He shall tend the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD continually.
I. AS SETTING FORTH THE CHARACTER AND ATTRIBUTES OF GOD.
1. The characteristics of light.
(1) Its beauty. Naught excels it; it is splendour itself, and invests other objects with radiance. "God is light." What a combination of hues constitutes the pure white ray!
(2) An emblem of knowledge. "Thy Word is a light unto my path." "To the Law and to the testimony: if they... no light in them." Light is the revealer - indicates our position and prospects. The wisdom of God is infinite; an inscrutable blaze that baffles the strongest vision. He devises plans for every emergency. Whilst men argue concerning the possibility of some works, he calmly does them; yea, whilst they prove (!) that no God exists, he is occupied in balancing the worlds, directing the course of the ages, hastening the day when all shall perforce know him.
(3) Typical of joy. "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." Illuminations are a worldwide method of rejoicing. The notions some hold concerning God as a hard Taskmaster, a Judge of severe countenance, a Father who never smiles, are not Biblical representations. We read of "the glorious gospel of the blessed (happy) God." Joy is an emotion that loves to communicate itself to others, and from the throne of God issues a stream of untainted happiness to enrich the lives of his children.
2. The burning lamps showed the constant wakefulness of God. The people retired to their couches for repose, darkness brooded over the camp, but the holy place was unaffected by the shadows of the night. God never slumbers nor sleeps. It may not have occurred to the Israelites that God heard prayer from o'er the compass of the globe; but, in order to be the God of the whole earth and to listen to the petitions of all its inhabitants, it follows of necessity that God has no couch in his sanctuary, for he resteth not. Whilst the day is closing in the one hemisphere it is beginning to dawn in the other. "In him is no darkness at all."
3. The candlestick indicated perpetual existence. "A statue for ever in your generations." Aaron might pass away, but the candlestick continued to give light in the tabernacle. Men die, God survives. As we behold the same sun and moon that gladdened the eyes of our forefathers, so it is the same God that hears our prayers and blesses us with the light of his countenance.
II. As SETTING FORTH THE RELATIONSHIP AND FUNCTIONS OF THE PEOPLE.
1. Their privileged condition as favoured with a special revelation of the being and character of God. They were the only nation to possess such a candlestick made "after the pattern showed in the mount." All the heathen constructed deities and images of Deity according to their own judgment, taste, and caprice. The night during which the lamp burned was a fit emblem of the moral state of the world lying outside Israel. The Israelites were blessed with the light of the Law; "to them were committed the oracles of God." In the symbols of the Law was taught the way of salvation, to be completed by a coming Mediator. So in Jesus Christ we have "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God." At the Feast of Tabernacles, when according to custom large golden lamps were lit at dark in the temple court, our Lord termed himself "the Light of the world." We have the Spirit of God to illumine our consciences, to show unto us the things of Christ. We read in the Revelation of the seven burning lamps before the throne, which are the sevenfold Spirit of God. In Zechariah's vision of the candlestick he saw the bowls supplied with oil from two olive trees, representing the continued grace furnished by the Spirit of God, keeping alight the knowledge of God in days of the Church's decline. And we have the Word of God, "a light shining in a dark place." Let not this light condemn us as did the sacred candlestick removed to Belshazzar's palace, where its rays revealed the fingers of a man's hand writing the monarch's doom. "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
2. Their duty to minister to the glory of God. The people were permitted, yea, expected, to bring the oil for the lamps, as they had previously offered the gold for the candlestick itself. They were to keep the light of God burning in the world. It is incumbent on Christians to support the ministry and the operations of the Church, that there may be a continual testimony to the existence and majesty of the Eternal. God requires us to render the best service at our command. It must be pure. The candlestick was of gold, as were the tongs and snuff-dishes, and the oil was of finest quality, free from dust, not crushed, but beaten. If preparing a meal for one we lightly esteem, little trouble is taken, but where we delight to honour our guest, what anxiety is