Today’s reading includes Numbers 8:1-9:23, Mark 13:14-37, Psalm 50:1-23, Proverbs 10:29-30.
When we were back in Exodus 25 we read about the specific way God instructed Moses to make the lampstand. Every detail was followed because every detail was significant. It was to be made of pure gold, hammered to perfection. Its shape was to be that of a tree with six branches–three on each side, and the shaft of the trunk going up the middle, for a total of seven lamps in the lampstand. It was to be tended by the high priest and its light was never to be extinguished.
The tree was in the likeness of an almond tree. Throughout scripture we see many references to the almond tree. The almond tree is often referred to as the “wakeful tree” because it is one of the first to “wake up” in springtime. Its blossoms come forth in January or February, very quickly. The Hebrew word for almond is almost exactly the same word for waken and watch. It means “to awake, watch, wake, be alert”, and, to “keep watch of, be awakeful over”.
The seven branches, of course, mean completion and perfection, but let’s think about the placement of the branches. There were three on either side for a total of six. The number six is the number representing man. Then up the middle comes the tallest, thickest, most sturdy branch, the one that is really the trunk of the tree, which completes the number to the holy number seven and provides stability to the other branches. It is the highest light. This causes me to remember the truth that it is Jesus in me that shines the highest light. It is Jesus who is the Light of the world and causes His followers to also be the light in a dark world. He rises tallest, highest, best and brightest.
There are many more details and symbolisms in the almond tree design and the light of the lampstand which we will discuss further in the coming days, but today let’s look at the reading found in Numbers 8:1-4.
The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give Aaron the following instructions: When you set up the seven lamps in the lampstand, place them so their light shines forward in front of the lampstand.” 3 So Aaron did this. He set up the seven lamps so they reflected their light forward, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 4 The entire lampstand, from its base to its decorative blossoms, was made of beaten gold. It was built according to the exact design the Lord had shown Moses.
When I read these words this morning what caught my eye was this phrase: place them so their light shines forward. The seven lamps reflected their light forward, just as God planned. It lit up the area in front of the lampstand which was placed in front of the Holy Place. What practical truth could we learn from this?
My friends, look forward. Don’t look back to the darkness of your pain or sin or shame. Look forward. The light of Christ beckons you forward. Your light can be a beacon to others to find the way forward. Even if you are in the shadow of the valley of death or pain, you are merely passing through that dark valley. Let the light of Christ propel you forward.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me
Psalm 23: 4
The placement of the light shining forward in front of the lampstand lit up the way to the Holy Place. It lit the way to the place of redemption. The Light of Christ still lights the way to holiness and redemption. Don’t look back to the darkness; look forward to the light. Keep your eyes on the Light.
When Jesus rebuked Satan in Mark 8:33, he said, “Get behind me, Satan!” Jesus tells Satan to get behind him, for he is not allowed in the forward places of the light.
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43: 18-19
May we look to the Light of Christ to light our path and then may we share that light with others propelling them to the holiness of Jesus.