Monthly Archives: May 2017

Reflections of His Light

This is the eighth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

This article focuses on the significance of the lampstand [Menorah] that YHVH instructed His people to build and place in the Holy Place, along with the Table of Showbread and the Altar of Incense.  In Exodus 25:31-32, YHVH said to the Israelites: “You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece.  And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side”.

The seven-branched Menorah held individual lamps that represented God’s perfect light. The lamps contained pure olive oil inside almond-shaped containers, suggesting the seven eyes of YHVH mentioned in Zechariah 4:2.  The Menorah and its seven lamps were referred to as the Perpetual Lamp (ner tamid), a source of light that illuminated the Bread of Presence and the Altar of Incense within the holy place. The lamp was to be attended to every morning and evening during the time of the burning of the sweet incense (symbolizing prayer), and was never to be extinguished (Lev 24:2).  The priests obeyed this command because they understood that light represented the word of YHVH (Ps 119:105, 150). It was the word of YHVH that sustained their lives and all that YHVH created.

A close look at the Menorah reveals a middle shaft, with the six branches extending out from this shaft.  The seven branches were a single beaten piece of gold.  The Hebrew word for this shaft is generally translated as thigh, loins, or body. The six branches extend out from the central shaft, but yet they are one with the shaft.  Note that in Romans 11, believers in Messiah Yeshua, whether Jew or non-Jew, are referred to as branches.   Even more significantly, note that these branches are said to all be one with the olive tree, which is referred to as the Body of Messiah.  Yeshua uses the lampstand to refer to His kehillat (assembly or “church”) in Revelation 1:20.

From ancient writings, the center candle was said to be the only one that always stayed lit.  After the Temple was destroyed and thus all Temple sacrifices were stopped in AD 70, the center candle of the Menorah no longer stayed lit from morning until evening, but had to be re-lit in the evening.  The six outside lamps all faced towards the center lamp, which was called the Servant lamp [Shamash].  This served to focus the light towards the center of the Menorah, making the Shamash candle even brighter.  Let’s look at a couple of the Scriptures that focus on Yeshua as the true Light of the world:

  • John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • John 12:46: “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

Yeshua is the Light of the World.  The Menorah was hammered from one solid piece in order to support the six branches, just as Yeshua’s arms and legs were hammered for our sins.  In John 15:5 Yeshua says that He is the Vine and we are the branches.  The branches were also hammered, warning us of our own persecution.  We are now living as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8) who draw our source of light from Yeshua, the one true Light.  Just as the other six lamps of the Menorah face towards the Servant [Shamash] lamp in the center, we as His followers are to keep our focus on Yeshua and magnifying His light throughout the Kingdom.

Revelation 2-3 accurately describes the condition of His branches today. In Revelation 2:1-7, there is a description of the church at Ephesus, and it begins by mentioning one of the aspects of Yeshua’s ministry. “…who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands”. Yeshua commends this group by reminding them of their dedication to removing imposters, of their good works, and their patience. However, He then tells them what He has against them. They have lost their first love, and will not go back to their first works and repent. He says that if they continue, He will remove their lampstand from its place.  Our love and passion for Yeshua must remain strong.

The Menorah was made of pure gold (not gold plated) and had seven branches. Pure gold is a representation of the deity and perfection of Yeshua.  Seven is the number of completeness in the Bible. The believer is made complete by the perfection of Messiah.

The Most Holy and Holy Places are completely covered in various linens and skins, which means that these inner sanctuaries were very dark.  Only the light of the Menorah was to illuminate the Holy Place, or the place of ministry.  This tells us that ministry (worship) is to be driven by the light of YHVH and not by people’s plans or desires.  Our minds are to be illuminated by God’s light. His light shines forth from His Word (Torah). It is this light that is to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105).  Are we reflecting Yeshua’s light in this dark world?

