In the series, we have explored quite a number of areas of the Old Testament
1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)
4. Feast Of The Tabernacles (Part 4)
5. Clean And Unclean Meat (Part 5 , Part 6)
6. Burning Of Incense (Part 7, Part 8)
The Priest Of the old testament are given 3 duties by God as part of the Mosaic Covenant. They are to perform these duties on a daily basis. Let us take a look at these duties, they are
1. To offer incense every morning and evening
2. To light the lamp before the Lord
3. To offer daily sacrifice every morning and evening.
In Part 7 & Part 8we have looked into the burning of incense. Let us look at the second duty of the priest. That is to light a lamp before the Lord.
“He put the lampstand in the
tabernacle of meeting, across
from the table, on the south
side of the tabernacle;
and he lit the lamps before
the Lord, as the Lord had
commanded Moses.” – Moses (Ex 40:24-25)
God told the priest to light the lamb before the Lord. the purpose of that lamp is to light up the sanctuary. It is to allow the tabernacle to be the light in the midst of the darkness.
Jesus once tells us about this
“You are the light of the world.
A city that is set on a hill cannot
be hidden. Nor do they light a
lamp and put it under a basket,
but on a lampstand, and it gives
light to all who are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.”-Jesus (Ex 40:24-25)
Jesus talks about a city in the hill cannot be hidden. It is something that people could see from afar. They can walk towards it in the dark. When the sun had set, there will be darkness everyone. Those who are outdoors cannot determine the right way to go home.
That is why families will light the lamp as long as one of the family is away from home. they did it so that they could find their way home. That is why Jesus tell us that the lighted lamp is not meant to be put under the basket. It is used to light up the entire house, so that those who had not return can find their way home.
If all the lights in Jerusalem are out, it will be pitch dark and no one can find it in the dark. They will be lost in darkness, but the temple will always be lit up.
Pt 1: The Priest Ensure The Lamp Is Burning Continually
“And you shall command the
children of Israel that they
bring you pure oil of pressed
olives for the light, to cause
the lamp to burn continually.
In the tabernacle of meeting,
outside the veil which is before
the Testimony, Aaron and his
sons shall tend it from evening
until morning before the Lord.
It shall be a statute forever to
their generations on behalf of
the children of Israel.””"-YHWH (Ex 27:20-21)
God had instructed the priest to keep the fire burning at night. The lamp must remain lit from night to morning. The lamp in the tabernacle is a oil lamp, as the lamp is burning, the oil will be burnt out. The light will be put out if the oil runs out. Therefore the priest had to pour oil into the lamp throughout the night. The priest had to stay awake at night even as the others slept. Their work is to prevent the lamp from burning out. So that the temple will remain lit. That would be the light that can guide others in the darkness.
In the same way Christians are called the light of the world. It is duty to illuminate the way. We need to be a light to our families and friends who cannot find God. For there are many who need to return to the house of the Lord. It is our duty to give light to them and bring them back
For there are many who used to believe but are no longer zealous to God. We need to lead them back to God as well. We need to use our action to move them, to bring glory to God. Our actions are meant to be the light for others to see. That is what Jesus meant by letting our light shine before men so that they will see you and give glory to God
Our actions are meant to be a form of light, so that others can see and glorify God. Perhaps they may know us in the past as bad, proud, selfish or easily angered. Perhaps we use to create problems and clause grief to those around us. But if they can see us change after we believe in Christ, that will come as a shock to others. They will know that it is the power of God that changed them. They may not believe in God immediately, but they will praise God when they see you.
On the contrary, if people do not see good conducts in us, we will bring shame to God. They will question, “What is so good about believing in Jesus?”. That is why Peter once encourage wives to be submissive to their husband even if they are unbelievers. For their husband may see their good conduct and they might be won over to Christ.
Christians are suppose to be the light of the world, they are meant as ambassadors of Christ to those who do not believe. ‘Paul remind us to be light in this dark era, (Php 2:14-16). We need to shine forth as light so that others could see the benefit of the gospel. So they will follow God.
