Posts Tagged ‘lampstand’

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

What did Jesus mean when He said we need to pick up our cross and what does it actually look like to pick it up daily? pickExamining the words of Jesus we see that there are four parts to the equation.  I’ve summarized them with four ‘D’ words: desire, denial, deed, and devotion.

In order to effectively follow Christ, Jesus wants us to know that there is a progression. Discipleship (the actual following-of-Christ part), comes when the first three elements are actualized. Reject or skimp on desire, denial, and deed, and devotion suffers. It’s kind of like a student showing up to school without his pencils, paper, and books — he might be able to get some of his assignments accomplished, but the lack of preparation will be revealed in his work for that day. It’s plain to see that this pattern can not lead to improvement.

If Anyone Desire…

For the love of Christ compels us…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:14a & 17

Before we were born of the Spirit, we were born of the flesh. Accordingly, before we were born of the Spirit, our desires were focused on fleshly things. Some of those things may not have even been sinful unto themselves, but our desire for them, steeped in pure selfishness, was sinful. Once we were born again, our desire was redirected towards those things that were pleasing to God, rather than ourselves. We understand by faith that we had no hand in placing this new desire within us; this precious desire is the byproduct of the grace Jesus freely gives His disciples. If this desire is not present, we must question why, perhaps even pondering if we are truly born again believers.

Don’t fret — repent!

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent. Revelation 2: 5

Deny: “let him deny himself”

If desire is present, then denial is the next preparatory step forward, with the realty being that self-denial is the fruit of Godly desire. In other words, if you have died with Christ (that is, died to your flesh) you will desire to walk in the Spirit and not work to satisfy the desires of the flesh. The bonds of flesh have been broken and we have willingly yoked ourselves to Jesus; we are bond servants of Christ. At this point we can begin to see that while there is a progression and order to desire, denial, deed, and devotion, they are also divinely intertwined.

“Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.” Romans 6:6-9

Deed: “take up his cross daily”

We might wonder why desire and denial is not sufficient; why are we additionally instructed to pick up the cross of crucifixion each day? The answer is simple: the directive from Jesus is a reminder for us. Human beings have a tendency to forget and rather than scold His children daily, Jesus provides for us a way to daily remember our baptism, our first symbolic gesture publicly proclaiming the death of our flesh and our newness of eternal life in Christ.

In the same way that Jesus wants us to remember what He accomplished on the cross (when we break the loaf and partake of the cup), He wants us to remember (daily) that we hoisted our old man up there as well. If the Christian does not consistently start each day with this holy recognition, his or her desire will fade, and he or she will be susceptible to appeasing their flesh rather than denying it. At this juncture, devotion to Jesus might not even come to mind!

What does picking up the cross look like?

It minimally starts with prayer. Personally, it’s my preference to pray before my feet hit the floor in the morning. This prayer is characterized by thanksgiving and an affirmation of God’s godliness, followed by my desire to follow Him and to deny my flesh, and then, His help in the deed of dying to myself (picking up my cross), so effective devotion can occur that day. I ask for (and allow) God to search my heart in order to root out any evil that’s lurking therein, and then ask for a fresh refilling of His Holy Spirit for power and direction. This initial morning prayer is less than a minute long, but it sets the pace for the rest of the day; my cross has been raised and my baptism has been remembered. Having done this, I’m best equipped to follow Him. If I forget to do this, there stands the likelihood I will soon stumble. Neglect these things (and I have), devotion, the act of submission to Jesus, suffers. Effectual discipleship requires preparation — the preparation Jesus outlines in Luke 9:23.

Devotion: “follow Me”

I’m reminded that these deeds are not works unto salvation. Our salvation is a done deal; a work that Jesus finished on the cross. Nor are these deeds compensation to Jesus for the gifts He bestows; everyone knows that when you receive a present you don’t try to thank a person by paying for it.  If we’re fooled into believing that our efforts in Christ are restitution to Christ, we’ve fallen back into fleshly ritual.  Suddenly it’s no longer the love of Christ that compels us, but an obligation to a false image of Christ we’ve created; the components of our Christian faith (prayer, communion, fellowship, etc) are no longer things we are free or desire to do, but rather things we must do.

But in the design Jesus lays out, we’re daily reminded that these sinful bonds have been broken. He provides and empowers as we present ourselves to Him as empty and submitted vessels. In this manner, each day in Christ can be a continuation of His will from the previous day, or if we didn’t fare so well, a divine do-over. Regardless, through Christ’s blood, death, and resurrection, sin has lost its power. In every single sinful opportunity we encounter, God will provide a way to circumvent evil one hundred percent of the time. Of course the decision to receive His remedy hinges on how we started our day, and whether or not we picked up our cross. This is where the disciple demonstrates that he came to class prepared.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

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“You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side. Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower–and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand. On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower. 3And there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same, a knob under the second two branches of the same, and a knob under the third two branches of the same, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand. Their knobs and their branches shall be of one piece; all of it shall be one hammered piece of pure gold. Exodus 25:31-36Some fixtures within the Tabernacle were constructed of acacia wood covered with gold, the wood speaking illustratively of Christ’s humanity and the gold His deity. First notice that the lampstand is made exclusively of gold. As we go through each verse and each word in some cases, we further see the significance and prophetic picture being depicted of Jesus Christ and our life in Him.

