“Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually.”
As I come to this passage in Leviticus, I am immediately reminded of Jesus’ words in his great sermon on the mount:
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
The first thing I notice in the Leviticus passage is the constancy of the lamp. The people of Israel were commanded to “make the lamps burn continually.” In Matthew, we’re told that no one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. That defeats the purpose. The point of lighting a lamp is so that the lamp can give light! Right? Yet many who proclaim to be the light of the world, followers of Christ, have missed that very point.
Notice notice how Jesus describes us, the shining light: “That they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” The light is our good works which point people to Christ in us. We were changed, and we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit so that we might do good works that would point beyond us to the work of Christ in our lives. Letting our light shine is simply living out the Gospel and following Christ openly in the world. Doing good, Christ-honoring, and Christ-glorifying works is precisely the reason why we were saved:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
How many of us are walking around with a lamp (life) that is only burning when we feel like lighting it? We show up on Sunday and we light our “Christian” lamp so we look good for our church buddies. Then, come Monday morning, we quickly stifle that flame because we have a different image to uphold at work, in our homes, or among our other group of friends. We stop doing good works. We stop glorifying Christ. We put a basket over the light which Christ has lit in our lives. I think many of us, if we were honest, would admit that the light of Christ in their life has faded since they were first converted.
That brings me to what really struck me about this passage in Leviticus. We all know we’re supposed to shine our light before men. Many of us recall the children’s song This Little Light of Mine in which we boldly heralded, Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine!! However, simply knowing and singing about this truth doesn’t tell us what’s needed to make it happen. Leviticus reminds us that in order to keep the lamps burning, the people needed to “bring pure oil of pressed olives for the lamps.”
Fire needs fuel. Light does not exist in a vacuum. It needs a source of power. If we are going to keep our lamps burning continually we are also going to have to bring some pure oil for them to feed off of. So let me ask you this: What lights your fire? What gets you burning brighter for Christ? I came up with the following list that is relevant to my own life:
- Personal Daily Bible Study
- Personal Daily Prayer
- Listening to the Word Preached Regularly
- Praising God in Song (individually & corporately)
- Communing with the Saints
- Partaking in the Lord’s Supper Regularly
There are more I could list, but I would encourage all of us to continually run through a fire fuel check-list and determine if we’re doing what’s necessary to keep “pure oil” in the lamps of our lives. If you feel like the “fire” of your life is being extinguished it is probably due to a lack of fuel represented by one or more of these areas. 1 Thessalonians 5 says that we are not to “quench the Spirit.” One way to ensure that the Spirit isn’t quenched, and the “lamp burns continually,” is to make sure you’re giving the Holy Spirit something to feed off of.
What lights your fire?
Photo by mr.donb via Flickr