Lucia's Blog: THE LORD'S LAMPSTAND
Google Logo
Image Caption goes here.

Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, October 18, 2019

THE LORD'S LAMPSTAND

“As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”  
Revelation 1:20



Ignorance, chaos, disorder, confusion, lies, and distortions. It is all darkness. Jesus came to a world full of darkness, and only He can overcome it with the Light of His Message, the teachings of His Gospel.

Jesus, our Lord, is the Light of the world, and God’s Word is a lamp and a light that shines in the darkness, directing us to godliness and righteousness.  The light must shine so that we may see what direction to walk amid so much darkness ( John 1:4-9). The Light, our Lord Jesus, shows us the way and illuminates our path, for it provides the Way.  Thus, we’re obliged to show others (those who live in darkness) the Way to illuminate their path and give them direction.  And though many dwell in darkness, they can still see the Light when it crosses their path. Jesus is the Light, and we must shine as lights in this world of darkness. Jesus warned that salt is useless when it loses its saltiness. Our salt is our influence. If we lose our saving influence, we become useless. So it is with light. If it is not shining and is covered up, it is useless. It is sad when we willfully choose to hide our light! 

The letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation are the instructions given to the seven messengers of the seven churches.  We’re not told much about who these messengers were.  Perhaps, they were representatives from each local congregation appointed to minister to John in Patmos to carry messages from John to the saints (Rev. 2:1).  The Lord is aware of what is happening in each of these churches and of the destiny of each one.  The letters describe the performance of each church, what they’re lacking, and God’s warning about what’s going to happen. Christ is telling John to write down all the things that he is to see in visions, things that were happening at that very moment with immediate impact.  Things also that were soon to take place and that the time was near (1:1,3).  The first three chapters of the Book of Revelation shows Jesus standing amid seven lampstands (candlesticks). Those lampstands, in John's vision, were characterized as the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 1:20). The following two chapters examine the condition of those churches.  Five of these churches didn’t measure up to God’s standards, for they were judged as troubled churches.

If the Lord were to determine or appraise today the performance of the church where you worship, do you think the church would pass the Lord’s test?  Would it measure up to God’s righteous standard?  What do you think?  Would the church where you worship be comparable to the church in Smyrna or Laodicea?  These questions are worthy of our examination.  Why?  Because many of these seven churches displeased the Lord and provoked Him enough that He threatened to remove their lampstand from its place unless they sincerely repented (Revelation 2:5). This message cautions us to examine everything we do or say, making sure we are doing the will of the Lord and measuring up to His principles of righteousness, His standard.  You see, the frightening part is that a local church can reach the point without even realizing it, of losing its first love, refusing to carry out God’s purpose for her. This leads me to another question. What is the church’s primary purpose or function? Indeed, this is a vital question or issue.  Why?  Because most people don’t seem to care! It seems that they have little respect for the real task or function of the Lord's church. Sadly, many see it only as an organization to serve them.  In the Word of God, the church is described with many figures of speech to tell us something about its nature and function.  Consider them.

  1. The church is described as a "temple," focusing primarily on its role in worship.
  2. The church is spoken of as a "vineyard," stressing the need to bear good fruit.
  3. It is called The "house of God," describing the place where God dwells among His people.
  4. The church is also portrayed as the "kingdom," thus establishing its form of government.


I.  THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD:

The lampstand as the only source of light points directly to Christ, for He is the Light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5). Jesus is the “true light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:9) and the only way for anyone to come to the Father (John 14:6).  Jesus also calls His church the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), because He abides in the church (John 1:4–5).  Christians must shine their light to live godly (1 Peter 2:9). The Bible overflows with examples that contrast light and darkness, believer, and unbeliever through the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 1:20, Christ says the “seven lampstands are the seven churches.” The churches of Christ must walk in the light of God (1 John 1:7) and must spread the light of the Gospel so that all people may glorify God (Matthew 5:16).  It is interesting that the lampstand in the Old Testament was made of one piece as Christ is One with His church (Colossians 1:8).  The six branches (the number for man) plus the main shaft equals seven lights (7 being the number of completion).  Man is only complete in Christ (John 15:5).  The most important aspect of the lampstand is that it points to Christ as did all the elements of the Tabernacle.  The Bible from cover to cover testifies about Christ and God’s merciful plan of redemption to take mankind out of darkness into His marvelous Light (1 Peter 2:9)!

When Jesus described the seven churches in Asia as candlesticks or lampstands, what do you suppose He was trying to communicate?  Did He not expect the church to be His instrument to give light to a world steeped in darkness?  Did God not describe Himself as Light in 1 John 1:5?  Jesus spoke of Himself while He was still alive on earth as “the light of the world” (John 1:1-5; 8:12).  When Jesus ascended to heaven, the Gospel continued to reveal that same Light.  In 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Paul declared,
"But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded; who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 

Since we Christians have this light planted in our hearts, we must be light-bearers, because we are children of light, not darkness. "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5).  Thus the church is the light of the world, because Christians are the light of the world (Matthew 5:16).  The church, therefore, must shine the light of the Gospel, the light of God, everywhere to both individuals and communities. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded this of every individual and every local church.  In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said,
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven."

