I am journeying through the Old Testament again. I am not sure how many times I have actually read through this portion of the Bible, but every time I make the trek I feel like I’ve never read it before. Perhaps it is because each time I’m a little older and at a different place in life which means my spiritual appetite is slightly different from the previous reading. The Bible never grows old or meaningless to the sincere Christian. During this particular devotional reading I was refined by two instances of light.
“And you shall charge the sons of Israel, that they bring you clean oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually. In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the LORD; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout their generations for the sons of Israel.” Exodus 27:20-21
I pondered what symbolism was hidden in the continuously burning lamp. I knew that everything in the Old Testament was preparing a way for the Messiah and those who followed Him. This means there was a truth in those verses that directly applied to me. To me, a continuously burning lamp is a reminder of presence. If a light remains on in a home, one assumes there is someone there. It could also represent expectancy – waiting for the arrival of somebody. A burning lamp thwarts darkness and allows clarity of vision for accomplishing whatever tasks need to be done. This led me to consider references to light in the New Testament.
“Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.'” John 8:12 Here Jesus declares Himself as THE light that the world needs. He thwarts the darkness of sin and despair and shows all of us who follow Him the path that we need to take. Every individual who exists wants to have meaning and purpose. No one wants to think that their life is devoid of meaning. Jesus makes it clear that following Him is why we exist; He removes all darkness. Consequently, we are reminded to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 As followers of Jesus, obedient to His Word, our lives will reflect His presence to those around us. This will also indicate that we know He is real and are eagerly expecting His return.
However, for Christ’s light to be evident in our lives we have to do more than simply give lip service of our belief in Him. We must seek His Presence and abide in it faithfully. “But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.” Exodus 34:34-35 Those around Moses always knew when he had met with the LORD because his face shone so brilliantly afterwards that they could not bear to look upon him. Our walk with Jesus must be so vivid and so real that people know without doubt that we commune with Christ.
How does this happen in our present times? After all, we are not Moses and there is no tabernacle to visit, no actual lamps to light. We are not even the 12 disciples who can follow Jesus, ask Him questions, and hear audible answers. It’s a bit more of a challenge for us. I think it comes down to how close we want to be with Jesus. If we want, we can be the people of Israel who go through the motions and say the right words; we can be the New Testament crowd that clamors for miracles and makes endless wish list petitions. Or we can pursue Jesus even when it is uncomfortable – as Moses, Joshua, and the Twelve did. They climbed mountains, wrote on stone, endured impatient crowds and hurtful comments, and eventually lost their lives in order to have a personal relationship with the Almighty God. And so it must be for twenty-first century followers. We may have to set aside our social networking, hold on to old-fashioned values, and miss out on the latest TV episodes in order to hear the Voice of the One we love and obey it. But if it keeps the lamps burning and our faces aglow, isn’t it worth the sacrifice?