displayed in all that concerns the banquet! Our devotion must be regular. The lamps were lit each evening, trimmed and dressed every morning. That the full light did not shine during the day is evident from 1 Samuel 3:3. Josephus, however, says that three of the lamps burnt all day long. The lamp is said to "ascend," it rises to heaven as a tribute of adoration to God. We may think of him as viewing his world, and expecting light to arise from different quarters where his children dwell. But how often must disappointment accrue! No morning perusal of his Word, no evening worship. A mother on her birthday delights to turn over the letters from her children, that greet her upon her plate, but if one familiar handwriting be missed, what a shadow darkens her joy! The chill that creeps over her heart seems to nullify the gladness which the tokens of remembrance cause. Let not God have to sigh over our neglect. All is accepted through the priesthood. No Levite or layman must enter the holy precincts, the priests represent and are supported by the people. Jesus Christ is our means of access to the Father; through him our service is acceptable. To venture to draw nigh in our name is presumption; it sets at naught the solemn regulations of the Most High, and it will receive the rebuke it merits. The Son of man must walk in the midst of our golden candlesticks, or else we know not that they are in accordance with the Divine mind; and only thus can we hear the exhortations that shall prevent the candlestick from being removed out of its place because of failure to discharge its proper functions. - S.R.A.
Pure oil-olive beaten for the light.
I. THE LAMPS MUST ALWAYS BE KEPT BURNING. The law for this we had before (Exodus 27:20, 21). It is here repeated, probably because now it began to be put in execution when other things were settled.
1. The people were to provide oil (ver. 2); and this, as everything else that was to be used in God's service, must be of the best, pure oil-olive beaten — probably it was double-strained. This was to cause the lamps to burn. All our English copies read it "lamps"; but in the original it is singular (ver. 2), "To cause the 'lamp' to burn"; but plural (ver. 4), "He shall order the 'lamps.'" The seven lamps made all one lamp. In allusion to which the blessed Spirit of grace is represented by seven lamps of fire before the throne (Revelation 4:5); for there are diversities of gifts, but one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4). Ministers are as burning and shining lights in Christ's Church; but it is the duty of people to provide comfortably for them, as Israel for the lamps. Scandalous maintenance makes a scandalous ministry.
2. The priests were to tend the lamps; they-must snuff them, clean the candlestick, supply them with oil morning and evening (vers. 3, 4). Thus it is the work of the ministers of the gospel to hold forth that Word of life — not to set up new lights, but by expounding and preaching the Word to make the light of it more clear and extensive.
II. THE TABLE MUST ALWAYS BE KEPT SPREAD. This was appointed before (Exodus 25:30). And here also:
1. The table was furnished with bread; not dainties or varieties to gratify a luxurious palate, but twelve loaves or cakes of bread (vers. 5, 6). Where there is plenty of bread there is no famine; and where bread is not there is no feast. There was a loaf for every tribe; for in our Father's house there is bread enough. They were all provided for by the Divine bounty, and were all welcome to the Divine grace.
2. A handful of frankincense was put in a golden saucer upon or by each row (ver. 7). When the bread was removed and given to the priests this frankincense was burnt upon the golden altar (I suppose) over and above the daily incense. And this was for a memorial instead Of the bread, an offering made by fire, as the handful of the meat-offering which was burnt upon the altar is called the memorial thereof (Leviticus 2:2). Thus a little was accepted as an humble acknowledgment, and all the loaves were consigned to the priests. All God's spiritual Israel, typified by the twelve loaves, are made through Christ a sweet savour to Him, and their prayers are said to come up before God for a memorial (Acts 10:4). The word is borrowed from the ceremonial law.
3. Every Sabbath it was renewed. When the loaves had stood there a week the priests had them, to eat with other holy things that were to be eaten in the Holy Place (ver. 9); and new ones were provided at the public charge, and put in the room of them (ver. 8). The Jews say, "The hands of those priests that put on were mixed with theirs that took off, that the table might be never empty, but the bread might be before the Lord continually." God is never unprovided for the entertainment of those that visit Him, as men often are (Luke 11:5).