We know that not every physical light shines as brightly as others, no do all churches shine as brightly as others.  Take, for instance, the church at Smyrna and Philadelphia, who appeared to be bright and shining lights amid a first-century world filled with darkness. However, the other five churches clearly showed lesser degrees of light.

  1. The church at Ephesus had left her first love and was in danger of losing her lampstand.
  2. The church at Pergamos fellowshipped false teachers; thus, her light was dim.
  3. The church at Thyatira shined brightly in love, service, faith, and patience, but tolerated evil among themselves.
  4. The church at Sardis was almost dead, but despite this, there were a few who kept the light burning, howbeit dimly.
  5. The church at Laodicea was lukewarm, provoking the Lord to be nauseous, for her light was almost gone. 


The Word of God is the Truth that sanctifies us (John 17:17). The Word of God draws us and points us to Christ, for He is the "light of the world" (John 3:19-21; 8:12).   A church must reflect the Light of God to be the lampstand that God intends it to be. To substitute the Light of God, the teachings or doctrine of Christ for the traditions, creeds, and doctrines of men will only bring darkness (2 John 9). Thus to be the Light of the world, we must preach and teach the Word rightly and faithfully in season and out of season.  The world desperately needs the Light to be guided into the paths of righteousnessThe church holds the Light, for it is the pillar and support of the Truth of God (1 Tim. 3:15).


II.   THE LAMPSTAND IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:

In Exodus 25:31, we see the word lampstand for the first time in the Bible as God gives detailed instructions about the golden lampstand to be placed in the tabernacle that the Israelites were building.  God was very precise and gave detailed instructions about how He wanted the lampstand to look.  In the Bible, when God gives detailed instructions, it is because it is very important to Him.  The lampstand had to be made of pure gold, according to God’s decree (Exodus 25:31). Gold was the most valuable of all metals (Psalm 119:127; 19:10). In the Bible, gold is often spoken as being “tested by fire.”  The Bible compares the testing of gold with the testing of the church in 1 Peter 1:7.  The true people of God come out refined when tested (Zechariah 13:7–9; Job 23:10). Those who withstand the “fire” are purified (Numbers 31:23).  The lampstand was to be made and shaped like a tree with the base and center shaft representing the trunk with three “branches” on each side. The top of the shaft and each branch were to be made like an open almond flower, each flower holding an oil lamp (Exodus 25:32, 37).  In the Bible, many passages speak of the almond tree as being always the first tree to blossom and bear fruit in the spring.  The apostle Paul calls Christ the “firstfruits” since Jesus was the first to rise from the dead to eternal life.  Because of His resurrection, all those who have obeyed the Gospel will also be raised (1 Corinthians 15:20–23; Romans 8:23).

God used Aaron’s rod as a sign to the Israelites of his unique priesthood. When Aaron’s priesthood was challenged, God caused Aaron’s rod to bud and grow ripe almonds overnight to confirm the privilege of being chosen by God as High Priest (Numbers 16:3;17:10).  This was a “shadow of things to come” that pointed to Jesus, our God-ordained, life-giving High Priest forever (Hebrews 7:21)!

In the tabernacle, the lampstand was to be placed in the Holy Place, the first section (Hebrews 9:2). Aaron and his sons were to take care of the lamp so that its light never went out. The lampstand was to provide light day and night (Exodus 27:20–21).


CONCLUSION:

Jesus is the eternal Word, the Message of God.  Jesus is the life, and that life is the Light for all people.  He came as a witness to the Light. The world could not see; thus, John was appointed by God to be a witness to the Light.  And though John was not the Light, he was a witness so that all could believe in Jesus through John’s testimony.  Jesus is the true Light that enlightens everyone. The Light shined illuminating the whole world, for it was not limited.   In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said,
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 

Indeed, Jesus’ true disciples must be the light of the world.  In verses 14-15, Jesus gives us two illustrations.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Christ’s faithful followers must be lamps that give light to all.  We cannot hide our lamps under a basket. We must put them on a lampstand! The light must give light to all in the house. A true disciple must be a city set on a hill, for they cannot be hidden. Light must shine. In John 8:12, Jesus said,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

To have light is to have life.  God is the Light,  His Word is the Light that provides direction and guidance for our lives in the darkness.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105)

