2 Chronicles 4:7-8 NLTse (7) He then cast ten gold lampstands according to the specifications that had been given, and he put them in the Temple. Five were placed against the south wall, and five were placed against the north wall. (8) He also built ten tables and placed them in the Temple, five along the south wall and five along the north wall. Then he molded 100 gold basins.
Solomon also out did Moses on the lampstands and tables. In the Tabernacle there was one lampstand and one table.
“Then make a table of acacia wood, 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 27 inches high. Overlay it with pure gold and run a gold molding around the edge. Decorate it with a 3-inch border all around, and run a gold molding along the border. Make four gold rings for the table and attach them at the four corners next to the four legs. Attach the rings near the border to hold the poles that are used to carry the table. Make these poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. Make special containers of pure gold for the table–bowls, pans, pitchers, and jars–to be used in pouring out liquid offerings. Place the Bread of the Presence on the table to remain before me at all times. “Make a lampstand of pure, hammered gold. Make the entire lampstand and its decorations of one piece–the base, center stem, lamp cups, buds, and petals. Make it with six branches going out from the center stem, three on each side. Each of the six branches will have three lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. Craft the center stem of the lampstand with four lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. There will also be an almond bud beneath each pair of branches where the six branches extend from the center stem. The almond buds and branches must all be of one piece with the center stem, and they must be hammered from pure gold. Then make the seven lamps for the lampstand, and set them so they reflect their light forward. The lamp snuffers and trays must also be made of pure gold. You will need seventy-five pounds of pure gold for the lampstand and its accessories. “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain. (Exodus 25:23-40 NLTse).
The original designs came with a host of instructions, and a command. “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” Chronicles tells us, Solomon followed specifications he was given, but doesn’t identify the source. Other patterns and specifications were provided by David. Since Solomon’s specifications were different than Moses’, we have to wonder why. Maybe Solomon followed the patterns for the lampstand and table in the Tabernacle. Why he built ten of each is a mystery. The position those articles were placed is another concern.
“Set up this Tabernacle according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain. “For the inside of the Tabernacle, make a special curtain of finely woven linen. Decorate it with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and with skillfully embroidered cherubim. Hang this curtain on gold hooks attached to four posts of acacia wood. Overlay the posts with gold, and set them in four silver bases. Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. “Then put the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–on top of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Most Holy Place. Place the table outside the inner curtain on the north side of the Tabernacle, and place the lampstand across the room on the south side. “Make another curtain for the entrance to the sacred tent. Make it of finely woven linen and embroider it with exquisite designs, using blue, purple, and scarlet thread. Craft five posts from acacia wood. Overlay them with gold, and hang the curtain from them with gold hooks. Cast five bronze bases for the posts. (Exodus 26:30-37 NLTse).
Each item in the Tabernacle had a specific purpose and location. When we study the Tabernacle together with the Heavenly Sanctuary, we begin to understand why. Certain items pointed to a specific time or event in Heaven. Moving any of those items can result in an obscured view of prophetic timing. We know how this world thrives in prophetic timing. So we have to ask what people are basing their prophetic timing on, the Tabernacle, temple, Sanctuary in Heaven, or man made ideas? If we used only three events, how many different combinations can we come up with?
1-2-3, 3-2-1, 2-3-1, 2-1-3, 1-3-2, 3-1-2, 1-3-2. Add in a few extra events, and we have more possibilities. Subtract a few events, and you can make people believe there is only one explanation. Now we can see why people add and subtract details to God’s plan of salvation.
God told Moses to place the table on the north side, and the lamp against the south wall. This set up and simple, nonthreatening atmosphere portraying a meal set up in a well lite room. What better atmosphere to sit down, have a meal, conversation, and learn directly from Jesus. That simple scene was replaced with an overwhelming scene with ten tables and ten lamps looking more like a restaurant. God established a scene to represent the one on one relationship with Christ we should all have. Solomon’s scene may suggest more of a board meeting to some people. One of the worst situations coming out of those conflicting scenes is opening doors of doubt. Atheists use those types of inconsistencies as ammunition to attack scripture. Some church leaders use those inconsistent details as an excuse to choose one or the other, or add a new concept to the mix.
It takes time, and the knowledge of a few simple rules of context to determine what any symbols point to. As a rule, symbols are usually explained in the story they are found. Little is explained about the lamp, except for the fact, it sheds light. “Then make the seven lamps for the lampstand, and set them so they reflect their light forward.” Light has a variety of spiritual meanings, most pointing to learning.
We can also look for an explanation of the lamp in other books in scripture.
Then the angel who had been talking with me returned and woke me, as though I had been asleep. “What do you see now?” he asked. I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl of oil on top of it. Around the bowl are seven lamps, each having seven spouts with wicks. And I see two olive trees, one on each side of the bowl.” Then I asked the angel, “What are these, my lord? What do they mean?” “Don’t you know?” the angel asked. “No, my lord,” I replied. Then he said to me, “This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!'” Then another message came to me from the LORD: “Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”(The seven lamps represent the eyes of the LORD that search all around the world.) Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on each side of the lampstand, and what are the two olive branches that pour out golden oil through two gold tubes?” “Don’t you know?” he asked. “No, my lord,” I replied. Then he said to me, “They represent the two heavenly beings who stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth.” (Zechariah 4:1-14 NLTse).
Based on the description, we can see Zechariah was describing the same, or similar lamp in a vision. Zechariah asked what the solid gold lampstand represented. The angel replied. “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!”
We now have a connection between the lampstand and God’s Spirit. John explained how the Spirit will lead us into all truth. We can look at other scripture about the lampstand.
When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. “Write down what you have seen–both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen. This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:12-20 NLTse).
Revelation chapter 1 tells us those lampstands represent seven churches. One other verse in Revelation tells us another important detail about those lampstands. “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands: (Revelation 2:1 NLTse).
