“Make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand shall be made of hammered work: its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it” (v. 31).
Having finished our brief look at the basic architecture of the tabernacle, it is now time to examine some of the important furniture that was found within the place where God dwelled during the old covenant period. The first piece we will consider is the golden lampstand that was set up in the Holy Place outside the curtain covering the entrance to the Most Holy Place (Ex. 26:31–35).
The lampstand was among the most ornate pieces created for use in the tabernacle, and those familiar with modern Judaism would know that the lampstand looked basically like a seven-branched menorah. It also resembled a tree with the cups at the end of each branch designed to mimic the appearance of almond blossoms with sculpted calyxes (outermost parts of a flower) and flowers (25:31–36). Many scholars believe that God commanded the floral design in order to remind the Israelites of the Tree of Life from the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9). This is certainly an appropriate conclusion as true life is found only in the Lord’s presence (Ps. 16:11), and this presence was made manifest in the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34–35). Almonds were also a symbol of hope and fruitfulness in the ancient Mediterranean world, so these ideas were also brought to mind when priests saw the lampstand.
Of course, the lampstand also served the very practical purpose of providing light for the priests to do their work, since there were no windows in the tabernacle through which natural light could enter. The almond blossom-shaped cups would have been filled with olive oil, and wicks would have been inserted into the oil and lit to provide light. Aside from helping the priest see, the light from the lampstand would have also been a physical depiction of the truth that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
Because of the proximity to the Lord’s presence, the lampstand was also made out of valuable materials like gold and fine wood. That it was “made of hammered work” (Ex. 25:31) means that a wooden frame was created and then covered with “a talent of pure gold” (seventy-five pounds; vv. 37–39), which was hammered out to create the lampstand’s ornate appearance. God deserves the very best to be used for His worship, and thus He commanded Israel to use the finest materials in His presence.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
As we will see throughout our study of the tabernacle and its furniture, the very best the people had to offer was used in the production of the sanctuary. Likewise, we too should give our best to the Lord, which includes things such as considering how we dress for worship, planning to devote portions of our personal budgets to kingdom work, serving Him by helping the needy, and more. How are you giving your best to the Lord?