Our world is a dark world, only Christians could light up this dark era. That is why we need to remain burning. For the night is long. As spiritual priest, let us not fall asleep but instead add oil to our lamp. Let us allow the light to continue shining and not be extinguished.
Pt 2: To Light Up The Temple And Not Ourselves
There is another note about lighting of lamps in the tabernacle that we must take note. The purpose of the light is to illuminate the sanctuary and not ourselves. That is the spirit of the Psalms
“Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones,
Give unto the Lord glory and strength.
Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” – David (Ps 29:1-2)
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.” – Psalmist (PS 115:1)
The Psalmist often remind themselves to give glory to God and not to themselves. They will even repeat to themselves “Not unto us, not unto us”We often need to be reminded to give glory onto God and not to ourselves. For many who appears to be giving glory to God are in fact glorifying themselves
The Example Of John The Baptist
Jesus gave us an example to follow, and his name is John the Baptist.
“He was the burning and shining lamp,
and you were willing for a time to
rejoice in his light.” – Jesus (Jn 5:35)
John the Baptist gave glory to God and not himself, he serve Christ and not himself. Once his disciples came to him and told him that Jesus is baptising people and all are going to him. John simply said
“A man can receive nothing unless
it has been given to him from heaven.
You yourselves bear me witness,
that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but,
‘I have been sent before Him.’
He who has the bride is the bridegroom;
but the friend of the bridegroom, who
stands and hears him, rejoices greatly
because of the bridegroom’s voice.
Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.
He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John The Baptist (Jn 3:27-30)
John is a man who did not give glory to himself, but gave glory to Christ. When many of his disciples went to Jesus, people ridiculed John by saying that most will rather follow Christ. They have abandoned him. But John simply said “ He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John is indeed a lamp that illuminate Christ and not himself
In the same way Moses instructed Priest to light the lamp before God. The lamp is meant to give glory to God and not to themselves. This is something we often forget
The Youth And The Shining Face Of Moses
There was a church camp and there were many youth praying. These youth will often fast, pray and spiritual nurture and the camp changed them. They are filled with joy, they felt powerful. So they testified with their peers saying
“Look at us, we are different, can you see the light on our face, and our joy?”
When the preacher heard it, he was not to happy, so he took the youth aside and spoke to them. He begin by asking “Have you heard of how the face of Moses shone after he met with God? Was Moses aware that his faith is shining?”
Moses only knew it when everyone was looking at him strangely. They were the one who saw the face of Moses, Moses was unaware of it. When he knew instead showing it to the whole world, he took a cloth to cover his face. This is a puzzling thing
Isn’t this the glory of God? Isn’t it a good testimony? why hid it as if it is shameful?
Moses did not hide his face because it is shameful. He understood what God had taught him. All glory should be given to God and not to us. The shining face of Moses will fade eventually, but the glory of God is forever. Moses wanted everyone to remember the glory of God and not his shining face.
That is why we need to remember the glory of God, not the glory of men. We must give all glory to God and not ourselves. That is very important, for if our lamps are only shining for ourselves, how long can it remain burning? If we shine only for ourselves, we are not lighting our lamps before the Lord. We are merely burning for ourselves.
Pt 3: The Need For Continuous Supply Of Oil
For the lamp to burn continually, it need a constant supply of oil for the lamp. Jesus once talk about the parable of ten virgins. It is recorded in Matt 25:1-4. Jesus tell us that the kingdom of God is like 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom, in those days, their lamps had to be lighted as the virgins waited to meet the bridegroom.
If the lamp is extinguished, they cannot welcome the bridegroom.
“Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going
out.”- Foolish Virgin (Matt 25 : 8)
The foolish virgins tried to ask the wise virgins to spare time some oil. That is because their lamps are about to be extinguished and they are out of oil. If their lamp was out, they cannot receive the bridegroom, that is why they are afraid. At the beginning there was no anxiousness for they thought the bridegroom will come on time. They were confident that the oil in their lamp is enough for the wait.
