The Golden Candlestick
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bible, please, to the book of Exodus, chapter 25, the paragraph which begins with verse 31:

Exodus 25

31And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
32And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
33Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
34And in the candlesticks shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
35And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
36Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.
37And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.
38And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.
39Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.
40And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.

This is the description of another piece of furniture in the tabernacle, the candlestick. We are making our study of the tabernacle on the basis of the furniture within the tabernacle, beginning with the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place, then noticing the altar of incense, the table of shewbread, and now the seven-branched candlestick, or the golden candlestick, as it is often called. It is important for us, since this is the last piece of furniture in the Holy Place, to notice the location of the candlestick; the location of each piece of furniture was as meticulously given as were the descriptions of the various pieces of furniture themselves.

Location of the Candlestick

Turn, please, to chapter 40 of the book of Exodus. This chapter describes the manner in which Moses placed the various pieces of furniture in the tabernacle:

Exodus 40

24And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward.

We are particularly interested in the last statement, “on the side of the tabernacle southward.” The candlestick was placed on the south side of the tabernacle.

I believe it would be profitable, even though it will slow us up in our consideration of the piece of furniture, to consider for a bit the various compass directions which are presented in the Word of God and their significance. In so doing we will be able to understand, I trust, why the golden candlestick was placed on the south side of the tabernacle.

Deliverance From the West

Turn back to the book of Exodus, chapter 10, as we notice one direction in the Word of God, or one of the points of the compass in the Word of God. In this chapter we have the story of God's curse upon the land of Egypt and His deliverance as well:

Exodus 10

19And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.

Notice that it was a west wind, and you will follow the suggestion that I am about to make that “west” in the Scriptures is always used as the point on the compass from which deliverance will come. If you were to take the time to follow through in your Bibles and notice how the west is used, you would find it is always the source of prosperity and blessing and deliverance.

For another passage of Scripture along that line, turn, please, to the book of Isaiah, chapter 59. All we have time to do in a discussion of this sort is to give a few illustrations of the point that we make so that you can see that it is logical, and then challenge you to follow through in your study of the Bible to see that what we say is true. Notice in verse 16:

Isaiah 59

16And he saw that there was no man [that is, the Savior saw that there was no man] , and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
17For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak [this is the Savior about whom we are reading].
18According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies;…
19[Notice this verse particularly] So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

Notice the first statement of verse 19: “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west,” a suggestion that peace and security came from that point of the compass.

Destruction From the East

Now let us glance toward the east. Notice verse 19:

Isaiah 59

19So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun…

The phrase, “from the rising of the sun,” indicates the east. Perhaps you have already recognized that in this paragraph we are not talking about the first advent of the Lord Jesus Christ, but about His second advent, when He will come in glory. It is interesting to notice the Scriptures which compare the coming of the Lord with the rising of the sun and then relating the coming of the Lord to glory in the east.

Turn, please, to the book of Malachi. As the west is connected with prosperity and blessing, the east is connected with destruction and divine judgment; when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to this earth, He will be returning not only for the purpose of bringing peace as the Prince of Peace, but He will be returning for the purpose of judgment against those who have failed to own His name. Notice, please, chapter 4, verse 1:

Malachi 4

1For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
2But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
3And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.

There you have a two-sided picture of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ–a coming in judgment of the unsaved world and a coming of deliverance for the elect of Israel. Follow this suggestion of direction through the Bible and find that the east is the direction of destruction and divine judgment.

Evil From the North

Turn with me to the book of Jeremiah, chapter 1, as we glance toward the north to find its significance in the Word of God. Were we reading this in the original text, we would find that the Hebrew word for “north” is a word which elsewhere in the Scriptures is translated “dark” and “obscure”. Immediately that gives a suggestion about what the north may indicate:

Jeremiah 1

14Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

In chapter 4 of this book, you will find the same idea again, for in verse 3, we read:

Jeremiah 4

3For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
4Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
5Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities.
6[Notice this verse particularly] Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.

You will recognize, then, that the west is the location of prosperity and blessing, the east is the location of destruction and judgment, and the north is the location of evil.

Blessing From the South

That brings us to the direction in which we are primarily interested–the south. You will remember that we read earlier in our discussion that the candlestick was placed on the south side of the tabernacle. Were we reading this in the original text, we would find that the Hebrew word for “south” is a word that speaks of brightness and radiance. Turn, please, to the book of Job, and notice in chapter 37 an illustration of the fact that the south is the direction from which warmth and blessing come:

Job 37

17How thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the earth by the south wind?

