THE LAMP plays an illuminating part in Scripture. Lamps
were made of earthenware, shaped like a butter-boat. It commonly burned
oil from the fats of slain animals, and so is suggestive of the light of
the evangel, which is provided by the death of the Lamb of God.
The portable lamp, or lantern, merely provided light for the feet and
pathway, as one walked along. As a boy the writer walked through darkness
with the aid of a lantern carried by his father or mother. It provided no
distant visibility, but enough for the journey by installments.
A lamp for my feet is the Word,
And a light for my track (Psa.119:105).
With His radiance, His lamp over my head,
By His light was I going through darkness (Job.29:3).
There am I sprouting a horn for David,
I arrange a lamp for my Anointed (Psa.132:17).
The lamp pictures to us Israel's imperfect revelation,
even as the annual atonement shadowed God's shelter by installments, until
Christ came. Being of earthen-ware, the lamp suggests the earthen vessel
of our body, fragile and perishing.
In Matt.5:15 our Lord exhorted His disciples not to
hide their light under a peck measure, that is, by absorption in business,
but to place it on a lamp-stand. We have in this economy a vivid analogy
and contrast in (Philippians 2:12-18). We should hold forth God's
salvation as luminaries in the world. Ours is not a dim shadow of things
to come, but a completed revelation. We should irradiate this dark scene
by the glorious light of Christ's evangel, as given us in 2 Cor.4:3-6. If
we drag in the circumcision writings as "applicable" in this
administration of grace apart from works, then the light will be dimmed by
shadows, but it is helpful to use Old Testament figures when they fit.
Paul used a list of Old Testament references in 1 Cor.10, without
pilfering these, as his evangel, merely for the sake of an effective
admonition. He says they were written for us. The lamp therefore is a
picture. An old-fashioned maker of automobile bodies impressively uses the
old horse carriage of the last century for his trade mark. Even the
brighter light of today, a 200 watt bulb, or even neon light, will not do.
The Scriptures give us a better picture. How coveted it should be as a
figure of light for the glorious evangel of 2 Cor.4:4! The believer is
called a luminary in this world. In the resurrection body it is evident
from revelation that the figure will become a fact. We may at will change
into a light so white that veils and window curtains will not shade, or
such that humanity cannot approach. What artist can depict the bright and
morning star, or the shining sun? We may portray a shadow of the Christ as
in the type of a sacrificial Lamb, but His glory no human can portray. Our
Lord does not speak highly of the light in the coming seven churches of
Asia Minor in Revelation 2-5. Yet they are represented by golden
lamp-stands. Through the fires of the tribulation of that time will their
testimony be refined as gold. For Israel our Lord in that dark will appear
as the bright and morning star. In the morning He is the Sun of
Righteousness. At the end of the eons He will be the Light that will
brighten up the entire universe. God, Who is light, will fill all with the
glory of His love.