GOD'S LIGHT BEARERS
GOD placed the sun, moon, and the stars in the heavens to give light upon the earth. (See Genesis 1:14-19.)
Should these bodies be blotted out of existence, darkness would envelop the world, or should some opaque substance come between us and them, darkness would likewise result. Light is possible upon the earth because of the light from the sun.
What is true in the physical world is likewise true in the spiritual realm. The Lord Jesus Christ represented Himself as the Light of the world (John 8:12). The Apostle John in speaking of Christ, says that "the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not" (John 1:5). The same apostle in I John 5:19 declared that the world is lying in the evil one, who is the source of spiritual darkness; for it is he who blinds the eyes of men lest they should see the glory of God in the face of the Lord Jesus (II Cor. 4:3,4).
When man was created and placed in the Garden of Eden, the Lord, who made constant visits to him, was his light; but, when man disobeyed the positive command prohibiting his eating of the forbidden fruit, the Lord broke off this fellowship, and man was driven out of the garden into spiritual darkness. At various times during the primitive days, the Lord raised up one prophet after another who spoke in His name. For instance, Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was a prophet (Jude 14). Lamech also was a prophet (Gen. 5:28,29). Noah, likewise, was one who forecast the future (Gen. 9:25-27). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are called prophets by the psalmist (Psalm 105:15). Thus through these various ones rays of light came forth from the throne of God to His servants in those primitive days. As the human family increased, there arose a demand for a corporate testimony to the truth of God. He, therefore, having created Isaac by a biological miracle (Isa. 43:1), sent his descendants into Egypt where they dwelt for 215 years and developed into a mighty nation, the men of war numbering six hundred thousand strong. At the proper time, the Lord brought them forth out of Egyptian servitude to Sinai and there delivered to them as a nation His Law and service. (Read Exodus and Leviticus.) The former book tells of Israel's deliverance from Egypt, the receiving of the Law, instruction for the building of the Tabernacle, and the historical account of its construction. Leviticus is a manual for the priests, instructing them how the services should be conducted at all times. In God's doing this He had a definite purpose; namely, that Israel should be His lightbearers before the world.
In Genesis 12:1-3 we see the record of the call of Abram from Ur of the Chaldees to the land which God promised to give him and his seed for a perpetual inheritance. Furthermore, He promised that in him and in his seed should all families of the earth be blessed. A number of restatements and reaffirmations of this promise are found at various places in the Book of Genesis. They show that the divine purpose is to bring spiritual blessings to the world through Abram's literal descendants, the greatest of whom is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, the Hebrew Messiah and Saviour of the World.
Zechariah was given a vision of a candlestick into whose bowls oil flowed from a larger one suspended above, which in turn was filled by pipes running from olive trees placed on either side. We shall presently see that this representation symbolized Israel, not as she is today, but as she will be in the future. During the Church Age we know that the candlesticks, seven in number, are symbols of local congregations of the church of Christ. Since we see that the candlestick symbolizes Israel as the one giving forth the light of God's revelation to the world during the Millennium, since the church is likewise represented at the present time by it, and since the church is functioning now instead of Israel, we may conclude that the candlestick as it was in the Tabernacle and Temple symbolized Israel during the time when God was giving His revelation through her. This is a logical deduction.
The candlestick was placed within the Holy place which was in front of the Holy of holies. Every day it had to be snuffed, cleansed, and refilled. It was placed in this position in order to give light within the Holy place, where the priests entered to carry on the regular service of the Lord. Into the Holy of holies beyond the veil, only the high priest went once a yearon the Day of Atonementand completed the ritual of atonement by sprinkling the blood upon the mercy seat.
At Mount Sinai the Lord revealed himself to Israel in a new and a definite manner. He descended in the midst of smoke and a furnace of fire to the heights of Horeb and from there spoke the Ten Commandments which constituted the basis of man's relationship to God and of his relation to his fellowman. To Israel He delivered the Book of the Covenant, which consists of Exodus 21-23. He showed the pattern of the great Temple in heaven and warned Moses to construct a Tabernacle as a replica of it. He gave to Israel an elaborate system of offerings and sacrifices. All of these had a spiritual significance. These were types and shadows signifying the realities which we have in Christ.
