Exodus 25:31-40 What transforms the world into a heavenly place is not the light of religion, but the light of Christ
Exodus 25:31-40 What transforms the world into a heavenly place is not the light of religion, but the light of Christ
“Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. Six branches shall go out from its sides; three branches of the lampstand from its one side and three branches of the lampstand from its other side. Three cups shall be shaped like almond blossoms in the one branch, a bulb and a flower, and three cups shaped like almond blossoms in the other branch, a bulb and a flower—so for six branches going out from the lampstand; and in the lampstand four cups shaped like almond blossoms, its bulbs and its flowers. A bulb shall be under the first pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the second pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the third pair of branches coming out of it, for the six branches coming out of the lampstand. Their bulbs and their branches shall be of one piece with it; all of it shall be one piece of hammered work of pure gold. Then you shall make its lamps seven in number; and they shall mount its lamps so as to shed light on the space in front of it. Its snuffers and their trays shall be of pure gold. It shall be made from a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils. See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.
The Hebrew term for “lampstand” is menorah. Menorah comes from the verb, “to flame”. The menorah is situated in the Holy Place opposite the Table of the Presence.
All of heaven is illumined by the light of the Lamb. And the menorah channels the light of heaven and its blessing to the earth. The Lord commanded Aaron and his sons to tend to the menorah “from evening to morning” (see Exodus 27:21) so that Israel may continue to dwell in the light of heaven.
As we know it, the glory of God, the light of heaven departed from the tabernacle in the year 587 B.C. The prophet Ezekiel recorded what he saw in Ezekiel 10:15-19. God left Israel because the people have traded the love of God for the love of the world, for they were selfish, deceitful, greedy, evil and violent. From then on, the tabernacle and menorah had become for them vain symbols of religion.
Jesus chastised the New Testament church of Ephesus for straying from God,
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place unless you repent.” – Revelations 2:4-5
If the church today continue in the footsteps of Israel, we will likewise have our lampstand removed from our midst. When the light of heaven departs from the church, we will lose God’s favour and the protection of the angels. Today’s devotion teaches us: What transforms the world into a heavenly place is not the light of religion, but the light of Christ.
The menorah was made of pure gold and hammered out of one solid lump weighing 35 kg. It has one central trunk with three branches on each side making seven branches in all. The branches resemble almond tree branches with ornamental knobs ending in a stylised flower-shaped cup at the top. Each cup contains olive oil and a cloth when lit gives off a small flame. The seven branches symbolise completeness pointing to the fulfilment of the Sabbath promise. The menorah resembles the tree of the life signifying eternal life and prosperity.
What transforms the world into a heavenly place is not the light of religion, but the light of Christ.
The Light of Christ
The city of heaven is illumined not by the light of the sun but by the light of Christ. The light of Christ is what makes the city of heaven heavenly. Revelation says,
And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. – Revelation 21:23-24
The glory of God radiates light from the Lamb (Jesus Christ) filling the entire heaven. All peoples in heaven will be enlightened and will live by Christ’s light. Kings will subjugate their glory to Christ and to be ruled by Him (and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it). It is God’s original intention to make the earth like that of heaven when He first created it. Why is the earth a place of pain and suffering? Despite Christianity being one of the fastest growing faith in the world, why are families disintegrating and nations warring against one another? It is because the majority of churches have followed after the footsteps of Israel. For they have rejected the light of the Lamb. Instead, they have chosen to the radiate the light of religion. And the light of religion is darkness. John 1:3-5 says,
All things came into being through Him (Jesus Christ), and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. – John 1:3-5
The Light of Christ comprises His essence; supreme love for the Father and sacrificial love for humanity. When Christ’s Light enters the world, He transforms humanity by putting His essence into every person. When we learn to love God supremely and love others sacrificially, we will see God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Unfortunately, the light of religion is often mistaken for the light of Christ. Theology and the traditions of man have become their source of light as opposed to Christ. As a result, many strayed from righteousness, their minds being seduced by religion, false Christ and prophets.
Light of Christ vs light of religion
How do the churches that walk in the Light of Christ differ from those that walk in the light of religion?
In general, they differ in their views concerning the final judgment, the focus of the believer, church culture, the essence of worship and their assessment of leadership.
The final judgment
Churches that carry the Light of Christ see a just God who judges the secrets of men’s hearts. On the day of judgment, the churched and unchurched will both be stripped of their religious covering. And only their heart posture and the works that flow from it will testify for them (see Matthew 25). The role of Jesus is to sanctify believers by His blood so that their hearts may be transformed to be blameless on the day of judgment. Those who carry the Light of Christ will find an inner assurance of salvation on judgment day. The ultimate vision of these churches is to cause the world to turn from immorality to reconcile with God.
