The Tabernacle Chapter 7: The Candlestick
The candlestick of pure gold is one of the best known items in the Tabernacle. Most people know light represents God’s word.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
Genesis 1:3, Psalms 18:28, Psalms 27:1, Psalms 119:105, Psalms 119:130.
This chapter is based on the descriptions of the candlestick listed in Exodus 25:31-40, and Exodus 37:17-29.
For some reason the design of the candlestick is a little difficult to follow. In Exodus 25:32 the candlestick is described as having six branches. “Six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side.” For some unexplained reason it appears Moses almost left out details describing the center branch. If it was not for verse 37, we may not be able to determine the correct number of branches. “And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.”
Before examining scripture, it will help to understand the purpose of the candlestick, and the basic construction of a common lamp.
Thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. Exodus 25:37.
The candlestick provided light inside the Tabernacle. Verse 37 refers to the seven branches as lamps. Leviticus 24:2 confirms they are oil lamps. “Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.”
A basic oil lamp consists of a container for the oil, a section to hold a wick, and the wick. The candlestick contains seven lamps, each branch must contain each of the parts. Since Exodus 25:31-40 contains the detail which describes the body to hold oil. “A knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.” The bowl is the body of the candlestick made to hold oil.
The six outer branches consist of a knop, a flower, and three bowls shaped like almonds. The six branches are the same. “Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.” Each of the six outer branches contain three bowls. One branch is made of four bowls, like almonds. “And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers..” The remaining branch is the center branch, having four bowls.
The candlestick contains three distinct physical features relating to nature, a knop, flower, and almonds. A knop has two definitions. It either refers to the column of the branch, or a wreath around the branch.
Flower has a spiritual meaning understood only by comparing scripture.
As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: Psalms 103:15, Isaiah 40:6, 1 Peter 1:24.
The Bible uses the symbol of a flower to represent man, and his temporary condition on earth. The flower on the candlestick is a reminder of man’s temporary journey through this life, to a life eternal, whose path is lit by the word of God.
The bowl, or section of the lamp containing oil, is shaped like almonds, which represent God’s miracles.
While Moses lead Israel through the wilderness, Korah lead a group in open dispute over the leadership appointed by God. The Lord established a trial in which Korah, along with two hundred and fifty princes stood against Moses and Aaron, the high priest. Each man stood with his sensor, Koran and his company on one side of the Tabernacle, Moses and Aaron on the other.
Moses proclaimed God’s word. If Korah and his followers die a normal death, it would prove the Lord did not send Moses. If something new happened, if the earth would open up and swallow the company, the action would prove God appointed Moses and Aaron.
The earth opened up, not only taking in Korah’s followers, but their families, tents, including everything they owned.
This was not the end of the trial. Next God had the leaders of the twelve tribes bring their staffs to Moses. Each man wrote his name on his rod. Moses put the rods in the Tabernacle over night. The next morning, “Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.” Numbers 17:8.
A similar story with similar circumstances is recorded by Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 1:10-12 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. (11) Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. (12) Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.
Proof texts with the word almond not only illustrate God’s ability to perform miracles, they also deal with the subject of leadership. Consider this on a spiritual level. The candlestick is made of pure gold, representing God’s word, and His law. The purpose of the physical candlestick is to provide light. Spiritually the light represents understanding. The bowls holding the oil for the light are shaped like almonds, which spiritually represent God’s ability to perform miracles, and remind us, God appoints His leaders. Flowers on the candlestick remind us of man’s temporary state in this world. The temporary state is the condition of this world living in sin.
Many of the ceremonies performed in the Tabernacle are signs pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus, which results in victory over death, the penalty of sin. Although death and sin have been defeated, they remain as realities we have to contend with until Jesus cleanses the earth from all sin. God uses the symbol of a Father. In this role, God instructs His followers. A major portion of this education focuses on the subject of dealing with sin. The steps and tools available are illustrated in the candlestick in a spiritual manner.
Light, provides knowledge and understanding. Sin is much easier to deal with once we understand the circumstances. Where did sin begin? What are the results of sin? How is sin defeated? How do we receive forgiveness for our sins?
