Exodus 25:31
Exodus 25:31-40
As the shew-bread was a symbol of what Jehovah gave to his people in one way, so the lighted candlestick in all the preciousness of its material and elaboration of its workmanship was a symbol in another way. And even as the shew-bread was in magnitude only as a crumb of all the great supply which God gives in the way of food, so the candlestick even in full blaze was but as a glimmer compared with all the light which God had gathered and arranged in various ways to guide and cheer his people. But glimmer though the light of the candlestick might be, it was quite enough to act as an inspiring and encouraging symbol for all who, seeing, were able to understand. From that place between the cherubim, shrouded as it was in awful sanctity, there radiated forth abundance of light for every one in Israel who was disposed to profit by it. In heathendom the perplexed went long distances to consult renowned oracles, only to find that for all practical purposes they might just as well have stayed at home. There was a great boast of illumination; but the reality turned out ambiguous and delusive. But here is the seven-branched candlestick (seven being the perfect number) to indicate that God would assuredly give all needed light to his people. On one side stood the shew-bread, and over against it the light. So we need God's guidance to show us how to use what materials he puts in our hands for our support. It is only too easy for man, following the light of a corrupted nature, to waste, abuse, and degrade the choice gifts of God. Consider the vast quantities of grain that instead of passing through the hands of the baker to become food, pass through the hands of the brewer and distiller to become alcohol. In all our use of the resources which God has placed in our hands, we must seek with simplicity of purpose and becoming humility for God's light, that we may be assured of God's will. God has placed us in the midst of such profusion that we may use it for him and not for self. And is not a lesson taught us in this respect by the very candlestick itself? It was made of gold. The Israelites at this time seem to have had great store of gold; and left to their own inclinations, they gave it for shaping into an image to be worshipped. Now, by causing this candlestick to be made of gold, Jehovah seemed to summon his people to give their gold to aid in supporting and diffusing his light. What God gives may be a curse or a blessing, just according to the spirit in which we receive and use it. We can desire no nobler office than to be ourselves as lamps, doing something to shed abroad that great, true light of the world, which radiates from the person of Christ. He who is living so as to make Christ better known amid the spiritual darkness of the world has surely learnt the great lesson that God would teach to all ages by this golden candlestick in his sanctuary of old. - Y.

A candlestick of pure gold.
I. THIS LIGHT SHINES BECAUSE IT IS LIGHT, WITHOUT EFFORT, SPONTANEOUSLY. If the lamp is kindled it will shine; and so this emblem has its beautiful felicity in that it points, as the highest definition of all Christian men, to the effortless, spontaneous irradiation and streaming out from themselves of the fire that lies within them. Like a light in an alabaster vase, that shines through its transparency and reveals the lovely veining of the stone, so the grace of God in a man's heart will shine through him, turning even the opacity of his earthly nature into a medium for veiling perhaps, but also in another aspect for making visible the light that is in him.

II. THE LIGHT WAS DERIVED LIGHT; AND IT WAS FED. We have a priest who walks in His temple and trims the lamps. The condition of the light is keeping close to Christ, and it is because there is such a gap between you and Him that there is so little brightness in you. The candlestick was really a lamp fed by oil; that symbol, as Zechariah tells us, stands for the Divine influence of God's quickening Spirit.

III. THE LIGHT WAS CLUSTERED LIGHT. The seven-branched candlestick represented the rigid, formal unity of the Jewish Church. In the New Testament we have the seven candlesticks diverse, but made one because Jesus Christ is in the midst of them. In this slight diversity of emblem we get the whole difference between the hard external unity of the ancient Jewish polity and the free variety in unity and diversity of the Christian Church, with its individual development as well as with its binding association.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The Study.
Look at the text as typical of Christ and His Church.

I. PERFECTION OF LIGHT. He was "the true Light," etc. (John 1:9). He came to shed light on every important subject; to let us know —

1. What God is, "in the face of Jesus Christ." To let us know —

2. What man is — in his sin, his spiritual relations, his wants, his destiny, etc. To let us know —

3. The future — to bring to light life and immortality.

II. PERFECTION OF UNION. Branches united to one stem, and both of same material.

(The Study.)

It was composed of a main shaft, with its connecting branches.

1. If these branches represent the Church of Christ, the central shaft may well be regarded as representing Christ Himself. From Christ the Church springs, and by Him it is supported, as the outspreading arms of the candlestick are by its central shaft. The Church is united to Him, and sustained by Him.

