Ron Thomas
Sermon by Pastor Ron Thomas

"The Tabernacle: Celebrating
The God Who Comes Near"

Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040

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Preached 5/14/2008

The Tabernacle: Celebrating The God Who Comes Near
Lesson Six: The Golden Lampstand-Lighting Our World

Key Verse: Exodus 25:8. "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them."

Text: Exodus 25:31-40. "And thou shalt make a candlestick (men-o-raw' lamp stand) of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick (men-o-raw' lamp stand) be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops (bulbs), and his flowers, shall be of the same. 32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick (men-o-raw' lamp stand) out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick (men-o-raw' lamp stand) out of the other side: 33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop (bulb) and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop (bulb) and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick (men-o-raw' lamp stand). 34 And in the candlestick (men-o-raw' lamp stand) shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops (bulbs) and their flowers. 35 And there shall be a knop (bulb) under two branches of the same, and a knop (bulb) under two branches of the same, and a knop (bulb) under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick (men-o-raw' lamp stand). 36 Their knops (bulbs) and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. 37 And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. 38 And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold. 39 Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. 40 And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount."

Introduction: Our study of the Tabernacle has us leaving the outer court, and entering the Tabernacle proper. The Tabernacle proper was a rectangular building set within the outer court, which was divided into two sections. The first was the holy place, which was thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide and tall. The second room was the most holy place or the holy of holies, which was fifteen feet square. A thick veil or curtain separated the holy place from the most holy place. As the priest offered his sacrifice at the brazen altar and washed himself at the brazen laver, he pulled back the curtain door of the Tabernacle proper, and reverently entered into the holy place. There were three pieces of furniture in the holy place, the golden lampstand, the table of shewbread, and the golden altar of incense. Of the three, the golden lampstand would be the first to gain your attention. As we enter the holy place, our first focus will be the golden candlestick or lampstand.

Some of you might remember a famous performer who played the piano named Liberace. His audiences loved what he called ''Reader's Digest versions'' of familiar melodies. Liberace whipped through Chopin's ''Minute Waltz'' in 37 seconds, and Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, which usually filled both sides of a long-playing record, in four minutes. His secret, he said, was ''cutting out the dull parts.'' Liberace would have been a great preacher!

Early in his career, Liberace realized that clothes make the man. Liberace's glitzy costumes and extravagant showmanship, made him almost as famous as his piano playing. Somewhere along the way, Liberace added to his show a giant candelabra that would sit on the piano as he played. What started as a gimmick, became a trademark.

We are tempted to think of Liberace's candelabra as we enter the holy place. The King James translators translated the Hebrew word (men-o-raw') as "candlestick." Obviously by the description in our text, there are no candles mentioned. As far as we know, candles were not yet invented. It would give us a clearer image to call this a lampstand. This lampstand held not candles, but seven oil lamps. The lampstand stood on the south side of the holy place. As you entered the holy place, it was on your left.

This lampstand was not your typical lampstand. The golden lampstand was actually an exquisite, expensive work of art, hammered out from one piece, an entire talent of pure gold, weighing 75 pounds! The golden lampstand consisted of three main parts, the base, the shaft, and the branches. Out of the base, a vertical shaft arose, and from either side of the shaft, there sprang three branches curving outward and upward. At the end of each branch as well as at end of the shaft, was a socket or receptacle in the shape of an almond flower. Into these seven open flowers were placed seven bowls or oil lamps. The seven oil lamps resting in the flower petals were like small bowls. A flax or linen wick would be placed in the lamps, which were to burn continually! Leviticus 24:1-2 says, "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually." Exodus 30:7-8 reveals that twice every day, morning and evening, a priest attended to the wick and replenished the pure beaten olive oil for the lamps.

For the service of the golden lampstand, the priests were provided tongs to trim the wicks, and snuff dishes, to hold and transport the trimmings. Notice Exodus 25:38. "And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold."

The lampstand was a work of extraordinary beauty. The decoration was so exquisite and intricate, God commanded that only the most highly skilled craftsmen who were filled with the Holy Spirit, should make it. It was designed using almond flowers, buds and blossoms. Almond in Hebrew means "the awakening one," because the almond tree was the first tree to awake from the sleep of winter and blossom. It spoke of the speedy and powerful result of light. The seven lamps were set in place, so that they would illuminate the holy place. The illumination was a constant reminder that God was with His people.

Why were there seven lamps used in the golden lampstand? We know that The number seven is the number of completion or perfection. While the sun illuminated the outer court, God was pictured in the light that illuminated the holy place. There were no windows in the Tabernacle proper, therefore the golden lampstand was the sole means of light in the holy place. The light of the seven lamps which was not a natural light, but an spiritual inward light, placed there by God. The Holy of Holies, was illuminated by God Himself. The light of His presence or the shekinah glory was there.

The actual size of the lampstand is not given. Jewish tradition tells us that it was five feet tall and three and one half feet wide. Later, when King Herod renovated the second Temple, he had a seven branched golden lampstand made, which was intended to resemble the golden lampstand of the tabernacle. We can see Herod's lampstand reproduced on the famous Arch of Titus in Rome, which was constructed by the emperor Domitian, commemorating the capture and sack of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The golden lampstand became a trophy of war. While the measurements of the lampstand on the arch is two feet eight inches tall, and two feet wide; if you measure it in proportion to the people represented on the arch, as well as the table of shewbread on the same sculpture, it appears that the Jewish traditional measurement is close to being accurate.

The seven branched menorah used in the Tabernacle and Temple, is one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith. It has been said that the menorah is a symbol of the nation of Israel and it's mission to be "...a light unto the nations." They quote Isaiah 42:6, "I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles." The sages emphasize that light is not a violent force; therefore Israel is to accomplish its mission by setting an example, not by using force.

