Holiness, Part 4

The Menorah

“Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. 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.” 

Exodus 23:31-32

After purifying himself at the laver, a priest could now enter the Holy Place. Here he would encounter the Golden Lampstand, or the menorah. This is not to be confused with the hanukkiyah, which is the menorah used during the festival of Hanukkah. The hanukkiyah has eight branches, while the temple menorah has six. 

The lampstand was made of solid gold—molded and hammered from a 75-pound ingot. It was to have a single shaft in the middle with three branches protruding from each side. The exact shape of these branches is disputed. Some say that they were curved (as is most commonly seen), while other scholars interpret the text literally—that they protruded straight out from the center shaft diagonally: “Six branches shall extend from its sides” (Exodus 25:32). On each of these branches, we are told of “its cups, its bulbs, and its flowers.” The cups were used to hold the oil of lighting and were to be shaped like almond blossoms, complete with bulb and flower. While some interpretations use the term “candlestick,” the lampstand did not use wax candles as we are accustomed to. Instead, the decorative cups mentioned above were filled with only the best olive oil—the first, most pure pressing: “Command the sons of Israel that they bring to you clear oil from beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually” (Leviticus 24:2). 

God commanded Moses to only use pure olive oil to light the menorah. That was its source. We want to take a closer look at this source. 

The Olive Tree

God told Moses in Leviticus 24:2 and Exodus 27:20, “Command the sons of Israel that they bring to you clear oil from beaten olives for the light, to make the lamp burn continually.” Olive trees have played a prominent role in Scripture, not only as the source of oil for the light in the tabernacle (temple), but the doors in the temple were made from olive trees, as were the carved cherubs which covered the Mercy Seat. It was at the Mount of Olives that Yeshua was taken up to Heaven and where He will one day return. We, Gentile believers, have been grafted into the olive tree (Israel). We see in the Book of Zechariah the two olive trees next to the menorah, which were the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth. These were specifically the two branches that dripped into the receptacle, the main source of the menorah. Yeshua is referred to as the Branch in Zechariah 3:8 and Zechariah 6:12: “Hear O Joshua, the high priest, you and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign; for behold, I am bringing forth My Servant, the Branch,” the Branch dripping the oil for a light to the nations. “Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD.”’”

The oil represents the Holy Spirit. The two offices of Messiah, as our High Priest and King, both were anointed with oil. The word Messiah means “anointed one.” In Revelation 11:4, we see also these two witnesses who are referred to as the two olive trees and the two menorahs that stand before the Lord of the earth. As disciples and priests, we must also be anointed with the Holy Spirit. So we are going to look at the significant relationship between the making of the oil used for the menorah and for anointing and being a disciple of Yeshua. 

Squeezing Out a Disciple

To start the process of extracting the oil, the olives were crushed under a stone for thirty to forty minutes. The crushed olives were then transferred to round baskets and were placed under high pressure to squeeze out all the oil. The first pressing was the purest, and only this could be used to light the menorah. The pressing and crushing of life is in our trials and tribulations. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 38:2, “For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, and Your hand has pressed down on me.” We see this when Paul, in Philippians 3:14, refers to all things as being lost and rubbish just to know Yeshua. He says, “I press on,” giving the allusion of the olives being pressed and everything being squeezed out. Again, he writes in 2 Corinthians 1:8, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even our lives.” Yeshua was crushed for our iniquities. It’s through this pressing and crushing that we are made pure and holy. It’s through this that the anointing flows throughout us. 

In Romans 5:3, Paul writes, “And not only this, but we also exalt in our tribulations knowing that tribulations bring about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.” 

James writes, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3). To be the true light to the nations, we must first be pressed and crushed and made holy and righteous, not putting confidence in the flesh, but letting God work through us. It is “not by power or by might, but by the Holy Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6) that we can be the “Light of the World.” It is when we walk in the Spirit that we can be that true light (Galatians 5:16), for the Spirit is Truth, and He is never contrary to the Word. He is the light that dispels the darkness. He is the lamp to our feet and the light to our path (Psalm 119:105). He is the oil in the receptacle (the source) that lights our lamp, and as priests, we too must be that menorah. 

The utensils to be used with the lampstand, such as the snuffers and trays, were made out of pure gold as well. The complexities of all the designs of the utensils and the menorah are not laid out in the text, but rather God instructs Moses, “See that you make them [the menorah and its utensils] after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain” (Exodus 25:40). 

The lampstand was to give light to the Holy Place. Since it was enshrouded in a tent, this was how the priests would be able to properly see and execute the rest of their duties. The lampstand was also symbolic of the Spirit of God which was manifested to the people on Mount Sinai. The menorah represents the Tree of Life. The sages called the menorah the “Light of the World.”

The menorah represented God, who is light. Yeshua said that He was the “Light of the World” in John 9:5. When Yeshua returns, He will be the Light (the menorah) in the tabernacle, as it is said in Revelation 21:23, “The Lamb will be its light.” We are to be the light of the world. We are going to stop here for a moment and take a look at what it takes for us to be the “light of the world.” 

Matthew 5:14-16 says:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under a bushel, but on a lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your righteous deeds, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

As priests, we must be filled with the Light so we can lead those who are in darkness to the truth. We do not want to overlook the command that the menorah is to remain lit at all times. The menorah, the ner tamid, which means “continual light,” hangs over the Ark which houses the Torah scrolls in the synagogue. God is ever present, and so His light never goes out; and we too as His priests should always let our light shine, always ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). We must be ready to preach the Word in season and out of season 

(2 Timothy 4:2), never ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16). We must remain sober and alert (1 Peter 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:6). 

