JESUS IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Revelation 1:12--"And I (John) turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks (lampstands)."
The blog two days ago introduced the SEVEN GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS, defined the symbol, and showed how thid spoke of the LIGHT OF JESUS (a LIGHT of WITNESS which testifies of Jesus' presence on earth) in the SEVEN CHURCHES (a list of the SEVEN Churches is recorded in verse 11). The LIGHT of WITNESS was NOT ONLY those SEVEN CHURCHES which existed at the time of John (96 A.D.), but it refers to the COMPLETE CHURCH--from THE TIME of the writing of the book of Revelation UP TO THE PRESENT. As long as the Church exists on earth, it will be the VESSEL through which the LIGHT of Jesus shines in this darkened world.
Today's blog will continue the subject of the LAMPSTAND, adding MORE fascinating details from the Word of God's. We'll see BACKGROUND from the Old Testament, which will greatly enhance our understanding of the LAMPSTAND.
THE LAMPSTAND AND ITS MANY MEANINGS
We go back to Exodus and discover some directions, given by God to Israel, of FURNIISHINGS that the Lord wanted in His Jewish Tabernacle. These were HIGHLY DETAILED instructions, and God emphasized how He WANTED those directions FOLLOWED in EVERY "jot" and "tittle." WE CAN ASK WHY? What WAS IT about these SPECIFICATIONS that are so VITAL and IMPORTANT?
We find that God wanted the LAMPSTAND to be constructed in a very SPECIFIC manner. In fact, when reading about God’s detailed specifications for the Tabernacle, it can be rather boring--UNLESS we realize that every TINY detail is given for a SPECIFIC reason. The Holy Spirit does NOT "waste words" in the Bible. Everything written down has a REASON to be there. It’s our HOMEWORK to DISCOVER those reasons. The Bible is a LARGE BOOK OF CLUES, and like GOOD DETECTIVES, we'll examine EACH CLUE--and SUDDENLY, the Bible is NOT boring! (HOMEWORK--READ EXODUS 25:31-36.)
God instructed the Israelites to make a LAMPSTAND of pure gold. Gold, a soft and malleable precious metal, was to be beaten and molded into a DESIGNATED shape. The LAMPSTAND was to have a MAIN UPRIGHT SHAFT, and out of that shaft, SEVEN BRANCHES. Each branch was to contain bowls, with knops AND flowers. (What is a knop?--they are BUDS of the flowers.) Three branches would extend from one side of the LAMPSTAND, and three branches would extend from the other side. The shaft itself would provide the SEVENTH branch. Each branch was to contain THREE BOWLS made in the SHAPE OF ALMONDS, and those bowls were TO BE DECORATED with the beaten and molded shapes of ALMOND FLOWERS and their KNOPS (BUDS). The LAMPSTAND was to be beaten and shaped from ONE PIECE OF GOLD. Oil would be poured into the bowls by TABERNACLE PRIESTS, and it provided the fuel to LIGHT the LAMPSTAND. The LAMPSTAND was THE ONLY source of LIGHT in the Tabernacle.
Why are these meticulous details so important?
The Tabernacle--as it’s described and set up by the Master Designer, God--is a spiritual picture of JESUS CHRIST. EVERY MATERIAL used in the Tabernacle has spiritual meaning. EVERY COLOR. EVERY PIECE OF FURNITURE. ALL of it POINTS to JESUS!
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! The Tabernacle is an EARTHLY MODEL of GOD’S THRONE in heaven. We’ll explore the Tabernacle in GREATER DETAIL later in our study of the book of Revelation. Right now, the focus is the LAMPSTAND.
What are the SPIRITUAL MEANINGS contained in the LAMPSTAND?
(1.) Beaten from one piece of gold: Gold speaks of deity; it’s a picture of the ONE true God.
(2.) One main upright shaft with six branches: SIX is the number of MAN, who is joined to the ONE SHAFT, which is Jesus Christ. Man, alone, as SIX--is sinful, imperfect, incomplete and in need of a Savior. But man, joined with the MAIN SHAFT (Who is Jesus), is SEVEN, MADE COMPLETE--man can ONLY be made COMPLETE and PERFECT as he’s JOINED through GRACE and FAITH to JESUS! The fact that the LAMPSTAND is beaten from ONE piece of gold SHOWS "UNITY", a ONENESS, which is ours IN JESUS.
In John 15:5, Jesus said this--“I am THE VINE (the main shaft of the lampstand), you are THE BRANCHES, he that ABIDES in Me, and I IN HIM, the same BRINGS FORTH MUCH FRUIT (the almonds, buds and flowers on the lampstand): for WITHOUT ME, you can DO NOTHING.”
(3.) The bowls, which are almonds, PLUS the knops (buds) and flowers: These details show flourishing and continual fruitfulness. The buds, the flowers and the fruit (almonds) are on the lampstand TOGETHER. Joined to Jesus, by faith in Him, people experience ABUNDANT LIFE, and they are ALWAYS in various stages of spiritual growth.
