Light of the World
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:
And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it (Ex. 25:31, 32, 37).
God's instructions to Moses for the candlestick was that it be of pure gold in its entirety. Gold is the most precious of all metals and symbolizes Deity. The golden candlestick represents Jesus Christ as the light of the world. Jesus Himself so stated, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5).
Side view of Tabernacle. Note the position of the lamp on the south side.
This golden candlestick stood on the left or south side of the holy place as the priest entered through the first curtain. The table of shewbread stood on the north side opposite it. and the golden altar of incense stood in front of the veil, between the other two pieces of furniture. The light was necessary to the priests, because there were no windows in the Tabernacle; God did not allow them in the pattern. The oil in the light, representing the Holy Spirit, was the only source of light by which the priest was to serve in the tabernacle. The light of the candlestick points both to the Lord Jesus Christ as the living Word and also to the written Word of God; the two being inseparable. David said: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105).
The following is quoted from deHaan in The Tabernacle,* p. 99:
"The light of nature on the outside is the light of human reason, philosophy and speculation. It is a light that shuts out God in the tabernacle, and blinds the worshiper to the things which are spiritual... Instead of faith, the individual substitutes reason and philosophy. Instead of the blood as the only remedy for sin, he substitutes religion, morality, ethics, ordinances, education, psychology, and psychiatry. Paul says, The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (I Corinthians 2:14.) But the believer inside the tabernacle, which is Christ, is to walk in the light, even as He is in the light. The light of the Word of God is the only true light, the only infallible light, the only safe guide and rule of life and conduct and practice for the believer."
The candlestick was fed by the oil of the sanctuary, specially ordered and prepared of God.
And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always. (Ex. 27:20)
The candlestick was fueled by oil, which was also used to anoint the priests. The oil represents and is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Lamp, the Holy Spirit is the oil that fuels the lamp. We believers, as His Body, and of His branches, have the oil of the Spirit to fuel and empower us also. We are to be “filled with the Spirit.”
The Body of Christ
The golden candlestick speaks not only of Christ but of His Body. It had seven branches with a central upright shaft and three branches coming out on each side. The candlestick can be seen in correlation with the vine that Jesus talked about in John 15:5 when He said, I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Believers are also the light of the world, because Christ shines in and through them. Ye are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). He told us not to hide our light under a bushel but let it shine. To do that we must be filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit and our wicks kept constantly trimmed. We are told by Paul in the New Testament to be “filled with the Spirit.” The lamp filled with oil is a type of that. As the candlestick received all of its light from the oil, and not from the outside light, so too the Church, the Body of Christ, is to shed forth the light of revelation, and not the light of nature. The Church, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, is to shine with the light of the Holy Spirit of God, showing forth the personality of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said: Ye shine as light in the world. (Phil. 2:15)
We are called to be born again of the Spirit. This is the only way that we can overcome the world with all its troubles and sorrows. The only spiritual light that men have today must come from those who are joined and united as branches of the true candlestick to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Why was the lamp in the Holy Place and not in the Outer Court or the Holy of Holies? Remember that the Court symbolizes the body, the Holy Place the soul, and the Holy of Holies the spirit. The soul contains the mind, and it is the mind that needs illumination. One cannot truly understand the Word of God unless he has the Light of the Holy Spirit. Revelation of Christ is what shines the Light on the true meaning of the Word of God. A literal reading of the Word of God is good and must be foundational to understanding. But the Spirit inspired the Word and the Spirit interprets the Word for the believer. Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. (2 Cor. 3:6.) It is for this reason that Paul stated that the natural mind cannot understand spiritual things; (2 Cor. 2:14) because it cannot understand the things of the Spirit unless the Light of the Spirit shines into the mind.
The Holy of Holies (smaller of the two rooms of the Tabernacle) has the Light of God’s Shekinah Glory, and when we enter there we stand in His very Presence before the throne of Grace. We are redeemed first in our spirit, and then we are to renew our minds on truth. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom. 12:2) Spiritual light does not come to the mind until the veil of separation is torn asunder, making the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place one. This happens when one is regenerated, or born again. However, since the entire Tabernacle is a type of Christ, it is fitting that He be typified as the Light of the World in the Holy Place, where praise, worship and prayer go forth. True worship of God takes place in the mind and will, as an outflow from the regenerated spirit. Remember that Jesus told the Woman at the Well (John 4:24) that true worshippers worship God in Spirit and in Truth. These are fully symbolized in the furnishings of the Holy Place.
*The Tabernacle, M. R. deHaan, 1955, Lamplighter Books, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Next: The Table of Shewbread
Index of Tabernacle Subjects