Symbols of the corporate church abound in scripture. We are alluded to as the bride of Christ, God’s vineyard, the body of Christ, and His temple built of lively stones. Whenever it comes to the individual believer, however, I’ve heard relatively little in the way of scriptural symbolism. In preparation for a conference this month, I stumbled onto a rich trove of delights in studying the 7-candle menorah. The following is a digest of my findings that may prove to stir something within you, too!
Before we start, let me briefly explain the difference between the 7-candle and 9-candle menorah, and why we are focusing on the former. The 7-candle menorah is the traditional candelabra prescribed for use in Tabernacle of Moses. It has come to be a symbol of Judaism and much more as we will, here, divulge. Nine-candle menorahs are known as Hanukkah menorahs, and are lit during the 8-day feast or holiday. After this study, I have come to discover that the 7-candle menorah is a beautiful symbol of the individual believer’s spiritual life as it is lit by the fire of the seven spirits of God.
The Perpetual Burning Bush
The design of the 7-candle menorah is meant to resemble the burning bush, from which God called Moses to become deliverer of Israel. How endearing that our God would want something nostalgic of that moment, perpetually before Him in the tabernacle! Divine instruction was given to the craftsmen on how to build this relic in Exodus 25:31-40.
v31 Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. v32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. v33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. v34 And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. v35 One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. 36 The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.
v37 Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. v38 Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. v39 A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories.v40 See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.
The lampstand was to be made of pure gold, symbolic of divinity or divine influence upon the character of man. Gold is obtained through refinement and speaks to the purification process one undergoes in an ongoing relationship with the living God. That the almond blossom was called for is not a coincidence. The almond tree is the first to blossom in the spring. We are to be the head and not the tail, the first to give fruit among our worldly counterparts. Jeremiah was asked about the almond branch in Jeremiah 1:11, “What do you see?” The prophet answered, “I see the branch of an almond tree.” The Spirit of God replied, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” From this we understand that God is quick to deliver on His word, and sole Guarantor that it will be fulfilled.
Not only do the almond blossoms convey a prophetic meaning, but a priestly meaning as well. One cannot think of the almond blossom without considering Aaron, the brother of Moses. The leaders of the tribes were disgruntled with Moses and Aaron. The Lord called for the all the leaders to bring their walking staffs before Him. Numbers 17:8 tells how overnight, Aaron’s rod miraculously blossomed and produced almonds. This was a sign of the hand of the Lord upon his life and divine election as priest for the Israelites. We can infer that the almond blossoms speak to the divine election of the individual saint, as priest to Him and servant of the Kingdom. Furthermore, 22 total almond blossoms are prescribed for the menorah. Incidentally, there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alephbet, a direct allusion to the importance of the knowledge of the Word of God.
The seven-candle menorah is really six branches surrounding a center candlestick. Six is the number of man, flanking the One candle symbolic of Christ in the midst of mankind. Christ in us is our only hope of glory! (Colossians 1:27) The Hebrews, however, understood the menorah to mean something different. The six candles were symbolic of the six branches of human learning. All six of these branches were to be turned to face middle candlestick, representative of the wisdom of God. In other words, all human learning is valuable, only if it is turned to face the illumination of Who God is among us. Apart from His illumination, all human knowledge is but darkness or devolution.
The Menorah’s Function
The 100-plus pound menorah was meant to illuminate the Holy Place in the Tabernacle of Moses and Temple of Solomon. Three arenas of the tabernacle relate to the triunity of the human existence. The Outer Court represents the physical body; the Inner Court or Holy Place speaks of the mind or intellect; the Holy of Holies alludes to the spirit of man. The menorah held enough oil to light the Holy Place from sundown to sunrise. Only the center candlestick was kept burning 24 hours a day. We can infer that the menorah is representative of the inner life of the believer, which is to be constantly illuminated by the Spirit of Christ.
Over time, the menorah became part of the traditional artwork of the Hebrews. As shown, below, the menorah was inscribed on tombs and on murals in catacombs, symbolizing the spirit of man.
Proverbs 20:27, “The spirit of man is the lamp (niyr) of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.” The Hebrew word, niyr, is the very word translated menorah in Exodus. Illuminated by the fire of the Spirit of God, the human spirit is a powerful force in the world. Friend, you are God’s menorah – His instrument of illumination in the earth!
The 7 Spirits of God
If we are His menorah, we must be illuminated by the fire of the 7 Spirits of God. Many believers are familiar with the concept of the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Godhead. Revelation further reveals the Holy Spirit as the 7 Spirits before the throne. Follow with me, please.
- Revelation 1:4 …John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
- Revelation 3:1 …these things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars…
- Revelation 4:5 …there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
- Revelation 5:6 …the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
It’s not that the Holy Spirit is seven differing spirits, but One Spirit manifesting in seven different characteristics. Seven is the number symbolic of perfect manifestation or divine fullness. The divinity of the Holy Spirit is expressed in seven various attributes. These attributes are enumerated in a special passage in Isaiah 11:1-2. Prophetic of the coming Messiah who would be filled with the spirit beyond measure, these two verses list the 7 Spirits of God in clear language.
v1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
v2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
Special graces of the Spirit were to rest upon the coming Messiah. Indeed these powers were evident in the life of Christ and are subsequently expected to illuminate the lives of His followers. Here is that list of 7, including the Hebrew meaning of each characteristic (in bold).
1. The Spirit of the Lord (Yehovah)
- The Holy Spirit of God as the 3rd Person of the Trinity
- The authorizing agent and qualifier for office.
- The Spirit of the Lord came upon the prophets and kings of old to empower for service and grant utterance.
2. The Spirit of Wisdom (chokmah)
- Ethical wisdom
- Pragmatic / The ability to choose the best of options
- Ability to foil the enemies schemes.
3. The Spirit of Understanding (biynah)
- Judgment resulting from wisdom,
- Specially qualified for the task
4. The Spirit of Counsel (‘etsah)
- Faculty of forming plans
5. The Spirit of Strength (gebuwrah)
6. The Spirit of Knowledge (da’ath)
7. The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord (yir’ah)
- Respect (both demonstrated and commanded)
As we grow to learn of and listen to the Holy Spirit within, these seven characteristics will blossom and mature in our lives. Sunday school taught me that the purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was to do three things for me:
1. Make me holy.
2. Give me the boldness to witness for Christ.
3. Produce a prayer language.
This is an entry-level understanding of the baptism. Consider these a door to the fullness of the manifestation of the 7 spirits which are to illuminate the life of the believer. These seven characteristics cause the world to take note of the believer as a light in the darkness. Unfortunately, we’ve placed GREAT emphasis on spiritual boldness and tongues, while neglecting the matter of world-relevance. I’m convinced the presence of the Holy Spirit will grant us the same powers Christ had, to confound the worldly wisdom of His day. Let’s face it, there are many “Spirit-filled” believers who can speak in tongues, but can’t tie their own shoes in the dark! Some “spiritual” saints profess the baptism, but lack the spirit of wisdom it takes to solve their own problems, let alone anyone else’s. Perhaps we should revisit what it means to be “spirit-filled”? I welcome your thoughts via the “reply” link, below.
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