( Matthew Henry, D. D..)
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
(J. Cumming, D. D.)
The priest setting the lamps in order daily represents Christ causing His people daily to receive and give forth light and lifePhilippians 2:15; Matthew 5:16). They should be as the Baptist, "burning and shining lights." They should be representatives of Christ Himself, who "shone as the light in darkness." And they must shine —
1. Not by natural gifts, but by grace. There must be the beaten oil, pressed out of Israel's olive-trees; not merely talent or natural fervour and benevolence.
2. Clearly. There were golden snuffers for these lamps, and the use of them was committed to the priest who went in to set things in order. Believers must have their gifts and graces stirred up, so that there be no dulness, indecision, languor.
3. Constantly. Every day in succession shine as before; never hide the light. If there be a place where it is not duty to speak, yet there is no place where it is not duty to think and feel for God.
4. Calmly; for the light of these lamps did not sputter as it burned. The oil was pure. Believers must have the lamb-like spirit of Jesus, putting away all admixture of human temper; not reproving with the heat of human passion, not harshly upbraiding the obstinate sinner, not impatient or hasty or fierce even when enormous wickedness and deceit appear. A calm light generally shines full.
5. In the face of the world. Cast your light fair on the world's sins, that they may see them. Point out their ungodliness, their lawlessness, their unbelief. Bear your testimony where the truth is denied in your presence. Never be afraid of dazzling the world with too much light, but plainly show them that they are wholly sinful, wholly ruined, wholly helpless; and speak of a present, immediate, free, full pardon in the Saviour.
6. So as to show the golden table and the golden altar. The lights of the candlestick did so. Was not this pointing the eye to Christ, who died and who is risen? The bread on the table is Christ, who gave His life for us; the golden altar and its incense is Jesus exalted and accepted. Here is full salvation.
7. As if you alone were responsible for the enlightening of the dark world. The candlestick was the only light; so is the Church. And let every member feel responsibility. Perhaps if you shine not, some soul shall be left for ever in darkness. If one lighthouse on the sea-shore were obscured, how many ships might be lost in consequence, especially if formerly that lighthouse used to direct to the haven! Oh, then, how many may perish if you backslide and shine not as before! This is our time for shining. When Jesus comes His light will dim ours; we shall shine with Him, but our privilege of bringing others shall be ended. When the sun rises the vessel needs no more the help of the beacon-light.
(A. A. Bonar.)
(Richard Newton, D. D.)Isaiah 33:16). This table of shewbread pointed to Jesus. He is "the living bread that came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever" (John 6:51). And we know how bread strengthens, or comforts, men's hearts. And then the golden altar of incense taught the same thing. As the priest burnt the incense on this altar, the perfume rose in clouds of fragrant smoke that filled the Tabernacle. This fragrance was most pleasing and refreshing. And the meaning of it was, that when we love and serve Jesus, the prayers that we offer to God, and the work that we do for Him, are just as pleasant to Him as the fragrance of this incense is to us. How much comfort there is in this thought! And then all the things in the Tabernacle-.the brazen altar of burnt-offering, the laver, the candlestick, the table of shewbread, and the golden altar of incense — were intended to lead the thoughts of those who worshipped there to what was on the other side of the veil that hung down in the Holy Place. There, beyond that veil, was the most Holy Place. In it was the ark, with the glory of God shining brightly upon it. That place represented heaven. And so, when we see the Tabernacle showing us how Jesus was to be with His people, to pardon them, and to purify them, and to enlighten them, and strengthen them, we see it teaching us how all that Jesus does for His people now is to make them ready for heaven. And if this is so, we may well say that the presence of Jesus with His people is a comforting presence. We have just had an illustration of one point of our subject from a little blind boy. We have another illustration here from an old blind woman. She lived in North Wales, and was known all through that part of the country as "Blind Mary." Wales is a grand old country. Mountains, and rocks, and lakes, and waterfalls in every variety of form are found there. Mary's cottage was in one of the wildest parts of this country. Great rocks lay scattered around on every side. Ferns and wild flowers peeped out from under them. There was no more charming view in all that country than was to be seen in front of Mary's cottage. One beautiful summer evening she was sitting there, with