At the beginning of Numbers 8, God instructed Aaron on how to set up the lampstand in the sanctuary: "The Lord said to Moses, 'Speak to Aaron and say to him, "When you set up the lamps, see that all seven light up the area in front of the lampstand."' Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the Lord commanded Moses." (vs 1-3)
As I read about the lamp, it occurred to me that the sanctuary had no source of light other than this lamp. Without it, all was dark. The sanctuary was covered with a four-layered roof. First fine linen, then goat’s hair, rams' skins, and porpoise skins. In addition to this, there were no windows in the sanctuary. It was a very dark place—except for the seven-stemmed lampstand.
I think this was designed to teach the Israelites a very important lesson: God is the only light. Period. The hope, of course, was that they would be able to apply this symbolic message to the world. For the world is an extremely dark place, and God is the only light. Period. If and when those lamps were extinguished, the sanctuary would go dark. The same is true of our world.
I think the fact that there were seven stems on the lampstand was also significant. And not just because the number seven is a recurring Biblical number. But because of what it tells us about God’s light. He is not a floodlight, like some kind of Divine Spotlight that is either shining in your face, blinding you, or is off completely. No, God is much more into freedom than that!
Seven stems on the lampstand, to me, says that God is interested in our choices. He is willing to let us make choices that would dim His light in our lives. On the contrary, He is willing to let us make choices that would brighten His light in our lives. And I believe that’s how sin and salvation work.
Sin is a process. By successive choices, we may choose to consistently reject the Holy Spirit in our lives and cause God’s light to dim—until we will be left in total darkness, blind, unable to see anything. On the other hand, salvation is also a process. By successive choices, we may choose to consistently respond to the Holy Spirit in our lives and cause God’s light to brighten—until we are able to stand in the fully unveiled glory of God Himself. Whether we end up in darkness or day? God lets us make that choice. It’s our call.
At the end of the day, however, God is the light. And He is the only light. If we don’t want to stumble around in darkness, there is only one choice for us to make!