III. THE SEVEN GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS SIGNIFYING THE SEVEN LOCAL CHURCHES AS GOD’S TESTIMONY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
[Both in Exodus and Zechariah the lampstand is uniquely one. But in Revelation, the book of consummation, there are seven lampstands signifying seven local churches (Rev. 1:12, 20b). This indicates that Christ as signified by the lampstand in Exodus and the Spirit of God as signified by the seven lamps of the lampstand in Zechariah are for the reproduction of the local churches. One lampstand is reproduced in the seven lampstands. Actually, there were more than seven local churches on earth at the time of Revelation. Hence, the number seven in Revelation 1 is a representative number. All the local churches as the many lampstands are the reproduction of Christ and the Spirit as the one lampstand. This reproduction is actually a multiplication of the wonderful expression of Christ as the life-giving Spirit in a practical way.
In Exodus 25 the emphasis is on the stand—on Christ. In Zechariah the emphasis is on the lamps—on the Spirit. Eventually, in Revelation both the stand and the lamps, that is, both Christ and the Spirit, are reproduced as the local churches. The lampstands with their lamps in Revelation are the reproduction of Christ and the Spirit.]
A. Shining in the Dark Age as in the Night, Bearing the Testimony of Jesus
[As golden lampstands, the churches shine in the darkness. The word lampstand enables us to understand much about the church and its function. The church is not the lamp; it is the lampstand, the stand which holds the lamp. Without the lamp, the lampstand is vain and means nothing. But the lampstand holds the shining lamp. Christ is the lamp (Rev. 21:23), and the church is the lampstand holding the lamp. God is in Christ, and Christ as the lamp is held by the stand to shine out God’s glory. This is the testimony of the church.
The churches as golden lampstands bear the testimony of Jesus. “The testimony of Jesus’’ (Rev. 1:2, 9; 20:4) is an all-inclusive expression. The testimony of Jesus is the testimony of the Son coming with the Father by the Spirit to live on earth, to die on the cross to clear up the universe, to release the divine life, and to resurrect from the dead to become the life-giving Spirit, who then comes as the Son with the Father compounded with divinity, humanity, human living, crucifixion, and resurrection, including all the divine attributes and the human virtues. Such a compound testimony is the testimony of Jesus. This testimony has a symbol—the golden lampstand. The golden lampstand is the testimony of Jesus.
The lampstands shine in the darkness. If there were no darkness, there would be no need for the shining of the light of the lamp. The shining of the lamp is quite particular. In order for the lamp to shine, it must have oil burning within it. If the oil burns within the lamp, the light will shine out through all the darkness. This is the function of the church. The function of the church is not simply to preach or to teach doctrine. In the dark night of this age, the church must shine out the glory of God.]
1. With the Father’s Divine Essence
[As the testimony of Jesus, the golden lampstands are the embodiment of the Triune God. In the golden lampstand there are three main factors: the substance, the shape or form, and the expression. The substance, the material, of the lampstand is gold, which signifies the Father’s divine essence.
There was no dross in the lampstand, for it was made of pure gold. In typology, dross signifies something other than God brought in to cause a mixture. The fact that the church is a golden lampstand indicates that we should not bring anything other than God into the church life. Even good things such as ethics, culture, education, and proper religion are dross, because they are not God Himself. Only God, the divine Being, is the gold which is the substance of the lampstand. No doubt Paul had this realization when he told us in 1 Corinthians 3 that upon Christ, the unique foundation of the church, we should build not with wood, hay, or stubble but with gold, silver, and precious stones.
As the local churches, the lampstands are golden in nature. In typology, gold signifies divinity, the divine nature of God. All the local churches are divine in nature; they are constituted of the divine essence. These stands are not built of clay, wood, or any inferior substance; they are constructed out of pure gold. This means that all the local churches must be divine. Without divinity, there can be no church. Although the church is composed of humanity with divinity, humanity should not be the basic nature of the local churches. The basic nature of the local churches must be divinity.]
(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)