her large Bible on her knee. She was spelling out its meaning as her fingers went slowly over the raised letters. Just then a traveller who had been climbing the mountain came near. With the usual quickness of the blind Mary heard his footsteps, and asked him to take a seat. As he did so she pointed out to him the most interesting views in the landscape before them. He looked at her with surprise, and said, "They told me that blind Mary lived up here; but I can hardly believe that you are blind. You seem to see the mountains and lakes as well as I do." "I used to look at them with so much pleasure when I could see, that I know all about them, although I have been blind for years." "Doesn't it make you unhappy, Mary, to think that you can never look at them again?" The blind woman's eyes filled with tears, as she answered, "Don't ask me that, sir. At first I felt almost angry with God for afflicting me so; but now I can bless His holy name. I see something better, sir, than rocks and mountains. I see Jesus, my Saviour, and the thought that He loves me makes me happy. Forgive an old woman's boldness, sir. You tell me you have good eyesight, and that you can see yonder lakes, and the blue mountains beyond; but, oh I sir, did you ever see that wonderful sight, Jesus Christ laying down His life for you?" The traveller looked at blind Mary with great interest, and said, "Mary, I am afraid I have not thought about these things as I ought; but I promise you that I will do so; I shall never forget my evening's climb up these mountains, and what you have said to me." "God bless you, sir I But what should I, a poor old blind woman, do without my Saviour? I'm never alone, for He is with me. I'm not afraid to die, either, because He has washed away my sins in His blood; and when I leave these mountains and lakes I shall go, I know, to a better country. 'Mine eyes shall see the King in His beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off.' And I believe I shall meet you there, because I shall ask my Saviour to open your eyes, that you may see yourself first as a sinner, and then see Jesus as your Redeemer." Certainly the presence of Jesus was a comforting presence to poor blind Mary.
(Richard Newton, D. D.)
Take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof
(J. H. Holford, M. A.)1. Here remark,(1) Bread is the staple of life. The manna is called "bread from heaven." In the present case the bread is made of fine flour, ground between the millstones.(2) It is most likely unleavened, though the book nowhere affirms this expressly. The Passover bread, and most, if not all else offered unto the Lord, was unleavened (Leviticus 2:5-11; Leviticus 6:14-17).(3) It remained on the table from one Sabbath until the next; even on their journeys it was not omitted (see Numbers 4:7). Therefore is it called shewbread-bread of faces — bread continually before faces of the Lord. This renders it the more likely to be unleavened; for in that climate where the manna remaining overnight spoiled, leavened bread a week old would be sour.(4) The frankincense was probably placed in some of the dishes provided, and was removed and burnt in the censers or on the incense altar on the Sabbath.
2. Let us inquire into the typical meaning of the table, its furniture, and its contents. In general it exhibits Messiah as the Bread of God, that comes down from heaven and sustains the life of the Church (John 6:35-39). But particularly,(1) The wood and the gold, as throughout, symbolise the human and the Divine natures in the person of Christ.(2) The sufferings of the Saviour may be alluded to in the grinding of the flour and the action of the fire in baking.(3) The twelve cakes or loaves are the twelve tribes of Israel, for each and all of whom bread was provided.(4) The frankincense, when offered, expresses prayers and thanksgivings of the Church.(5) The continual presence of the bread is a guarantee that spiritual food shall never fail, but a store is perpetually on hand.(6) The exchange of the bread and the priests eating it in the Holy Place on the Sabbath sets forth clearly and forcibly that abundant provision of spiritual food and nourishment which the Lord's day always brings with it to the people of His love.(7) Its exclusive appropriation to the priests intimates the limited privileges of the people, and prepares for the contrast of a later day, when they become elevated as kings and priests unto God.(8) The unleavened bread indicates the absence of any process of decay. Leaven is the first step towards dissolution, and its prohibition assuredly intimates the absence of all tendency to corruption in the Redeemer, who, even in a physical sense, saw no corruption. Does not this teach that in the sacramental supper we ought not to use leavened bread, bread in the first stage toward utter putrefaction? Moreover, the other idea, suggested by the unleavened bread of the Passover as an indication of being hastily driven out on a pilgrimage journey, is still applicable: we are travelling through a strange land toward the heavenly Canaan.