However, churches that carry the light of religion see God as coming to save the churched and punish the unchurched. They believe judgment is reserved only for the unchurched. For the churched would already have their wrongdoings erased by the blood of Christ. The role of Jesus primarily is to erase the believer’s sins and to save them from tribulations and condemnation. The vision of these churches is to convert and baptise people into the church, less so to transform them.
The focus of the believer
Believers who carry the Light of Christ strive to attain eternal life, namely the virtues, wisdom and the authority of Christ. Their daily focus is to walk with Jesus, to know Him and to be like Him. They see biblical knowledge not as an end in itself, but as a bridge to God. Hence, the focus of the believer is not to acquire biblical knowledge or skills for ministry work but to attain Christ-likeness. In the ministry of evangelism, they work not to convert others, but to bring the light into families, communities and nations. Their ultimate goal is to obey and please God despite temptations and tribulations. And when they have overcome, they will receive from God the crown of glory (see James 1:12).
However, those who carry the light of religion strive to obtain biblical knowledge. Yet they are selective in what they believe. They stick to the established teachings of their denomination preferring to be taught than to seek out the truth for themselves. They seek conformity to traditions as opposed to divine revelations. Because their focus is salvation, they prefer the tried and tested traditions supposing that is the safest path. Such will also not exhibit the full characteristics of Christ, especially the gifts of divine wisdom and authority. Being misguided, they aim to participate in the ministry work to gain approval. Their focus is to achieve, not to walk intimately with God. As a result, many hardly know God, they become stagnant, bitter and burnt out. For such, biblical knowledge and ministry achievements are means to earn them a place of respect in the church and heaven. By and large, they work not to please God, but to gain approval from people. Their ultimate goal is to obtain salvation and blessing. Such also see suffering as meaningless and must be avoided. Their ultimate goal is to escape tribulations and live blissfully.
The culture of the church
Churches that carry the Light of Christ see godliness as a matter of the heart. They value divine love, wisdom and authority above all things. Hence, these churches assess people according to the heart posture, not their abilities, social or cultural background. Virtues like honesty, simplicity, humility and willingness to follow Jesus are highly valued and cherished. They treat everyone with love and dignity regardless of their religious, racial and social background. They do not practise partiality and speak the truth in love. The ultimate goal of these churches is to turn the world from sin and regenerate them towards Christ-likeness.
However, churches who carry the light of religion may profess godliness as important. But by their conduct, they value money, popularity and power above all. Their ultimate goal is to enlarge their footprint and reputation. These churches and their leaders assess people according to their social status and their ability to contribute to the church’s finances and ministry. They court the wealthy and influential by condoning their sinful lifestyle. But they oppress the poor with the Law and treat them as sinners and outcasts.
The essence of worship
Believers who carry the Light of Christ walk with God and converse with Him daily and intimately. Their worship for God is played out through their daily conversations, decisions, family life and work. The substance and reality of their intimacy with God transcend religious rituals and liturgy. Believers of these churches depend on God’s wisdom to live life. They seek God’s directives in all matters, big and small.
However, those who carry the light of religion use worship and prayer as insurance to keep them out of suffering. Such converse with God only when they need Him to solve their problems. They are big on church worship but empty in their walk with God.
Assessment of leadership
Churches who walk in the Light of Christ will not vouch for one of ignoble character much less work with them. Such churches have higher moral standards for those in leadership. This standard applies across ecclesiastical and secular worlds. They are not driven by ideologies or pragmatism but by the truth. Paul describes the characteristics of one who aspires to leadership,
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 1 Timothy 3:2-3
Because they will not entrust themselves to questionable men, they are not susceptible to the seduction of false Christ and prophets.
However, I can’t say the same for churches who walk in the light of religion. Because such churches have a penchant for power and popularity they will work with anyone who can raise the profile of their establishment. They can even go to the extent of proclaiming a corrupt leader as a flawed vessel for God’s will. The apostle Peter describes a false Christ as one who indulges in corrupt desires and despises authority. They speak arrogant words and lies promising freedom while they are slaves, overcome by corruption (see 2 Peter 2:10-19). A classic example is the Jews’ collaboration with evil Roman rulers to persecute Jesus.
As a Christian, have you been conversing with God and walking in His directives daily? How ready are you to face Jesus should He return?
Are you focused on your career and livelihood, or are you focused on His calling?
Have you crossed over from seeking biblical knowledge to seeking His face?
Currently, what role is your church playing with reference to you?
Do you like the culture of your church? How do you think your church can improve?
Do you find yourself worshipping God outside the confines of your church?
Dear Lord, I desire to walk with you daily and intimately. I recognise that my work is the means through which I accomplish my true calling. Enable me to see you through the word. Help our church to be a channel for the heavenly light. May our church be filled with the culture of love and purity. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.