(4.) The almonds: This is a symbol which shows RESURRECTION. Almonds are one of the FIRST trees to bud out and blossom. JESUS CHRIST is the FIRST BEGOTTEN of the dead, the FIRST PERSON to raise from the dead in a glorified body.
In Numbers 17:8, we see that AARON’S ROD is ONE out of twelve--of the children of Israel--and the ONLY one WHICH FLOURISHED. This spiritual picture portrays FRUITFULNESS, and HOW a BARE DEAD ROD sprung to LIFE--showing RESURRECTION POWER, plus Aaron’s RIGHT and AUTHORITY to rule. Jesus is the ONE Who brings FRUITFULNESS; He brought forth LIFE from DEATH (the RESURRECTION); and He has the RIGHT and the AUTHORITY TO RULE. All these ideas are brought out in the picture of ALMONDS.
(5.) There was ONLY one source of LIGHT in the Tabernacle, the LAMPSTAND: Jesus is THE ONLY way through which mankind may come to God, or have a place in God’s heaven. John 14:6--”I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE: no man comes unto the Father, BUT BY ME.”
(6.) MOST IMPORTANTLY, the light of the LAMPSTAND: Jesus is THE LIGHT of the world, and we believers, joined to Jesus, by faith in Him, ARE HIS LIGHT OF WITNESS to the world in this age of THE CHURCH. This is WHY each LOCAL CHURCH is shown, in Revelation, to contain a LAMPSTAND.
Let’s look at John 8:12, where Jesus spoke about HIMSELF--“I am the LIGHT of the world: He that follows Me shall NOT walk in darkness, but shall HAVE the LIGHT of LIFE.”
HOW LONG is Jesus to be the LIGHT of the world? FOREVER is ONE answer. But notice, in John 9:5--Jesus QUALIFIES that idea. "AS LONG AS I AM IN THE WORLD, I am the light of the world.”
Yes, Jesus is THE LIGHT of the world, but He ADDED that AS LONG as He was IN THE WORLD, He would provide the LIGHT. Is Jesus IN THE WORLD NOW? Jesus is NOT PHYSICALLY PRESENT in the world, but YES, He’s STILL present on earth. HOW? It’s THROUGH HIS PEOPLE, the Church!
Let’s see what Jesus says about His people, the disciples. We see something very important about these LIGHT-BEARERS--and NOW our attention turns to THE LAMPSTANDS in each local church.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16--“YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD (His disciples, the Church). A city on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle to put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick (LAMPSTAND); and it gives LIGHT unto ALL that are in the house. LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE BEFORE MEN, that they may SEE your good works, and GLORIFY the Father which is in heaven.”
Let’s look at another scripture, concerning the Church, and the LIGHT of the LAMPSTAND. “For you were sometimes (once) in darkness, but NOW are you LIGHT IN THE LORD.”
And yet another scripture (speaking to the Church)--1 Thessalonians 5:5. “You are ALL children of THE LIGHT, and children of the day: we are NOT of the night, nor of darkness.”
Again, more reference to the Church being THE LIGHT of Jesus in the present AGE. “That you may be blameless and harmless, THE SONS OF GOD, without rebuke, in the MIDST of a CROOKED and PERVERSE nation, AMONG WHOM you SHINE AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD.”
We see, by ALL these passages, the Church is INDEED "light-bearers" of Jesus Christ to the world. Therefore, the Church, as addressed in Revelation 1:11-12, is seen as the symbol of the LAMPSTANDS. Do you remember the definition of the SEVEN LAMPSTANDS as given in Revelation 1:20? “THE SEVEN CANDLESTICKS (LAMPSTANDS), which you (John) saw, ARE THE SEVEN CHURCHES.”
The symbolism is SO RICH, SO FULL, it’s astounding! And it requires much space to explain all of it!
There’s A FEW MORE details I want to POINT OUT:
When we look at the Jewish Tabernacle and the role of the LAMPSTAND for Israel, we discover there’s ONLY ONE LAMPSTAND. This concept is further pictured in Zechariah 4--ONE LAMPSTAND and TWO olive trees--(I’ll explain this in a moment). The LIGHT of Israel’s WITNESS went out WHEN, they, as a NATION, rejected Jesus as their Savior, Lord and Messiah.
THEN--the Church WAS BORN, and became the LIGHT, instead of Israel. When we see THE CHURCH, in Revelation, there are SEVEN LAMPSTANDS--"one" for each of the LOCAL CONGREGATIONS listed in Revelation 1:11. We see LAMPSTANDS within EACH congregation of the Church--ALL throughout its 2000 year existence (because the SEVEN churches are a prophecy of COMPLETE Church HISTORY).
