Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
With the foregoing message, we finished the life-study of the tabernacle with its outer court. After completing the section on the tabernacle, we would expect to come next to the priests, especially to the garments of the priests. But chapter twenty-seven concludes with two verses on the lighting of the lamps on the lampstand in the tabernacle: “And you shall command the sons of Israel that they bring you olive oil, pure, beaten, for the light, to light the lamps continually. In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall set them in order from evening until morning before Jehovah; it shall be a statute forever for their generations by the sons of Israel.” If these two verses were not included at the end of chapter twenty-seven, probably none of us would miss them. Years ago, I was bothered by the fact that after such a long portion concerning the tabernacle with its court, the divine record inserts these two verses related to the lighting of the lamps. Because I do not take anything in the Word for granted, I have brought this matter to the Lord and spent time with Him regarding it, seeking to find the reason for the insertion of these two verses at this very point. Why is this matter, which does not describe any aspect of the tabernacle or its furniture, included here? Why does this chapter end with a word about lighting the lamps?
In reading chapters twenty-seven and twenty-eight of Exodus, I have noticed that chapter twenty-eight also begins with the conjunction “and.” Chapter twenty-eight is concerned with the garments for the priesthood. Although these garments do not seem to have anything to do with the lighting of the lamps, chapter twenty-eight begins with the conjunction. This indicates that the divine record puts these two matters together. After the lengthy record concerning the tabernacle with its furniture and outer court, Moses adds a short section on lighting the lamps, and then follows with a portion on the priestly garments. We need to find the reason for this sequence, especially why Moses links together the lighting of the lamps and the priestly garments.
To understand this matter, we need to realize that there were no windows in the tabernacle. In particular, there was no sky light, no window in the roof. Therefore, it was impossible for light to get in. If there had been no light inside the tabernacle, the tabernacle would have been filled with darkness. When we are in the dark, we are not able to do anything. If we try to do something, we may cause damage or injure ourselves. Because there were no windows in the tabernacle, there was the need for the lighting of the lamps inside the tabernacle.
The activity of lighting the lamps was holy. These lamps were not in a common or ordinary place; they were the lamps in the sanctuary, in the Holy Place. Because it was a holy task to light these lamps, the common people were not qualified to do this. They may have been good people and well-educated, but they were not holy. There was the need for holy persons to light the holy lamps in the Holy Place. Thus, for the lighting of the lamps there was the need of the priesthood. The lighting of the lamps was a priestly service.
The priestly service involved three main items. The first was to offer the sacrifices at the altar in the outer court. All the sacrifices had to be offered to God by a priest. A person coming to offer something to God was not able to do this himself. He had to offer his sacrifice through a priest. Thus, the priestly service first included the offering of the sacrifices. This aspect of the priestly service was rather rough or coarse, for it involved the sacrifice of large animals. The altar was a place of slaughter, and it was the duty of the priests to slaughter the animals and offer them to God as sacrifices.
The second and third items of the priestly service were the lighting of the lamps and the burning of the incense. These matters were fine and delicate. As we have seen, the lighting of the lamps could not be done by common people, but could be done only by holy ones, by priests.
According to the Bible, spiritually speaking, a priest is one who has been fully possessed by God. In the New Testament sense, a priest is not only possessed by God in full, but is entirely filled and saturated with God. The priests in the Old Testament were types, shadows, of the real priests in the New Testament. Today we who believe in Christ are true priests. As priests, we should be possessed by God, filled with God, and saturated with God. Furthermore, a priest is a person who is absolutely for God. His life and living are wholly for God. He lives and has his being for God. He does not care for anything on earth except God. Hence, a priest is a person possessed by God, saturated with God, and living for God. He has no other interest. In every respect and in every way, his unique interest is God. Because a priest is filled and saturated with God, he is a man of God. The lighting of the lamps in the Holy Place requires the service of this kind of person. For this reason, we emphasize the fact that the lighting of the lamps was a priestly service, a service of the priests.
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