2. Notice next the branches of the candlestick. These sprang from the central shaft, and were of the same material with each other, and with it. So it is with Christ and His people. "He who sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one."

3. Notice next the ornaments upon the candlestick.(1) There were "bowls like almonds" wrought upon it. In these the branches terminated, forming appropriate receptacles for the lamps of the candlestick. The almond, being the first tree to bud in the spring, was a fit type of Him who is "the First-born from the dead."(2) The next ornament was the knops. These may have been swelling buds, from which the branches of the candlestick sprang, expressing the idea that these spreading arms owed both their existence and fruitfulness to the parent stem.(3) The other ornaments were the flowers. Natural emblems of beauty, representing spiritual loveliness of Christ's people.Lessons:

1. The necessity of a Divine revelation. Without the light of the candlestick, darkness, the most profound, must have filled the Tabernacle. And just such would have been our condition, spiritually considered, without the light of Divine revelation. Reason, the natural sun in the mental world, can shed no light upon the soul's concerns. There is no window in the soul through which the light of this natural luminary can shine. The priest in the sanctuary could only see his way and discharge his duties by the help of light from the candlestick, and this was light from heaven, a Divine revelation. And it is only by the aid of such a revelation that we can see our way in reference to spiritual things.

2. The benefits of such a revelation. We perceive this the moment we look around us, in the holy place, and observe what the light of the candlestick discloses to our view. See, over against it stands the golden table with its shewbread. The candlestick, with its heavenly light, enabled the priest, as he entered the holy place, to see where to find this bread. He could not have seen it without this light. And so it is only the light of Divine revelation which reveals Christ, the heavenly bread, to souls that are hungering and perishing for the want of it.

3. The perfection of this revelation. Seven lamps.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

The candlestick of the Tabernacle was to burn continually in the holy place (Leviticus 24:2); continually let us question ourselves with respect to our attainments, state, and prospects. In individuality of character let each one ask —

1. Have I seriously and deliberately sought the illumination of my understanding in the things of God from above? I read, "If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God" (Proverbs 2:3-5). Do I thus cry and lift up my voice in supplication for heavenly wisdom? And is God's Law really better to me than thousands of gold or silver? The blessing is annexed to the precept; can I expect the one without a compliance with the other?

2. Am I walking in the light and comfort of the Holy Ghost? As both a Teacher and a Comforter is the Spirit given. Does He lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:24), and cheer me with tokens of good (Psalm 86:17)?

3. Do I realize the constant inspection of the Son of Man amidst the congregations of His people? He walks among the golden candlesticks. Is the preacher free from all unbecoming fear of his fellow-mortals on the one hand, and is there no lurking latent aiming after worldly popularity on the other? Does the hearer listen as for life, cultivating a child-like spirit before the Lord, and cherishing no needless or refined fastidiousness about voice or manner in the teacher?

(W. Mudge.)

The pure gold signified how excellent the Word of God is: More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold (Psalm 19:10). We are not curiously here to seek the difference of the knops, branches, and flowers, but only to rest in the general — that the candlestick signified the Word. The candlestick had seven branches; it signified the divers gifts bestowed upon His Church by the Word, and John alludeth to the seven branches of this candlestick: "And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like the Son of Man clothed with a garment" (Revelation 1:13). This was but typus arbitrarius, or an allusion; for the golden candlestick was not made to be a type of the seven Churches of Asia, but it is only an allusion to it. So "the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life" (Proverbs 11:30), here is an allusion only, that it is like to the tree of life. The oil which was in this candlestick was pure oil. "Command the children of Israel that they bring unto thee pure oil olive, beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually" (Leviticus 24:2). This pure oil is called golden oil, or gold for the purity of it, because the oil was bright, clear, and glistering, like gold (Zechariah 4:12). So "Gold cometh out of the north" (Job 37:22);that is, fair and clear weather. It was beaten oil, to signify with what pain and travail the Word is prepared, and with patience preached and made to shine in His Church. The Lord commanded to make snuffers of pure gold for the snuffing of the lamps, and snuff-dishes to receive the snuff. He would have the snuff taken from the light, to signify that He would have the Word kept in sincerity and purity; and He would have the snuffers of gold, to teach them to be blameless and holy who are censurers and correctors of others; and He would have the snuff-dishes of gold, to teach them that the covering of the offences of their brethren was a most excellent thing. Lastly, in what manner the priests dressed the lamps. When the lamp was out he lighted it, and when it was not out he dressed it. When the middlemost lamp was out he lighted it from the altar; but the rest of the lamps every one he lighted from the lamp that was next; and he lighted one after another, to signify that one Scripture giveth light to another; and they say in the Talmud that the cleansing of the innermost altar was before the trimming of the five lamps; and the trimming of the five lamps before the blood of the daily sacrifice; and the blood of the daily sacrifice before the trimming of the two lamps; and the trimming of the two lamps before the burning of incense. That the priests should order and trim the lamps signifieth how Christ and His ministers should continually look unto the purity of doctrine and preaching of the light of the gospel from evening to morning in the dark place of this world, "until the day dawn, and the day star arise in our hearts" (Revelation 1:13; 2 Peter 1:19).