Pure Gold, Beaten into Form

The pure gold speaks of both deity and perfection; two qualities found only in our Lord. The lampstand was not pieced together, but strenuously beaten and stretched from one source in much the same way Jesus was beaten and stretched out for one singular purpose.

He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

One Lamp–Six Branches

We cannot picture this lamp with it’s one main shaft and six branches without calling to mind the image Jesus Himself gave us in the Gospel of John.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Out of the Side

The branches come out of the side or main shaft of the lampstand. If we think back to Genesis we remember that in the Garden of Eden, a rib was taken from Adam’s side in order to create for him a bride.

Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Genesis 2:22

Now Consider that Jesus is the Last Adam…

And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 1 Corinthians 15:45

And He Also Takes a Bride

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2

And We Too Were Birthed From His Side

But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. John 19:34

But What About the Almonds?

I just learned today that in the middle east, the almond is the first tree to blossom and also the first tree to bear fruit. Keeping with the typology and prophetic illustration, Jesus is our first fruits.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:20

“…All of it shall be one hammered piece of pure gold”

This is likely the most exciting aspect of the picture—as one piece in Christ, we are seen as gold too. Consider these three coupled passages…

For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren…You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness…so we, being many, are one body in Christ… Hebrews 2:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Romans 12:5

So We’re Beaten Too?

Understand the implication and see it for the good news it truly is. As Christ’s light most folks do not pay heed to us when things are going well. However, when things start to go sour, then people take notice. “How will ‘Joe-Christian’ fair this storm, ” they likely ask. It is in our misfortunes that we can shine brightest. It was that principle the writer was referring to in 1 Peter 3:14-15 when he wrote…

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you… 1 Peter 3:14-15

So Who Is the Light of the World?

After all Jesus said in John 8:12 that He is the Light of the world and then in Matthew 5:14 He proclaims that we are the light of the world. Which is true? Well since Jesus cannot lie, they are both true. Likely the best correlation we can make is the idea of Jesus being the greater light, as our sun is the greater light. We then would be the lesser light, or in this case the moon. The moon does not have any light of its own, but reflects the light of the son. We are light; reflectors of the Son’s light lest the world gets between the two of us.

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Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. Revelation 1:12-13Let’s Start at the Bottom…

At the bottom of this Bible verse, that is. Why the ‘Son of Man’ allusion, because Jesus used the term regularly and it speaks to His relate-ability. Inspired by the Son of Man, John makes the reference here because of this prophecy in Daniel.

“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14

Why is that important? Because many folks do not realize that this Book of Revelation is not new. Everything written in this volume has been previously recorded in other areas of both the Old and the New Testaments. Revelation is in a very real sense a divine funnel that brings all these earlier prophesies and allusions into focus, or at the very least into one place.

Godly Girdles

Will Jesus actually be adorned in this manner? Perhaps, but I sense Jesus has revealed to John something about His character, rather than His clothing. The described ‘outfit’ is a priestly garment, however, in Old Testament times the waist was girded, not the chest. Here we envision Jesus wearing a golden sash around His heart and His whole body being covered head to toe. If we are the body of Christ (and we are), than that image confirms for us that we are ‘bound’ (as a girdle binds) in Christ’s heart and that we are completely covered. It reminds me of our Lord’s lamentation (recorded in Matthew 23:37) for those who would reject His provision…

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”


Will there be lampstands in Heaven? Possibly, but again I am reminded that the Lord’s earthly Tabernacle with all its paraphernalia were merely symbolic of all things God and His Glory. When I visualize the lampstand spoken of in Exodus 25:31-33…

“You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work…one piece…Six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side…(The) bowls shall be made like almond blossoms…with an ornamental knob and a flower…”

I first see Jesus: pure gold, hammered (beaten), and stretched out for our sake. I then see us; His body the church and note that while we are in fact fruit-bearing branches connected to the vine, we are one solid piece. And as my eyes take it all in, I hear my Lords voice telling me clearly, lovingly, and truthfully…

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world…You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden…(and) I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 9:5, Matthew 5:14, John 15:5)


Let’s do the math. The passage I chosen today speaks not of a single lampstand, but seven of them, with Jesus standing in the midst of them all. Jesus will go on to reveal to John that these seven lampstands are symbolic of the seven churches of Asia (Turkey). But of what else does this speak?

7 x 7 = 49 + 1 = 50

Seven lampstands, multiplied by seven is forty-nine. Add ‘One’ and we have fifty. My friends, that number speaks of jubilation the likes of which we have never known. Remember, all the ‘stuff’ and all the ordinances are merely pictures of God’s great things to come.

And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you… in it you shall neither sow nor reap …For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you…Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety. Leviticus 25:10-12, + 19

God only knows if these things (lampstands, girdles, etc) will appear as Revelation describes, but we may know with certainty the love, truth, and faithfulness of our Lord will have eternal prominence.

Happy Thanksgiving

When I read these things, the flame that burns beneath my desire to serve Him is torqued-up full. My hope and prayer is that the same is true for you. As we gather around a common table this Thanksgiving Day, we are mindful of what He has done (in our lives) and what He will continue to do. We are reminded that John (like Abraham) was given revelation because of their faithfulness to disseminate that which He had previously provided. When we chose to share the spiritual wealth, so to speak, we receive more of the same. To the degree we give, is the degree we receive.

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