However the bridegroom was delayed, they fell asleep. Suddenly, the announcement was made, and they realise that their oil was running out, it was too late. Now why does the wise virgin refuse to help them? It is not that they did not have love, but they had the need to keep their lamps burning. That is why they said that it would not be enough for the both of them. The foolish virgins have to go and buy oil, but the door was shut
“Afterward the other virgins came
also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’
But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly,
I say to you, I do not know you.’”-Jesus (Matt 5:11-12 )
They pleaded with the Lord, but let us look the response of the Lord. It is just that they ran out of oil and ran out light. Why did the Lord says that he did not know them? Is running out of oil a big problem? Why is the Lord without love and judge them?
This seem like a fair argument, but the Lord had already told them to prepare oil in their lamp. the Lord had instructed them to keep their light burning, without the lamp, we are unable to receive him. It is not that we are ignorant, but we did not follow his instructors.
Will we become the 5 smart virgins or the 5 who thinks that they have enough? Very often Christianity regarded the oil of the lamp as the Holy spirit. It is interesting to note that the 5 foolish virgins had oil, but it is just that their oil run out.
How do we add oil into our lamp? It is about our heart. A heart that does not reply on the Holy spirit will eventually become weak. Just like those who follow God faithfully in the beginning, but they stop being zealous over time.
What Does It Mean To Be Filled With The Spirit?
Christian in such a stage will eventually be unable to pray and we would stop talking to Jesus. Finally their lamps will be extinguished. They will no longer rely or submit to God. That is when they grieve the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit will continue to move them, but they will no longer rely or submit to it.
Eventually the Holy Spirit will give up and leave, and the light is extinguished. That is why Christians ought to examine their faith to check if their fire is still burning. They need to continue to light their lamps, be watchful and pray.
What does it really mean to pray in Spirit? Is it a mere speaking of tongues? Speaking of tongues is the evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit, but just because one could speak in tongues does not mean that they are praying n the spirit.
A person may be able to speak in tongues, but he may be going against the word of God daily. While everyone thinks that the spirit of God is fill him, in fact he is grieving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is grieved or God know our hearts and our thinking. He knew that we have went against him and we have treated something wrong as right. When other tried to correct us, we remain stubborn and refuse to listen.
Misunderstanding God Grace As Free Pass
What is worst is that we think of ourselves like Samson. Samson remain strong even though he did many things that are sin before God. While everyone is saying that he is not pleasing before God. He continue to defeat his enemies again and again. He thought his strength as a proof that God is with him and God forgive him. When the actual fact i that God had not judge him, God allowed his power to be in him. That was a grace from God, God wanted him to change.
Samson did not consider that as grace but he viewed it as a guilt free pass given to him by God. He thinks that he will always have the strength to escape and defeat the enemies. But God had to judge him eventually. The book of judges recorded the final moment of Samson like this
“And she said, “The Philistines
are upon you, Samson!” So he
awoke from his sleep, and said,
“I will go out as before, at other
times, and shake myself free!”
But he did not know that the Lord
had departed from him.” – Author of Judges (Judg 16:20)
He though he had the strength to escape, but he did not know God left him. Eventually he was captured, his eyes gorged out, and he ended up in a sorry state. The bible talk of many of such stories.
They serve as a warning to Christians to be watchful and pray, not to grieve the Holy Spirit. If we continually quench the spirit again and again, God will be grieved and the Holy Spirit will leave you. Just like a friend who tried to advice you in vain, giving up and leaving. He left not because he is hard hearted, but because we refuse to listen.
It is not that God had limits when it come to loving, but God is also the righteous judge. He had to execute his judgement for he is a just God. Today he had given us the opportunity to repent, if we remain unrepentant, his judgement will come upon us and that is when it is too late for regrets.