[Author’s note: we have tried to cover the main aspects of the Menorah as they relate to Yeshua and our own spiritual light, but there is so much more to cover that we might someday consider “branching out” to a deeper study (pun intended )]

Reflections of His Presence

This is the seventh article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

This article focuses on the significance of the “Table of Showbread” and the Showbread itself that YHVH instructed His people to place in the Holy Place in front of the Holy of Holies.  In Exodus 25:23-30, YHVH told the Israelites to: “Make a table of acacia wood, 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 27 inches high.  Overlay it with pure gold and run a gold molding around the edge.  Decorate it with a 3-inch border all around, and run a gold molding along the border.  Make four gold rings for the table and attach them at the four corners next to the four legs. Attach the rings near the border to hold the poles that are used to carry the table. Make these poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. Make special containers of pure gold for the table – bowls, ladles, pitchers, and jars – to be used in pouring out liquid offerings. Place the Bread of the Presence on the table to remain before me at all times”.

This table (often called the “Table of Showbread”) was to be set up next to the lampstand (Menorah) outside the Holy of Holies, so that the light from the lamps could illumine the table.  As with the Ark of the Covenant and the lampstand, this was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold, so we know it was meant to be one of the most precious items YHVH wanted to be in His holy place.  We have spoken in earlier articles about the special place that both gold and acacia wood hold in YHVH’s heart, so we can say that the Table had to be made of materials worthy of the King of creation – our King, Messiah Yeshua.  The acacia wood covered in gold that composed the Table of Showbread can also be seen as symbols pointing to both the humanity and divinity of Yeshua.

I will just mention one other thing about the Table – in a typical Hebrew home at that time, it would have been common to have a table set with plates and dishes for bread and incense, and pitchers and bowls for liquid offerings (although probably not of pure gold!).  By having this Table in the Tabernacle, YHVH was showing that He wants us to regard the Tabernacle as His house – this includes both the Earthly tabernacle as well as His heavenly Tabernacle (after which the Earthly tabernacle was modeled).

Moving on now to the bread that Abba instructed His people to place on the Table, we see that “Showbread” is not an accurate translation.  The original Hebrew phrase for this bread is Lechem haPanim, which literally means “Bread of the Presence” or “Bread of the Face [of God]”.

The historian Josephus indicates that the Bread of the Presence was unleavened, pointing to Yeshua as our sinless Savior who is the true Bread of the Presence.  In John 6:35, Yeshua said: “I am the bread which gives life! Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever trusts in Me will never be thirsty”.   Then in Verses 48-51 of John 6, Yeshua says that He is the true Bread that came down from Heaven and that if anyone eats of this Bread, they will live forever.  Yeshua gives us life to the fullest; life more abundant on this Earth and life everlasting in Heaven!

When we look again at the Bread of the Presence in the Tabernacle, we see that it symbolized being in YHVH’s presence, so when the priests ate the bread they were fellowshipping with Abba Father in His presence, face-to-face.  The bread on the Table in the Tabernacle, as well as the bread in Messiah’s communion, reminds us that our life is in the true Bread from Heaven, Yeshua HaMashiachYeshua went even further than this, though, because He told His disciples [talmadim] that he didn’t need physical bread to eat (John 4:32-34),  but rather He had “food to eat that they knew nothing about”.  When they asked what food He had, He said that His food was to do the will of the Father (the One who sent Him).  When Yeshua shared the communion bread of His body, He was teaching His disciples to be filled with the Bread of His presence, satisfied with doing the will of our Father.

Yeshua gives us more spiritual food when He says in Matthew 4:4 that people do not “live by bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God”.  In Matthew 6:11, He also teaches us to pray to our Father that He will give us our daily bread, but I believe this means spiritual Bread as well – that He will tell us what He desires for us to do each day.  I want to leave you with a story about one of my favorite composers – it is said that when Handel wrote the Messiah, food trays stacked up outside his door for 17 days.  He was too busy and too fulfilled to eat – he was eating the Bread of life, the Bread of the presence of YHVH, and it sustained and nourished him.  What is the Bread of YHVH’s presence for you?