The Oil in My Lamp
There was a song that we sang years ago that went like this: “Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.” We want to look at the lamp in the temple. This lamp, called the menorah, was the only light in the temple. Exodus tells us about this lamp: “They made the lampstand of pure gold. They hammered out its base and shaft, and made its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. Six branches extended from the sides of the lampstand–three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms were on one branch, three on the next branch and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand” (Exodus 37:17-19).
The seven-branched candelabra was beautiful. It was made to look like an almond tree. It was filled with pure olive oil. The Lord said to Moses, “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. Outside the curtain of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the Lord from evening till morning, continually” (Leviticus 24:1-3).
So what does that have to do with us? Well, we want to take a closer look at just this, to find out what is the relationship between the menorah and the believer’s life.
The Commandment to be Light
Yeshua tells the people, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). And again, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46). In Matthew 5:14-16, Yeshua tells us, “ You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Yeshua knew that after His death and resurrection He would be going back to the Father and that His followers would now take on the yoke of the kingdom. This kingdom is a kingdom of light. Just like the temple was referred to as the light to the nations, so were Israel and Yeshua.
Now, we Gentiles who have been grafted into Israel also become light to the nations. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:5, “For you are all children of light and children of the day and you are not children of the night, neither children of darkness.” So if we are to be light, then we must also keep that light burning, for we can not hide it under a bushel basket.
How do we keep it burning? Like the menorah in the temple, it was filled with pure olive oil. Olive oil represents the Holy Spirit. Yeshua tells us a parable about oil in our lamps in Matthew 25:1-13.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
The Oil of Anointing
We see that oil was used also for anointing. “You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you’” (Exodus 30:30-32). So we see that the High Priest was anointed.
“Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13). We also see that kings were anointed.
We see here that prophets were also anointed and received the Holy Spirit. “When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.’ And Elisha said, ‘Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me’” (2 Kings 2:9).
We also see that the name of Messiah in Hebrew is “The Anointed One.” Yeshua here makes reference to it in this passage. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He did anoint me; to proclaim good news to the poor, sent me to heal the broken of heart, to proclaim to captives deliverance, and to blind receiving of sight, to send away the bruised with deliverance” (Luke 4:18). With the anointing came the Holy Spirit upon that person.
So how about us, the believer? Galatians 3:14, “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Messiah Yeshua, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Ephesians 1:13-14, “And you also were included in Messiah when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of His glory.”
Acts 2:17-18 “‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’” We see this fulfilled on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit fell upon the Apostles and those who had been praying in the upper room. After Peter spoke, 3,000 people accepted the Messiah and were filled with the Holy Spirit. All throughout the whole New Testament we see the move of the Holy Spirit.
So what about keeping our lamps lit? 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.”
We see that there are gifts of the Spirit and fruit also. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23).
So how do we keep our lamp burning? With the oil of the Holy Spirit we do the deeds and the work of the Holy Spirit. Walking in the Spirit and living in the Spirit keeps that oil burning, but when we don’t live by the Spirit or walk in His ways the oil stops flowing and the light goes out.
Galatians 5:16-17, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”
Galatians 6:8, “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
How about you? Is your light filled with oil? Do you keep it topped off? No one knows when the Bridegroom will come. If He came today, even right now, would your lamp be burning bright for Him to see? If not, why not? Get filled with the Holy Spirit and start filling your lamp with good deeds and using your gifts, and spreading fruit to all you meet.