Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: August 2018

Monday, August 27, 2018

III. The Candlestick and Two Olive Trees

III. The Candlestick and Two Olive Trees

          Although the overview understanding of the “candlestick” is about God’s intimate involvement within His fallen creation in the illumination of His plan of redemption as a constant, the operations of God’s Spirit changes according to the covenant God makes with His redeemed in different Dispensations.  God uses believers as His “ambassadors” of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:20). This is apparent in the Dispensational transition from the Mosaic Covenant into the New Covenant as revealed by Christ’s seven epistles to seven local churches in the books of “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1).  We cannot fully understand the “candlestick” as God’s intimate workings in the redemption of sinners if we do not understand God’s revelation of the Redeemer. 

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Revelation 1:1).

          The central purpose of the book of Revelation is to reveal Jesus Christ the Son of God in His glorified state.  In the book of Revelation, we see Jesus in a much different way then we see Him in the Gospels.  We notice early in Revelation chapter one that the Jesus of the Revelation is not a sandal-wearing carpenter.

12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (Revelation 1:12-16).

          Revelation 1:12-16 presents Jesus as the eternal Son of God, great in power and in glory.  This is the Jesus that is coming again, the eternal and almighty Son of God.  Here, Jesus is revealed as the Head of the Church ministering as her High Priest.  The purpose of His High Priestly ministry is the SANCTIFICATION (purity) and the CONSECRATION (empowerment for ministry) of His redeemed.

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

          The book of Revelation is the book of sevens.  In it, we will see Jesus Christ as High Priest of His Church of priests (Revelation 1:9-3:22).  Then, in Revelation chapter four through nineteen, we will see Him as the Judge and Administrator of God’s wrath upon this Christ rejecting world during seven years of tribulation on earth.  In Revelation 20:1-6, we will see Him as the ruling Lord of lords, ruling the whole earth during His one-thousand-year Kingdom Age on earth.  After which we will see Him as the great Judge of the lost and the Lord of eternal Hell (Revelation 20:11-15).  Finally, we will see Him as the loving, compassionate God Who will create a new Heaven and a new Earth and dwell with His redeemed for all of eternity (chapters 21 and 22).  This is what the word REVELATION (apokalupsis, ap-ok-al'-oop-sis) means, a full disclosure.  

          What we see throughout the Revelation of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of several Old Testament types (typologies).  It is only by understanding these Old Testament types that we can understand what John is explaining to us in these first three chapters of the book of Revelations.  There is much symbolism in these few verses of Scripture.  If we interpret Scripture with Scripture, these symbolisms are not hidden mysteries to us.  They can be easily understood. 

          We have four central things that we need to focus upon to understand the text.  They are very important in that they represent the whole program of God during the Church Age dispensation including our individual and corporate responsibilities within it.  There are three basic Old Testament types here that show us the significance of the meaning of this text (there are more in the next few verses).  These three are:

1. Jesus, the Son of man, and what He is doing
2. The seven Candlesticks (The Temple Lampstands) and what they represent
3. The Seven Stars and what they represent
4. The Lamp Oil and what it represents

          First, what is Jesus doing amid the Lampstands?  Leviticus 24:2-4 and Exodus 30:7-8 explain the meaning of what Jesus is doing.  The Old Testament priesthood of Israel was merely typical of the New Covenant priesthood with Jesus as its High Priest. 

2 Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. 3 Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations. 4 He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually” (Leviticus 24:2-4).

7 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. 8 And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even {sundown}, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations” (Exodus 30:7-8).

          The High Priest was responsible for ensuring the Temple Menorah lamps were “dressed” each morning.  That means he “ordered” the lamps.  He was responsible to ensure that the Lampstands were being filled with oil and burning as brightly as they should.  This is what Jesus, the glorified God-man, is doing amid these seven Lampstands (Revelation 1:12-13).  

The seven Lampstands represent all local churches.  He is overseeing these local churches to ensure that they are filled with oil (typical of the Holy Spirit) and that they are burning as brightly as they should be.  As our High Priest, He is also offering intercessory prayer (symbolized by the incense) for believers.

          The “Candlestick” (Lampstand) was the Temple Menorah.  The Old Testament Lampstand was a prophetic type of the living temple in the Church fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  It had one main “branch” (representing Christ) and six side “branches” resting upon the center “branch” and supported by it.  At the top of each of the seven “branches” was an “oil bowl.”  The High Priest was responsible to see that these bowls were filled with oil (representing the Holy Spirit) and that they remain constantly burning.  The seven bowls represent all individual believers (as detailed in Isaiah 11:1-2). 

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And 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 (Isaiah 11:1-2).

26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he {‘that overcometh’} shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Revelation 2:26-27).

7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalms 2:7-9).

          “Out of the stem of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1) refers to the birth of the Messiah (Emmanuel) through the lineage of King David (see Matthew 1:6 and 16). 

          “A Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1) refers to Jesus as the last Adam and sinless man as Prophet, Priest, and King Who restores dominion over the earth lost by the first Adam.  These seven local churches represent the whole Church from Pentecost to Rapture; i.e. the Body of Christ (see I Corinthians 12:12-27).  Jesus is the “firstborn” into the New Genesis (Colossians 1:18). 

45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:45-47).

          At the top of each of the seven branches is a bowl (PIC), therefore, seven bowls.  Seven represents the number of completion or the whole.  Therefore, these seven bowls represent all believers in the Church Age.  Christ Jesus (as the “firstborn” of the New Genesis) is exalted above all others.  He is the standard of righteousness; the “mark” all Christians “press toward” (Philippians 3:14).  The “seven Lampstands” (corporately) represent the whole Church Age from the Day of Pentecost to the Rapture.  Jesus Christ is ministering “in the midst” of these “Lampstands”!

