Day 23

The Lampstand Oil

Exodus 27:1-21, Zechariah 4:1-14, Revelation 11:1-4  

BY Jessica Lamb

Scripture Reading: Exodus 27:1-21, Zechariah 4:1-14, Revelation 11:1-4  

In my grandmother’s home, there is no set time for meals. All waking hours are considered appropriate for the one all-day meal of grazing. If you are spotted without a plate in your hands, she furrows her brow and inquires with concern if you need someone to fix you a plate from the options on her table. On one visit, I slipped into the kitchen at 6:30 in the morning to find plates of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, okra, my favorite vegetable soup, and a chocolate cake already laid out as she stood by the stove frying leftover ham and scrambling eggs for breakfast.

In her ninety-three years, she’s experienced more lean seasons than seasons of plenty. She is at rest only when she knows every person in her presence is full—preferably without experiencing even a moment of hunger pangs. Filling us physically is her gift of comfort and affection.

We see a glimpse of what it means to be spiritually filled in these readings about the lampstand oil today. The priests are instructed to fill the lampstand with pure oil regularly in order to keep it burning. The lampstand, in doing the work of providing light to the tabernacle, also served as a constant reminder of God’s presence.

This picture of a lampstand is one Scripture returns to again and again. Jesus says He is the light of the world and gives the same responsibility to His followers (John 8:12; Matthew 5:14). The Apostle Paul describes us as children of the light, a reflection of Christ through the work of His Spirit (Ephesians 5:8).

We are meant to be small lights twinkling in a dark world. But I fail at this on my own, often. A biting retort to someone I love, frustration with my toddler trying to put on her shoes, indifference toward the struggles of a friend. When prayer feels worthless, or when love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control seem like futile options against so much darkness.

The instructions for the lampstand in Exodus 25 describe seven bowls shaped like almond blossoms with wicks placed in them. This isn’t a candelabra. The fire in this lampstand kept burning because it was filled regularly with oil from an outside source, not from burning its own wax like a candle.

Not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD of Armies.
—Zechariah 4:6

These words in Zechariah remind us again that the source of the light is not us.The Lord shares a picture here of limitless oil, in the form of two olive trees, flowing straight from the source to directly fuel the lampstand. He tells Zechariah that this is the work of the Spirit.

We aren’t replenished by our own strength, or by our own might, but by the Spirit. We have access to what we need in the Spirit; we have fuel from the source. We have this gift from the true Priest who constantly fills us. As we are filled with His Spirit, we become more and more reflective of Jesus. We slowly begin to see the fruit of His faithful, everyday presence and the influence of His light in our lives.

Not by strength or by might, but by the Spirit.


Post Comments (89)

89 thoughts on "The Lampstand Oil"

  1. Lindsey says:

    I am so encouraged by this. So many times I forget that I am filled by the Spirit not by my own strength and might. I love that no detail is too small for our God. “The fire in this lamp stand kept burning because it was filled with oil regularly from and outside source not from burning it’s own wax like a candle.” YES!! We need to be in regular communion with God in order to keep our light burning. We burn out when we don’t do this. Thank you Jessica for writing this. It speaks so well to me in this part of my journey!

  2. Ann says:

    Too often, I lean on my own abilities and what I believe will “fill my tank” instead of turning to God. Thank you for this comforting essay. He is the ultimate source!

  3. Leigh AnneAkey says:

    “This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose Word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.” Psalms 56:9b – 11a

  4. Churchmouse says:

    Ugh tender HEARTED daughter. Sorry I didn’t proofread before I hit ‘post’

  5. Churchmouse says:

    B, you will be the Light in that new city. He is already preparing the way. And He will hold you and comfort you and speak His trustworthy words in your ear, even as you have done for your sweet tender- hatred daughter. Lifting you and your family up in the mighty name of Jesus.

  6. ~ B ~ says:

    The words, “I don’t know how I/we are gonna be able to do this” have come up more times than I can count in the last year (almost to date) and each time we’ve been reminded that it isn’t us that we need to rely on in it. If it is to “be done” it will only come through God and we’ve seen it but I have to be honest, last week was a hard week and on Friday night I was tearful over the amount of losses in our life. We arrived home from a visit to the city we will be relocating to in the next three months or so and while we enjoyed the time and it is a perfectly fine city, none of us left uber excited about living there, there wasn’t something that was saying, “Yes, yes, this is it, this is the place” and with prior moves God had provided a great peace but this one feels different, we are all wary over it and when we arrived home Tuesday night it only hurt more because this city, Cincinnati, became one we’ve truly come to love but we pushed through, we prayed and agreed we would all be okay, we know God will come through and make all the necessary preparations for us, we can do this because we have God. Then came Thursday night, my 12-year-old daughter’s dog seemed unwell and within 13 hours of being a healthy, inseparable 10-year-old pup filled with life we were saying good-bye to him. This pup was like a little soul mate to my high functioning autistic daughter’s sweet soul … these two spent every waking and sleeping moment possible together and now she would face a life she didn’t know would exist, one without him. We’ve had so many conversations about when she will see him again and with each tear and each hug I have had to remind her that God sees her and loves her, that with Him, she will get through this.

