|April 8, 2020|
[The LORD said to Moses,] “Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them.” (Exodus 25:31)When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) As long as you have light, you will never walk in darkness. A streetlight guides home weary travelers. A nightlight comforts an anxious child. A flashlight guides the way on a dark path.
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In the wilderness tabernacle, God drove away the dark in his Holy Place with a golden lampstand. The lampstand, also known as the menorah, was constructed of solid gold. God told Moses to make the lampstand from one talent, or about 75 pounds of solid gold. The lampstand had a center column with six branches extending from it, creating seven branches. These arms resembled the branches on an almond tree, with ornamental knobs, ending in a flower at the top.
Although this object is sometimes referred to as a candlestick, it was actually an oil lamp and did not use candles. Each of the flower-shaped cups held a measure of olive oil and a cloth wick, which gave off a small flame. Aaron and the priests were to keep the lamps burning continuously.
The golden lampstand was placed in the Holy Place, opposite the table of showbread. Because this chamber had no windows, the lampstand was the only source of light. Not only was it ornamental, it was critical for sight.
Like all the other tabernacle furniture, the golden lampstand foreshadowed Jesus Christ. There is other symbolism. Seven, the Hebrew number for completeness, pointed to God’s complete presence, protection, and guidance. God designed the lampstand to look like almond branches. The almond tree blooms very early in the Middle East, in late January or February. Its Hebrew root word means “to hasten,” telling the Israelites that God is quick to fulfill his promises. Perhaps the almond branches also reminded the people of Aaron’s staff, which was a piece of almond wood.
But the golden lampstand’s chief purpose was to point to the true Light that gives life and salvation, and that is Jesus Christ. Jesus told the people: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
His light shined in his perfect life of love. It shined when he hung in the darkness of Good Friday and cried out, “It is finished.” With that cry, he proclaimed his victory over the darkness of sin, death, and the devil. He confirmed that victory in the early morning light of the first Easter. Jesus shines the light of salvation on us in his Word.
How dearly we need to rely on our Light. He drives away the darkness of the devil’s accusations, reminding us that we are forgiven. And when the fear of death surrounds us or a loved one, our Light lives to assure us of victory over death’s darkness. When you live in the Light, you will never walk in darkness.Christ be my leader by night as by day,
Safe through the darkness, for he is the way.
Gladly I follow, my future his care;
Darkness is daylight when Jesus is there. Amen. (CW 367:1) Rev. Dr. John Boeder serves Martin Luther College as campus pastor.