QUESTION: What about Israel? Is that nation TOTALLY abandoned, forgotten, and FOREVER DESTINED to be LIGHTLESS? Absolutely not! ISRAEL’S "LAMPSTAND" IS TO BE REINSTATED!
Romans 11 tells us about the ROLE of Israel, and the FUTURE for the Jews. First of all, Israel is NOT totally cast away! SOME in Israel, by the ELECTION of GRACE, come to KNOW Jesus as their SAVIOR. The REMAINDER in Israel ARE BLINDED. However, THE BLINDNESS upon Israel has a TIME LIMIT.
Romans 11:25--“For I would NOT, brethren (of the Church), that you BE IGNORANT of this MYSTERY, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that BLINDNESS, in part, is happened TO ISRAEL, UNTIL the FULLNESS of the GENTILES be COME IN (and enter the Church)."
When the FULLNESS of NON-JEWS (the Gentiles) have entered the CHURCH, and are SAVED--then BLINDNESS will be LIFTED OFF Israel, and GREAT NUMBERS of them will RECOGNIZE how Jesus WAS INDEED their Savior, Lord and Messiah.
The LAMPSTAND of Israel’s LIGHT and WITNESS will be RESTORED. That’s what’s shown in Zechariah 4 (READ THE WHOLE CHAPTER).
In explaining Zechariah 4, we must keep in mind a FACT about Bible prophecy. Many times, there was a fulfillment NEAR the TIME when the Word was FIRST SPOKEN. This is the case with the LAMPSTAND which is seen in Zechariah.
After the Babylonian Captivity, TWO PEOPLE were INSTRUMENTAL in the Jews' return from Babylon--and for rebuilding the TEMPLE and RESTORING the worship and rituals. They were Zerubabbel and Joshua. These are TWO ANOINTED ONES who were greatly used by God, and energized by the Holy Spirit. Zerubbabel represented the KINGDOM in Israel, and Joshua, as high priest, represented the priesthood. (We see more of their story in Ezra, Nehemiah and Haggai.)
However, there is YET a FUTURE fulfillment APPOINTED for Israel, and this makes Zechariah 4 a DUAL PROPHECY, containing TWO fulfillments--ONE "near' the time when the prophecy was given, and the SECOND fulfillment APPOINTED for the TIME OF THE END.
So yes, there is an "identical" LAMPSTAND to the one in the Jewish Temple (which is described in Zechariah), WITH the ADDITIONAL DETAIL of TWO OLIVE trees. The prophecy pictures a LIGHT of WITNESS which will happen AGAIN in Israel during THE TRIBULATION. The LAMPSTAND was JOINED to the TWO OLIVE trees, which shows a CONTINUAL supply of Holy Spirit OIL in the ministry of TWO FUTURE PROPHETS--the TWO WITNESSES which show up in Revelation 11.
The OLIVE trees are defined in Zechariah 4:14-- “THESE ARE THE TWO "ANOINTED ONES" that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” In Revelation 11:4. they are called "the TWO OLIVE TREES (the Holy Spirit's OIL), and the TWO CANDLESTICKS (LAMPSTANDS) standing BEFORE the GOD of the earth." This is almost WORD FOR WORD identical! In Zechariah, the ONE LAMPSTAND is Jesus--as He is prophesied to arrive from the one nation of Israel. In Revelation, the TWO LAMPSTANDS show THE LIGHT OF JESUS which will FILL the TWO WITNESSES as they PROPHESY for 1,260 days.
The LAMPSTAND again, in this instance, is JESUS, the Lord of the whole earth, and the TWO ANOINTED ONES are INTIMATELY joined to Him. The LIGHT of these TWO PROPHETS' "witness" brings recognition to Israel--that INDEED, Jesus is TRULY their Savior, Lord and Messiah. The LIGHT in Israel is DESTINED to be turned on again!
What I wanted to point out, IN YET ANOTHER WAY, is HOW the LIGHT, which dwells in the Church, will NOT be the LIGHT during the terrible Tribulation hour (we will have been Raptured before that time). The LIGHT will return to Israel through the MINISTRY of the TWO WITNESSES!
Yes, INDEED--God will ALWAYS have His WITNESSES, regardless of the DISPENSATION through which He performs His WORK and WILL. In a future study, we’ll see twelve thousand FROM EACH of the TWELVE TRIBES in Israel--in Revelation 7. We’ll also see EVEN MORE concerning the TWO ANOINTED ONES, who are God’s prophets--in Revelation 11.
The LIGHT of the Church will be finished on earth BEFORE "that Day of the Lord" ARRIVES--and then THE LAMPSTAND will be REINSTATED in Israel. There’s NO OTHER way to interpret these scriptures, as SHOWN by the clearly recorded Word of God!
Today’s lesson is a LONG ONE, by necessity. However, I'm positive that you were NOT bored. God's Word is amazing!
Be exceedingly blessed and nurtured--today and always!