Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Lamp Unto My Feet

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. -- Exodus 25:37

Speak to Aaron and say to him, When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand. -- Numbers 8:2

From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God -- Revelation 4:5

A person entered the eastern gate and came into the courtyard of the tabernacle or the temple.  The first object encountered was the bronze altar of sacrifice.  The next object was a large container filled with water.  This water reflects one aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit.  Water was used both to wash the sacrifices and for washing of the priests prior to their entering the Holy Place beyond. 

The altar speaks of God’s judgment upon sin and, thus, of the Cross.  Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit just as the bulls and goats sacrificed under the Law were washed before being placed upon the fire.  Jesus told His followers to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost; they were to be anointed and sanctified for entry into this new and eternal Holy Place made without hands.

Inside the Sanctuary there is no natural light.  There are no windows.  A lamp was necessary.  As a priest entered the Holy Place, the “Bread of the Presence” would be on the golden table to his right, to his left would be the seven lamps of the Menorah, while, directly in front of him, before the Holy of Holies, was the altar of incense.  The bread reminds us of the Word, of the Word made flesh, of the written word of Scripture, and of the Body of Christ.  It is revelation, but it is revelation that cannot be known or understood in darkness. 

The oil-burning lamp typifies another aspect of the Spirit of God in illuminating the Word and making Him known to us, knowable by us.  There is only one Holy Spirit, just as there was only one lamp in the Sanctuary.  The Spirit, though, is multifaceted, just as the lamp fed oil to seven separate flames on seven separate wicks to disperse shadows from different angles and allow us to see our way clearly.  Even our own shadow cast before us is not so dark and obscuring by the light of the sevenfold Spirit.   

Once we have trusted in the sacrifice of Christ and have been cleansed by His outpouring of the Spirit upon us, if there is anything that comes between us and His manifest presence, as signified by the bread upon the table in the Holy Place, it is the shadow of our old nature.  Even in the Sanctuary, that bit of darkness may fall between us and our Lord.  Perhaps, then, it is meaningful that, in John’s vision, there are seven torches burning “before the throne” so that as one might approach, any shadows would fall behind us. 

I take this to mean that if we follow where He leads, the Holy Spirit will see that nothing comes between us and that His Light is always before us on our way. 


Don Johnson said...

I was just reading Numbers 8 yesterday, oddly enough, in a renewed push through the OT (it's been a few years).

I was ruminating on the lamps and trying (but failing) to remember all the theological significance I learned so long ago.

It's said that timing is everything, and in this case, couldn't have been more perfect.

Seven wicks dispersing shadows from different angles to allow us to see our way clearly - yes, that's an illumination! Thanks for that, Mush.

mushroom said...

Good deal. You are welcome.

julie said...

Thanks for this, Mush. It's very timely; this Lenten season is working out to be a doozy, on so many levels.