Through Amos God said to Israel, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities" (Amos 3:2). Increased advantages bring added responsibilities. God made himself known to Israel for the definite purpose of giving His light and truth to the world. David in Psalm 103:7 declared, "He made known his ways unto Moses, his doings unto the children of Israel." Again we read a similar thought Psalm 147:19: "He showeth his word unto Jacob, His statutes and his ordinances unto Israel."
God gave all of these advantages to the children of Israel in order that they might be His witnesses to the people. Thus God called Israel's attention to the fact that she was His witness before the world, especially to His existence, His unity, and His overruling providence in bringing to pass His plans and purposes. (Read Isaiah 43:8-13.)
WHEN Israel no longer could be used of the Lord in giving forth His truth to the world and when she demonstrated that fact by her rejection of Him who is the Light of the world, God (if I speak in terms of a railroad) put her on the siding, removing her from her high and divinely appointed position during the present age. This occurred at the cross.
The Jews as a nation being rejected, God began to call out from them and, then later, from the entire world a people to constitute a corporate body to show forth His excellencies before the world. In the Book of Revelation the Lord used seven candlesticks to represent seven local congregations of believers. The number seven denotes perfection. Hence these are chosen to represent the entire body of believers who at the present time are holding forth the Word of life. (Read Revelation 1:1-3:22.)
In writing to Timothy, Paul spoke of the church of the living God which is the house of God and which is "the pillar and the ground of the truth" (I Tim. 3:14,15). The Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said to His disciples that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. In and of themselves they are nothing. They shine by reflecting the light from Christ who in deed and in truth is the Light of the world.
A study of the seven epistles to the seven churches found in Revelation 2 and 3 and a comparison of these with the seven parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13 lead one to the conviction that the seven churches of the little province of Asia in western Asia Minor foreshadowed the history of the church throughout the Christian Dispensation. Thus the church at the present time is God's lightbearer, and He is depending upon us who constitute it to send forth the light of His truth to the four corners of the earth in order that those who sit in darkness may see the light.
Some day, but we do not know when, the Lord Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. At that time He will raise the dead in Christ and catch up the living saints to be with Him in the air (I Thes. 4:13-18). This will occur before the Tribulation, for God has not appointed us unto wrath but unto the obtaining of salvation or deliverance from it (I Thes. 5:9,10). We may, therefore, be certain that the church will be removed from the earth prior to the pouring out of the judgments of God's wrath upon the world.
AFTER the removal of the church, God will use the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, of whom we read in the seventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, to send forth His light to the four corners of the globe. These will preach the gospel, not only to Israel, but to the whole world and will bring about the mightiest revival that the world has ever seen. These evangelists, and possibly others who will be won to the Lord by them, are represented by the sun-clad woman of whom we read in the twelfth chapter of Revelation. My reason for interpreting this woman as a symbol of Israel is that she is the one who brings forth the man-childthe mystical Christ consisting of the head and the body. We know that both Christ and His body, the church, sprang from Israel. She therefore unmistakably is signified by this woman in the passage under consideration. Since she is represented as a woman clad with the brilliancy of the sun, with twelve stars in her crown, and with the moon under her feet, Israel, therefore, gives forth lightthe light of the gospelthroughout the world after the church has been removed. Since the 144,000 Jewish evangelists are of that nation, since they give forth the truth of God at that time, and since this woman symbolizes Israel, it is certain that the testimony which the faithful servants of God will give at that time is set forth under the emblem of this sun-clad woman.
Though she will be persecuted, especially in the latter half of the Tribulation, she will give forth her testimony that will illuminate the entire world, spiritually speaking. We know from various passages that this ministry will cause the greatest revival of all the ages during which an unnumbered multitude will accept the Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation, being washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. We, therefore, praise God for this certain hope which is set forth in this marvelous passage.
The candlestick that appeared in the Tabernacle, and also in the Temple, was one that had to be cleansed, snuffed, and refilled daily. It seems that the seven golden candle-sticks, symbolizing the church at the present time likewise had to be thus attended to as the one symbolizing Israel in former days; but in the Millennium Israel is represented by a candle-stick which is supplied with olive oil from trees standing on either side. This vision was shown to Zechariah in chapter 4 of his prophecy, but, when this passage is studied and is viewed in the light of the entire series of visions granted to Zechariah on the same night, one comes to the conclusion that this candle-stick symbolizes Israel when she is restored to fellowship with God and when she gives forth in an uninterrupted manner the light of God to the entire world.
Great have been the days of Israel in the past, and marvelous wonderful times are foretold for the future.