And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. (Exodus 27:20)
In addition to providing a pure light in the sanctuary, the menorah was to provide a perpetual light –- one that was never to be extinguished. In Hebrew, the appropriate term is ner tamid and can be translated as “eternal light.” On the practical side of things, we should note that there were no windows in the Holy Place and, therefore, adequate light was needed for the priests to see how to tend to their duties. For instance, Aaron and his sons had to clean the lamps in the morning and replace the wicks so that the light of the menorah could continue. During this daily process, one lamp remained lit so that the light of the menorah never went out completely.
We understand that the menorah is symbolic of the Messiah and the fact that He is the light of the world. We also understand that He, being the main branch, extends that light to the other branches, that is His people (Isaiah 42:6). Therefore, we too are the light of the world and that light is to shine for all time — it was never intended to be extinguished. Unfortunately, there have been times when the light ebbed low and almost went out. We see one example in 1 Samuel 3 when the spiritual condition of God’s people was suffering under the leadership of Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phineas. Still, because the Messiah is the source of true light, the flame has never been totally extinguished.
On the other hand, we could also argue that the lamp has never burned as bright as our Father intended, that is, with all branches burning brightly. To say that would infer that all of God’s people throughout this world are being the light they are supposed to be. Just looking around the world today and seeing the state of mankind would seem to say otherwise. However, we do believe that the day is soon coming when the light will be as bright as it ever has been. In the not too distant future, God’s people will be the lamp we have always been called to be and, in us and through us, God will illuminate this world as never before. That’s not because we are so special but is because we, who are in Messiah, have been called to a special purpose — to shine our light in the darkness. Thus it is written in Isaiah:
Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)
Blessings and Shalom,