Lamplight is definitely not the norm in our world today, but back in John the Apostle’s time it was a
necessity. Lamps appears in the Bible dozens of times both as a side note in stories and an important
symbol in parables, stories, sermons, and poems. But one particular instance of lamps in the New
Testament speaks powerfully to our particular age. Revelation 1:12-16: “I turned around to see the voice
that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the
lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a
golden sash around his chest.” Exiled on the desolate Island of Patmos for his faith, John hears a
thunderous voice behind him, turns arounds, and sees His Loving, Powerful Savior. This is the same Jesus
whom he followed, listened to, talked with, touched, and worshiped while He was on earth a few
decades ago. Jesus’ appearance his brilliantly glorious, He’s dressed as an Israelite High Priest and He’s
walking among seven lampstands. This particular feature harkens back to the sanctuary that the
Israelite’s built under God’s direction as they were traveling across the Sinai desert towards Canaan.
What do the seven lampstands represent in this chapter? The next few verses give us the
answer: “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery
of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven
stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”
(Revelation 1:19, 20) Each of these seven lampstands stands for a particular church in first-century Asia
Minor, present-day Turkey. However, the lessons and warnings given to each church are also very
applicable today. But before we look deeper into each message for these seven churches, let’s consider
the illustration of a lamp. The sanctuary structure that was built by the Israelites in Exodus 25-40 was a
large tent that could be dismantled, packed, and carried with them to a new site as they traveled. Each
of its main features is rich with symbolism for God’s rescue plan for the human race, but today we’ll look
at just one article of furniture inside the sanctuary—the lampstand. This stand with seven branches and
seven lamps was the only humanly created light inside the sanctuary. Its seven flames provided enough
light to see the other articles in the room—a table of unleavened bread and a small golden altar that
burned incense. The light in that one room might seem meager, but it was ample enough for the priests
to do their daily work and it was symbolically significant because God commanded the priests to
constantly keep the lamps burning. The lights were small compared to the glowing radiance of the
desert sun outside, but they were essential and they did their job. Sometimes a little light can have a big
impact, especially when the world around is dark.

Light is an apt symbol of insight. When a person gets life-changing knowledge, we even say
sometimes that they’ve been “enlightened.” But truly being enlightened isn’t just about adding another
tidbit of info to our mental data bank; it’s about being personally impacted by that knowledge. That’s
the kind of “light” that the sanctuary lamps were meant to symbolize. The lamps were a symbol of the
light that God can shine through our actions, words, and demeanor to point people to Christ. Even
though the limited rays of a candle might seem trivial, when it’s set in a dark room, it suddenly becomes
essential. In a dark world, our witness for Christ might seem too tiny to notice, but we’ll never know just
how impactful it’s influence will be. The ripple effects of an impactful witness can spread from person to
person for years to come. Let’s be lights for Jesus in this broken world!