We see that God takes it quite seriously that we be that light. In Revelation 1:12-20, John writes:

And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden menorahs; and in the middle of the menorah one like a Son of Man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden girdle. And His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire; and His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of mighty waters. And in His right hand He held seven stars; and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength… As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden menorahs: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven menorahs are the seven churches. 

To the church of Ephesus He writes:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden menorahs says this; I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My Name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and remove your menorah out of its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:1-7

As the assembly representing God, we must be holy and be the true light and not in any way misrepresent God, who is light. If we have let the light go out, or maybe our church just doesn’t have the oil any longer, then we must repent and once again light the menorah of our lives. Paul tells Timothy, “I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God (the Holy Spirit) which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6). We are to kindle the fire and keep it burning (through the Holy Spirit) as this was commanded to us by the True Light. Let’s be like the five wise virgins in Matthew 25, having our lamps ready and filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit. 

We have seen that the menorah is called the Light of the World, and of course, Yeshua said that He was the Light of the World, and as disciples of Yeshua, we too are the Light of the World. In Isaiah 49:6, the Temple is referred to as the Light of the World, and all the nations will come to it. In fact, during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, they would light these giant menorahs and the whole temple area would light up so that you could see the light for miles. Like a lighthouse guides ships, these menorahs would guide the pilgrims coming into the city. And why were the temple and Jerusalem called the Light of the World? Because the Torah is called the Light of the World, and Scripture tells us:

And many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths, for from Zion will go forth the Torah, even the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Micah 4:2, Isaiah 2:3). 

Proverbs 6:23 tells us, “For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light.” 

Is your light shining today? Here is a little test found in 1 John 1:6: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 

Verses 8-10 go on, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and the Word is not in us.” 

1 John 2:4-6 continues with this thought: 

The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His Word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him; the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

Verses 9-10 continue to say: 

The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him, But the one who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Verse 15 finishes off, saying, “Do not love the world, or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 

Remember the sequence: thankfulness and praise, repentance and sacrifice, cleansing and light. Next on our path of worship, we will stop at the altar of showbread.

The Altar of Showbread

“You shall make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long and one cubit wide and one and a half cubits high. You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a gold border around it.” 

Exodus 25:23-24

Also inside the Holy Place was the Table of Showbread. It was a table made out of acacia wood and covered in gold. It was 3 feet long, 1.5 feet wide, and 2.25 feet tall. There were four rings attached, along with carrying poles and the utensils used for holding the bread. The poles were acacia wood overlaid with gold, while the utensils were made from solid gold. 

The purpose of the table was to hold the showbread, also called the bread of presence. The bread was to be made out of fine flour and baked into cakes each Sabbath. The amount used would come out to twelve loaves of bread, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. These loaves would be arranged in two rows, six loaves per row. Two small bowls of pure frankincense were laid on the table near the showbread. 

In those days, covenants were often sealed with a meal. The showbread fulfilled that role by commemorating the covenant between God and the people of Israel. The covenant terms were upheld by each party: Israel would obey God and keep His commandments, and God would protect them and bring them into the land as He promised. This is why Yeshua was so eager to eat the Passover seder meal with His disciples, because He was going to ratify the covenant. He would now be the mediator, and He would be the sacrifice, and His own blood would be poured out (Luke 22:15-20). Our family is also based on a covenant, and when we come to the table to eat, God is there, and it’s like a renewing of that covenant every time we get together. Our table becomes the table of the Lord, and it is to be holy with thought, word, and deed. Ephesians 5:19 tells us, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, sing and make melody with your heart to the Lord.” In the daily prayer of the shema, it says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” The covenantal relationship is most binding in the eating of a meal. And do not forget the importance of a fellowship meal that takes place with the family of God. 

The priests would take this showbread and eat it in the Holy Place. We as priests also eat in the Holy Place when we call on the Lord to bless our food. 

Bread is representative of life, since it has always been a main food staple. Having the showbread in the Holy Place was a symbol of God’s blessing over the food of the people. As long as they continued to serve Him, the people could trust God to take care of their physical needs. 

Now, the miracle of the showbread is that this bread was eaten by all the priests who were on duty that week, about 150 men, and yet even though there were so many men that ate of the twelve loaves, they ate and were satisfied. Sound familiar? Not only that, but the bread which was baked the week before was still hot and fresh as though it had just been baked. Yeshua said,

I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst… Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died… This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever, and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh. (John 6:35, 49, 51)

What was Yeshua saying? He was not saying to actually eat His flesh; that was totally against Torah. But what He was saying was that He was the Bread of Life. He was comparing Himself to the manna that came down from heaven. Yeshua is the Word made flesh, and we are to eat of that Word. Isaiah writes in Isaiah 55:1-2: 

Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.

Let’s stop at the table of the Lord and eat from His Word and delight in His ways as we walk in the light of His Word. He is our portion and our cup. Let us feast at His table and drink from the well of salvation (Psalm 16:5). Let our cup overflow (Psalm 23:5) and may God give us a double portion (Isaiah 61:7). This is the abundant life!
We have looked at the Menorah and the Table of Showbread, also known as the Table of the Bread of Presence. When confronted with the task of feeding the five thousand, Yeshua tells His disciples that they should feed the people. Yeshua tells Peter, “If you love Me, feed My sheep” (John 21:15). So we see that as priests we must be light in the darkness and lead the people to Yeshua, and we are to feed the sheep, not only with actual bread, but with the Bread of Life. So we want to continue on our path of worship.

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