Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com
The Golden Candlestick
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations. He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually.” (Leviticus 24:1-4)
It was the intention of our God that the tabernacle, the priesthood, the sacrifices, the ceremonies, the sabbaths, holy days, and the events of the Old Testament be types and pictures of heavenly things. When I assert, without hesitancy, that all these carnal things were pictures of spiritual things, specifically, that they were types of Christ and the gospel of God’s free grace in him, I am not just pulling these things out of the air. Hebrews 9:1-12 speaks specifically of the tabernacle in the wilderness, its furnishings, and the sacrifices offered upon God’s altar at the tabernacle, telling us that these things were given as things typical of and portraying our Lord Jesus Christ and God’s salvation of his elect by him. In Hebrews 9:23 we are told that these carnal things were “patterns of things in the heavens.” In chapter ten (v. 1) we read that they were “a shadow of good things to come.”
Try to get a picture of the tabernacle in your mind’s eye. As you approach it, the very first thing that strikes your eye is the brazen altar, the place of sacrifice. Between that brazen altar and the door of the tabernacle stands the laver of brass, the place of cleansing.
Then, if you pull back the curtain, you enter the outer court of the tabernacle, “which is called the sanctuary.” In the sanctuary (the holy place), there were three pieces of furniture. On your right is the golden table of showbread, with twelve loaves of bread and incense on it. In the back, just before you get to the veil separating the sanctuary from the “Holiest of all,” is the golden altar of incense. On the left side is the golden candlestick, a candelabra with seven candles burning constantly.
Then, if you could go with Aaron behind the veil on the day of atonement into the inner sanctuary, “which is called the Holiest of all,” you would see just one piece of furniture, the center of Israel’s worship, the ark of the covenant, overlaid with pure gold. Inside the ark is a golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of God’s broken law. Over the ark, completely covering it, is the mercy-seat, the place of atonement, symbolizing the very throne of God, the throne of grace. At each end of the mercy-seat are cherubs facing one another, looking constantly upon the mercy-seat. This is where God declared he would meet with and commune with men (Exodus 25:22). This is what Isaiah saw in his vision of the enthroned Christ (Isaiah 6:1-8). This is what Ezekiel saw in his vision of the wheels of providence (Ezekiel 1-10). This is what Daniel saw in his vision of our Savior (Daniel 7:9-14). And this is what John saw when he saw heaven opened (Revelation 4:1-5:14).
If you wish to read about these articles of furniture in greater detail, you can find a full, detailed description of each piece in Exodus 37 and 38. Leviticus 24:1-4 describes just one of the three pieces of furniture in the outer court of the sanctuary — The Golden Candlestick.
We do not have to guess what this candlestick represents. The Holy Spirit specifically tells us that this candlestick represents the church of God in this world (Revelation 1:20). More particularly, it represents the Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, in glory and his mystical body, the church, which is the light of the world on earth.
The first thing mentioned here is the oil God required for the candlestick (vv. 1-2).
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.”
God required the children of Israel to bring the oil from the olives of their own olive trees to the priests to be burned in the candlestick. — It must be “pure,” the very best, undiluted, and clear. It must be oil “beaten” from the olive, prepared with the greatest of care. There are at least four very important lessons here.
By requiring the children of Israel to bring the oil used by the priests to be burned in the candlestick, the Lord gave them assurance of acceptance. Accepting their oil, he said, “I have accepted you.” By this seemingly insignificant gesture, he was saying to his people, “This candlestick and the light it gives burns for you. Though you are not in the holy place personally, you are there representatively in your priest; and all that goes on in that holy place, all the transactions of the sanctuary are for you. You have an interest in them.” That is precisely what God the Holy Spirit tells us in Hebrews 10:16-22 that these things meant.
The Lamps in the Candlestick
The “pure candlestick,” spoken of in verse 4, was made of pure gold (Exodus 37:17). It had seven lamps at the ends of seven branches, upheld by one shaft. As such, it was typical of God’s church in this world, upheld by Christ (the shaft of gold), being constantly supplied with light, life, and grace by God the Holy Spirit.
Put this together with John’s vision in Revelation 1, and we see that Christ upholds and sustains his church in all its branches. The number seven suggests the fulness and completion of the church. Every true gospel church is represented in the seven branches of the candlestick. God the Holy Spirit indwells his church (each individual believer and each local assembly), which is “an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Christ not only dwells in his church by the Spirit and upholds it, he walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, protecting both his church and the angels of the churches.
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 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.” (Revelation 1:10-20)
The lamps in the candlestick were to be kept burning continually (v. 4). That does not mean that they were never allowed to go out. They were. The priests did not keep them burning when they were moving from place to place in the wilderness, but only when they were encamped in a specific place for a time.
The lamps were trimmed, filled with oil, and lit every morning. They burned until nightfall. In the evening they were trimmed, filled with oil, and lit again, and burned until the next morning. You may recall that the Lord first called Samuel after he and Eli had laid down in their beds, “ere the lamp of God went out in the temple” (1 Samuel 3:3).
The lamps were kept burning continually to tell us that the grace of God and the supply of it to our souls is constant, both in the day when the sun shines brightly, and in the night when our vision is dim. Our experience does not, in any way, affect or alter God’s goodness. — “He abideth faithful!” (2 Timothy 2:13)
The lamps were permitted to go out to teach us our unceasing need of the light and grace of God’s Spirit, and to keep us ever mindful of the fact that all light and grace bestowed upon us comes through the sanctuary work (intercession) of our great Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our great Aaron orders the light and the candlestick from evening until morning (vv. 3-4).
“Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute forever in your generations. He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually.”
We have God’s ordained means of grace, the preaching of the gospel. But only Christ, our great High Priest, can make the means subservient to the purpose intended. Ordinances of divine worship are precious things; but if the Lord of ordinances is not in them, the lamp of grace will not burn. The lamps were kept burning all through the day to teach that something more than the light of nature is needed to lead us out of this wilderness to the throne of God. — Blessed Spirit of God keep alive your own work in our hearts, so that in times of languishing your holy oil of grace is sweetly conveyed to our souls (Zechariah 4:2-6).
And the candlestick was kept burning throughout the night, until the dawning of the new day, to teach us that the church of God in this world of darkness gives light and shall continue to give light, be it ever so dim or bright, until the Daystar, Christ Jesus, comes.
The candlestick shall continue to burn in this dark world until all God’s elect are born of God with Christ the Daystar shining in their hearts (2 Peter 1:19; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6). God’s church will continue shining forth the Light of God until Christ comes again (Revelation 2:28; 22:16)
Take a careful look at this pure candlestick as it is presented here in Leviticus 24. It would be too big a task to try to cover all that the Scriptures reveal about this candelabra in one brief study. So we will just focus upon the obvious.
This candlestick stands not in the most holy place (which refers to heaven itself), but in the sanctuary (which refers to heavenly things enjoyed on earth). Our Lord Jesus Christ, our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, uses this candlestick to speak of himself and his churches in this world (Revelation 1:20). So it is clearly his intention that we should see it in this sense.
The seven lamps of fire burning before the throne of God are the sevenfold Spirit of our God (Revelation 4:1-5).
“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 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.”
The shaft, as I said before, speaks of Christ. The seven lamps, we saw in Revelation 1:20, represent the church. But here, in Revelation 4, we are told that they represent the seven Spirits, or sevenfold Spirit, of our God. There is no contradiction here, but a delightful, instructive picture.
Christ is the Candlestick. He upholds the lamps, his church and each member of it. Without him, we would all fall and come to utter ruin in a heartbeat (John 10:28-30; Jude 24-25). The light we have, the oil of grace we enjoy, is ours because we are in him and one with him.
Here is a great, marvelous wonder. — The Lord Jesus gives light, life, and grace in this world by his Spirit; but he does so through the instrumentality of his church, using such things as we are to carry the light of his grace and glory into the four corners of this dark, dark world.
The olive oil feeding the flame is God the Holy Spirit. He is the unction, the anointing, in and upon us, giving us light and knowledge and understanding (1 John 2:20-27). And he is given to us by Christ, by the merit, mediation, and power of our Savior (Revelation 3:1). As all the light shining from the lamp comes from the oil, so all grace is the gift and operation of God the Holy Ghost. And Christ pours out his Spirit upon us by the merit of his sacrifice (Galatians 3:13-14) continually, as the priest poured oil into the lamp in the tabernacle. He gives us his oil in the day and in the night.
The care of the lamps (churches) is all his. He upholds them. He feeds them with oil, the grace of his Spirit. He lights them and keeps them burning. He trims them. And he carries away the ashes.
The priest setting the lamps in order daily portrays our great Savior’s unceasing work of grace causing his people to receive and give forth light. You and I are the representatives of Christ himself, who shined as light in the midst of darkness (Philippians 2:15; Matthew 5:16). Let us faithfully shine forth his light by the preaching of the gospel, that men everywhere might trust the Son of God and glorify our Father which is in heaven. May our God graciously cause us each to be, like John the Baptist, burning and shining lights all the rest of our lives.
The candlestick shined only upon the golden table of showbread and the golden altar. It shined to give light only upon those two things. The bread on the table speaks of Christ, the Bread of Life, who gave his life for us. The golden altar of incense speaks of Christ, exalted and accepted, and full, complete salvation in him. Let us shine forth the light of the gospel, pointing the eyes of needy souls to him who alone is salvation and life.
Oh, may God give us grace to constantly hold before men the light of the gospel and the adorable name of Christ. We must never cover the light with religious ceremony, carnal reason, historic traditions and customs, and denominational creeds, confessions, and rules.
Let it be ours ever to hold forth that word of life, not to set up new lights, or to defend old ones, but by faithfully proclaiming the gospel of God’s boundless free grace in Christ. And let the light of our lamp be the light of the pure candlestick — pure, free, sovereign grace!
There is a blessed unity about this candlestick and its lamps. The candlestick is one (Ephesians 4:1-7). The light of each lamp is exactly the same. The oil was pure, without mixture. The light of God, the gospel of Christ, is all grace. There is not a sputter of works or free will in it.
Zechariah 4 gives us God the Holy Spirit’s own interpretation of this typical picture in Zechariah’s vision. The 3rd chapter of Zechariah gives us a picture of a sinner saved by the grace of God. Such men are men who shall never cease to be “men wondered at,” wondered at because of the wonderful work of God for us, in us, and by us.
If we would see the light of the gospel, the light of this candlestick, we must be awakened by the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:1-2).
“And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:”
Let no one imagine that I have just dreamed these things up. The Lord God tells us plainly that the meaning of the candlestick’s light is salvation by grace alone in Christ alone (Zechariah 4:4-9).
“So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.”
It is my prayer that God will bring you to the Light and cause you to behold his righteousness in Christ. All who are born of God love the Light of God. — “Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, we do the truth and come to the Light!
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21)
That is the message of The Golden Candlestick.