(George Junkin, D. D.)Matthew 12:4). Under the new covenant the priesthood includes every believer. All, who by faith are born unto the Israel of God, may eat of the True Shewbread. God has spread a table in the wilderness of which all His people are called to be partakers. He Himself invites them to feast upon its rich provison. He says, "Eat, O My friends, yea, drink abundantly."
(F. H. White).I. The mystery or THE GOSPEL OF THE TABLE, upon which this bread was set every Sabbath, and there continued all the week, until a fresh set of loaves were placed in their room. This table was a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of communion with Him, in the administration of the Word and ordinances. It was typical of the person of Christ, in both His natures: for there are two natures in Him, human and Divine. The human nature of Christ may be signified by the wood of which this table was made, and His Divine nature by the gold it was overlaid with. And this shewbread table was not only typical of Christ, as to the matter of it; being made of such excellent, incorruptible wood, and that overlaid with pure gold; but also with respect to the decorations of it. It had a crown of gold upon it, which may be expressive of that honour and glory which is due to Christ, and is given unto Him as the King of kings and Lord of lords. The border of gold, with the crown upon it, about this table of shewbread, is also significant of what may be observed in Christ. For as this phrase, when applied to the Church of Christ, where it is said, "We will make thee borders of gold, with studs of silver" (Song of Solomon 3:11), may denote the graces of the Spirit of God bestowed upon His people, which is as ornamental to them as borders of gold and studs of silver; so this, being applied to Christ, may denote that fulness of grace that there is in Him. He is full of grace and truth. He hath received the Spirit, and the gifts and graces thereof without measure. Thus this table was typical of the person of Christ. It may also be considered as typical of communion with Him. A table among men is an emblem of communion and fellowship. Here men sit, eat, drink, and converse together: and this shewbread table is an emblem of the saints' communion with Christ, in the present state more especially. There is the table of the Lord, to which His people are now admitted, where He sits down with them, and they with Him, to have fellowship with Him in the ministration of the Word and ordinances, cf which He is the sum and substance. Before I dismiss this head, give me leave to observe unto you that there were rings upon the shewbread table, and staves to be put in there rings, which were for the removing and carrying it from place to place, and which was done by the Levites, when it was necessary; as while they were in the wilderness, and before the Tabernacle had a fixed place for it. For wherever the Tabernacle was carried, the ark and the table were also.
