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Holy Sepulchre Resources

  • The Old Testament

    The Old Testament: The Old Testament notes how the Lord commanded anointed craftsmen to build the Temple and Ark of the Covenant. These holy places were continually illuminated by candles and oil lamps. Elaborate candelabras adorned the Temple, and lamps with mirrors cast light through colored material to make the perimeter walls striking and beautiful. Candles were also used prominently during Festival, sacrifice and worship ceremonies.

    Instructions regarding the elaborate nature of the candle holders in the Tabernacle and Temple are noted in Exodus 25: “You shall make a lamp stand of pure beaten gold, its shaft and branches, with its cups and knobs and petals springing directly from it. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lamp stand, three branches on one side, and three on the other......You shall then make seven lamps for it and so set up the lamps that they shed their light on the space in front of the lamp stand. These, as well as the trimming shears and trays, must be of pure gold.” (Exodus 25:31-38)


    Scripture notes how the priests of old were to care for the lamps and offer incense:

    “On it Aaron shall burn fragrant incense. Morning after morning, when he prepares the lamps, and again in the evening twilight, when he lights the lamps, he shall burn incense. Throughout your generations this shall be the established incense offering be- fore the Lord.” (Exodus 30:7-8)

    “He placed the lamp stand in the meeting tent, opposite the table, on the south side of the Dwelling, and he set up the lamps before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded him.” (Exodus 40:24-25)

    “Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the Lord. They set out the bread on the cere- monially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening.” (2 Chronicles 13:11a)


    The background to the Festival of Lights (Hanakkah), mentioned in John 8, is noted in the book of 1 Maccabees:

    “They made new sacred vessels and brought the lamp stand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. Then they burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps on the lamp stand, and these illuminated the temple.” (1 Maccabees 4:49-50)

    “After purifying the temple, they made a new altar. Then, with fire struck from flint, they offered sacrifice for the first time in two years, burned incense, and lighted lamps. They also set out the showbread.” (2 Maccabees 10:3)


    The New Testament: “Scripture speaks of the importance and wonder of light— how it is associated with God, purity, truth, the work of Christ, and our witness for Christ.

    The light of Christ illuminates the hearts and minds of believers. The light points to truth and imparts wisdom. The light represents the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit and in this we are reminded of our union with God and the truth that “He will never leave nor forsake His people” (Hebrews 13:5). The light yields comfort and facilitates boldness. Scripture notes that believers are to share His light in a darkened world. A few examples are noted below.

    “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

    “He said to them, 'Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lamp stand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.’”(Mark 4:21-22)

    “No one who lights a lamp hides it away or places it under a bushel basket, but on a lamp stand so that those who enter might see the light.” (Luke 11:33)

    “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no dark- ness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:5-9)

    “For a tabernacle was constructed, the outer one, in which were the lamp stand, the table, and the bread of offering; this is called the Holy Place.”  (Hebrews 9:2)