We have to pay attention to where the information and instructions to those churches comes from, Heaven. Jesus to be more specific.
So far we have a lampstand providing light, a table set for a meal, and a few pieces of scripture adding more details. We have seven stars in Revelation representing seven angels sent to those seven churches. We also have two olive trees producing oil in Zechariah. Where is all this leading? Hebrews tells us a little about angels.
Regarding the angels, he says, “He sends his angels like the winds, his servants like flames of fire.” But to the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.” He also says to the Son, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. They will perish, but you remain forever. They will wear out like old clothing. You will fold them up like a cloak and discard them like old clothing. But you are always the same; you will live forever.” And God never said to any of the angels, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.” Therefore, angels are only servants–spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. (Hebrews 1:7-14 NLTse).
Hebrews provides a simple explanation telling us a role angels play in God’s plan. Angels are sent to work with us, and protect us. What about that oil in Zechariah’s vision and the two witnesses?
Then I was given a measuring stick, and I was told, “Go and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count the number of worshipers. But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations. They will trample the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days.” These two prophets are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of all the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire flashes from their mouths and consumes their enemies. This is how anyone who tries to harm them must die. They have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish. When they complete their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the bottomless pit will declare war against them, and he will conquer them and kill them. (Revelation 11:1-7 NLTse).
Revelation explains what those two witnesses do. Notice how the two olive trees and the two lampstands are mentioned. Details like those ensure we are studying the same symbols. The two witnesses are prophets who provide a testimony.
We can also look up a few verses telling us what light represents. “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually.
(Exodus 27:20 NLTse). The first step is to learn the physical attributes of a symbol before trying to determine its spiritual nature. Oil is used to produce light. This also established a link between the oil in Zechariah’s vision, the two witnesses, and the lampstands.
Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God–the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! (Psalms 43:3-4 NLTse)
Each of your commandments is right. That is why I hate every false way. Your laws are wonderful. No wonder I obey them! The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. I pant with expectation, longing for your commands. (Psalms 119:128-131 NLTse)
To the Law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because no light is in them. And they shall pass through it, hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall be, they shall be hungry; They shall rave and curse their king and their God, and look upward. And they shall look to the land; and behold, trouble and darkness and gloom of anguish! And they are driven away into darkness. (Isaiah 8:20-22 MKJV)
Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke and said to Daniel, Are you that Daniel who is of the exiled sons of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Judah? I have even heard of you, that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. (Daniel 5:13-14 MKJV)
Light points to understanding, with a close connection to God’s laws. Since the lampstand is placed in close proximity to the Ark, we see another link showing we are on the right road.
Studying symbols isn’t as easy as it seems. A general rule of context tells us, symbols are more often than not explained in the same story. Often the same chapter they are found in. When that isn’t the case, care must be taken to check, and recheck context, making certain the symbol and its interpretation cover the same subject and lesson.
This is a fairly easy task when investigating the lampstand and light, since most people accept and teach the connection between light and knowledge. But how many people are able to show that connection in scripture? To a degree, knowledge can become harmful. People know a handful of symbols based on nothing more than the fact, they heard it, or read it someplace. Generally, the interpretation they ran across, or heard, didn’t include and explanation telling how that conclusion was derived. Each time people are taught to accept interpretations to symbols based on the fact, a few of them are correct, that opens the door to accepting any new interpretations, whether they are right or wrong. Since people never learned to study symbols on their own, they can be fed almost anything. Instead of being enlightened, they experience the darkness scripture warned about.
There is one more lesson to look at. There are dozens of interpretations to those two witnesses in Zechariah’s vision. Which one is correct? The obvious answer would be, the answer from scripture. The answer given in Revelation points us in the right direction. The witnesses are prophets, and they give the world their testimony.
Most people trying to interpret the symbol of the two witnesses jump from scripture into the world for an interpretation. Over the past generation or two, hundreds of people claim to have been one or the other witness. Were all those people prophets? Were those physical people the fulfillment of those prophecies, and those symbols? It would be the first time an accurate interpretation to a symbol in scripture was supplied by this world.
Scripture always interprets scripture. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. There are no exceptions. God didn’t forget to place any details or answers in His recorded Word. We have to allow scripture to interpret scripture.
Let’s look at the facts. Those two witnesses provide a type of verbal testimony. There are two of them. Their testimony is given to this world. The witnesses are associated with the lampstand, two olive trees, and the oil they produce. We know oil is associated with light the lampstand produces. The beings originated in Heaven.
Both Zechariah and Revelation refer to measuring. Zechariah introduces the foundation and completion of the Temple. Since the vision contains a number of symbols, the temple, its foundation, and stones must be symbols. You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” (1 Peter 2:4-6 NLTse).
Here again we see multiple symbols between stories. This is what we are looking for, related stories and symbols. When we gather all the facts, we know we are looking for something from Heaven, a form of communication, a testimony tied to prophets. What could that be? What is God’s Word? A collection of books written by prophets, their testimony about God. The Bible is divided in two parts, the Old and New Testament, hence, two witnesses.
It would take a great deal of time to go into detail about the time involved in the prophecy. We can ask the question, has the Old and New Testaments been trampled? The answer is yes. We’ve looked at examples showing how details have been changed, added, eliminated, and for lack of a better term, people have walked all over them.
People walk all over the scriptures, and away from God whenever they take matters out of God’s hands, and place it in their own. We see it all the time, people taking news stories and saying the newsman interpreted scripture for them with no regard for context, or prophetic timing. Like those items Solomon made bigger and better than the Tabernacle, those items that were moved, and those that Solomon added, people do the same thing to scripture. They move a few things, add a few things, leave out a few details, in attempts to make things bigger, better, and more attractive to this world.