II. I proceed in the second place to give you some account of the gospel, and the mystery of THE SHEWBREAD SET UPON HIS TABLE. This may be considered as typical of the Church of God, who are called bread. "We being many, are one bread, and one body" (1 Corinthians 10:17). They are all one bread; and they may be fitly signified by the shewbread, by these twelve cakes of unleavened bread, set continually upon the table every Sabbath-day. As they were made of fine flour, and into unleavened cakes, so they may denote those that are upright in heart and conversation. Israelites, indeed, who have the truth of grace in them; who are such as keep the feast, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The twelve cakes had reference to the twelve tribes of Israel; so these may signify the whole of the spiritual Israel of God, whether consisting of Jews or Gentiles; even that general assembly and Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven. In the original text it is "the bread of faces"; because this bread was always before the face or faces of God, before all the Three Divine Persons in the Trinity; before God the Father, Son, and Spirit; before Jehovah, before the Divine Shechinah, which dwelt between the cherubim, over the mercy-seat of the ark, a symbol of the Divine presence. It was continually before the Lord, as our text expresses it; and this may denote the people of God's constant and continual presentation of themselves before the Lord in acts of public and religious worship. But it may still have a higher sense than this; it may have respect unto these persons, being always under the eye and care of God. Not only are the eyes of His providence upon them which run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of those whose hearts are upright towards Him, to see that no hurt comes to them, that they stand in need of nothing, and to protect, preserve, and defend them; but His eyes of love, grace and mercy are always upon them. He never withdraws His eyes from them. Again, this shewbread, and the twelve loaves thereof, were placed upon the table, where they stood firm and safe. This may denote the standing and security of the saints and people of God upon our Lord Jesus Christ, that sure foundation God has laid in Sion: that foundation of the apostles and prophets. Here they have a sure and safe standing, as on a rock — the Rock of Ages — against which the powers of hell and earth can never prevail. And as about this shewbread table there was a border of gold, to keep everything put upon it from falling off, this may still further point out unto us the safety of the people of God, who are set upon the shewbread table, our Lord Jesus Christ. And then you may further observe, this shewbread was placed upon the table every Sabbath-day; there was a constant succession; the table was never empty. This may denote the constancy of true believers, that have the interest of Christ at heart, in assembling continually before the Lord. Not forsaking the assembling of themselves together, but, like the primitive Christians, continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, and in fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Or, rather, it may denote the constant succession of the children and people of God in the world. This shewbread, set upon the table, may also be emblematical of Christ Himself; and that as He is the spiritual food of His people. And there being twelve of these loaves upon the table, may denote the fulness and sufficiency of Christ. Here is bread enough and to spare. And as this bread was continual bread, was always upon the table, so it may denote the permanency of Christ. He is always the same — the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. And as this was set upon the table by the priests, and only by them, and none ate of this bread but the priests only, Aaron and his sons (who may be significant of the ministers of the Word, or of Christians in common under the gospel dispensation); if we understand it of the ministers of the Word, it points out that they set before the people the shewbread, even the wholesome and salutary words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and feed the people with knowledge and understanding. But if we understand it (as I rather do) as expressive of the people of God in common, who under the gospel dispensation are all made kings and priests to God, it denotes that these, and these only, eat of this spiritual food. None but they do it; none but they can do it.
(John Gill, D. D.)
PeopleAaron, Dan, Dibri, Ephah, Israelites, Israelitess, Moses, Shelomith
TopicsAaron, Arrange, Candlestick, Continually, Gold, Lamps, Lampstand, Lights, Order, Pure, Support, Tended
Outline1. The oil for the lamps
5. The showbread
10. Shelomith's son blasphemes
13. The law of blasphemy
17. Of murder
18. Of damage
23. The blasphemer is stoned
Dictionary of Bible ThemesLeviticus 24:4
LibraryThe Doctrine of Non-Resistance to Evil by Force Has Been Professed by a Minority of Men from the Very Foundation of Christianity. Of the Book "What
CHAPTER I. THE DOCTRINE OF NON-RESISTANCE TO EVIL BY FORCE HAS BEEN PROFESSED BY A MINORITY OF MEN FROM THE VERY FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIANITY. Of the Book "What I Believe"--The Correspondence Evoked by it-- Letters from Quakers--Garrison's Declaration--Adin Ballou, his Works, his Catechism--Helchitsky's "Net of Faith"--The Attitude of the World to Works Elucidating Christ's Teaching--Dymond's Book "On War"--Musser's "Non-resistance Asserted"--Attitude of the Government in 1818 to Men who Refused to …
Leo Tolstoy—The Kingdom of God is within you
Feast of the Dedication. The Jews Attempt to Stone Jesus and He Retires to Peræa.
Jesus Defends Disciples who Pluck Grain on the Sabbath.
Questions About the Nature and Perpetuity of the Seventh-Day Sabbath.
Third Stage of the Roman Trial. Pilate Reluctantly Sentences Him to Crucifixion.
A Divine Saviour.
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