(John Weemes.)

I. IT WAS THE ONLY THING THAT HELD THE LIGHT WHICH ENLIGHTENED THE SANCTUARY! From Christ all the light of grace comes for the benefit of His Church.

II. IT HAD SEVEN LAMPS (ver. 37), to signify that perfection of light that is in Christ.

III. IT WAS PLACED IN THE SANCTUARY. So is Christ as a glorious light placed in His Church.

IV. It had an upright stem, which bore the many branches issuing from it.

V. THE BRANCHES WERE ADORNED WITH BOWLS, KNOBS, FLOWERS, etc. So are Christ's ministers adorned with many graces.

VI. AARON DRESSED THOSE LAMPS AND RENEWED THEIR OIL DAILY. So our High Priest is the only enlightener of His faithful ministers.

VII. THE CANDLESTICK HAD SNUFFERS AND SNUFF-DISHES OF PURE GOLD; which might figure forth the good and godly discipline of the Church whereby evil persons who hinder its glory are taken away.

(B. Keach.)

This consisted of a main shaft with three branches diverging from it on each side. It was made wholly of gold. If hollow, it could hardly have been beaten into shape with the hammer, but must have been cast, perhaps in separate pieces, and afterwards soldered together. The weight of it, including the lamps and a few small utensils used in trimming them, was a Hebrew talent, or about one hundred and thirteen pounds troy; which in gold coin would be equivalent to £5,500. There was a threefold ornamentation in the chandelier, repeated four times in the main shaft, and thrice in each of the branches, described as a bowl, a knob, and a flower, and by some supposed to represent the cup-shaped calyx, the round fruit, and the open blossom of an almond tree. The word translated "flower" signifies, however, a stem; and the order in which the triad is arranged indicates that the first was the flower, the second the fruit, and the third the stem. The three pairs of branches came out of the main stem at the three places of junction between its four sections of calyx, fruit, and stem. On the upper extremities of the chandelier were seven eye-shaped, or almond-shaped lamps; the wick of the middle lamp projecting from its west end, and the wicks of the others from the end of the lamp nearest to the main shaft. These lamps were not fastened to the chandelier, but so placed upon it that the priest could remove them when he came in the morning to extinguish and trim them, and in the evening to light them for the night. But, though not fastened to the stand as a part of it, they had each its appointed place in the row, and never exchanged places. It seems so natural that the row of lamps should have been parallel with the south wall of the Tabernacle, near which it stood, that almost all writers have passed over the testimony of Josephus to the contrary; who is careful to state that "the lamps looked to the east and to the south, the candlestick being placed obliquely."

(E. E. Atwater.)

The light emitted by the lamps may have been sometimes useful to the priests in their ministrations; but their aggregation on one stand, and the significant seven by which the number of them is determined, indicate that they were placed here to assist in the representation of religious thought. Their position with reference to the table suggests the possibility that the light was, in its symbolism, the complement of the shewbread. With this hint in mind, we ask, What is it of which light is the natural emblem? Sometimes it is used for knowledge, and especially for the knowledge of God and His relations to man. Knowledge is light; and to impart knowledge is to enlighten. But the import of light in Scripture extends beyond the sphere of the intellect into that of the conscience, covering the domain of duty as well as of verity. The children of light are those who obey, as well as perceive, the reality of the invisible and eternal. Hence those who are the light of the world not only impart knowledge to the ignorant, but reproof to the erring. In short, light in Hebrew symbolism, includes holiness, as well as knowledge. The offering of light which the covenant people brought as an accompaniment to the fruit of their life-work was the symbol of sanctified character. The two symbols are mutually complementary. The prayers and the alms of a good man come up as a memorial before God; and his example, by holding forth the word of life, diffuses an assimilating influence. But this light of holiness man is as unable to produce of himself as is a lamp to shine without oil, and oil is the symbol of the Holy Spirit; so that the oblation of light which the covenant people presented to Jehovah in the Tabernacle contained in itself a declaration that they were sanctified by the indwelling Spirit of God. The same idea was again brought to view in the number of the lamps; seven representing a transaction between God and man, and therefore in Mosaism standing for the covenant itself. The illumination was effected by the co-operation of the infinite and the finite; and the lamps were seven because that is the sum of the numerical signatures of the two parties united in producing the light. The lamp-stand served not merely to bear the lamps, but to assist in the symbolism. It represents the covenant people, the organized community, who by the example of their obedience shine for the illumination of the world. The seven branches indicate that it is not a merely human institution, but that God is in the midst of it.

