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Exodus 25:31–40

“You shall make a lampstand of pure gold” (v. 31).

Homes need light in the evening so that people can see and work while they are inside. In our day, we rely largely on electric lights, but ancient peoples used oil lamps to light their homes. The tabernacle, as God’s home among the ancient Israelites, needed light as well, and today’s passage shows us that this light came from a lampstand created to illumine the tabernacle.

Exodus 25:31–40 gives detailed instructions on the lampstand that would be housed in the tabernacle. We read in verse 31 that this lampstand was to be made of pure gold and to consist of one piece. In other words, it was not to be made of different components that could be disassembled for transporting the lampstand and reassembled when the tabernacle was again set up. Most likely, the various components of the lampstand were fashioned separately and then fused into a single piece with heat and hammering, as that was the common means of creating ornate gold sculptures in those days.

From the description of the lampstand in verses 32–36, we see that it resembled a stylized tree with almond blossoms, having a single trunk and three branches attached to each side of it. As we will see in our study of the next few chapters of Exodus, the entire tabernacle resembled the garden of Eden, so the lampstand that resembled a tree most likely was intended to remind the people of the Tree of Life in the garden of Eden (see Gen. 2:9). Seven lamps of pure gold were also made to be placed in the cups on the lampstand, one lamp on each branch and the trunk, and they were set there to provide light in front of the stand (Ex. 25:37–39). This was for the benefit of the priests, for the lampstand was placed in the Holy Place, along with the table of showbread (Heb. 9:2), and the priests needed light to see what they were doing. As the priests did their work in the tabernacle under the illumination of the lampstand, they—and all Israel by extension—would be reminded that true light and life are found only in the presence of God (see John 1:4).

Today’s passage concludes with a reminder that the Israelites had to fashion the temple components exactly according to the Lord’s directions (Ex. 25:40). In fact, we must follow the Lord’s commands in all of life, even under the new covenant. Matthew Henry comments, “All his ordinances must be administered according to his institutions. Christ’s instruction to his disciples (Matt. 28:20) is similar to this: Observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

We are tempted to do things our way and to not follow the instructions that the Lord has given us. However, just as there would be no light in the tabernacle if the Israelites did not follow God’s instructions for the lampstand, there will be no light to guide our paths if we do not follow the Lord’s instructions for us. We find these only in the Word of God, and it alone gives us perfect light for knowing and serving the Lord (Ps. 119:105).


For Further Study
  • Leviticus 24:1–4
  • Revelation 11:1–14