Is the light of our lampstand burning brightly?  Is our light shining amid so much darkness,  Matthew 5:16?  Are others seeing our good works as we shine our light brightly?  Are we living a righteous life that is distinct from the world, shining as light?  In Philippians 2:14-16, our light is hindered when we grumble or complain.  We cannot be innocent and blameless amid this crooked and twisted generation when we hide our light and fail to exhibit the fruits of Light.  We’re a holy nation, called out of darkness into God’s marvelous Light (1 Peter 2:9-12).  Thus we must abstain from the passions of the flesh and keep our conduct honorable amid this crooked and twisted generation.  To shine our light, we must live pure lives before God.  We must refuse to be friends with the world to shine our light brightly.  We must not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them, for we are the light of this world! (Ephesians 5:6-16).  Thus, we must walk as children of light, exhibiting the fruit of lightWe cannot be lights and behave, talk, dress, and party like the world.  There’s enough darkness in our culture already!  We must shine as lights and be distinct! In doing this, we can rest assured that we will influence this world of darkness with graciousness in our words and actions (salt) and shine with our good works, pointing them to the Way to Jesus (the Light).

Our good works make our light shine brightly amid darkness.  We must shine so that others can see and glorify our Father in heaven.  We shine our light to point others to Jesus. Do people look at our marriage and see a God-glorifying marriage? Do people look at our family and see a God-glorifying family? Do people look at us at work and see a God-glorifying employee? Do people look at you on vacation and see a God-glorifying life? Do people look at everything we do, big and small, and see God glorified? That is what it means to be the light of the world!  The Light makes us live radical lives that move people to want to know God, for He is the Light (1 John 1:5-13).  God stands in contrast to darkness, evil, error, and imperfection. Light determines what is right and what is sin. The Light unveils our spiritual identity (John 12:46).  It does not count if one merely claims to be in fellowship with God. What really matters is how we’re living our life, reflecting His light.  There is no such thing as a Christian who lives in habitual sin. The Light must change our way of living, causing us to imitate Christ, for He is the Life that must govern our lives!  We’re walking in darkness when we refuse to follow God’s commands, not walking in the Light. Walking in darkness means that we are not seeking God’s will and striving to obey God’s Law.  We have fellowship with God and one another when we walk in the Light (1 John 1:7).  Walking in the Light is following God’s rules, seeking after Him to do His will. When we walk in the Light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.  God’s Grace works with our obedience.
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27)

When we stop striving to live righteously as lights, Jesus’ sacrifice for sins no longer remains. Then the blood of Jesus does not cleanse us from our sins. So it is a great and precious promise given to those who are faithfully living for the Lord, walking in the Light.  We cannot claim to walk in the Light ignoring the reality of sin and sinfulness. If we refuse to repent of our sins, we are avoiding the Light, for we’re breaking fellowship with God because He is Light, not darkness. Walking in the Light means admitting our sins and asking for forgiveness. God is faithful and will forgive us if we repent and bear fruits of repentance. When we walk in the Light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins (1 John 1: 9). 

So, the question at stake again is, What is the condition of your heart? Are you light or darkness?  What is the condition of the church where you worship? What can you do to make the church either a light bearer or useless and good for nothing? Do you not know that a congregation's Light must be as strong as its members' cumulative efforts to carry out Jesus’ commands or directions given in Matthew 5?  And though it is hard to know at what point Jesus no longer recognizes a church as faithful, doing His will, we can still do some assessing, examining our hearts. We can ask ourselves how the local church is viewed in the community where we worship. Is it seen as powerful with strong moral convictions or principles of righteousness? Is each Christian walking in the Light, reflecting that same Light to this world of darkness?  Or, are the members viewed as whiners, unable to get along with one another, tolerant of sin?  Are they viewed as lazy and not hard workers?  Are they seen as a blessing, not a curse?  What do you think?  Sadly, many who are in the church and outside the church isolate themselves, saying, "we're just minding our own business." But, don’t you know, the church is our business, and thus it must be our business to shine our light brightly both in word and deed, for this is the Gospel Light!  Why not start shining the light of God’s Word brightly into the hearts of others? Why not make an effort to teach your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and relatives?  You will not regret it, for you must be working heartily as unto the Lord!  What is the church where you worship doing to shine the Gospel Light? What is each member of the local church doing to enlighten the dark world?  Think about it!

Let us not forget that the Lord, according to Revelation 2-3, is making His own assessment and that our lampstand's status is being weighed in the balances.  Let us not forget that the souls of men are at stake!  And finally, let us not forget that as Jesus was preparing to leave this earth, He commissioned His disciples, and that includes us, to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16) Are you carrying out His commission?  Are you walking in the Light and shining your light brightly?  Are your good works making your light shine brightly amid so much darkness?  Are you hindering the Gospel Message because you are walking in darkness?  Are you pointing others to Christ, the Light, by your godly example?  Is our life distinct from the world, shining as light?  What do you think?

May the light of our lampstand shine brightly amid so much darkness.  May the church hold the Light, for it is the pillar and support of the Truth of God (1 Tim. 3:15).  May others see our good works as we shine our light brightly.  May we point others to Christ, the Light, by our godly example.  May we never extinguish the Gospel Light by walking in darkness.

Luci


No comments :

Post a Comment