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Numbers 8:1-4 meaning

After the offerings of the tribes in chapter 7, the LORD then told Moses to instruct Aaron concerning the lighting of the lamps in the tabernacle. Aaron obeyed and placed the seven lamps in front of the lampstand. The lampstand’s construction was then described.

The next topic of the purification of the Israelites was introduced by the familiar phrase the Lord spoke to Moses (v. 1). In this word from the LORD, Moses was to speak to Aaron and say to him (v. 2), signifying that this was directed toward the priests.

The LORD commanded them that when you mount the lamps, the seven lamps will give light in the front of the lampstand (v. 2). The seven lamps referred to here are those described in Exodus 25:37-40, built in Exodus 37:23. The lampstand (Exodus 25:31ff, 37:17 - 20), is a symbol of both the Creator of light (Genesis 1:3), Jesus as the light of the world (John 8:12) and also that His people were to be lights to the world (Matthew 5:14). The tabernacle was an earthly representation of a heavenly reality (Hebrews 8:5). We see in Revelation that the Spirit of God is represented by seven lamps of fire burning before the heavenly throne of God (Revelation 4:5).

The seven lamps were placed on the left side of the Holy Place in the tabernacle (the Table of Showbread being on the right side). These seven lamps were to be placed in such a way as to give light in the front of the lampstand. This would illuminate a large area of the Holy Place to help the priests accomplish their duties.

The priests were commanded to tend the lamps on the golden lampstands and the fire on the altar in the tabernacle continually, even on the sabbath day (Leviticus 24:3). But lighting a fire outside of the tabernacle on the Sabbath Day was punishable by death (Exodus 35:2-3). This is why Jesus says, "Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent?" (Matthew 12:5).

Obediently, Aaron therefore did so (v. 3). He did exactly what the LORD commanded— he mounted its lamps at the front of the lampstand, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Verse 4 summarizes the description of the lampstand given in Exodus. Now this was the workmanship of the lampstand (v. 4). It was constructed of hammered work of gold; from its base to its flowers it was hammered work. Apparently, the lampstand was an exquisite piece of craftsmanship. It was carefully constructed according to the pattern which the Lord had shown Moses in Exodus 25:31-40. Thus, it was to those intricate detailed instructions that he made the lampstand.


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