Notice the last part of that statement; the purpose of the south wind is to quiet the earth, to warm the land.

Turn, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 33, for another illustration by way of comparison. I trust that your appetite will be whetted for this sort of study; you will find some intriguing things in the Word of God as you go along. Deuteronomy, chapter 33, presents the last words of Moses as he blessed the various tribes of the nation of Israel:

Deuteronomy 33

23And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south.

Here the west and the south are associated together, and properly so, because we have learned that the west is the location of prosperity and blessing, and the south is the location of warmth and light and peace. It is fitting that the candlestick be placed upon the south side of the tabernacle if the Scriptures are to bear one another out. We have been interested in our study of the tabernacle to recognize how in the most minute details, the instructions that were given do not contradict, but they amplify the truth of the Word of God.

Significance of the Candlestick

In our study we have noticed the purposes of the other pieces of furniture; it would be well for us to notice purpose of the candlestick. We need to understand its significance. Let us get the name straight in our minds. The word “candlestick” is a translation of the Hebrew word minera , and literally it means “light-bearer” or “a light stand”. When the King James version was translated, the thing that was a light stand or a light bearer was a candlestick. So that word came to bear the significance of this Hebrew word. It is a little bit misleading from two standpoints.

Some people depend upon the golden candlestick as a scriptural reason for using candles in connection with their worship, and there is no scriptural reason for that. The other thing is that it is misleading as to the piece of furniture which we are discussing, because actually at the tip of each of the branches of the seven-branched candlestick there was not a place for a candle; there was a bowl in which was placed a specially prepared oil for burning in the tabernacle. When we come to the significance of the oil in the candlestick, we will see how it would definitely be proper for this to be a candlestick instead of a lampstand. But I would like for us to settle from the Scriptures what the purpose of the candlestick is; it is one thing to say it and another thing to find it in the Word of God.

The Provision of Light

Turn, please, to the book of Exodus, chapter 35, to find out why the candlestick was placed within the tabernacle. In the list of the pieces of furniture in the tabernacle, you will find in verse 14:

Exodus 35

14The candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and his lamps, with the oil for the light,

The word “furniture” would be better translated “vessels” or “utensils” because there were definite utensils related to the candlestick. But according to this passage of Scripture, the candlestick was placed within the tabernacle for the purpose of light. It was the only light within the tabernacle. No one carried in any light of his own making; the light was already there. There was no natural light of any description such as might come through a window or a door. The only light that was provided in the Holy Place was provided from the oil that burned in this lampstand or candlestick.

The Spirit of God is specific in regard to light. He does not make a general statement that the candlestick was for the purpose of light; He tells us several things which the light illuminated. If we are to understand the spiritual significance of the candlestick, it would be important for us to notice those. Turn, please, to the book of Exodus, chapter 40. As the various pieces of furniture were placed in the tabernacle, we read:

Exodus 40

24And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward.

The first thing that is brought to our attention is the generality of light:

Exodus 40

25And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.

The first thing we want to recognize is that the light was lighted before the Lord. I would like to call your attention to a passage of Scripture in the book of Leviticus, chapter 24, verse 4. The passage describes the activity of Aaron the priest in connection with the various pieces of furniture:

Leviticus 24

4He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually.

So the first purpose of the candlestick in giving light was to illuminate the Lord continually to make it possible for Him to be seen in all of His glory. That the candlestick was designed to illuminate the table, we find in Exodus, chapter 40:

Exodus 40

24And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward.

We will be noticing the spiritual significance of these things later.

The candlestick, then, was for the purpose of light within the Most Holy Place. It illuminated the Lord Himself, and it illuminated the table of shewbread.

If you will turn, please, to the book of Numbers, chapter 8, you will find a rather unique purpose of the candlestick, but one that is of great spiritual significance and of great interest when we pursue it to its conclusion:

Numbers 8

1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2Speak unto Aaron and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.
3And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the LORD commanded Moses.
4And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the LORD had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick.

Here we are told that the purpose of the light from the candlestick was to illuminate the candlestick itself. Keep these facts in mind; we will come back to them later. The purpose of looking at them now is to emphasize the significance of the candlestick itself.