“And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle {High Priest’s garments}” (Revelation 1:13).

          On a map of the Middle East (Turkey today), these seven churches form a geographical circle of seven cities.  The picture is that Jesus is in their “midst.”  The local church desiring to glorify Christ and be used of Him must be CHRISTO-CENTRIC (Christ centered).  In Revelation 3:20, after Christ’s rebuke of the local church of the Laodiceans, we find that Christ is just not the center of that historical Church period, but that He is not inside, but is outside out of His Church, seeking admission.  The condition for His entrance is for the churches to hear His voice and obey.  The words “hear” and “open” are both subjunctive mood, which is the mood of possibility or potential.  These two conditions must be met before “fellowship” can be restored. 

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

          Most local churches have become man-centered today, rather than Christ-centered.  These types of local churches give people want they want to hear or like to hear rather than what they need to hear.  Choose a local church that challenges you spiritually rather than one that just comforts you in your weaknesses.  Having your ears tickled sometimes feels so good, you do not even realize your soul is being seduced by the Devil.  If you leave a church service with guilt about some sin, you failed to do what God wanted. Repent and be forgiven!  It is the job of the preacher to confront your sin with the Word of God.  Once you understand that sin is like quicksand, you will stop resisting the people trying to help you get out of it.

“Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:6).

          When a Church becomes more interested in gathering a crowd or trying to keep people attending regardless of how they live, that Church has become man-centered.  Once that has happened, that local church has become useless to Christ. 

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone {the Foundation of the Faithful}; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

          A Church is Christ-centered when its focus and works are centered upon the Person and missional purpose of Jesus Christ and His exaltation.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

          A Church is Christ-centered when holiness is its foremost priority (even before evangelism; Ephesians 2:21).  These are the kind of people Christ uses.  Also, a Church is Christ-centered when its focus is on ministry to others, rather than on self-satisfaction (the what can the Church do for me attitude).  Christ is always working “in the midst” of His Church.  However, some local churches put Him on the outside by putting man at their center.  The oil of the lampstand represents the Holy Spirit as the believer’s source of light.

14 Ye {plural; collectively} are the light of the world. A city {referring to a local church of many united believers} that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

          When the Holy Spirit’s power is removed from the ministry of a local church, the “light” of that local church will be extinguished.  This is the removal of the “candlestick” in the warning to the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:5).  The only way this can happen is when individual Christians fail to yield themselves to the control of the Holy Spirit and be “filled” with Him.  This can also happen when a local church refuses to practice church discipline in keeping the church members pure from unrepentant sin. When God commands believers to “walk in the light” (I John 1:7), He is referring to obedience to the truth as the believer yields his life to the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:11-13) as directed by the Word of God. 

Once a local church becomes more concerned with the size of its membership than the purity of its membership, they have “left their first love” (Revelation 2:4).

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18; Whatever fills you controls you).

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:11-13).

          When the individual believer is filled with (under the control of) the Holy Spirit, that individual will be “light.”  When many individual believers in the local church are filled with and walking in the Spirit, there will be MORE “light.”  However, when every believer in the local church is under the control of the Holy Spirit, there will be MUCH light.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:1-5).

          It is the “life” inherent in Jesus Christ (I John 5:11-12) gifted to believers in the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is the “light of men.”  Why do so many who profess to know Christ continue to wander in the darkness?  There are only two reasons.  They are not saved and therefore do not have “life.”  Or, they are not filled with the Spirit of God and the “life” that is in them never overflows into “light.”  

          Humans, even “born again” humans, have little understanding of what is involved in being “light.”  The “life” that God gives us is more than eternal “life.”  The “life” that God shares with us is God’s “life.”  There is an aspect of that “life” that is retained even in the fall into sin.  The aspect of God’s “life” retained by all humans in the fall is the inherent knowledge of God’s existence even though God cannot be seen, touched, or felt apart from His illumination of Himself through creation and through communication.  Physical life after the fall, although absent of divine spiritual life, is the ability to be conscious of God’s existence.  It is this inward consciousness of God’s existence that compels people to discover Him and His will and purpose for our lives.  This is the “true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).  

          Once a person is “born again” of the Spirit of God, God indwells the believer in the Person of His Spirit.  That person then has spiritual life in him.  “Life” and “light” are compatible like electricity is to a light bulb.  “In him {Jesus} was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).  The restoration to spiritual life through the gift of salvation is the power source for producing spiritual light.  Spiritual light is the ability to reveal (glorify) God for Who He is and what He expects.  This is the primary purpose of God’s gifting your salvation to you– TO GLORIFY HIM.  This is the mission of the Church as God’s “candlestick.”  This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in you and through you.  This can only be accomplished through a Spirit-filled sanctified life.  

For a believer to live in selfish pursuits and sinful pleasures is a serious manifestation of spiritual neglect and thanklessness.  “But if thine eye be evil {in the sense of allowing desires or lusts}, thy whole body shall be full of darkness {you will fill your life with the things for which you lust}. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness {if your conscience does not properly regulate what you allow yourself to look upon}, how great is that darkness {of your existence}” (Matthew 6:23)!

10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things {the main purpose of this epistle} have I written unto you that believe {present, active, participle; are believing} on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know {perfect, active, subjunctive; because of practical evidences of regeneration; chapters 2-4} that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5:10-13).

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1:4).
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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.