Following the dedication of the Tabernacle, we get to see God instruct Moses on the setting up of the Lamps within the Tabernacle and the Setting apart of the Levites for service.
Setting up the Lamps
Numbers 8:1-2 “The Lord said to Moses,“Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you set up the lamps, see that all seven light up the area in front of the lampstand.’”
The details of the how the lampstand was to be made can be read in Exodus 25:31-40. It was to be made of solid gold, having six branches, three on one side and three on the other. With the centre it would make seven, requiring seven lamps, filled with oil and Aaron was to keep them burning from evening to morning continually.
The golden lampstand also known as the Menorah, was placed on the south side in the holy place, opposite the table of showbread.
The Table of showbread was situated on the north side of the Holy Place, where only priests were allowed to enter and perform rituals of worship as representatives for the people. On the table, on pure gold plates were 12 loaves of bread made from fine flour. The loaves were arranged in two piles of six.
The table of showbread was a constant reminder of God’s covenant with his people and his provision for the twelve tribes of Israel, represented by the twelve loaves.
Our ultimate provision came in the form of Jesus.
In John 6:35 we read “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
And in John 6:51, Jesus says “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
The light from the lampstands illuminated the bread, God’s provision to His people. The lampstand by itself could give no light, the light came from the lamps.
John 1:9, says, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”
John 1: 4 says, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”
In Mathew 5:14, Jesus calls his followers ‘the light of the world’.
We his people are the light of the world not by our own doing, but because of Christ in us.
In Revelations 1:20, we read that the seven lampstands represent the seven churches. As people of God that form His church, we illuminate Jesus and the path to the bread of life (Jesus). Our lives are to point to Christ, providing a platform for Jesus to be known and seen.
Tending to the Light within us
Leviticus 24:1-3 “The Lord said to Moses, command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. Outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the Lord from evening till morning, continually.”
The lamps needed tending, refilling of oil, trimming of the wicks to keep burning and illuminating the bread loaves.
For us: For our light to shine and to point to the bread of life, we need to tend to our personal relationship with God. To keep the oil filled – we must set time aside with God, be intentional and diligent in doing so.
Are we continuously tending to our connection with God, so that the Spirit’s flame within us keeps burning and illuminating Jesus?
The Levites had to always be aware of how much oil was needed to keep the lamps burning through to morning, and so in the same way, we need to be aware of our spiritual refilling. The Levites had to tend to the lamps daily, they had to make sure that they had the clear oil of pressed olives for the lamps for every single day. We must remember that they were in the wilderness at this time, they were not growing anything to get olives or get oil out of olives. They probably had to obtain it (possibly through trade). They would have had to give something up to get the oil. This convicted me that time at the Lord’s feet is valuable enough to give something else up in my day. Time with God should not be the first thing we give up when the day get busy.
Setting Apart of the Levites
The Levites were given to the priests as a gift from God to help, to assist them in service to the Lord and the people.
The responsibilities of the Levites were to take care of the tabernacle and its furnishings, setting it up, taking it down and carrying it as they moved through the wilderness. They did not serve at the altar, were not allowed to perform any priestly duties. But their service was nevertheless valued and important. Their work of practical service also required dedication and consecration to the LORD.
Num 8:7 “To purify them, do this: Sprinkle the water of cleansing on them; then have them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes. And so, they will purify themselves.”
Following this, they had to perform a series of offerings, a grain offering, sin offering and a burnt offering.
For us: As servants of God, we have a responsibility to keep ourselves clean and dedicated to God. But as the Levites had to follow the initial cleansing with offerings, we cannot clean our hearts, only the Lord can. Our cleansing process might look different, but God works on purifying us. Maybe the cleaning process involves getting rid of pride, or the need to keep seeking glory for oneself, the urge to live in comparison, jealousy etc.
Num 8:11 “Aaron is to present the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of the Lord.”
“The idea in the wave offering was to hold an object, usually the part of the offering that would be the food for the priests, before the Lord, to wave it back and forth, and then to keep it for one’s own use.” (Allen, Ronald. Numbers. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 2)
The symbolism here was that Levites were consciously being given over to God in their service to the people. What a beautiful picture for us to keep, to ensure that our desires and motives are consciously being given over to God as we serve Him.
Lord God, your word is filled with so many wonderous things that fill us with awe of who you are, always teaching us of how we are to be in response to your presence in our lives. Thank you for the wonderful gift of Jesus, our light, and our bread of life. May we be dedicated in our service to you, may we not do it for any other purpose than to bring you glory.