Numbers 8:5
Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
The Divine Principle of CleansingC. H. Mackintosh.Numbers 8:5-7

This passage is to be considered in connection with Revelation 1:9-20. Moses had revelations in Sinai even as John had in Patmos. Matthew 5:14-16 will serve for a link to connect the two passages.

I. THERE WAS A TIME TO LIGHT THE LAMPS. "When thou lightest the lamps." Dressing them was morning work: they were then ready for Aaron to light" at even" (Exodus 30:7, 8). The light was symbolic only when it was clearly useful. By day no light was needed, but it was fitting that at night the holy place of him who is light and in whom is no darkness at all, should be well illuminated. Seven is said to be a number of perfection; if we take it so seven lamps would denote perfect illumination. Similarly the Churches of Christ are to be as lamps in a darkened world, that by their light the things of God may be discerned. The words to the seven Churches are thus words to every Church, admonishing it to tend and replenish the lamp that has been lighted at even.

II. THE LAMPS WERE TO BE LIGHTED OVER AGAINST THE CANDLESTICK. This, taken together with the reference in verse 4 to the construction of the candlestick, seems to indicate that the candlestick with its richness and beauty was to be revealed by the lamps. Bezaleel and Aholiab had been specially endowed to make this and like elaborate work (Exodus 35:30-35; Exodus 37:17-24). If the Churches then are as the lamps, we may take the candlestick to signify the doctrines, the promises, the duties, the revelations to be found in the word of God. Law and gospel are intermingled by prophet and apostle in a splendour and richness of which Bezaleel's work was a feeble type. The candlestick supports the lamps, which in turn reveal the candlestick. The truths of God's word are in charge of his Churches. They rest upon that word, and their lives, conspicuous for abiding purity and brightness, must recommend the word. The lamps must reveal that the candlestick holds them, and it must be made obvious that the candlestick is for this purpose.

III. IT WAS AARON WHO LIGHTED THESE LAMPS, and so it is from Christ the true Aaron that every Church gets its light. We cannot recommend God's word by anything save the holy, beautiful, benign life which his Son, by the Spirit, can create within us. Then, and only then, will our light so shine that men will glorify our Father who is in heaven.

IV. THE LAMPS REVEALED THE GLORY OF AARON'S OWN VESTURE - those holy garments which were for glory and beauty. Read carefully Exodus 28, and then consider that Aaron arrayed in all these splendours was the type of the true Intercessor afterwards to come. That is an unworthy Church which does not reveal much of Christ; which does not, by the shining of its life, attract attention more and more to the glories of his person. We cannot glorify our Father in heaven, unless by glorifying the Son whom he has sent.

Lessons: -

1. That which is useful may also be beautiful, and in its use its beauty will be revealed.

2. The candlestick was something permanent, made of gold, and not needing renewal. We have no occasion for a new, an altered, or an increased gospel; all required of us is to show it forth, by daily replenishings from the beaten oil of the sanctuary. - Y.

Take the Levites and cleanse them.
Here we have, in type, the only Divine principle of cleansing. It is the application of death to nature and all its habits. It is the word of God brought to bear upon the heart and conscience in a living way. Moses, as representing the claims of God, cleanses the Levites according to those claims; and they, being cleansed, are able to bring the sharp razor to bear upon all that was the mere growth of nature, and to wash their garments, which expresses, in typical form, the cleansing their habits according to the word of God. This was God's way of meeting all that appertained to Levi's natural state — the self-will, the fierceness, and the cruelty. The pure water and the sharp razor were called into action — the washing and shaving had to go on, ere Levi was fit to approach the vessels of the sanctuary. Thus it is in every case. There is, there can be, no allowance of nature among God's workers. There never was a more fatal mistake than to attempt to enlist nature in the service of God. It matters not how you may endeavour to improve or regulate it. It is not improvement, but death that will avail. What is the meaning of the initiatory act of Christianity — the act of baptism? Does it not set forth the blessed fact that "our old man" — our fallen nature — is completely set aside, and that we are introduced into an entirely new position? Truly so. And how do we use the razor? By rigid self-judgment, day by day; by the stern disallowance of all that is of nature's growth. This is the true path for all God's workers in the wilderness.

(C. H. Mackintosh.)

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