Description of the Candlestick

We have learned in our study of the tabernacle thus far that every piece of furniture in the tabernacle represents the Lord Jesus Christ. The candlestick is no exception. But it is not enough to say only that the candlestick represents the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, for we will have to recognize a secondary significance that I trust will bring a real spiritual blessing. Let us go back to chapter 25 of Exodus and notice the description of the candlestick verse by verse, portion by portion:

Exodus 25

31And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.

When we see the phrase, “of the same,” repeated many times in this paragraph, we are being reminded that every portion of the candlestick was made of pure gold. That is the reason for the repeated emphasis on the words “of the same”. Look at the word “branches” in verse 31. It should be in the singular instead of the plural; we would have a better idea of what we are talking about. As a matter of fact, in chapter 37 of the book of Exodus, we find a description of the manner in which Bezaleel fulfilled the pattern that is presented here, and the Holy Spirit tells us there that there was one branch instead of several. There were several branches, but the particular one that is spoken of in verse 31 was one branch. The other branches are mentioned in verse 32:

Exodus 25

32And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:

Let us see what we can visualize on the basis of what we have read. This candlestick was made basically of a shaft. Out of the top of the shaft came a branch. Out of each side of the shaft there came branches, three on each side. We were also told in verse 31 that the candlestick was decorated by three things–by bowls, by knops, and by flowers. You will notice in verse 33 that the bowls were made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in each branch. We are not interested solely in the way it looked. Each of these things has a spiritual significance, and it is important for us to realize that.

The manner in which the decoration is described is a bit difficult to interpret, and there is a difference of opinion about it. Look at verse 32 again:

Exodus 25

32And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
33Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.

That shows us that each of the six branches was decorated in exactly the same way. Some Bible scholars believe that the almond-like bowl was put on the end of the branch of the candlestick, and then the knop and the flowers, and then another bowl, and then another bowl. Other Bible scholars believe that there were three units of the same. I am inclined to think that is true. Other Bible scholars believe that there was a bowl, then there was the bud, then there was the flower; then another bowl, another bud, and another flower; then another bowl, another bud, and another flower, thus making groups of three decorating the branch of the candlestick itself.

Significance of the Decoration

The reason I am inclined to think that this was the case is that the bowl, the knop, and the flower also represent a certain truth complete. I see no reason for having, as some folk might think, three bowls on one branch and just one knop and one flower. I think the significance would be lost if that were true. Will you look at verse 34:

Exodus 25

34And in the candlesticks shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
35And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
36Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.
37And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.

Another verse describes this portion of the candlestick, the branch that came directly out of the candlestick, and instead of its having three bowls like an almond, three knops and three flowers, it had four, making the branch that came out of the main candlestick higher than the others. That may help you to understand what the candlestick itself looked like as we think about its significance.

Represents the Believer Identified With Christ

We said that the candlestick itself, this part of the candlestick, represented the Lord Jesus Christ. We said that the purpose of the candlestick was to give light. If you are familiar with the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in chapter 9 of the Gospel of John, you will remember that He made that claim for Himself. He said, “I am the light of the world.” But He did not stop there. He was speaking to His disciples, to His Church, to His Body, and He said, “Ye are the lights of the world. I am the Light; ye are the lights.” I would suggest to you that the candlestick represents the Lord Jesus Christ as the light, and the six branches out of the candlestick represent the believer in his association with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me change that word “association” and say that it represents the believer as he is identified with the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have been emphasizing that this candlestick was made of pure gold, and that every portion of the candlestick was made out of that one block of gold. In verse 39 of chapter 25, you will notice that this candlestick was made out of a talent of pure gold along with the tongs and the snuffdishes. A talent of gold weighs 125 pounds. This candlestick was valued on the basis of its weight in gold at $25,000.00, but we would not attempt to set a value on it now in this present era of inflation.

Illustrates Suffering of the Savior and His Saints

As we read the description, emphasis is placed upon the fact that the candlestick, the branch, and the branches were all beaten out of one piece of pure gold. The word “beaten” attracts our attention. It is a translation of the Hebrew word nickshaw, and it speaks of something that is turned or rounded through a process of hammering. As a matter of fact, it comes from a root word that speaks of that which is cruel, grievous, and sore. That fits perfectly with the picture of our Lord Jesus Christ in His suffering, for the beaten gold would illustrate the suffering of the Savior.