(E. E. Atwater.)

"A friend told me that the electric light was so much under control that a gentleman had it in his scarf-pin at a meeting to discuss the utility of the new light. When he stepped on to the platform, the gas was lowered; he then touched two little springs placed on each side of his body, and the brilliant light shone out under his chin, giving light to all around. In a similarly brilliant manner the light of Christ should radiate from every part of living Christians; their eyes should shine with it, their tongues sparkle with it, their hands should be gentle, and their feet should be swift to let others know about Jesus, the Light of the world."

It should grow as rapidly in this grace as it does in any other. The world has advanced in nothing, perhaps, more marvellously than in the betterment of its light-producing contrivances. The improvement made during the last century is very marked. Mankind's lamp one hundred years ago smoked almost as much as it shone. Its wick, being round and bulky, brought up more oil than could be consumed. The first change was to a flat thin wick. This gave a wider surface for the air to act upon. Those particles of carbon which had previously passed off as soot were changed from smoke to flame. The lamp became still more brilliant when the Argand burner was invented. This is cylindrical and hollow. Through its centre rushes a current of air. The flame is thus both enlarged and intensified. The chimney, afterwards added, caused a stronger draught and a fiercer combustion. Mr. Gurney went a step further when he arranged to substitute a current of pure oxygen for common air. The light produced resembled sunshine, and when introduced to the House of Commons, superseding the two hundred and forty wax candles previously used, rendered it unprecedently bright. Then came coal-gas, and now, last of all, has blazed upon us the electric light, which is veritable lightning.

(J. Brekenridge.)

The seven-branched candlestick of the ancient Tabernacle and Temple represented the rigid, formal unity of the Jewish Church. We go to the New Testament, and instead of one hard, external unity, represented by that upright stem, and its three arms on each side, we have the seven candlesticks, diverse, but made one because Jesus Christ is in the midst of them. And in that slight diversity of emblem we get the whole difference between the hard, external unity of the ancient Jewish polity and the free variety in unity and diversity of the Christian Church, with its individual development as well as with its binding association. But for all that, the Church is one light. The rings of light in our gas-stands are pierced with a great number of little holes round each circle, but when you light each tiny jet they all run into one. So the highest form of Christian witness is not when a man starts off from his brethren and sets himself alone in a corner, but when he is content to blend his radiance with his brethren's radiance, and not to mind about his own prominence so long as he contributes to the general light of all.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Christ and the Church are both seen here. The base and stock, or main pillar, represent Christ. The branches represent the Church of Christ. Jesus was bruised, and His people are bruised. Christ was made "perfect through suffering" (Hebrews 2:10). And the people of God have to be bruised (Philippians 3:10). It was the duty of the high priest to trim the lamps twice every day, when he came with his golden snuffers and removed any dead material which hindered the light from shining. So Christ, our High Priest, walks among His golden candlesticks, and He has often to apply the snuffers, and to cut off something which hinders the lamp from sending forth its light as it did in times past. When the high priest came with his snuffers he brought the oil-vessel at the same time; so when Christ removes a something which we love, but which hinders us from giving forth that light which ought to shine out from us, He gives us more of the oil of the Holy Spirit's power and grace, so that our afflictions may really make us brighter and better Christians. We read about snuffers and snuff-dishes in connection with the candlestick, but not a word is said about an extinguisher. No extinguisher was needed, because the light was never to go out. Our High Priest never comes to us to put out our light; He would have it burn on all the time we remain in the wilderness. Let the Christian remember this, and never mistake the snuffers for the extinguisher. As the candlestick faced the table of shewbread, and so enabled the priests to find their food, it may represent the light of the Holy Ghost which shines on Christ, the true bread. The table is prepared, the food is there, but without the light of the Spirit we shall never find it. We should thank God as much for the Spirit as for the Son, for one will be of no use to us without the other.

(G. Rodgers.)

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