After the last Temple was destroyed, a tradition developed not to duplicate anything from the Temple, and therefore at least for a period of time, menorah's no longer had seven branches. The use of six-branched menorahs became popular, but in modern times, some rabbis have returned to the seven-branched menorahs. The lampstand in today's synagogues, called the "ner tamid," the continual lamp or eternal flame, symbolizes the menorah.

The golden lampstand obviously speaks of God's illuminating light in a dark world. If the Tabernacle represents our threefold being, the outer court our physical body, the holy place our spiritual soul, and the holy of holies our spirit, then we must conclude that minus the illumination of God, we are in the dark! This is the biblical world view. Our world lies in darkness! Isaiah 60:2 says, "For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee." Satan and sin has blinded the minds of this world. They live from day to day in the darkness of sin, but God has pierced the darkness! The golden lampstand teaches us that God has sent His light to illuminate this dark sinful world. As we focus on the golden lampstand, we are made to see:

Three Great Lights Lighting Our World

First, in the golden lampstand, we are made to see The light of Jesus Christ. John 1:4-5 says, "In Him (in Christ) was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." John tells us that Jesus Christ who made the world and created life, came to bring God's light of life to a dark, sinful world! This is the light that must pierce the darkness of sinful man's heart! Paul writes in II Corinthians 4:6, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Do you see the truth here? When we come to the brazen altar confessing our identity as sinners before God and accept God's blood atonement provided in Jesus Christ, we are sanctified, set apart "in Christ" at the brazen laver, and the very light and life of Jesus lives in us, illuminating our hearts, minds, and lives! Man is blind apart from Jesus Christ. Man cannot know God apart from Jesus Christ who is the light of the world!

In the lampstand made of pure gold the symbol of purity and holiness, with it's seven lamps, the symbol of divine perfection; we see Jesus Christ. In Revelation 4:5, we are shown seven lamps, standing before the throne. These seven lamps describe the complete person and ministry of the Holy Spirit of God. It says, "And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." This sevenfold or complete ministry of the Holy Spirit, was witnessed in the anointed One or Messiah, Jesus Christ as prophesied by Isaiah in Isaiah 11:1-3. "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears." Jesus lived and ministered as the anointed of God, a man filled with the Holy Spirit of God!

In John 8, we find Jesus standing in the Temple treasury, which was a very busy, very public place. The occasion was the Festival of Tabernacles. There was a special ceremony connected with this festival. On the evening of its first day there was a ceremony called "The Illumination of the Temple," which took place in the Court of the Women. There in the midst of the court, were placed four great menorahs. As evening approached and it grew dark, these four great menorahs were lit, which sent a blaze of light that could be seen throughout the city of Jerusalem. It was in this place and setting that Jesus made His great declaration, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." What a statement! What was Jesus saying? He was saying, "As you witness the brilliant light illuminating the Temple, piercing the darkness, know that I am the light of the world. This light in the Temple burns for one exciting night. My light never dies, and he who faces and follows my light, need never be in darkness. I am the light that comes from God. The light that gives life. The light that is never extinguished!"

Second, in the golden lampstand, we are made to see The light of the Christian. Once we come to the light of Jesus Christ, He illuminates our hearts and lives! The Holy Spirit pictured in the oil that filled the seven lamps, fuels our lives! He shines a light on our conscience, awakening us to sinful thoughts, sinful speech, sinful actions and influences. We can no longer walk in darkness, and be content or at peace! The light that illuminates our heart and minds, must direct our feet! Notice Paul's words in Ephesians 5:8-11. "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." The light of Jesus should shine through our attitudes, values, decisions, and actions everyday. The darkness of our culture is no reason to dim our light. The darker the world around us, the brighter our lights should shine. Philippians 2:15 reads, "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."

Just as the priests daily trimmed the wicks and filled the oil bowls of the seven lamps, as believers, we are responsible to keep or maintain our hearts before the Lord. We must daily trim off the things in our lives that would diminish our witness for Jesus, and make sure we are filled with or controlled by the Holy Spirit of God within us! Paul in Ephesisans 5:18, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit."

Third, in the golden lampstand, we are made to see The light of the Lord's church. In Revelation 1:20, the Lord Jesus Christ describes the seven churches of Asia, as seven "candlesticks" or lampstands. It says, "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." As the Head of His church, Jesus the light of the world, our high priest and final judge, stands in the midst of His churches! What does this say about the Lord's churches? Each and every church is known by Jesus, and is to be a light to the world! How? Two ways!

First, Every church must remember that it is the body of Jesus Christ. As a body, we must have His eyes see, His feet to go, His heart to love, His arms to embrace, His hands to serve, His mind to share. When someone enters this church, he or she should feel the very power and presence of Jesus Christ! This means that the dominating identity and influence in our lives as Christians, is not our culture; not our place of birth, not our family of origin, not our nationality, education. or ethnic background, but Jesus Christ!

Second, Every church must remember that its chief purpose is to share and shine the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Everyone of the Lord's churches has been empowered and commissioned to shine the light of the gospel to the whole world!

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was once invited to attend a solemn ceremony at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. As a symbolic gesture, Chancellor Schroeder was supposed to turn a handle to boost the flame commemorating the German Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust. To the mortification of Chancellor Schroeder and scores of onlookers, he mistakenly turned the handle in the wrong direction and extinguished the so-called "eternal flame!" Although Israeli prime minister Barak stepped forward to help, it took a technician with a butane lighter to bring the flame to life again.

We cannot afford to let our light go out! As a church and as believers, we are here to light our world! Is your light burning brightly for the Lord?

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