THE MEANING OF THE LAMPSTAND
The design of the lampstand is most meaningful. Though the lampstand is but one, there are six branches with seven lamps. In all man’s six days (or six thousand years) of history, this design has never been improved. In the thirty-five hundred years since Moses described this pattern, no one has been able to produce a better design. The Jews often make use of drawings of this lampstand; they make minor variations in the style of it, but no one has been able to improve it. Architects vary the designs they make of buildings. Clothing fashions go back and forth from one style to another. This lampstand, however, was designed by God. What He fashions cannot be improved. Who can alter the pattern of man’s face or improve the form of his body?
The lampstand signifies the Triune God. In typology gold represents the divine nature. Like gold, God’s nature does not change or decay. That this lampstand was made of gold tells us that it represents God’s nature.
This gold was not in a formless lump. It was structured into a form that bespoke its function. The shape of the gold, a lampstand, symbolizes the image of God. Who is God’s image? Christ is called “the image of God” in 2 Corinthians 4:4. As the Son of God’s love, He is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). The image or form of the lampstand, then, signifies Christ. “No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18).
What are the seven lamps? About this we cannot be clear until we come to Revelation. There we are plainly told that the seven lamps are the seven Spirits of God (Rev. 4:5). The seven Spirits are simply the Holy Spirit of God. These lamps are the expression or manifestation of God.
The Father, then, is signified by the gold, the element of which the lamp was made. The Son is signified by the form of the lampstand. The Spirit is the expression, as indicated by the seven lamps. Now do you agree that the golden lampstand pictures the Triune God?
By the time we come to Revelation, the church has become the lampstand. This means that the church is the expression of the Triune God. Each local church is a golden lampstand. What firstly signified the Triune God now depicts the church!
By nature, however, we are not made of gold. God formed man of the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). When our physical body is chemically analyzed, it is found to have the same constituents as the soil. At death man returns to the dust from which he was taken (Gen. 3:19).
How can we, who are men of dust or clay, become a golden lampstand? When we were regenerated, we were born of God. Not only were our sins cleansed by the precious blood; there was also within us the element of the Father, just as a new baby has the life and nature of his father. Now there is gold, the element of God, in us!
THE SHAPING OF THE GOLD
Nonetheless, this gold needs to be formed. Paul travailed for the Galatians “until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). It was not enough for Christ to be revealed in them (Gal. 1:16) or even to be living in them (Gal. 2:20). The gold had to take shape.
Before the gold within us takes shape, can we say that we are the church? According to locality we are surely the church. How else could we describe ourselves? Yet according to what we are, we may not look like the church.
Even this morning you may have been quarreling at home. When you recall that, you find it hard to declare that you are the church. Nevertheless, in the midst of this quarreling by the man of clay, there was still gold within you.
We are truly the church. In spite of our appearance of clay outside, inside is the element of gold.
(Life Messages, Vol. 2 (#42-75), Chapter 28, by Witness Lee)