If you came through the front of the door of the tabernacle, the lampstand would have sat on the left hand, or south side (Exodus 40:24) opposite the table of shewbread. For the tabernacle always faced the east.
Unlike the ark, the table of showbread, and altar of incense no wood entered into the composition of the lampstand. It was not cast into mold, but made entirely out of hammered sheets of pure gold, and fashioned out of one piece of gold. The lampstand weighed one talent, or roughly 100 lbs. And would cost about $1,200,000 in 2009. The mode of its manufacture indicates that it was hollow. Its size is not given, but Jewish tradition assigns it a height of about 5ft. and a width of about 3 ½ ft. It consisted of an upright stem or shaft. The base and this upright branch or stem constituted the lampstand proper, out of which came six branches extending upwards like arms, three out of the one side, and three out of the other. All six branches were parallel to each other, and they all curved upwards to an equal level. The main branch or stem probably rose to a height a little higher than the others. The branches were decorated with almond-shaped bowls or cups. It is likely that the lampstand’s branches faced from the east to the west—thus better lighting the holy place. Only the best quality olive oil was used for the lamps, to ensure that the light was as bright as possible (Exodus 27:20). Pure or “clear” olive oil was used, prepared from olives that had been cleansed of leaves, twigs, and dust before being crushed and beaten. The resulting white oil is of the finest quality. They are traditionally believed to have held a little more than a half pint of pure oil. The lamps were trimmed and lighted at the same time of the evening sacrifice (Exodus 30:8) and trimmed and filled at the same time of the morning sacrifice (Exodus 30:7; 1 Samuel 3:3). They were never allowed to go out except when the tabernacle was being moved. The lampstand was the only source of light in the entire holy place; for all natural light was shut out. The priests could see to eat the shewbread, and offer up incense on the golden altar, only by the light of the lampstand.
The lampstand is a type of Christ, the Holy Spirit and the believer.
The lampstand was made out of pure gold which speaks of Deity in the Bible. The lampstand was made of “hammered work.” Without the hammering, you do not have a golden lampstand. It is a striking contrast from the “golden calf” which Aaron made, for that was cast in a mold (Exodus 32:4). What is idolatrous or according to man’s mind, can be quickly and easily cast into shape; but that which has most of all glorified God and secured the redemption of His people was wrought at great cost. So the hammering is a picture of what Jesus endured on the cross and speaks of a suffering Christ. In a very sense, but to a far lesser degree, we share in enduring the hammering.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt.5:10-12).
When gold is taken out of the earth, it is fit for nothing. In order to make it useable it must pass through the purifying fires. It is at this point that the impurities are removed for it is the fires where that which is pure gold is manifest. After the gold is brought to this point it can be fashioned in the hands of the gold smith. The process can be painful and take a long time, for the gold must submit to the hammers and beating work of the smith. In this process the gold has to go through a lot, but when the work is done, it is a thing of rare beauty.
This process is typical of that which God works in His Church.God, by His Spirit, is purifying and sanctifying His Church by means of fiery trials, testings and sufferings. Through it all the Church will come forth as pure gold, and it will conform to the Divine pattern that God has fore-ordained (Isaiah 52:14, Isaiah 53:4-5, Job 23:10, 1 Peter 1:7, 2 Peter 1:4, 1 John 3:3).
A goldsmith once pointed out, that hammering gold makes it stronger. As we are hammered into objects of usefulness and beauty, we are strengthened in Him:
“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor.4:8-9).
When we are called to endure suffering, in whatever form it comes, we are sharing the suffering of Christ.
Think, for a moment, of the design of the Jewish menorah, which is the lampstand. It is designed like a tree, or a vine. With that in mind, look at Rom.11:16b-18.
“…if the root is holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became a partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.”
We are the branches in this olive tree which belongs to God. A branch of the menorah broken off from the shaft would be a useless thing. Being curved and having no base, such a branch would not stand upright, and could not hold a lamp. So we are apart from Christ. We, like the branches, are totally dependent on him the main stem or shaft:
“In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts17:28).
The branches go forth from the shaft. There were six branches on the lampstand, three coming out from each side, symbolized the Church.The number six is the number of man, and which speaks of imperfection; however, Christ is the main stem or branch in the middle, and makes up the seventh branch, thereby denoting perfection, as the Church is joined to Christ. Jesus said in John15:5,
“I am the Vine, you are the branches…apart from Me you can do nothing.”
From Adam’s side a rib was taken and fashioned into a bride (Genesis 2:21-25).
Jesus is the last Adam, and He, too, has a bride: the Church. As he died there for you and me, a soldier thrust a spear into His side, and out came blood and water, the fluids of birthing.
From where did we come from?
Out of His side—for it was His death that gave birth to the Church. Notice too, the main stem (Christ) is straight, no shadow of turning. But the branches (believers) are bent, some more than others, but still bent when compared to the stem.
Six branches came out of the lampstand’s sides, none from the front, because the believer must stand aside to give preeminence and the glory to God.The lampstand with its main shaft and branches was made out of pure gold:
“ And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1Jn.3:3).
Each of the six branches had three bowls, or flares, each of which contained a bud and a knop, or blossom, resembling those of an almond. When we look at the terminology used in the regard to the ornamentation of the lampstand, we are immediately struck by similarity of language used in regard to Aaron’s rod that budded. For we see that Aaron’s rod that budded, flowered and brought forth almond fruit (Numbers 17:8, Jeremiah 1:11-12). An almond blossom is pure white, and even today, the almond tree is the first tree to bud and bear fruit in Israel. Therefore carries the message of life out of death. In the Rod of Aaron we get the same message. It was once alive, then dead and finally came to resurrection life, bearing a bud, flowers and almond fruit. This speaks of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, for He is the Firstfruit (1 Corinthians 15:20). That is, He is the first one risen from the dead. We have resurrection life only as we understand the crucifixion, and what it means to us:
“For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom.6:5).
In the almond tree we have the symbol of resurrection life. When Aaron’s priestly prerogative was in question, the budding of his almond rod established his right to the priest-hood. The almond rod, a dead branch, was made to live and bear fruit. Christ was established as the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. The resurrection did not make Christ the Son of God because He was already that; the resurrection only confirmed it. Aaron was the God-appointed high priest and this position was confirmed by the resurrection of the dead almond rod. The resurrection of Christ likewise established His Priesthood. Christ is our Great High Priest.
The side branches had three units consisting of a flare, a bud and a flare. The middle shaft, however, was to have four such units. This meant it would be higher than the other six.—just as Jesus Christ is preeminent. There is none like Him (Colossians 1:18).
“He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn.3:30).