At the end of the instructions for building the sanctuary comes this commandment from the Lord: "Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come." (vs 20-21)
At the sanctuary, there would be lamps burning throughout the night, all night, every night. The purpose of this? To remind the Israelites that God is the light. No matter how deep the darkness, He is the light. As David said in Psalm 139, "The darkness is not dark to You. Night is as bright as day."
How much easier and less stressful our lives would be if we remembered this! That darkness is not dark to God, no matter how pervasive it seems to us. God can deal with the darkest of situations... because He is inherently light. Darkness must flee from Him. Darkness is transformed by Him. As John said in John 1, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."
The lamps were there to be a constant reminder to the Israelites that they weren’t alone. They hadn’t been abandoned in the wilderness. They weren’t neglected in the night. The ever-shining Light of the World was with them always. They weren’t orphans.
Oh, if we could only catch a vision of these lamps! For the earth is slowly and continually descending into more and more darkness. And now, more than ever, we need to remember that no matter how dark our surroundings, God is the light. And He is always with us!