‘Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. 32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand – three on one side and three on the other. 33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. 35 One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair – six branches in all. 36 The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold. 37 ‘Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. 38 Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. 39 A talent[f] of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. 40 See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. Exodus 25:31-40
The Basic Bible Truth
Typology in the Old Testament is a fascinating study. Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law. And much of that Law prefigured Christ. So it is with this one. Jesus is the lampstand; He is the light of the world.
This is my rendition of the lampstand of Exodus. It is not built to any scale, neither was it an attempt to be very accurate. I simply used materials that I had laying around the shop and painted everything gold in color. It is a great visual to use when teaching about the lampstand.
Never before had the world witnessed an enormous nomadic nation travel across the countryside. With the visible presence of God ever before them in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night, the Israelites moved with precision and order. The entourage was very organized and always moved in an identical manner. They never knew God’s plan for the upcoming day, until the morning. Their encampment could be for only the night, or they might remain for a year. When the cloud would lift and move, they would pack up everything they owned and follow. This required ease of mobility, and tents were fitting for the cause. Even with something as important as the building in which they centered their worship of God, there was the need for portability. God gave Moses the plans for a Tabernacle. It was, quite literally, a large tent and courtyard that could be broken down with relative ease and reassembled at the next camping spot. When a suitable site was determined, the carriers of the Tabernacle materials would erect the courtyard and tent. The entire assembly would then be allowed to come near to set up their tents. They were required to always camp in the same order, in a prescribed location, leaving the Tabernacle perfectly centered in the middle of the complete encampment. It was to be the focal point of everything they did. The Tabernacle was not exceptionally ornate, nor would it even be considered particularly beautiful from the outside, but it was very, very special. The building is, in fact, an astonishing picture of the character and attributes of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. We do not have the venue now to look at each detail. An entire book would be needed to discuss all that can be found in the chapters that chronicle the construction of the most amazing tent ever made.
A few moments will be spent here examining some furniture. The actual Tabernacle itself was a tent sitting just off center in a good sized courtyard enclosed by curtains. A rectangular structure, it was divided into two rooms. With only one entrance and no windows, curtains made of various types of hides and materials formed the ceiling and walls of the structure. The first room was called the Holy Place. Day to day activity occurred there continually. The second, slightly smaller room was known as the Holy of Holies. That room was to be entered only by the High Priest one day per year, the Day of Atonement. The two rooms were divided by a heavy curtain. An imaginary tour would be in order at this juncture to help explain what we will discover here.
As we enter the tent through the singular door, it is noticeable that there is only one source of light for the work that transpires here. To the immediate right, stands the Table of Shewbread, a gold covered table with twelve loaves of bread, meticulously replaced each week. The bread reminds us that Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is our Daily Bread. Moses was instructed by God to place a jar of manna into the Ark of the Covenant. God fed His people for forty years with this bread from Heaven. The manna that appeared each day was also a picture of Jesus Christ. They named this unique substance manna, which literally in Hebrew means “What is it?” When Jesus came to this earth, many of the people who met him and heard His message had the same question weighing heavily on their minds, “Who is He?”
Directly ahead and center, next to the curtain divider, is the gold covered Altar of Incense. With a fire continually burning and smoke from incense rising, the aroma would be quite noticeable. The book of Revelation tells us that the smoke of the incense represents the prayers of the saints rising up to God, a sweet savor to Him.
Immediately behind the Altar of Incense, on the opposite side of the curtain in the Holy of Holies, is the Ark of the Covenant. This ornate, gold covered, wooden box is itself, a picture of Christ. The wood speaks of the humanity of Jesus and the gold, His deity. In the chest is a copy of the Law, (Jesus came to fulfill that Law), a jar of manna, (Jesus is the Bread from Heaven), and the rod of Aaron, the priest, (Jesus is our High Priest). The lid to this box had two angels facing each other looking down upon a bowl-like place called the Mercy Seat. This is where the Shekinah Glory of God would appear. When Jesus died upon the cross, the Gospels tell us that the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom, exposing the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy of Holies to the first room. That placed the Altar of Incense adjacent to the Ark. We now have the right to go boldly before God with our prayers. No longer do we need an earthly priest to do that for us. Jesus, our High Priest, is ever before God on our behalf.
One additional furniture item is to be found in the Holy Place. Upon entering this room, looking to the left, one would see the only light source, a Lampstand of incredible beauty. We will spend some time discussing this object, as it prefigures the Messiah more completely than any other in the Bible. The Lampstand was made of solid gold, emphasizing His deity. Standing with its base touching the bare soil floor, we are reminded of the fact that Jesus left Heaven behind and put His feet upon the same earth that we tread upon. It was not cast or welded or jointed. It was beaten into its shape. On His way to the cross, Jesus was beaten severely, to the point of being unrecognizable. The craftsmanship that went into fabricating this lamp was so incredible that God gave the person who made it special dispensational ability. It was a remarkably beautiful piece of workmanship, breathtaking in detail. Seven arms protruded upwards, each holding a bowl of oil. With wicks in place and lit, the shower of light cascading down the intricate gold detail would have been beyond words. Jesus is the Light of the World, and He is to be the focus of our lives, just as that Lampstand was a focal point in the Holy Place. One of the great mysteries of God is His triune essence. How He can be three distinct, unique persons and yet be one person is beyond the comprehension of our feeble intellect. It is sufficient that God says that it is so. Perhaps the eternity of Heaven will shed light on the subject for us. Until that time, we have a few hints in the Bible to help expand our understanding of this very difficult concept. The Tabernacle pictures for us all three Persons of God working in concert. Above the Ark of the Covenant, on the Mercy Seat, the very presence of God the Father was manifested in a blinding light display, called the Shekinah Glory of God. God the Son is seen in the Lampstand, voluntarily beaten for us, a beautiful example for us to behold and see, God in human form. God the Holy Spirit is pictured in this room as well. The Holy Spirit is never calling attention to Himself, but pointing us to Christ, and illuminating Scripture. The oil in the bowls illustrates for us how The Spirit works. Odorless, tasteless, and colorless, all but invisible, but still there, the oil is expended in a chemical release of power we call fire and light. That light illuminates the Lampstand for all to see, making something beautiful even more so. The Holy Spirit works similarly. He is always pointing us to Christ, illuminating the Word of God for us, making God more amazingly beautiful to all who are looking.