“And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment reaching to the feet, and girded about at the breasts with a golden girdle.” – Revelation 1:13-14
In the very first chapter of Revelation, which was written by the aged apostle while in exile, John describes the vision of the Christ he saw. He saw the Son of Man walking in the midst of the seven lampstands and He was clothed with priestly garments. In the Old Testament it was the job of the high priest to keep the fire of the lampstand burning all the time since it was the only source of light in the tabernacle. This job involved mainly two things – trimming the charred wicks to reduce the smoking and adding fresh oil to keep the fire burning. This is what it meant to dress the lamps.
I’ve been enjoying lately that this is exactly what the Lord is doing today in the church. In Revelation 1 the seven lampstands are symbols of the seven churches that eventually were the recipients for this epistle. As lampstands, their function was to shine in the dark age they were in. What an encouragement it must have been to them that Christ was the one walking in their midst, caring for their condition, and fulfilling His priestly duty of keeping the fire burning. What an encouragement that He does the same for us in the churches today, especially considering that the age today is surely much darker than that of apostle John’s time and the need for us to shine is so much more intensified.
It might be a strange prayer, but for the past few mornings I’ve been asking the Lord to trim my wick and add more oil. If a candle or lantern has any charred parts, though it might be burning, what it gives off is more smoke than light. If we’re honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that there are many charred parts in us – all our opinions, concepts, natural preferences, basically anything in us that is not Christ. So even though we may be very active in pursuing the Lord and serving in the church, because those things have not been “trimmed,” we can give off unpleasant smoke which makes us and everyone around us uncomfortable. If we are open to Him and allow Him, the Lord as the real High Priest has the way to deal with those things in us by applying the cross to our being. He doesn’t quench a smoking flax, but He does care for it so that it shines again. Then when the negative things are dealt with, He comes in and adds the fresh oil which is simply a fresh supply of the Spirit. The Spirit is our fuel and supply for living the Christian life and the church life and is what sustains us to keep burning and shining.
If we would allow the Lord to “dress our lamps” in this way everyday, how pleasant the church life would be and what a bright testimony we would give to those in the world! I’d like people to sense light when they’re around me and not be made uncomfortable by my “smoke.” Which would you rather be, someone who’s “smoking” or someone who’s shining?