Walking into the Tabernacle’s courtyard from the east, the first thing that a worshipper encountered was the Altar of Burnt Offerings. There, the blood of the innocent was shed to atone for the guilty. There, one died so that another could live.
Just beyond the Altar was the Laver. At the Laver, dust and dirt, guilt and shame, were washed away, making it possible for a worshipper to enter what lay just ahead... the tent.
The tent was fifteen feet wide (north to south) and forty-five feet in depth (east to west) with entry from the east. It consisted of two rooms, divided by a separating veil. The front room, the Holy Place, was thirty feet deep. The room beyond the veil, the Holy of Holies, was fifteen feet square.
There were three pieces of furniture in the Holy Place. Straight ahead and against the veil was the Golden Altar. To the right was the Golden Table. To the left was the Golden Lampstand.
God commanded Moses to make a “lampstand of pure gold” (Exodus 25:31). The word lampstand in Hebrew is “menorah.” The menorah was “made, with all its utensils, out of a talent of pure gold” (Exodus 25:39), “the whole of it a single piece” (Exodus 25:36).
(A talent was a measure of weight, comparable to about seventy-five pounds. I just checked the price of gold... $1,775 per ounce. So, at today’s price, you could purchase the menorah for two-million dollars and change.)
The menorah was an oil burning candle, with small reservoirs for each of the seven lights. (There’s that number seven again!) The menorah was functional as a light inside the dark tent. Back then, you didn’t just flip the switch!
The Bible starts ... “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). The very first thing that God did was to introduce light into the chaotic cosmos, driving back the darkness. By the way, He didn’t hang the sun and moon in space until day fourth day ... ponder that little tidbit!
In the New Testament, John introduced Jesus as the Word that was with God, and indeed was God (John 1:1-3). Then John says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness...” (John 1:4-5, ESV).
In John’s eighth chapter, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, ESV).
In Heaven, “night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light” (Revelation 22:5, ESV).
The Menorah pushed back the darkness and brought glorious light. That light symbolized the Light of the World, the One whose presence we enter to worship.