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 )]