The Tabernacle: The Lampstand
According to Hebrews 9, the first article within the tent was the candlestick. But before we move inside to explore its beauty, we will first make some general observations.
First, of course, to go inside as an ordinary Israelite was impossible. This was a privilege reserved to the priests in their performance of spiritual tasks. Thus it was a restricted zone and that in itself reminds us that to the Israelites, the tent pictured heaven. But for believers of this age, we are already in the 'heavenly places in Christ Jesus' (Eph 2:6). We have access as 'a royal priesthood' (1 Pet 2:9).
Second, should we be of the right lineage and calling, we would note a change of material. Brass marked the courtyard, while gold marked the Holy place. We pointed out before that brass speaks of judgment on sin, but gold speaks of righteousness. He is in heaven today, and He is 'Jesus Christ the righteous' (1 Jn 2:1).
The candlestick (also called the lampstand), stood within the holy place to give light. The lampstand was made of one central shaft out of which came six branches, three on either side. At the top of each branch and the single central shaft was a light fuelled by oil. As the light radiated from the seven lamps and reflected off the gold, it would have created a sight to behold. This glorious glow would have illuminated the whole compartment. But more, Exodus tells us that its intention was to illuminate itself (25:37). God's purpose was that the lampstand should cast light upon its own beauty.
This is a glorious picture of Christ. He is the 'brightness of his glory' (Heb 1:3). In the person of Christ, the full-orbed glory of the eternal God is on display. This is not in His incarnation only, although it was, but more accurately, in the eternity of His person. It is in Christ that God's radiance is on display. The brightness of the lampstand speaks of the glory of the person of Christ. Note that the light only illuminated the sanctuary. Thus, the picture is not 'Christ as the light of the world' (Jn 8:12) but as the light in heaven.
Related to the brightness of the lampstand was its beauty. The design was intricate: bowls, knops and almonds decorating each of the branches. No one is sure of its exact form, but there is enough in the text to convince of its aesthetic appeal. If you had looked upon it, the shaft would have stood out as central to its design. The three symmetrical branches on either side would have seen to that.
The beauty of the lampstand speaks of the glory of the pre-eminence of Christ. He is first among His people; 'the firstborn among many brethren' (Rom 8:29).
Finally, the beating of the lampstand speaks of the glory of the position of Christ. God has exalted Him to His right hand until the point that all His enemies become His footstool (Ps. 110:1). But how do we get that from the text? Bezaleel and Aholiab fashioned the lampstand from one piece of pure gold. Note it was pure gold–there was no wooden frame with a gold overlay–it was wholly gold. To do that they had to beat, or work the gold into the required shape. The beating is not the idea of wounding or crushing, but working to produce something of value. The purity of the material and the simplicity of the process depicts the deity of His person. But remember, the lampstand was in the part of the tabernacle that represents heaven. The figure is that He has endured the sufferings of life and returned to heaven by way of resurrection and ascension. Today there is a real man in heaven who learned obedience 'by the things which He suffered' (Heb. 5:8).
As we remember Him again today, let us give thanks for the One who is in heaven. Glorious in person, pre-eminence and position.