What can we learn from this (besides the fact that God cares about how His places of worship are lit)? Here's what I learned.
Elsewhere in Scripture, the lampstand is a symbol for a church (see Revelation 1:20). Meanwhile, lamps are a symbol for:
- Jesus, who calls himself "the light of the world" (John 8:12 and John 9:5);
- God's Word ("Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105)
- Christians (Jesus says to His disciples in Matthew 5:14, "You are the light of the world". Later Jesus says, "Don't light a lamp and then hide it. Instead put it on its stand and let it give light to everyone in the house.")
So in Numbers 4:1-4 when the Lord tells Moses and Aaron to see that all seven lamps light up the area in front of the lampstand, five practical lessons we can learn are:
1. The church (represented by the lampstand) is meant to hold up Jesus, God's Word, and God's people as the light of this world.
2. We as Christians (represented by the lamps) are to be attached to our lampstand (our church). Just as lamps were made for lampstands, you were made to be part of a good church family and to shine with your church family.
3. We as Christians (represented by the lamps) together with our church (represented by the lampstand) are meant to light up the area in front of us (our neighborhood, our community, our city, our nation, and our world).
4. Just as Moses and Aaron were to make sure that all seven lamps on the lampstand were lit and lighting up the area in front of them, as leaders and priests in God's kingdom we are to do everything we can to make sure that every Christian (every lamp) in our church (or in your small group or ministry team) is lit and on fire for God. Of course, that's a two way street and requires the lamp to be willing to be lit, but as leaders and priests let's do what we can to help every lamp under our leadership to be lit.
5. What happens if a lamp refuses to be lit? It will be replaced with a lamp that is lit. So Christians, be sure to shine your light. Otherwise, you might lose it.
Finally, what about verse 4? Verse 4 says that the lampstand (which looked like a tree with 3 branches on each side, traditionally called a "minorah" like the picture below) was made of hammered gold from its base to its blossoms. It reminds me that:
6. God calls each one of us to use our gold (the very best of what we have financially, talent-wise, passion-wise and otherwise) to build His church.
7. When you give your gold to God, sometimes you will find that your gold will be "hammered". That is, your best will be tested, refined, and even feel beaten up at times. But remember it's all for a greater purpose. God is moulding and shaping His church into what He wants it to be: a beautiful lampstand that shines His light to the surrounding area.
8. Some of us are involved in "blossom" ministries (visible, on stage, front door type ministries). Others of us are involved in "base" ministries where our role is to support and hold up those in the blossom ministries. Either way, your role is tremendously important. Let's give our very best to serve the Lord Jesus and His church.
Praise God! Your church is a lampstand, and together with Jesus and His Word, we are the light of the world.