Exodus 25:31-40. 31 “You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand shall be made of hammered work: its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. 32 And there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 33 three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand…. 37 You shall make seven lamps for it. And the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it… 40 And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.
I don’t know if you read the scripture above very closely or not, but if you did you just read the description of a magnificent work of art. Form meeting function. The lampstand obviously provides a very practical purpose. The tabernacle coverings are four layers thick so it would be pitch black in there without this giant menorah. But the sheer beauty of this lamp is unmatched. A one piece design of solid gold. The ornate decorations on the lampstand make it look like a tree. Blossoms and flowers adorn it. Many have supposed the lampstand to be a “Tree of Life.” God’s life being offered once again to humanity, mankind re-created, the imago Dei restored.
In the words of Hark the Herald, “Life and light to all he brings.” The Holy Place contained two symbols of that life and light. The life of the bread of the Presence and the light of the lampstand. Remember, Moses is still on the mountain receiving the pattern for the tabernacle. This is God’s word of the gospel following his word of the law. The design of the tabernacle is telling the Hebrews that God will dwell among them and his very presence will provide them not only life, but an illuminated life. Not just a chance to live forgiven and covered by the mercy seat of God, but also a chance to live within the illumination of the wisdom and knowledge of God.
The redemptive story begins with light shining out of the darkness. “Let there be light,” God declared. But as we go through the story we soon see that God is not just the creator of light, he IS our light. And only by knowing him can we live a life of wisdom. A life beyond the knowledge of good and evil. An illuminated life.
Psalm 27:1. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
Star Wars: the second greatest light v darkness story? Maybe.
Of course we lost that light and life in the Garden and now we are all born into darkness. Ever groping for grace and truth. We are self-absorbed and self-deceived. Self-righteous and self-saving. The darkness is thick. We need a light to shine into our hearts and show us the wisdom of God. The meaning of life. The realities of eternal goodness and love.
Everything in the tabernacle is a pattern (Hebrews 8:5). An earthly shadow of a heavenly reality. All of it pointing to God’s ultimate truth. There is a light in the darkness. A light that will guide you through this life and into the next. A light that will allow this life to make sense. That light is a person. That light is God. That light is Jesus Christ.
Jesus offers to us the illuminated life. The life of meaning and purpose. The life of righteousness and justice. The life of mercy and grace. The life of love. True unconditional selfless love. The serving of God and man. The imago Dei restored.
John 8:12. Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The light of life. The “life” that Jesus offers is a unique life. It is the Greek word zoe, which always only refers to the divine life of God. Words like bios and psyche were used to mean the life of man. But zoe is always used in the New testament to mean God’s unique life. This zoe life is what Jesus offers to us. Not our own life forever (that would be hell). But God’s life forever. That’s the light of life!
Union with Christ offers to us the light of the life of God. The illuminating guidance of grace. How are we supposed to live? What is true wisdom? How do I make decisions and move with purpose through this life? The answer is Christ and his cross. Christ and his cross are the light. Just like in the tabernacle the light (lampstand) and life (bread) radiate out from the mercy seat, so too your light and life radiate out from God’s mercy at the cross. The cross that saved you is now your life and your light, your model for living. True holiness joined to true mercy. Self-sacrifice and unconditional grace. Slavery from freedom. Strength from weakness. Guidance from dependency. Forgiveness from love.
What is your life’s light? What guides your life? What principles or mantras do you live by? Is it good news? Or is it just another form of the law’s bad news? Is the cross of Christ not only your source of life, but also your source of light? Does it actually guide how you live?
1 John 1:6-7. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
“To live is Christ” means that the cross of Christ has given you eternal life. But it also means that same cross is the light of your life. Your guide. Your wisdom. The cross is the power and the crucified life is the proof of our illuminated life in Christ.