We will not look at the Scriptures that describe the suffering of the Lord, but we would like for you to turn to the book of Hebrews, chapter 2, because there is involved in our discussion not only the suffering of our Lord, but the suffering of His saints as well. Remember that the candlestick and the branches were alike, beaten out of the same piece of gold. Notice verse 10:

Hebrews 2

10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

We have already learned that gold symbolically used represents the glory and the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. So it is natural for us to read that in bringing many sons unto glory, the captain of their salvation should be made perfect through sufferings. But we also notice that the Lord Jesus Christ did not suffer alone, for He was only one of many sufferers in His fitting Himself and us for glory. That is why in the first epistle of Peter we are reminded that suffering is a part of our relationship with the Lord:

I Peter 2

20For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Notice verse 12 of chapter 4:

I Peter 4

12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13But rejoice, inasmuch [notice] as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory [notice the word ”glory”] shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

You may be wondering how it is that the branches of the candlestick can be suffering in the same way as the candlestick, since the Lord Jesus Christ was the Son of God. I think your answer will be found in chapter 1 of II Peter, verse 4:

II Peter 1

4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Here we are reminded that when we are born again, we are made partakers of the divine nature. If we are made partakers of the divine nature, then we can expect to be made partakers of His suffering as well. So the candlestick and the branches are all one in that they are made of the same material in the process of beaten work.

Begotten of God

The story does not end there because we are interested in another word in our text. It is the word “shaft”. It refers to the main portion of the candlestick, to which we might refer as a base out of which the branches come. The branches come out of a shaft. This word “shaft” in Hebrew is yahlic , and it is interesting in the way it is translated in other places. For example, everywhere except here this word is related to the birth of human beings, of children. Let me illustrate for you. Turn to the book of Genesis, chapter 46, and notice verse 26.

Genesis 46

26All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six;

Notice the word “loins”. It is the English translation of our Hebrew word yahlic , which is translated “shaft” in our text.

Look, please, at Judges, chapter 8, and notice verse 30:

Judges 8

30And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.

Notice the word “body”. It is a translation of this same Hebrew word. Then turn, please, to chapter 32 of the book of Exodus, and notice verse 27:

Exodus 32

27And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.

Notice the word “side”. It is a translation of the word yahlic . What does that tell us? It should remind us that as the branches of the candlestick came out of the candlestick itself, we who are believers and who are represented by the branches of the candlestick, are begotten of God. We are begotten of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It seems to me that the wisdom of the Holy Spirit is evident in the very choice of the words. That is why we believe in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures in the original text. The wisdom of the Holy Spirit is found in the very choice of words to describe this part of the candlestick, to select the word that would be related to the production of life.

Purchased With His Blood

The word “branch” is interesting, too, because it is a translation of the Hebrew word cannay . It is translated in an interesting fashion to verify what we are talking about. Turn, please, to the book of Job, and notice in chapter 31 a reference Job makes to his problems when he is attempting to prove his innocence before the Lord.

Job 31

21If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate:
22Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone.

Notice the word “bone”. It is a translation of our Hebrew word cannay , which is translated “branch”. We are reminded that we are members of the body of Christ, that we are bone of His bone by His own testimony, and flesh of His flesh. How did we become so? How were the branches derived from the candlestick? Turn, please, to Psalm 74 and notice another translation of this same Hebrew word:

Psalms 78

54And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.

That is a translation of our same Hebrew word. Turn back, please, to the book of Nehemiah and notice chapter 5, verse 8:

Nehemiah 5

8And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer.

Look at the word “redeemed”. It is a translation of this same Hebrew word cannay . The word “redeemed” with the word “purchase”, and with the word “bone”, illustrates the relationship of the believer to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh because he has been purchased with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he has been redeemed with the ransom money. God said, “Make the candlestick. Make it for a pattern. Make it to shed forth light along with its branches.”

Conclusion

We say it is a perfect picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church, for the Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the Light of the world. Ye are the lights of the world.” There is a wonderful lesson to be found in the knops and the bowls and the flowers. There is a wonderful lesson in that upon which the light did shine. There is a wonderful lesson in the oil, the snuffdishes, the tongs, and the ministry of the high priest. You might be meditating on that.


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