“As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and
the seven golden lampstands,
the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and
the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” –
Rev 1:20 (ESV)
Readers of Revelation have often wondered at the significance of the number ‘7’ which recurs throughout the book. Today though, I wonder about the symbol of the lampstand, used to represent the churches to whom this letter is written. Why lampstands? I believe the Old Testament prophets provide us some clue to that answer.
“1The Lord said to Moses,2 “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually.3 This is the lampstand that stands in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron must keep the lamps burning in the Lord’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation.4 Aaron and the priests must tend the lamps on the pure gold lampstand continually in the Lord’s presence.” – Lev 24:1-4 (NLT)
6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,” – Isaiah 42:6 (ESV)
He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” – Isaiah 49:6 (NLT)
and from the teachings of Jesus:
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so
that they may see your good works and
give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” –
Matt 5:14-16 (ESV)
So we, like lampstands, are set before the Holy of Holies, to shine continually… not so God can see, but so the world can see their way to God. We are a light to the nations. Our works, like pressed olives, are meant to feed that flame and shine for our heavenly Father, not for ourselves. So we burn and shine, as tiny replicas of the bright image of Christ until our wicks burn out and we return to his hand like the shining stars he holds.
God bless you in your witness to the world this week.