Three pieces of furniture adorned the Tabernacle’s Holy Place. As one entered the tent through the curtain at its east entrance, he could look to his right and see a small golden table which held loaves of bread. Straight ahead, just before the veil, stood the golden altar with its burning incense. To the left, on the south wall, stood the golden lampstand.
God drew a picture for Moses: “You are to make a lampstand out of pure, hammered gold. It is to be made of one piece: its base and shaft, its ornamental cups, and its buds and petals. Six branches are to extend from its sides, three branches of the lampstand from one side and three branches of the lampstand from the other side” (Exodus 25:31-32).
Our English word “lampstand” comes from the Hebrew word “menorah.” The menorah had seven oil-burning lamps. One lamp was fashioned on the top of the center staff. Three lamps spread out to the left, and three lamps spread symmetrically to the right. These lamps “illuminated the area” (Exodus 25:37).
The lamps burned continually. The Levitical Law required the priests “to tend it continually from evening until morning before the Lord outside the curtain of the testimony in the tent of meeting. This is a permanent statute throughout your generations. He must continually tend the lamps on the pure gold lampstand in the Lord’s presence” (Leviticus 24:3–4). Every morning and every evening, the priests would fill the small reservoirs with pure olive oil – oil given as a free-will offering by the Israelite pilgrims (Exodus 25:6).
The ornate candelabra was made of pure gold, formed and fashioned by a master craftsman. It was a work of art, a masterpiece made of solid gold. “The lampstand with all these utensils is to be made from seventy-five pounds of pure gold” (Exodus 25:39). Supposing that the utensils might have weighed ten pounds, then at today’s price of $1900 per ounce, the sixty-five pounds of gold in the menorah would be valued at just shy of two million dollars.
More important than its magnificence, and more important than its value, the menorah foreshadowed Jesus.
Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life”(John 8:12). “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me would not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:4–5).
Just as the menorah’s light allowed the priests to conduct their important work in the Tabernacle, so Jesus provides light for the spiritual work of salvation and sanctification, evangelism and discipleship, ministry and missions.
The Tabernacle and the Temple foreshadow Heaven. What about the menorah?
John, in the last chapters of the last book, was given a glimpse of glory. “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23). Jesus is Heaven’s menorah.