Gold represents God’s word and His law. What is the gold without light? What is God’s word without understanding? What is God’s law without understanding? The golden candlestick provides the form, containing the materials the light depends upon, just as God’s word and law support, and provide understanding.
As a Father, God knows we require more than instruction to understand, we also need positive reinforcement. God provides this in the form of miracles, represented by the almonds.
Living in a world of sin, we could soon become discouraged. None of us would want to imagine an eternity of sin. We have all experienced pain caused by sin. We have all reached a point of discouragement caused by sin. If eternity offered us nothing more than the life we have experienced here on earth, each of us would see a day when we would give up, and wait for death as a relief. This is not the case. God promises us eternal life without sin. This promise is represented by the flowers on the candlestick.
Leaders appointed by God must understand concepts revealed through the details of the candlestick. They must know the word of God, and keep His law. Knowledge is the state of oil in the bowl. While the oil is in the bowl, it does not provide light until it comes in contact with a flame. A flame represents a desire to teach God’s word, and His law. Without desire, knowledge of God’s word will not lead to understanding. O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: Psalms 43:3, Proverbs 6:23.
The description of the candlestick in Exodus 25 contains a number of details often overlooked. One of those is the bowl, which appears to be a common word. If you follow the word bowl throughout the Bible, you would find it is mentioned almost exclusively in relationship to the Tabernacle. Not only does the candlestick contain bowls, the table is set with bowls.
Consider the arrangement of the compartment within the Tabernacle. The candlestick provides the light. Other than lighting a room, what does the candlestick shed light on? The table. Jesus said, “I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
The table is set for a meal, an invitation from Jesus. The table also contained the shewbread, another symbol of Jesus, the bread of life. The pure gold represent the pure message Jesus brought to this world, teaching God’s word and law. The light of the candlestick represents the understanding gained through a relationship with Jesus.
Man’s nature is represented in the wood of the table, and the flowers on the candlestick. Both represent the temporary state of people in this world.
The light was contained within an enclosed room, shut away from the light of the world. Not from the sun, but from the understanding of the world. The light reflected off the gold on the walls, God’s word, enlightening every detail within the Tabernacle. The seven lamps are related to the seven candlesticks in Revelation, which represent the messages given to the seven churches.
In Revelation, Jesus’ message was given on four main levels. The achievements of each church, their short comings, a vision of Christ, and a vision of Heaven. It is not surprising to find the consistency between the Tabernacle, and the introduction to the book of Revelation. Both reveal the relationship between God and man. Both explain man’s role in the plan of salvation. Both reveal Christ, His mission on earth, and His role in Heaven. And both provide an image of hope, a revelation of Heaven, and eternal life.
The light of the candlestick represents God’s relationship with His people, through Jesus, and His word. A study of the word light makes this clear.
Send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward. Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Psalms 43:3, Psalms 36:9, Isaiah 58:8, Isaiah 60:1, Matthew 5:16.
Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus. Psalms 112:4, John 1:4, John 1:7, John 1:9, John 12:36.
Open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 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. But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Acts 26:18, Ephesians 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, 2 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Timothy 1:10.
You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 1 Peter 2:9, 2 Peter 1:19, 1 John 1:7, Psalms 37:6.
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Exodus 25:31-40 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, 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 out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: (33) Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. (34) And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. (35) And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. (36) Their knops 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.
Exodus 37:17-29 And he made the candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work made he the candlestick; his shaft, and his branch, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, were of the same: (18) And six branches going out of the sides thereof; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side thereof: (19) Three bowls made after the fashion of almonds in one branch, a knop and a flower; and three bowls made like almonds in another branch, a knop and a flower: so throughout the six branches going out of the candlestick. (20) And in the candlestick were four bowls made like almonds, his knops, and his flowers: (21) And a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches going out of it. (22) Their knops and their branches were of the same: all of it was one beaten work of pure gold. (23) And he made his seven lamps, and his snuffers, and his snuffdishes, of pure gold. (24) Of a talent of pure gold made he it, and all the vessels thereof.