PT 4 : The High Priest Had The Ultimate Responsibility On the Lamp
“Outside the veil of the Testimony,
in the tabernacle of meeting, Aaron
shall be in charge of it from evening
until morning before the Lord continually;
it shall be a statute forever in your generations.
He shall be in charge of the lamps on the
pure gold lampstand before the Lord
continually.”-YHWH (Lev 24:3-4)
God says that Aaron must take of the lamp and be in charge. Even though there are priest who serve in the temple and light the lamp. Aaron is the overall in charge of the entire temple. Even though the priest is the ones who keep the lamp burning. It is Aaron Job to ensure that they are working and they did not fall asleep.
Therefore the high priest must check and wake up any priest who fall asleep so that the lamp will be lighted.
The workers are important but the overseer is just as important. Aaron is a human and he too may fall asleep in his duty. That is why Hebrews tell us of the high priest in heaven. He is Jesus and he never sleep. He is without weakness, he will not die, he is living forever and he had became our high priest. He intercedes for us, he is in charge of the lamps within the church. This is an important teaching.
In Rev 1:17-20 : John saw the appearance of the Lord, the God who is alive and is watching over us. Today the people we trust may leave us. We will all die one day. But if we rely on the Lord, he lives forever. He is the God who holds the keys of hades and of death.
Many thought that hades and death are in control of the devil. But here God tell us that he holds the key of Hades and death. That is why we need not be afraid to die for Christ. For Christ had save us from death and had given us internal life.
What we must take note is Rev 1:20. There were 7 stars, 7 lampstands and 7 angels. the 7 lampstands are the 7 churches. We need to know that God takes care of all his churches.
The Church Is The Responsibility of Christ
Today, if we focus only on the church leader we will be disappointed. For even if we elect a new leader, he may do things that sadden us. But we need to see that God is in charge of all the 7 churches. If we focus on him, we will be filled with hope and glory. We will stop looking at the darkness and focus on the light.
It is true that throughout history, dark forces had been trying to destroy the church. They persecute the church and wanted to destroy. There were leaders and strong Christians who became weak, some of them betrayed the Lord. they choose to leave the church and refuse to believe in God anymore. There are also those deceived, and those who love the world.
On the surface, it look as though the church is weak, full of internal problems and external threats. There are times she look like a bruised reed and smoking flax. It appear not to give up light, and give only a small amber of flame
Sometimes we feel sad when looking at it, and we wonder why the church is like this. But the churches in the book of revelations also look like a bruised reed and a smoking flax. It makes other feel sad and depress when seeing it. They doubt if this is the church of God.
But God told John to write down the details of the church and their corruption, and also write down the fact that there are 7 lampstands and 7 stars in the hand of God. He wanted us to know that he is in charge, he knows what is happening. He had already told us through prophet Isaiah.
“A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”- Isaiah (Is 4:3-4)
The church is established by Jesus through his blood and the Holy Spirit. It can overcome hell and hades not because the living stones are strong. But it remain steadfast for his house is build upon the cornerstone that is Jesus. He is steadfast and unmovable.
Jesus is the high priest that will look after the church and help the church. He is the head of the church and he will take care of it. He is the high priest that tend the lamp in the tabernacle. He will never allow the lamp to go out.
He will wake up the priest so that they will continue to keep the lamp burning. If we understand this we will not be disappointed. Even if our friends and family depart from the church we will not leave. For we can see the Lord in his church and we will choose to follow him
If we build out faith on man, we will leave the church. But if faith is establish in the Lord, we will continue to stay. For we know that he rules over the church. We need to continue to keep our faith in Christ. We need to have the hope and endure to the end. As long as we keep ourselves in his grace, we will never go wrong.
Others may choose to leave, it is their choice and we cannot stop them. But we can influence ourselves and follow Christ. WE can choose to listen to him and follow him.
if we do so we would have lighted the lamp before the Lord. It can illuminate us as well as the church. May God help us so that we will be good lamps.