Deity has the power over death.
One technical point about the lampstand is of interest: It was a lightholder. The olive oil lamps were placed upon the lampstand. The lampstand supported the flame, but the flame revealed the beauties of the golden lampstand. The olive oil lamp is a scriptural symbol of the Holy Spirit. The analogy is striking. Christ sent the Holy Spirit into the world and He supports the Holy Spirit in His work, but the Holy Spirit takes the things of Christ and reveals them unto believers. As the olive oil lamps were supported by the lampstand and they in turn revealed the beauties, thus Christ is the foundation and support for the work of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit in turn reveals the things of Christ (see John 16:12-15).
The lampstand gave light in the Holy Place -- it not being possible for natural light to penetrate there. The priest inside walked by divine light, and he had to go outside for natural light. True worship today is in spirit and truth; it is where the Spirit takes the things of Christ and reveals Him unto the believers. Walking by the light of reason, intellect, science, or the golden rule may be fine and proper for the natural man, but these never lead the soul into the place of fellowship with God. Natural light is the extent of these, and by virtue of the appeal to the natural man, they are indeed dazzling. The moths are attracted, and the light that draws them is their destruction. But the true worshipers behold only Christ, and this is never discerned by the natural man without the aid of the Holy Spirit. The beauties of Christ are never beheld by the natural man but are revealed only by the Holy Spirit.
Divine light was only found in the Holy Place. Only as worshipers in the present age pass by the cross and laver and come to Christ for light are they truly worshiping God. Christ is the Lamp unto our feet, and the Holy Spirit is the Light unto our path (see Psalm 119:105). Christ said, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). The true believers alone know that to be true.
Believers today have been sent into the world as lights: "Ye are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14).We are merely reflectors, to reflect His light. Only as we walk in Him can we be lights in the world. A reflector must be where the light is, in order to reflect it.
Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD. (Isaiah 2:5)