    I am so grateful that in a life filled with challenges, God has been gracious enough to provide His Spirit with us EACH moment of this life. There isn’t a moment or decision or experience we have to go through without Him holding us in the meantime. He prepares the way, but walks with us in it all. I’m so thankful that I can point my daughter to Him in the midst of her misery, that she can seek solace from Him and that she can be comforted by our very Maker, that each tear is held by Him. So thankful, that He doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves … what a loving Father. Further grateful that He allows us to be lights FOR Him, and we will seek to do this in this loss and in our new home. ~ Betsy P.

    1. M says:

      Such beautiful words to read this morning. Praying for both you and your sweet daughter, that you both can find comfort and peace throughout these transitions.

      1. ~ B ~ says:

        Thank you, M! I will take the prayers!

    2. Diane says:

      “with each tear and each hug I have had to remind her that God sees her and loves her, that with Him, she will get through this” – yes! This was my conversation with my 11yo daughter yesterday, as we lay on the floor for an hour yesterday hugging, crying, sometimes singing praise songs. We are preparing for a move also. After 5 years of living overseas as long-term workers, God closed the door for us there and we have spent 6 months “in limbo” in the US trying to discern what he has next for us. On Saturday we are moving to a new location – new country, new people, new languages and culture – with what feels like all unknowns and uncertainties. The only known certainty, the only sure constant is God and his presence with us. We are so thankful for this. We could never do this on our own, in our own strength and might – only by his Spirit! What a gift!

      1. ~ B ~ says:

        So much change Diane! I will include you all in prayer as you prepare for this new journey! What an amazing experience! I wish you all safe travels on Saturday and great surprises along the way!

    3. Michelle says:

      I am moved by your faith and strength. Your daughter is lucky to have you to guide her to Him during this difficult time. I pray you and your family find comfort in Him and in your happy memories. A dog’s unconditional love is such a wonderful blessing if only they could be with us longer!

      1. ~ B ~ says:

        Michelle, Thank you for your kindness over me and mine. It is such a kindness that God knows us enough that He gifts these sweet little critters this side of heaven, we are beyond lucky to have them.

    4. She Reads Truth says:

      Thanks for sharing B, we’re praying for you and your family during this time. -Margot, The SRT Team

      1. ~ B ~ says:

        Thank you, Margot, very much!

    5. Dorothy says:

      Betsy I know how it is to move with young children, when my boys were young we moved many times and we had pets and several times we had to leave them behind.

      1. ~ B ~ says:

        Dorothy, moving manages to present something new each time, doesn’t it? I’m so sorry that you’ve had to leave pets behind, that’s a portion I’ve only endured once and it was a horrible season and something that I think to often, I can imagine your pain in the process but I am so grateful that we have a Father who takes this pain and assures our hearts in it. I hope you’re able to enjoy a season settled free of moving and with all the wonderful critters you desire.

  7. Churchmouse says:

    I have my original study Bible, now nearly 35 years old. Well worn. Oh so many notes in the margins. Particular verses dated. Tear stains. The binding broken. A few pages torn. It is beloved. Our youngest daughter has requested that I bequeath it to her upon my death. How sweet that she wants it. How wonderful that she realizes its value. But I have two daughters… And so I have another Bible in which I am replicating the original. It is a pain-staking task to bend over the original, take pen in hand, and copy from the old into the new. But oh what a blessing to do so – to reread and recall the import of so many verses. Verses that shed Light into the darkness of a particular time and circumstance. Fresh tears fall over His faithfulness. Every underlined verse is a Light saber thrusting up and out of my Bible, penetrating the darkness. Every time I open it, the Light is there. I go to the lightstand that is my Bible, open and bask in His presence. He is my beloved. What sweet and powerful communion.

    1. cherished says:

      What cherished words they will be for your daughters, and what a beautiful way to extend the light in you to them.

    2. Mamajonk says:

      What a beautiful labor of love!

    3. Dorothy says:

      I remember finding several Bibles similar to those of yours churchmouse when my father died, one had a zipper falling off that he got in his childhood, this particular Bible I gave to my paternal aunt. The other one, my siblings and nieces and nephews, allowed me to have which I carry with pride.

  8. Laura says:

    Thank you SRT for bringing all these verses together so I can better understand!

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      We’re so glad to hear that Laura, we’re so grateful that you’re a part of our community! -Margot, The SRT Team

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