Tuesday, November 15 2011
The Menorah: Lighting The Way
"Menorah" is the English rendering of the Hebrew word pronounced men-oh-raw. The word was used for the seven-branched (keep the seven in mind; we'll explain that further in a moment) lampstand that was originally made for use in the Tabernacle, according to Christ's command as given to Moses (see The First Christian Church). The King James Version translates the word as "candlestick," even though it had olive-oil lamps, not candles. The Revised Standard Version more-accurately translates it as "lampstand," while the Complete Jewish Bible uses the English rendering of the Hebrew word, "menorah."
"25:31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same." (Exodus 25:31 King James Version)
A "talent of pure gold" was used to make the highly-ornate menorah (i.e. the oil holders were "bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch"). A "talent" varied by nation and usage, but in the Hebrew usage for gold, the menorah had approximately 75 pounds of pure gold, that the Israelites had obtained from the Egyptians (i.e. "12:35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 12:36 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians." Exodus 12:35-36 KJV).
"25:31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. 25:32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: 25:33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. 25:34 And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. 25:35 And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. 25:36 Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.
"I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness"
The craftsmanship was done by men such as Bezaleel, a man of Judah, after the LORD "filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship" (the reason also that, because Jesus Christ had such a full measure of the Holy Spirit, He would have been the most-skilled carpenter who ever lived).
"31:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 31:2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah [see also Who Were The First Jews?]: 31:3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 31:4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 31:5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. 31:6 And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee; 31:7 The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle, 31:8 And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense, 31:9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot, 31:10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest [see Are Levites 'Jews'?], and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office, 31:11 And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do." (Exodus 31:1-11 KJV)
The menorah was placed on the south side of the Holy Place, opposite the table of showbread (see Bread of the Presence). It was lighted every evening, and was extinguished in the morning. In the morning, the priests trimmed the lamp wicks and refilled the lamps with fresh oil.
"26:33 And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the veil the ark of the testimony: and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. 26:34 And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place. 26:35 And thou shalt set the table without the veil, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side." (Exodus 26:33-35 KJV)
Everything in the Tabernacle, the objects and the roles of the people who served there, were prophetic of the Messiah and the salvation that He is making possible. The lamps figuratively lighted the way to God's Law in the Ark of the Covenant i.e. "5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. True repentance is required for salvation (see the ten-study series beginning with The Way To Salvation: Step 1).
"9:1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. 9:2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary. 9:3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; 9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; 9:5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat [see Christ's Mercy Seat]; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
Has the menorah, as a figurative light on the way to salvation, been "done away"? It is merely an ancient religious object used by people who don't yet accept the Messiah (see When Do Jews Become Christians? and the Fact Finder question below)? No! Notice that Jesus Christ used "seven golden candlesticks" (i.e. seven menorahs) when He appeared to the apostle John on the island of Patmos for the writing of the Book of Revelation (see The Apocalypse Of Jesus Christ). Those seven menorahs symbolized the Church of God, in its various states of existence ("the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches") as a single true Church of God - then and now (see Where Are The Seven Churches Of Revelation Today?).
"1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 1:15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
Jesus Christ is Himself that ultimate Guiding Light to God's Law:
"8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" John 8:12 KJV).
John the Baptist was a figurative "menorah" for Christ's first coming:
"3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3:3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" Matthew 3:1-3 and "5:35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light" John 5:35 KJV).
So too, yet in the future, just prior to the return of the Messiah, Christ's "two witnesses" are described as "the two candlesticks" - the two menorahs, who will prophetically and symbolically "light the way" to the then-imminent coming of the Christ - and His Law that will bring the Kingdom of God to earth (see Moriah: Separating The Wheat From The Chaff).
"11:1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses [see The Prophets: The Two Witnesses], and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 11:5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 11:6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
Fact Finder: What happened to the original Menorah? Where is it now?
This Day In History, November 15
655: The Battle of Winwaed; Oswiu of Northumbria defeated Penda of Mercia.
1315: Swiss forces defeated invading Austrians at the Battle of Morgarten.
1492: Christopher Columbus recorded "Indian" (i.e. native people of North America, Columbus thought North America was Asia - although ironically, modern-day DNA testing has proven that the "Indian" people originated in China, having walked across a few miles of frozen sea between Asia and Alaska) use of tobacco in his journal - the first recorded reference to tobacco.
1630: German astronomer Johannes Kepler died. He established what are now known as Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion (see also No 'Flat Earth' In The Bible).
1660: The first kosher butcher, Asser Levy, was licensed in New Amsterdam (later renamed New York City after the British captured it from the Dutch). New York is today the largest Jewish-population city in the world.
1864: During the U.S. Civil War, Union general William Sherman departed on his "march to the sea," leaving much of the city of Atlanta burning into ashes.
1920: The first League of Nations session opened, in Geneva, Switzerland. After the League of Nations failed to stop the Second World War from happening (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), it was reborn as the United Nations in 1945.
1939: Adolf Hitler's Nazis began the mass murder of Warsaw Jews (see also Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).
1943: Nazi official Heinrich Himmler ordered that Gypsies in Nazi Germany were to be put "on the same level as Jews and placed in concentration camps."
1948: MacKenzie King retired as Canada's 10th Prime Minister; he was succeeded by Louis St. Laurent.
1957: Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev bragged that Russian missiles were more accurate, and challenged U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower to a rocket-range shooting match.
1969: During the Vietnam War, 500,000 protesters in Washington staged a peaceful "March Against Death."
1984: A human infant, "Baby Fae," died 20 days after receiving a baboon heart transplant in Loma Linda, California.
2007: Cyclone Sidr struck Bangladesh; it killed 5,000 people and destroyed the world's largest mangrove forest.