The second item in the holy place is the lampstand (Exo. 25:31-39; 40:24-25). It is full of shining light. Christ is the bread of life, and John 1:4 tells us that this life is the light of men. When we receive Christ as the bread of life, light immediately shines within us. The life becomes the very light. When we have been fed with the bread on the table, we have a lampstand shining within us. When we are hungry for the Lord and pray-read a few verses together, praise the Lord, we are nourished and satisfied, and with this satisfaction we also have something shining within us. The more light we have, the more divine nature we have. There is not any wood in the lampstand—it is solid gold. God’s divine nature comes into us by shining (2 Cor. 4:6).
Upon the lampstand were six branches, with three on either side and one in the middle, and upon each branch were three cups, each in the shape of an almond blossom. Each almond blossom had a knop or calix. The calix is the green, petal-like leaf, the outer part of a flower (see the Berkeley Version). Thus, each cup of the lampstand was an almond blossom, an entire flower. In Palestine, the first flower of the year is the almond blossom. Following the killing chill of winter, the almond gives forth the first blossom. This flower signifies the resurrection. You remember that Aaron’s rod, mentioned in Numbers 17, budded with almond blossoms, signifying resurrection. The number three, as seen in the number of branches on each side of the lampstand and the three cups on each branch, is the number of resurrection—the Lord was resurrected on the third day. Branches on both sides of the stand signify a testimony, since two is the number of testimony. Therefore, the lampstand is the testimony of resurrection.
There are also a total of seven lamps on the stand. These signify the seven Spirits of God (Rev. 4:5; 5:6). The seven Spirits of God are the seven eyes of Christ. This means that Christ as the Spirit is the light of life in resurrection. Christ could only be the light of life in resurrection as the Spirit. All these things are very meaningful to us. We must study the Scriptures in this way. It was into the cups of the branches of the lamps that the priests put oil. The flower of resurrection holds the oil. This means that the oil for light is in resurrection power. The light must be in resurrection, and resurrection is with the Spirit. The light issues from the seven Spirits, which are the seven eyes of Christ. Christ does not look at us with two eyes, but with seven eyes. He looks upon us by the seven Spirits of God, as seven lamps. An automobile at night “looks” at others by shining its headlights as two shining eyes. When Christ looks upon us, it is just like the shining light. The book of Revelation tells us that His eyes are as a flame of fire (Rev. 1:14). Christ can only be life and light to us in resurrection and as the Spirit. In other words, Christ is the light of life to us as the Spirit of resurrection.
On each branch of the lampstand there are three cups, but on the shaft, the stand of the lamp, there are four cups. Four signifies creation. Without these four cups, we could find no hint in the lampstand that Christ has anything to do with His creatures. But, praise the Lord, we have these four cups. Christ as the Spirit is the light of life in resurrection, but He still has something to do with the creation. Christ Himself is a part of the creation, even the firstborn of all creation (Col. 1:15). Thus, He is also represented in the number four. All these things are exceedingly meaningful; we can never exhaust them. First Christ is the bread of life; then this life becomes the light, shining in resurrection with the Spirit.
Notice now that there is no measurement specified for the lampstand. It is immeasurable and unlimited.
THE INCENSE ALTAR
Following the lampstand in the holy place is the incense altar, upon which sweet incense is burned to God (Exo. 40:26-27). The incense altar is closely related to the lampstand. When the priests dressed the lampstand in the morning and lit the lamp in the evening, they had to burn the incense (Exo. 30:1-8). This signifies that the lighting of the lamp is vitally related to the burning of the incense.
What does the burning of the incense signify? Whenever we are enlightened by Christ, we must turn to God in prayer. This is not a matter, however, of ordinary prayer. This is a kind of inner utterance to God with a sweet odor. Such prayer is the fragrant odor of Christ in resurrection, which is so pleasing to God. Whenever we are enlightened by Christ within, we spontaneously turn to God and express something from within. We have a sense then that we are pleasing to God, that we are fragrantly sweet to God. This is the burning of the incense.
The incense is Christ Himself in resurrection as our acceptance to God. God accepts us in Christ. Oh, may we realize that whenever we eat Christ, enjoying something of Him, on the one hand we are satisfied, but on the other hand we are enlightened by His shining within us. It is by this shining then that we express something to God in a sweet sense—that is Christ in resurrection as the sweet odor to God. God accepts us in the resurrected Christ. In Him we have sweet communion with God, and we are acceptable to God.
The measurement of the incense altar is foursquare, one cubit by one cubit. We have seen in the measurement of the showbread table that a foursquare measurement of one cubit signifies a complete whole, an absolutely perfect unit. The sweet incense of the resurrected Christ is absolutely perfect in the eyes of God. It could not be more perfect. The height of the incense altar, however, is two cubits. This means a double unit, a double portion, by way of ascension. The showbread table was spread horizontally in a double unit for our enjoyment, but the incense altar is built up vertically in a double unit; it is in an ascending position, signifying enjoyment for God.
(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)